Cablegate: Virtual Presence Program (Vpp) in Seville/Andalusia Initiated

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

091040Z Dec 04



E.O. 12958: DECL: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary: Embassy Madrid has decided to initiate Virtual
Presence Programs (VPP) for Andalusia and the Basque country on
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. 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


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 liaising on an ongoing
basis with regional and city officials regarding ways we might
expand activities in and with Andalusia.

--------------------------------------------- -------------
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3. (U)

-- Consular Agency to remain.

-- Rota and Moron bases.

-- Container Security Initiative in Algeciras.

-- U.S.-Spain Council 10nth 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

-- 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

-- 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


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". 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", and that he found the book's
description of decionmaking at the highest level of the
USG "interesting".

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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 to 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.


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