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DOCUMENTO Íntegro

Cable sobre el debilitamiento de AD bajo la dirección de Henry Ramos

En el documento de la embajada en Venezuela el partido señala que sigue debilitándose bajo su líder, que continúa expulsando a sus rivales en la formación

ID: 94563
Date: 2007-01-30 16:10:00
Origin: 07CARACAS201
Source: Embassy Caracas
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Dunno:
Destination: VZCZCXRO2636
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHCV #0201/01 0301610
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 301610Z JAN 07
FM AMEMBASSY CARACAS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7648
INFO RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS PRIORITY
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0741
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 CARACAS 000201

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

HQSOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
DEPT PASS TO AID/OTI RPORTER

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/22/2017
TAGS: PGOV, KDEM, VE
SUBJECT: OPPOSITION SEVERELY CHALLENGED, LOOKING LONG TERM


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Classified By: POLITICAL COUNSELOR ROBERT DOWNES FOR 1.4 (D)

-------
Summary
-------

1. (C) Still stinging from its tenth consecutive electoral
defeat since 1998, the opposition is plagued by infighting,
the need to rebuild, disillusioned supporters, and an
inability to effectively confront President Chavez' plans to
push his "socialist" agenda. Accion Democratica (AD), which
made its name more than 50 years ago fighting against
Venezuela's past authoritarian governments, finds itself
fading under the short-sighted choke-hold of Secretary
General Henry Ramos Allup. Primero Justicia, until now the
most promising opposition party, is on the verge of
splitting. Former presidential contender Manuel Rosales is
working, with some success, to rally the opposition, but is
being undermined by those raising doubts about whether he can
simultaneously lead the opposition and the Zulia
governorship. His lack of focus in Venezuela around the
holidays-- when Chavez was aggressively moving forward --
damaged public perception of his leadership capability.
Still, Rosales remains the only national opposition
politician capable of uniting and leading broad segments of
Venezuelan civil society. End Summary.

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Opposition is in Neutral
-------------------------

2. (C) Although the opposition had long anticipated
President Chavez' recently announced deepening of his
"socialist" program, it was nonetheless surprised by Chavez'
sudden urgency to implement the plan, and has failed to react
in a rapid or coordinated manner. Following their tenth
straight electoral loss since 1998, most parties are turning
inward either trying to figure out the way ahead or settle
scores. Plans to sponsor recall referenda against mayors and
governors have been scuttled as many opposition voters are
too disillusioned to participate, or concerned about
government reprisals if they do. Most opposition leaders
we've talked to, such as Christian Democratic party (Copei)
Secretary General Luis Ignacio Planas, see few issues that

SIPDIS
could motivate people, and think the opposition will be
resigned to merely reacting to Chavez' moves. Even the RCTV
decision has generated only minimally cohesive opposition
response so far.

-------------------------
Rosales to the Fore . . .
-------------------------

3. (C) Former presidential candidate Manuel Rosales has kept
his concession speech promise and stepped forward to set the
opposition's agenda on two fronts. First, he is trying to
solidify his Zulia-based Un Nuevo Tiempo (UNT) party as a
national entity. He has also approached several parties
about forming a loose confederation based on a common set of
shared principles. This will not be the opposition
equivalent of a single party, but a broad, ideologically
diverse alliance, similar to that which supported Rosales in
the presidential election.

4. (C) Second, Rosales began a nationwide tour January 13 to
mobilize people against the dangers of Chavez' "socialist"
agenda and announced the creation of committees to defend
municipalities from Chavez' redistricting proposal January
16. Sympathetic civil society groups are also reportedly
planning a national neighborhood canvassing initiative to
highlight the BRV's failures in addressing social issues. In
addition, the technical committee Rosales established to
study potential constitutional amendments is readying its
initial findings, according to Gerardo Blyde, the group's
executive secretary. The inter-party political committee to
review the findings has not yet been formed, however, due to
some opposition parties' continued squabbling.

------------------------------
. . . But Will Others Follow?
------------------------------

5. (C) Nevertheless, the de facto opposition leader faces a
more difficult task than he did during the presidential
campaign. Rosales lost some traction by vacationing during
Christmas break, while Chavez was launching multiple

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initiatives, and has since been trying to catch up. He will
also have to push out the old politicians that jumped into
the leadership void during that time and reassert himself as
the face of the opposition. In addition, Rosales' attempt to
balance the time-consuming demands of leading a national
opposition movement and the Zulia governorship is generating
discontent. Opposition allies are saying that he should
resign from his governorship to devote his full time to the
opposition. Stepping down, however, would mean losing his
immunity from prosecution, as well as reducing his available
resources. His opponents may use UNT's association with
old-guard politicians affiliated with the discredited
governments of the past (the so-called Fourth Republic) and
the failed Coordinadora Democratica of 2004 to undermine his
appeal, as well. Contacts have also privately speculated
that the Caracas political elite may have problems accepting
"an outsider," i.e. someone not from the capital, as their
leader. Ultra-opposition leaders, for example, still harbor
resentment and are lambasting Rosales for conceding soon
after the National Electoral Council (CNE) announced the
preliminary election results. Some opposition technical
experts and groups are even studying the presidential
election results to try to identify patterns of fraud,
drawing attention and resources that could be used elsewhere.

