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Cablegate: Demonstration at Embassy Caracas

VZCZCXRO1907
RR RUEHAO RUEHCD RUEHGA RUEHGD RUEHGR RUEHHA RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHMT
RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHQU RUEHRD RUEHRG RUEHRS RUEHTM RUEHVC
DE RUEHCV #1352 2692246
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 252246Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY CARACAS
TO RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1867

UNCLAS CARACAS 001352

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DS/TIA, DS/IP/WHA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC CVIS PREL VE
SUBJECT: DEMONSTRATION AT EMBASSY CARACAS

REF: CARACAS 1332

1. (SBU) On 09/23/2008, a group of approximately 50
demonstrators gathered outside the main entrance of Embassy
Caracas. Post officials received advance notice of the
protest and in light of increased anti-U.S. rhetoric from the
Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (BRV), decided it was
prudent to cancel Non-Immigrant Visa (NIV) operations for the
day.

2. (SBU) The demonstration took place at 11:00 and lasted
approximately one hour. Demonstrators carried flags and
banners identifying themselves as supporters of the Communist
Party of Venezuela (PCV). Oscar Figueroa, PCV Secretary
General, and Yul Jabour, A PVC National Assembly deputy, led
the demonstrators. RSO had been made aware of the planned
demonstration over a week in advance, and had requested
police support and extra guard force coverage for the event.
Local municipal police provided a timely contingent of about
10 motorcycle officers; however, the small crowd was able to
block vehicle entry/exit into the main entrance for the
duration of the protest. Demonstrators shouted anti-American
slogans and presented a paper with similar Yankee-go-home
content to an American officer before departing the area.
The demonstration was peaceful and ended without incident.

3. (SBU) Given the venomous anti-American rhetoric from the
BRV, recent expulsion of the Ambassador, and planned
demonstration in front of Embassy Caracas, Post elected to
suspend consular NIV services on 09/23/2008. That morning,
an unknown person had tossed a tear gas grenade into the
compound of Globovision, an opposition media outlet. Concern
for the safety of visa applicants made sending NIV applicants
home for the day both prudent and necessary to avoid
potential security incidents. Applicants who arrived at the
embassy seeking visas were told to return on 09/25/2008 for
visa services. Public Affairs provided local press reasons
for the closure, and a 09/24/2008 article in the local daily
"El Universal" was entitled "The Closure of U.S. Visas in
Caracas is not Dismissed." Although extra security personnel
were in place to handle the large numbers of visa applicants
being denied entry, there were no incidents or security
problems as the result of the closure.

4. (SBU) MFA USA Desk Officer Marie Borregales called
A/PolCouns 09/24/2008 to follow up on press reports of the
Embassy's closing of the NIV section on 09/23/2008. She
stressed that the MFA took very seriously the security
concerns raised by Charge in his 09/19/2008 meeting with MFA
Director of North American Affairs Yaneth Arocha (reftel).
Borregales said the MFA contacted the Director of Citizen
Security in the Caracas Mayor's Office, who in turn, alerted
the Metropolitan Police to be responsive to Embassy's
security concerns. Asked whether she anticipated that
Venezuela's special police (DISIP) would be more responsive
in the future, Borregales said that MFA did not contact DISIP.
CAULFIELD

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