Cablegate: Venezuela's Agenda for the Africa - South America Summit
PP RUEHAG RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHCV #1059/01 2251555
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 131555Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY CARACAS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3546
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CARACAS 001059
HQSOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
DEPARTMENT PASS TO AID/OTI (RPORTER)
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/12/2029
TAGS: PGOV PREL VE
SUBJECT: VENEZUELA'S AGENDA FOR THE AFRICA - SOUTH AMERICA SUMMIT
Classified By: A/POLITICAL COUNSELOR DARNALL STEUART, REASONS 1.4 (B) and (D).
1. (C) Summary: Venezuela is hosting an Africa - South America heads of state summit on Margarita Island in September 2009. A chaotic July 20-23 coordination meeting in Caracas for South American and African representatives suggests Venezuela is planning to use its position as host to ram through a confrontational summit declaration critical of the U.S. The Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (GBRV) has been dismissive of the need to consult other countries before making decisions regarding the conference, and appears willing to try to bully participants to acquiesce to its point of view. End Summary.
Troubled Coordination Meeting, Logistically...
2. (C) This summit is the second Africa - South America summit; the first was hosted by Nigeria in November 2006. XXXXXXXXXXXX told PolOff August 7 that the July 20 - 23 regional coordination meeting did not result in a document ready for senior-level approval. XXXXXXXXXXXX was one of 16 African representatives who attended the meeting, most of whom came from their embassies in Brasilia, although three came directly from Africa. Representatives of 12 South American countries also attended. Libya did not attend, even though it has an embassy in Caracas, and officials from Nigeria came late, saying at first that they were "boycotting" the meeting because the coordination coincided with a previously scheduled African Union event, and requests to the GBRV to delay the meeting had been rebuffed.
3. (C) After three days of discussion, the group had only reviewed 30 of the 83 proposed articles. The South American countries did not arrive at the meeting in agreement about the articles. Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Brazil were in favor of a "market-oriented" approach, according to XXXXXXXXXXXX. Officials from Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador were in favor of language that underscored the need for state-led solutions and praised the "Bolivarian Revolutionary" economic model. The Bolivian representative passionately argued for text condemning outside interference, said XXXXXXXXXXXX, and Ecuador was mostly a quiet supporter of the Bolivian position. Two of the eight working groups had not yet submitted their contributions to the proposed document, and XXXXXXXXXXXX said it seemed as if Venezuela had written the document unilaterally. The South African representative asked that references to "internal economic structures" be deleted from the text, and that the conference not be used as a platform to criticize third countries. Venezuelan officials refused to allow any changes to the text, and the meeting ended with a draft proposal of 93 articles. When asked when the next meeting would be held to work on the document, the GBRV officials said it was ready for senior level attention.
Who is Planning on Attending?
4. (C) At the time of the regional coordination meeting, the heads of state conference was planned for September 20 2009. Arabic-speaking members of the African Union had earlier indicated they would not participate because it coincided with the end of the month of Ramadan. Requests to the GBRV to change the dates of the meeting were initially rebuffed. On August 3 the South African Embassy was informed that Muammar al-Gaddafi had talked to Chavez and the date had been changed to September 27. This new date coincides with the opening of the U.N. General Assembly.
5. (C) Given the timing, and the chaotic and controversial proposed text, XXXXXXXXXXXX said it was unlikely that the South African head of state would attend, and that "it is quite likely that the only representation will be from the South African Embassy in Caracas." Chile indicated at the regional coordination meeting that President Bachelet would not attend. The South African Ambassador told the Deputy Chief of Mission on July 30 that no more than half of the 53 African Union heads of state might attend. Both the South African and Nigerian Ambassadors, the only sub-Saharan African resident Ambassadors in Caracas, said their countries would resist allowing the summit to become a vehicle for anti-American propaganda.