Exteriores critica que Zapatero estreche relaciones con Chávez

  • "La política de ZP no promueve la estabilidad en la región", según altos cargos de Exteriores.
  • España anula una visita a Caracas por presiones de EE UU.






2005-02-11 16:49:00




Embassy Madrid






This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.


C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MADRID 000569



E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/11/2015




REF: STATE 25063

Classified By: Political Counselor Kathleen M. Fitzpatrick,

reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

1. (C) Summary: The Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs'

chief official for Andean countries informed poloff February

9 that a majority of officials at the MFA are as perplexed as

the U.S. is at President Jose Luis Rodriquez Zapatero's

policy of building closer relations with Venezuela's Hugo

Chavez. @ELIMINADO@ (please protect) explained

Zapatero's Venezuela policy is being run from Moncloa and the

MFA is left to try to influence the policy as much as

possible. Most MFA officials, according to @ELIMINADO@, see no

benefits and only downsides for Spain in closer relations

with Venezuela. They understand Zapatero's moves do not work

to promote democracy or stability in the region and will only

serve to further strain relations with the U.S., Colombia and

other countries in the region. End summary.

2. (C) Poloff met February 9 with @ELIMINADO@, the MFA's Deputy

Director General for the Andean Community (DAS-equivalent) to

discuss Spain's policy toward Venezuela and Colombia.

(@ELIMINADO@ replaced Ernesto de Zulueta as the Andean DDG in

December 2004). Poloff began the meeting telling @ELIMINADO@

that in general the U.S. was extremely perplexed at Spain's

developing relationship with Venezuela and Hugo Chavez, and

believed the Spanish government was on the wrong side of the

equation in terms of promoting democracy in the region and

avoiding conflicts between Venezuela and Colombia.

3. (C) In a surprisingly frank reply, @ELIMINADO@ (please

protect) said he and "the great majority" of his colleagues

in the Foreign Ministry were "equally perplexed" at

Zapatero's moves to build closer relations with Chavez. He

specifically noted (again, please protect) that more senior

officials involved with Latin American affairs at the MFA

share this view. @ELIMINADO@, who has served in Caracas,

explained that neither he nor many others in the MFA saw any

benefit accruing to Spain from Zapatero's policy, rather

quite the opposite: Zapatero's cozying up to Chavez will

only needlessly anger the United States and Colombia. "We

don't understand the policy or the reason for it," remarked


4. (C) On Zapatero's canceling of a planned stop in Caracas

during his recent visit to South America,@ELIMINADO@ said the

MFA strongly urged Zapatero not to make the stop, believing

it would be a serious mistake, but in the end it was

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe's direct intervention with

Zapatero (somewhat heated, according to @ELIMINADO@) that

ultimately led Zapatero to cancel the stop. @ELIMINADO@ said he

and his MFA colleagues were at a loss to explain why Zapatero

then "secretly" sent Minister of Defense Bono to Caracas. If

the purpose of the visit was to lobby Chavez to purchase

military ships from Spain's ailing Izar shipyards, the

prevailing view at the MFA is that placating, probably only

temporarily, Izar's agitated ship workers was not worth

damaging Spain's relations with the U.S., Colombia and


5. (C) Moreover, @ELIMINADO@ emphasized, selling any kind of

armaments to Venezuela at this time "makes no sense at all,"

particularly in light of the Zapatero government's decision

in 2004 to cancel the sale of "a few second or third hand

tanks" to Colombia, purportedly because Madrid was concerned

the sale could upset the military balance between Venezuela

and Colombia. "If Bono had justified canceling the sale

based on the idea that tanks are not well suited to fighting

an insurgency, that would be one thing," said @ELIMINADO@, "but

having canceled the sale supposedly to avoid tipping the

military balance in the region, we at the MFA understand how

incongruous discussions with Venezuela about purchasing

armaments from Spain now look."

6. (C) @ELIMINADO@ said that Venezuela policy is being run out

of Moncloa (the presidency) and that the MFA is left trying

to influence the policy as much as possible. "The MFA wants

relations with the U.S. repaired, not further damaged by a

policy of building closer relations to Hugo Chavez, which

produces no tangible benefits for Spain," said @ELIMINADO@. The

MFA understands the U.S. also strongly disagrees with Spain's

Cuba policy, but the MFA feels it can articulate a reasonable

basis for the Zapatero government's position on Cuba. "There

is no reasonable basis for our Venezuela policy," said

@ELIMINADO@. The MFA understands Spain should be on the right

side of democracy and regional security, and that Venezuela

is going in the wrong direction. The MFA is doing its best

to persuade Moncloa of this.

7. (C) Poloff said the U.S. strongly urges Zapatero not to

visit Caracas in March as we understand he is tentatively

planning to do. @ELIMINADO@ replied that the MFA understands the

U.S. position and is seeking to postpone the visit. At a

minimum, the MFA wants to see Zapatero visit Bogota on the

same trip if Zapatero does go to Caracas in March.

8. (C) Poloff's conversation with@ELIMINADO@ took place before

we received reftel concerning Venezuelan attempts to purchase

certain armaments. We will follow up with both the MFA and

Moncloa on the arms question, and more generally on further

developments in the Zapatero government's evolving policy

toward Venezuela.


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