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Cablegate: Panama: "What's Next?" in Venezuela

VZCZCXYZ0002
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHZP #1828 3372217
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 032217Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY PANAMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1501
INFO RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1155
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L PANAMA 001828

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/03/2017
TAGS: PREL VE PM
SUBJECT: PANAMA: "WHAT'S NEXT?" IN VENEZUELA


Classified By: Ambassador William A. Eaton. Reasons: 1.4 (b) and (d)

-----------------------
What's Next for Chavez?
-----------------------

1. (C) "What's next in Venezuela," First VP and FM Samuel
Lewis asked Ambassador on December 3. Stunned by the "No"
victory in Venezuela, Lewis commented, "Everybody is holding
their breath to see what Chavez does next." Lewis mused that
Chavez would need to change the subject and grab a new issue
to rebound from his loss at the ballot box. That issue could
be returning to his efforts to free kidnapped victims from
the FARC. "The issue played favorably for Chavez; he got
proof of life for Ingrid de Betancourt and others," Lewis
added.

-------------------------------
What's Next for the Opposition?
-------------------------------

2. (C) Noting that the opposition would have difficulty
sustaining its momentum -- "There's no electoral event on the
horizon" -- Lewis wondered if the oppositin could or would
try to return to the recall referendum to end Chavez's term
before 2012. MFA Senior Advisor Nils Castro, who accompanied
Lewis, noted the important role of students in the "No"
campaign and said that he believed a new generation of
leaders was emerging. (Note: Castro is sent frequently by
Lewis and President Torrijos to Caracas as a private emissary
to Chavez and high-ranking GOV leaders.) Lewis noted how
quickly older opposition leaders like Antonio Ledezma and
Manuel Rosales, who Lewis asserted had been largely absent
from the "No" campaign, were to get on the airwaves on the
night of the referendum.
EATON

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