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Cablegate: Venezuelan & Cuban Construction of 3 Electricity

VZCZCXRO6978
PP RUEHQU
DE RUEHPU #1989 3541915
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 201915Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY PORT AU PRINCE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7390
INFO RUEHZH/HAITI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 3221
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA PRIORITY 0072
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J2 MIAMI FL PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L PORT AU PRINCE 001989

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CAR, DRL, S/CRS, INR/IAA
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR LAC/CAR
NSC FOR DAN FISK
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
TREASURY FOR MAUREEN WAFER

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/18/2017
TAGS: PREL PGOV EAID ENRG EFIN XL HA VE CU
SUBJECT: VENEZUELAN & CUBAN CONSTRUCTION OF 3 ELECTRICITY
PLANTS IN HAITI

Classified By: Charge Thomas C. Tighe for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (SBU) Summary: Venezuela and Cuba appear to be taking
advantage of Haiti's electricity gap. GOH sources up to and
including President Preval say Haiti is accepting delivery of
three Venezuela-supplied generators to supply Port-au-Prince,
Cap Haitien and Gonaives. The generators are to be installed
with Cuban technical help. After the December 16 visit to
Haiti of Taiwanese Foreign Minister James Cheung, Haiti
continues to accept assistance from a diverse set of donors.
End Summary.

2. (SBU) Embassy first heard of this project August 14 from
Michael Lecorps, Director General for the GoH's Office of
Monetization in the Ministry of Planning (the office
responsible for managing PetroCaribe in Haiti). He told
Econoff that the Venezuelans had begun construction of three
electricity plants in Haiti: Port-au-Prince (30 megawatts),
Cap Haitien (15 megawatts) and Gonaives (15 megawatts). The
plant construction would be a product of a three-country
cooperative effort including Haiti, Venezuela and Cuba. At
that time, he expected that the plants would be completed by
January 2008.

3. (C) President Rene Preval announced on December 18 at
airport press conference before departing for Cuba that the
Gonaives and Cap Haitien plants would open in February and
the Port-au-Prince plant in May. (Note: Preval said he would
attend the 4th PetroCaribe summit and have a medical check-up
in Cuba. End note.) Ambassador heard from a close business
associate of President Preval on December 14 that Venezuelan
President Chavez is pressing President Preval to visit Haiti
to inaugurate the Cap Haitien plant in a splashy public
ceremony. Rene Jean Jumeau (protect), Energy Consultant in
the Ministry of Public Works, noted that the GoH would have
to work on the state-owned electricity company EDH's
(Electricte d'Haiti) distribution infrastructure to bring
electricity to the large numbers of consumers who currently
do not have access to EDH's network. Jumeau also said the
plants would run on fossil fuels purchased through the
PetroCaribe agreement.

4. (C) Jumeau said the Government of Cuba is providing the
technical assistance for construction of the plants, and
training Haitians in Cuba to operate them. As for
management, Jumeau said that the "options are still being
considered," but the plants will have a mixed management team
with representatives of all three countries.

5. (SBU) President Preval told visiting Congresswoman Corrine
Brown December 10 that Haiti was taking delivery of the three
generators for these power plants the second week of
December. Installation of the units would follow soon, he
said.

6. (C) Comment: Venezuela, aided by Cuba, is taking advantage
of a yawning electricity gap in Haiti: the capital is without
power at least 50 percent of the time (longer during the dry
winter months) and much of the rest of the country suffers
even longer blackouts. Haiti will accept this kind of
assistance from any source. We do not believe the Preval
administration is ideologically motivated in accepting aid
from Venezuela or Cuba. Indeed, many Haitians rationalize
that foreigners owe their country assistance in exchange for
Haiti's unique historical contributions to freedom in the
hemisphere. Lecorps on August 14 told Econoff that the BRV
was providing this development assistance to Haiti as
compensation for the help provided to Simon Bolivar in the
early 19th century. Haiti is omnivorous in soliciting and
accepting assistance. The day after telling Congresswoman
Brown about accepting Venezuelan-financed generators,
President Preval received visiting Taiwanese Foreign Minister
James Huang. Press reports say the main subject was
Taiwanese assistance, including assistance for agriculture.
TIGHE

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

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