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Cablegate: Demarche On Democracy in Venezuela

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C O N F I D E N T I A L MADRID 002159

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/26/2017
TAGS: PGOV PHUM VE SP
SUBJECT: DEMARCHE ON DEMOCRACY IN VENEZUELA

REF: A. STATE 154674
B. MADRID 2123
C. MADRID 2077

Classified By: CHARGE D'AFFAIRES HUGO LLORENS, REASONS 1.4B AND D.

1. (C) Charge d'Affaires delivered ref a demarche November 23
to MFA Secretary of State for Iberoamerica Trinidad Jimenez
and the Director General for Iberoamerica Javier Sandomingo.
Drawing also on information provided by WHA/AND concerning
Chavez' ties to Iran and increased narcotics trafficking from
Venezuela, the Charge urged that Spain continue to speak out
publicly in support of democracy in Venezuela, as FM
Moratinos did when Chavez threatened RCTV.

2. (C) Jimenez demurred, saying Spain was trying to avoid
being drawn into more public controversy with Chavez
following the King's rebuke (ref b) and despite Chavez'
continued rhetorical provocation. Jimenez said public
opposition from Spain would only help Chavez whip up his
supporters for the constitutional referendum. Pressed by the
Charge to help the EU develop a constructive position,
Jimenez said that Spain would try to do something, but would
want to avoid an appearance of directly interfering in
Venezuela's internal affairs. She said a possibility was to
get a statement at the EU or European Parliament level.
Jimenez also said the Spanish Government was working behind
the scenes, feeding information to journalists on the threat
to democracy in Venezuela.

3. (C) Jimenez noted that post-Santiago Spain had received
messages of solidarity from virtually every government in
Latin America. She said Chavez (whom she described as a
"clown") was isolated. Alluding to the "Kings' Club" Jimenez
said the Saudis had given Chavez the cold shoulder at the
recent OPEC meeting because of his rudeness to Juan Carlos.
She said even Evo Morales was signaling by his body language
in Santiago that Chavez was embarrassing him.

4. (C) Jimenez agreed the proposed constitutional reforms
would be a severe setback for democracy and noted that recent
polls suggested that opposition was growing in Venezuelan
society against the proposed changes to the constitution.
She added, however, that it was tough for a government to
lose a referendum and predicted a close vote. Sandomingo
said fraud was a real possibility. Jimenez mentioned she had
met with the opposition during her recent visit to Caracas
(ref c), and although disorganized it was getting better and
finally trying to articulate a position. She also said even
high oil prices could not sustain Chavez' fiscal
irresponsibility; Spanish businessmen and independent
analysts told her an economic collapse was a high possibility
with 24 months.
LLORENS

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