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Cablegate: Dominican Politics #8: Fernandez, the Rio Group

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

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 SANTO DOMINGO 006213

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA, WHA/CAR, WHA/EPSC, INL;
NSC FOR SHANNON AND MADISON;LABOR FOR ILAB; USCINCSO ALSO
FOR POLAD;TREASURY FOR OASIA-LCARTER;
USDOC FOR 4322/ITA/MAC/WH/CARIBBEAN BASIN DIVISION
USDOC FOR 3134/ITA/USFCS/RD/WH; DHS FOR CIS-CARLOS ITURREGUI

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/08/2014
TAGS: DR ENRG HA PGOV PREL
SUBJECT: DOMINICAN POLITICS #8: FERNANDEZ, THE RIO GROUP
AND HAITI

REF: STATE 243180

Classified By: DCM Lisa Kubiske. Reason: 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) Summary. When the Rio Group summit of November 4 got
to the agenda item on
Haiti, Dominican President Leonel Fernandez asked for
hemispheric help in
re-instilling democracy in that &narco-state,8 but he put a
big front wrong in
advocating the inclusion in the process of former president
Jean Bertrand
Aristide. Following a November 6 conversation with the
Ambassador, Fernandez agreed that Aristide was distinct from
Lavalas, and said he meant to say that groups with broad
popular support needed to be included in the process. The
Ambassador and several other ambassadors see President
Fernandez November 16 to discuss Haiti further, per reftel.

2. (C) Dominicans are continually worried about the other
half of Hispaniola,
and with good reason -- perhaps a million Haitians reside in
the Dominican
Republic already, many of them undocumented. The February
2004 hostilities in
Haiti did not cause any significant cross-border movements
but the Dominican
military temporarily reinforced the border and the Dominican
Congress
precipitately voiced its opposition to any eventual proposal
to establish
refugee camps on national territory.

3. (C) The official press release from the presidency
offers an account of the Dominican positions at the meeting.
(See para 4 below.) It includes two
elements of concern two us: a calculated reference to
Aristide and a quote
from Hugo Chavez blaming &a large part of the disorder in
that brother country8
on the United States. Chief of staff Danilo Medina said that
the press release
was not cleared elsewhere in the palace. See septel for
discussion of the Dominican-Venezuelan questions.

4. (U) Following is our informal translation of the release,
which played
extensively in the Dominican press:

- - - - - - - - - - -

(begin text)

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The presidents of Latin America
declared their
determination to provide concrete help to Haiti in
establishing a true
democratic order where institutions function and all
participants may be
brought together for a dialogue on the future of the country.

Responding to a proposal by President Leonel Fernandez, the
heads of state and
government meeting at the XVIII Rio Group Summit agreed in
the need for the
re-establishment in Haiti of peaceful coexistence and
institutional order, so
that in the future a constitutional convention may be
assembled.

President Fernandez, who offered an analysis of the
historical roots of Haiti,s
ingovernability, stated that in that Caribbean nation there
exists a power
vacuum and a great scarcity as a clandestine economy
functions based on
narcotics trafficking.

&Haiti, a theme of discussion of the Latin American leaders
participating in
this summit, is a narco-state subjugated to poverty and human
degradation, such
that we the countries of Latin America have the historical
responsibility of
going to its aid,8 he emphasized.

He said that within a democracy there should be participation
of all sectors,
and that in Haiti there is a political leader with great
popular support, Jean
Bertrand Aristide, who should be involved in the process for
a democratic
solution and establishment of stability and democracy.

The Dominican leader called on the Rio Group to make a
profound analysis of the
Haitian situation, given this immense undertaking, so that
the presence of the
MINUSTAH can be transformed in a clear and decisive manner to
cooperate in
building a true state of laws.

The Dominican president,s analysis of the Haitian crisis was
seconded and
approved by 11 of the presidents present, who in their
remarks expressed
support to the Dominican initiative seeking immediate support
for Haiti.

President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez, who will visit the
Dominican republic this
Saturday, said, &We should go to the aid of Haiti, but a
great deal of the
fault for the disorder in that brother country lies with the
United States.8

The president of Paraguay Nicanor Duarte said that countries
meeting here
should offer support for building a true democracy in haiti,
with sovereignty
and with respect for its cultural roots.

The president of Panama Martin Torrijos backed the position
of the Dominican
leader and said that he was ready to offer cooperation in
elections, welcoming
the position of President Fernandez.

At the same time, the Vice President of El Salvador, Ana
Vilma de Escobar,
spoke of the need to restore order and to organize a
constitutional convention
in which all participants can find consensus and will respect
the rules of the
game.

&We should carry out a crusade to recover multi-lateralism,
so that we can work
at establishing order in Haiti, and then work in favor of a
civilized
co-existence where conversations about the future can
begin,8 commented the
president of Bolivia, Carlos Mesa.
When his turn came, the president of Guatemala, Eduardo Stein
Braillas,
affirmed that the efforts to assist the Caribbean nation
should be carried out
jointly with the United Nations, but added the self-criticism
that the
countries of Latin America did not take decisions concerning
that nation when
they faced the need to do so.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, November 4, 2004. Office of
Information, Press, and
Public Relations.

(end text)

- - - - - - - - - - -


5. (C) The Aristide comment appeared to come out of nowhere.
Fernandez had
not previously discussed Aristide by name in conversations
with us, or with our French and Canadian counterparts.

6. (C) Perhaps the greatest surprise for us was the palace's
presumption that
there would be no downside. The next-day in-house press
analysis by
Fernandez's strategy unit concluded that there was "no risk"
associated with
his comments and that Fernandez was "presenting himself as an
element of
international cooperation."

Fernandez Backtracks
- - - - - - - - - -

7. (C) On November 6, during a pull-aside at a social event,
the Ambassador admonished Fernandez that his reference to
Aristide was a serious mistake, one
that had the potential of further inflaming a situation
already dangerous for
the Haitian people and for the international peacekeeping
force. Fernandez
replied that given popular support for Lavalas, it would have
to be part of the
situation. The Ambassador was direct: Aristide had led a
violent gang involved
in narcotics trafficking and had squandered any credibility
he formerly may
have had. "Nobody has given me any information about that,"
Fernandez
replied. The Ambassador insisted that no supporter of human
rights and
democracy could in good conscience allow Aristide and his
close supporters back
into the situation in Haiti. Fernandez listened and
eventually agreed to
distinguish between Aristide and Lavalas. He asked for any
information on
Aristide that the United States might be able to share with
him.

7. (C) On November 9 the Ambassador, DCM and EcoPol chief
questioned
presidential chief of staff Danilo Medina about the reference
to Aristide.
Medina suggested that the President hadn't meant Aristide,
but rather the
Lavalas political movement; the Ambassador questioned that
interpretation.
Emboffs pointed out that Aristide had been named in the press
release and
questioned the inclusion in a Dominican press release of the
anti-U.S. remark
by Chavez. Medina professed not to have seen or cleared the
release, which had
been drafted by the press office. He said that in future,
press texts would be
routed through his office before release.

8. (C) The Ambassador meets with President Fernandez to
discuss Haiti (using reftel talking points) on the evening of
November 16, accompanied by the French, Canadian, British and
Spanish ambassadors. We will report septel on the results of
that discussion.
HERTELL

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