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Cablegate: Venezuelan Media Highlight Benefits of Fourth Fleet

R 131608Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY CARACAS
TO WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS
SECSTATE WASHDC 2136
NSC WASHDC
HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
DIRJIATF EAST

UNCLAS CARACAS 001573


SOUTHCOM FOR VILLAVICENCIO, RUIZ, AND POLAD
STATE FOR PETER SAMPSON WHA/PPD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO PGOV PREL VE
SUBJECT: VENEZUELAN MEDIA HIGHLIGHT BENEFITS OF FOURTH FLEET

1. (U) SUMMARY: Thanks to the combined efforts of the USS
Kearsarge, SouthCom, and the U.S. Embassies in Venezuela and
the Dominican Republic, Venezuelans received a thorough and
accurate look into the humanitarian work of the Navy's
newly-reactivated Fourth Fleet. Reporters from two major
Venezuelan daily newspapers saw the Kearsarge provide
humanitarian services, respond to local needs, and strengthen
ties with the Dominican Republic. The result was two
excellent newspaper articles that clearly demonstrated the
Fourth Fleet's Mission, while countering considerable
Venezuelan government propaganda. Post wishes to thank all
those who made this successful trip possible. END SUMMARY

2. (U) SouthCom's reactivation of the Fourth Fleet provoked
forceful condemnations from the Venezuelan government, which
alleges that the United States' intent is to intimidate
Venezuela and the Hemisphere. To counter this misinformation,
post worked with SouthCom and the staff of the USS Kearsarge
to bring Venezuelan journalists onboard the ship during its
stop in the Dominican Republic (DR) to get a first-hand look
at what the multinational military and NGO staff do as part
of the Fleet's "Continuing Promise" mission.

3. (U) Thanks to the efforts of Dan Day, Chris Hwang, and
Eduardo Villavicencio and his SouthCom staff, two reporting
teams traveled to the DR from October 6 - 9 and had access to
the crew, patients, government and non-government officials
on the ship, and accompanied the crew to visits to medical
clinics and construction projects.

4. (U) The Kearsarge team not only arranged these visits, but
both Commodore Frank Ponds and Captain Walt Towns met
personally with the reporters to brief them and hold informal
discussions about the Fourth Fleet, Continuing Promise, and
relations between the United States and other Western
Hemisphere countries. The reporters highlighted comments by
Commander Ponds and Cpt. Towns in the stories. The
appreciation reporters felt for the personal attention and
information "from the top" was evident both in their articles
and personal comments during the trip.

5. (U) Ultimas Noticias, the country's leading national daily
newspaper (circulation: 250,000; tabloid style) devoted two
pages to the visit in its Monday, October 20th edition. The
reporter wrote three stories, each focusing on different
aspects of the Mission. He discussed the opposition of the
Venezuelan government to the Fourth Fleet and then featured
Cpt. Ponds' comments about the humanitarian role of the
Fleet. The articles and accompanying photographs highlighted
the international aspects of the Mission, the humanitarian
focus, and the partnership of nations that made Continuing
Promise a success. Generally a "Chavista light" news outlet,
these articles in Ultimas Noticias exposed a politically and
socieconomically diverse cross section of Venezuelans to the
role of the Fourth Fleet and helped correct Venezuelan
government misinformation.

6. (U) The article and pictures in the Sunday, October 19,
edition of El Carabobeno (circulation 50,000, broad sheet
style) also furthered this goal. Through interviews with
patients, the reporter painted a vivid picture of the medical
and infrastructure needs of the Dominicans and how the
Kearsarge staff fulfilled them. One woman was quoted as
saying that Continuing Promise's attention to her town was "a
miracle."

7. (U) This reporting trip immensely furthered post's efforts
to counter misinformation about the Fourth Fleet's mission
and brought a human face to U.S. military forces.

8. (U) Post thanks Commodore Ponds, Cpt. Towns, Eng. Day, Col
Villavicencio, PAO Gary Keith, their colleagues and staffs
for their outstanding contributions that made this reporting
tour a resounding success. Post looks forward to future
cooperation with SouthCom to present the Venezuelan public
with accurate information about the Fourth Fleet.


GENNATIEMPO

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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