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Cablegate: Haiti Not Interested in Petrocaribe Deal --For Now

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

UNCLAS PORT AU PRINCE 002596

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CAR
WHA/EPSCA
EB/ESC/IEC
INR/IAA/MAC
S/CRS
TREASURY FOR MAUREEN WAFER
USDOC FOR 4322/ITA/MAN/WH/OLAC (SMITH< S.)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ENRG EFIN ECON PGOV PREL HA
SUBJECT: HAITI NOT INTERESTED IN PETROCARIBE DEAL --FOR NOW

1. SUMMARY: According to some press reports, the
government of Venezuela planned to send a negotiating team to
Haiti to negotiate a deal to sell oil at a preferential rate
via PetroCaribe. However, follow-up conversations with
Interim Government of Haiti (IGOH) officials reveal that
Haiti is still a long way from such a deal. It is more
likely that Venezuela,s recent efforts are designed to get
the issue on the agenda, and that Chavez,s strongest efforts
will come after the elections, when a new Haitian government
is inaugurated in February 2006. END SUMMARY.

Reports of Haiti-Venezuela Oil Deal

2. According to scattered press reports in early October,
the government of Venezuela planned to send a negotiating
team to Haiti (exact time undetermined) to negotiate a deal
to sell oil at a preferential rate via PetroCaribe. Upon
returning from a recent trip to Venezuela, Minister of
Culture and Communication, Magali Comeau Denis told the
Charge she was bringing Venezuelan oil back to Haiti with
her.

But IGOH Says No

3. When engaged by the Charge on the subject it was clear
that there was no deal and that Minister Comeau Denis was not
familiar with details of how such a sale would work. Prior
to the Comeau Denis visit to Venezuela, Charge and Econ
Counselor had spoken to acting Prime Minister Henri Bazin who
said that the Interim Government of Haiti was looking for
concessional terms for oil purchases from Mexico and Nigeria
--but not Venezuela, he was quick to emphasize. In a
follow-up conversation, Charge reiterated the negatives of
such a deal with Venezuela. Bazin listened and understood
the message.

4. Econ Counselor met with a contact at the Finance Ministry
October 13 who confirmed that the IGOH has no plans to
participate in any PetroCaribe deal. He added that our
message to Bazin had an impact: Bazin had seen a draft of
comments to be made by Haiti,s representative to the IMF
that included a vague reference to someday purchasing oil at
concessional prices from Venezuela and Bazin had the sentence
deleted, the only change he made on the text.

5. COMMENT: Like many press reports in Haiti, there is less
here than meets the eye. First, given Chavez,s past support
of ex-President Aristide, the IGOH has little enthusiasm for
dealing with Chavez. Second, a commercial deal with
Venezuela would likely involve setting up a Haitian state-run
oil company, something the IGOH would find difficult to
accomplish given the variety of political, economic and
security challenges it faces at the moment. However, the
high global price of oil is having a strongly felt negative
impact on the economy, with political ramifications. The
pressures on the government to strike a deal will increase as
long as the price of oil remains high. We suspect that the
recent efforts by Venezuela here are designed more to get the
issue on the agenda, and that Chavez,s strongest efforts
will come after the elections, when a new Haitian government
is inaugurated in February 2006. We will watch closely for
that possibility. END COMMENT.
CARNEY

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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