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Cablegate: Boston Group at Venezuela's National Assembly

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS CARACAS 002518

SIPDIS


NSC FOR C. BARTON
USCINCSO ALSO FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KDEM VE
SUBJECT: BOSTON GROUP AT VENEZUELA'S NATIONAL ASSEMBLY


-------
Summary
-------

1. (U) The U.S.-Venezuela Interparliamentary Forum
(informally known as the "Boston Group") met at the
Venezuelan National Assembly August 4. At the meeting, which
was open to the press, U.S. Representatives Cass Ballenger,
Bill Delahunt and Gregory Meeks noted the Boston Group's
role in strengthening democracy and respect for democratic
institutions in Venezuela. During their brief speeches, the
Venezuelan legislators spoke highly of the Boston Group and
the positive contributions the group has made in
strengthening democracy in Venezuela. End Summary.

----------------------------------
Importance of Institution Building
----------------------------------

2. (U) U.S. Representatives Cass Ballenger (R-NC), Gregory
Meeks (D-NY) and Bill Delahunt (D-MA), speaking at the
U.S.-Venezuela Interparliamentary Forum (informally known as
the Boston Group) August 4, reiterated that the primary
mission of the group is to focus on institution building as a
requisite for a strong and vibrant democracy. Additionally,
the U.S. Representatives emphasized the need to strengthen
legislative bodies not only in Venezuela, but throughout the
countries of the Western Hemisphere. Delahunt noted that
the Boston Group could serve as an example for other Latin
American countries about the importance of working together
to strengthen and build democratic processes and
institutions. The U.S. Representatives also noted that the
August 15 recall referendum is historic not only for
Venezuela but for the rest of the Hemisphere and that this
process itself is evidence that democracy is alive and
vibrant in Venezuela. They advocated that the presidential
recall referendum be transparent and fair and that all
sectors of Venezuelan society respect the referendum results.

---------------------------
THE BOSTON GROUP OF FRIENDS
---------------------------

3. (U) Fifth Republic Movement (MVR) Deputy Calixto Ortega
highlighted the importance of the Boston Group in providing a
neutral forum where pro-GOV and pro-opposition members could
meet to debate their political differences. He called the
Boston Group a true friend of Venezuela and suggested that
the group consider expanding to deal with other issues and
actors in Venezuelan society. Fellow MVR Deputy Saul
Ortega, echoed Ortega's statements and also called for the
Boston Group to act as a facilitator with other actors within
the political sphere. Ortega proposed, and his colleagues
approved by acclamation, that Rep. Cass Ballenger become the
Honorary President of the Boston Group upon his retirement
from the United States Congress and recommended that the
group's next meeting be held in the Gran Sabana in Venezuela.

-------
Comment
-------

4. (U) This Boston Group meeting reinforced the belief that
Venezuelans can and should work together to strengthen
democracy through the respect for the rule of law and
institution building. The comments of pro-GOV and
pro-opposition deputies regarding the Boston Group were quite
similar despite their different political perspectives. All
deputies were pretty much in agreement on the need to
continue the Boston Group's mission of strengthening
democracy in Venezuela. All 12 deputies appeared grateful
for the work and assistance Reps. Ballenger and Meeks, and
Senator Delahunt, have provided through the Boston Group thus
far.

5. (U) Codel Ballenger did not have the opportunity to clear
this message before its departure.
Shapiro


NNNN
2004CARACA02518 - UNCLASSIFIED

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