Cablegate: Virtual Presence Program (Vpp) In

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



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary Embassy Madrid has decided to initiate
Virtual Presence Programs (VPP) for Andalusia and the Basque
country a one year trial basis. Charge initiated the
Andalusia VPP concept while visiting Seville November
30-December 1. He hosted a well attended reception for the
U.S. Davis Cup tennis team and local officials. The tennis
team is captained by Patrick McEnroe and includes the world
number two ranked player: Andy Roddick. The U.S. team will
compete with the Spanish team in the Davis Cup final in
Seville December 3-5. Charge's visit generated extensive
press coverage-he got the message out that while we have
differences, Spain and the U.S. con continue to work together
on important issues, including security matters. Charge met
with Autonomous Community of Andalusia President Manuel
Chavez Gonzalez, a nationally influential PSOE stalwart.
(Note: In Spain, "Autonomous Communities" are roughly
equivalent to states in the U.S., although Spain is formally
still a unitary country). Chavez reiterated the PSOE
position that Spain wants to be "useful," for instance in the
Middle East, to the U.S., although he prefaced his remarks by
saying he does not speak for the GOS. Charge also met with a
representative for the Mayor of Seville. Both Chavez and the
Mayor's representative welcomed the prospect of a continuing
dialogue with the U.S. Embassy through the Virtual Presence
Program. End Summary.


2. (U) We closed our Consulate General in Seville fifteen
years ago, but we still maintain a two person Consular Agency
in Seville. There are numerous reasons to make an effort to
maintain an ongoing dialogue with the regional and city
governments. Andalusia is big with seven million out of
Spain's 40 million inhabitants. The PSOE leadership is
nationally influential. Andalusia is home to many American
retirees and hosts many tourists. We have two important
military bases there. See Para. 3 for a non-exhaustive list
of our ongoing interests and activities in Andalusia. Our
idea is to use this list as a basis for developing additional
programs and activities serving Mission Program Plan (MPP)
goals. Trade Policy Officer Carl Schonander is the Embassy's
Andalusia Virtual Program Coordinator. He will be liaisoning
on an ongoing basis with regional and city officials
regarding ways we might expand activities in and with


3. (U) Consular Agency to remain; Rota and Moron bases.
Container Security Initiative in Algeciras. U.S.-Spain
Council 10th Annual Meeting probably in February, 2005
(chaired by Senator Chris Dodd and Antonio Garrigues).
U.S. Embassy to support Seville June 2005 conference on
academic exchanges called "Building Bridges"; sponsor
speakers for Universidad de Jaen Spring 2005 Spanish
Association of American Studies biannual program; assist
Malaga Centro de Arte Contemporaneo put together an exhibit
by American artist Alex Katz in February-June 2005.
Researchers from Andalusia have received Fulbright
scholarships; some U.S. Fulbright scholars perform research
in Andalusia. International Visitor Program: Intensified
effort to find qualified candidates from Andalusia. United
States Commercial Service (USCS)/Confederacion Empresarios
Andaluses (CEA) seminar in 2005. U.S. Embassy Environment,
Science and Technology Officer to explore possibility of
greater Science & Technology cooperation with Andalusia, as
well as greater Andalusian presence in the Fulbright grant
process. Annual visit by American Consul General. Political
Section visits in 2005 especially oriented towards
identifying and providing counterterrorism training to
members of local law enforcement agencies. Seville maintains
a sister city relationship with Kansas City.


4. (U) The first Embassy-hosted reception in Seville in four
years proved successful with the Mayor in attendance and top
lieutenants to the President of the Autonomous Community of
Andalusia. The hook of the U.S. Davis Cup tennis team's
presence generated excitement. The Davis Cup final, a three
day event, has attracted sold out crowds in Seville and is
one of the most important sporting events the city has
hosted. The U.S. reception attracted national,regional,
local, and TV media. Charge's subsequent TV and press
interviews also received widespread positive coverage.


5. (SBU) Chavez is a heavyweight within the PSOE. Had he
been willing to leave Andalusia, he would have been a strong
contender for the PSOE leadership. He is nationally
influential and travels frequently in Spain and abroad.
Chavez was receptive to closer contacts with the Embassy in
Madrid. He was very interested in the upcoming U.S.-Spain
Council meeting, provisionally scheduled for February 2005 in
Seville. He reiterated the PSOE line that Spain wants to be
"useful" to the U.S., although he prefaced his remarks by
saying that he does not speak for the GOS. He said that Iraq
was an "accident" in U.S.-Spanish relations and that the two
countries should return to "normality.8 Chavez said he grew
up with Americans from the military bases in Andalusia. He
noted that he had been selected twice for International
Visitor programs. The first time he could not go because the
Franco government stopped him. The second time he went in
the late seventies, and he said it had been a good
experience. Chavez opined that Catalonia was medium-term a
more significant problem for Spain's constitutional future
than the Basque country despite the terrorism problem in the
latter. He said the Catalonia PSOE was more nationalist than
socialist, whereas the Basque PSOE was more socialist than
nationalist. (Comment: A fundamental problem for leaders of
autonomous communities like Andalusia that are comfortable
with a Spanish identity is that if Catalonia and the Basque
country demand and receive more powers, the other communities
often feel duty-bound to demand the same concessions from the
central government. There is resistance in Spain to the idea
that some communities should effectively be more equal than
others such as Quebec is in the Canadian Confederation and
Scotland in the United Kingdom). Chavez mentioned that he is
currently reading Bob Woodward's "Plan of Attack,8 and that
he found the book's description of decision making at the
highest level of the USG "interesting.8


6. (U) Seoane mentioned that he had just returned from a trip
to Tangiers. He said that Spanish businesses were
potentially interested in investing in Morocco to take
advantage of the U.S.-Morocco FTA. He noted that some
Spanish businesses really were suffering from the Euro-Dollar
exchange rate, and that they needed to do everything possible
to increase competitiveness. Seoane reiterated that the City
of Seville would like to see the U.S. use the Consular Agency
building more often. Charge noted that the building was too
large for U.S. needs, and that we would probably return the
building to the City when our lease expires in February 2006,
although a final USG decision has not been made. Seoane was
very interested in expanding student exchange programs. He
also mentioned that baseball was becoming more popular, and
that he would like to try to arrange a game between an
Andalusian team and a team from the Rota naval base. Seoane
mentioned that Seville's top female soccer player (Seville
plays in the A feminine league) is an American called
Jennifer Talavera-she gets a lot of attention in the local


7. (U) Charge's trip to Seville proved a good launching pad
for the Virtual Presence Program in Andalusia.

© Scoop Media

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