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Dissension Returns
------------------

6 (C) Even if Rosales is able to overcome these issues, as
he well may, the opposition remains deeply fractured, with
virtually every party mired in internal disputes. The
struggle within Primero Justicia (PJ), perhaps the most
notorious spat, reached its height in mid-December when
members of the breakaway faction, Justicia Popular, allegedly
vandalized PJ's Caracas headquarters. The faction also
declined to submit candidates for PJ's internal elections
scheduled for February 3. Ex-PJ Secretary General and
current dissident faction leader Gerardo Blyde told poloff
that his group will likely split formally from PJ in
February, citing ideological and strategic differences. They
rejected offers to join Rosales' UNT and will start their own
political party based on grassroots networks. Blyde's group
has more popular personalities, including Chacao Mayor
Leopoldo Lopez, and appears to get along better with other
opposition leaders, but it is unclear which faction is
larger.

7. (C) PJ is also involved in several external conflicts.
Rosales is still privately bitter about what he considers to
be Julio Borges' betrayal by promoting PJ at the expense of
Rosales' candidacy and withholding badly needed funds,
according to close Rosales supporters. Borges and his
supporters believe Rosales is retaliating by fomenting the
party's internal dispute. Other parties have accused PJ of
stealing votes from them through its "Vote Securely"
campaign, in which PJ claimed that the BRV planned to divert
votes for other opposition parties to Chavez. PJ Secretary
General Armando Briquet chalked the accusations up to
jealousy of PJ's status as the opposition's youngest and
fastest-growing party, and its high vote share (11 percent
of Rosales' 38 percent, the second largest bloc of opposition
votes) in the presidential elections. Nevertheless, he was
optimistic that all parties would resolve or at least paper
over their differences to confront the greater external
threat Chavez poses. The opposition's track record suggests
otherwise, as does Borges' continued self-promotion and
autocratic approach to party leadership issues, as well as,
PJ's preference to act independently -- announcing its own
constitutional reform committee, for example.

---------------------------
R.I.P. Accion Democratica?
----------------------------

8. (C) Accion Democratica (AD) continues to fade under the
stranglehold of Secretary General Henry Ramos Allup and his
stubborn abstentionist stance. Although AD showed its
residual organizational strength, unofficially contributing
up to 40 percent of the poll watchers for Rosales' campaign,
continued defections and expulsions are taking their toll.
In the 2005 municipal elections, the last one in which it
participated, AD garnered roughly 292 seats, a drastic
reduction from the 503 seats it got in 2000. Ramos Allup
continues to expel rivals and those who publicly challenge
him, such as dissident and former AD parliamentary bloc

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leader Alfonso Marquina and CTV labor leader Manuel Cova,
both of whom openly defied Ramos Allup's order to not support
Rosales. AD national committee leader and former Ramos Allup
challenger Luis Emilio Rondon predicted the party would
continue to lose members if it does not abandon its current
policy and hold internal elections to refresh its leadership.
AD President Victor Bolivar announced in late December that
the party would propose its own constitutional amendments,
restructure its base, and hold a party conference, but Rondon
told PolCouns the statement was intended to try to steal the
thunder from other parties.

9. (C) AD, like most other opposition parties, will also be
hamstrung by its still shaky legal status. According to
Venezuelan law, any party that does not participate in two
consecutive elections or garner one percent of the vote in
two consecutive elections in the same constitutional period
must re-register by collecting signatures from .5 percent of
the electorate. The CNE has not formally ruled on AD's
status or the procedure for collecting signatures, presumably
to keep the party off-balance, according to Marquina. Taking
advantage of the legal confusion surrounding AD's status,
Marquina has solicited the party's name and color in effect
trying to steal the party out from under Allup and playing
into BRV plans to toy with the party.

--------------
Starting Anew
--------------

10. (C) A handful of parties interpreted the recent
presidential election as a call for change and are taking
advantage in the lull between elections--gubernatorial and
mayoral races, if held, will occur in 2008-- to take action.
Copei SecGen Planas told PolCouns January 8 that over the
next few months, the party will revise its ideological
charter and overhaul its organizational structure for the
first time in some 20 years. The new Copei will move more
toward the center and reorganize its base into popular
networks similar to those used by Chavismo. The party will
also announce a younger leadership board in late February to
draw more young voters to its fold. MAS will hold its
election in April and debate its future direction.

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Comment
-------

11. (C) Despite almost 10 consecutive years of decreasing
political influence, many in the opposition remain unable to
sacrifice their personal agendas to confront the larger
threat. Much like they did after the 2004 referendum, they
are blaming others for their failures or still fighting the
last war and trying to prove that President Chavez won the
December 2006 presidential election by electoral fraud.
Meanwhile, Chavez is moving quickly to close off what little
space remains for them to compete. His proposals for
redistricting state and local districts could eliminate posts
the opposition might run for. Against this bleak backdrop,
Rosales is probably the only national opposition politician
capable of uniting and leading broad segments of Venezuelan
civil society. However, he will have to work overtime to
regain the momentum lost to Chavez during Christmas break,
and through his party, pave the way for a new generation of
leaders that can restore the opposition's credibility with
voters.

BROWNFIELD