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Cablegate: Venezuela: The Gbrv's Political Response to Colombian Offer

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RR RUEHAO RUEHRS
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R 182250Z FEB 10 ZFF3
FM AMEMBASSY CARACAS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0479
INFO WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L CARACAS 000201

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ENERGY FOR ALOCKWOOD AND LEINSTEIN, DOE/EIA FOR MCLINE
HQ SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
TREASURY FOR MKACZMAREK
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NSC FOR DRESTREPO AND LROSSELLO
AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN PASS TO AMEMBASSY GRENADA
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AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PASS TO AMCONSUL RECIFE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/02/18
TAGS: ENRG ECON EINV CO VE
SUBJECT: Venezuela: The GBRV's Political Response to Colombian Offer
ofAssistance

REF: 10 CARACAS 35; 10 CARACAS 139; 10 CARACAS 173

CLASSIFIED BY: DarnallSteuart, Economic Counselor, DOS, Econ;
REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

1. (SBU) In response to press reports of Colombian Minister of
Mines and Energy HernC!nMartC-nez' offer to help Venezuela through
its current electricity crisis, Venezuela's Executive Vice
President ElC-as Jaua rejected the Colombian offer on Tuesday,
February 16. On Wednesday, February 17, Venezuelan Minister for
Electricity AlC- RodrC-guez clarified the GBRV's position, stating
that it would analyze any Colombian offer, just as it had done with
Brazil's offer of assistance.

2. (SBU) Venezuelan press reports on February 18 quote RodrC-guez as
modifying the GBRV's position even further, expressing skepticism
about Colombia's intentions and noting, "The most that Colombia has
supplied Venezuela is 140 MW and the consumption here is 17,000 MW.
If the Colombian offer is serious, it could contribute to resolving
part of the problem, but only a small part." Press reports,
however, state 140 MW represents 70% of the GBRV's goal in its
electricity reduction program for Caracas (200 MW) and that 140 MW
could supply the electricity needs of an entire city, such as
Puerto La Cruz.

3. (SBU) According to statements published in the Venezuelan press
on February 11, Colombian Foreign Minister Jaime BermC:dez said that
the GOC had not ceased dialogue with Venezuela despite bilateral
tensions. This was followed up on February 12 with Colombian
Defense Minister Gabriel Silva's statement saying the GOC was
expecting "a signal of the GBRV's willingness to settle differences
and fight regional enemies..." He added that if the bilateral
relations between the two states "limped back together," Colombia
could help Venezuela on security issues. According to press
reports, the GBRV expected to receive a formal Colombian offer on
Thursday, February 18.

4. (C) COMMENT: After months of the GBRV demonizing Colombia and
politicizing the bilateral relationship, Colombia's offer caught
the GBRV unprepared. Newly named Vice President Jaua was quick to
reject a potential offer of assistance, RodrC-guez walked back
Jaua's comments, and then added his own political spin to
Colombia's offer. For its part, the GBRV has (1) created a
ministry to confront the issue, (2) appointed, fired, and appointed
a new electricity minister, (3) enacted unpopular electricity
rationing measures across the country, (4) accepted assistance from
Brazil, Argentina, and Cuba, (5) declared an electricity state of
emergency and (6) appointed an "Electricity General Staff" to
handle the crisis. The GBRV would be hard pressed to explain how a
Colombian offer is "political" when most of its own responses to
the crisis could also be construed as "political" and
"bureaucratic." Given the Venezuelan public's frustration with the
GBRV's own efforts to date, it appears that Minister RodrC-guez
understood better than the new Vice President that for both
political and practical reasons a more open response to Colombia
constituted the wiser course. END COMMENT.
DUDDY

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