Cable sobre la guerra de Chávez contra la prensa de oposición

La embajada norteamericana critica en febrero de 2010 cómo el presidente venezolano tiene contra las cuerdas a Globovisión y el diario El Nacional

ID: 250307
Date: 2010-02-23 18:15:00
Origin: 10CARACAS219
Source: Embassy Caracas
Classification: SECRET
Dunno: 09CARACAS663 10CARACAS181
Destination: VZCZCXRO1197
OO RUEHAG RUEHAO RUEHROV RUEHRS RUEHSL
DE RUEHCV #0219/01 0541816
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 231815Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY CARACAS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0504
INFO EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS IMMEDIATE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL IMMEDIATE

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 CARACAS 000219

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
AMEMBASSY ATHENS PASS TO AMCONSUL THESSALONIKI
AMEMBASSY BERLIN PASS TO AMCONSUL DUSSELDORF
AMEMBASSY BERLIN PASS TO AMCONSUL LEIPZIG
AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PASS TO AMCONSUL RECIFE
AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PASS TO AMCONSUL QUEBEC
AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN PASS TO AMEMBASSY GRENADA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2035/02/23
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, VE, PHUM, KDEM
SUBJECT: Globovision Owners Acknowledge Defeat; El Nacional On the
Ropes?

REF: 10 CARACAS 181; 09 CARACAS 663

CLASSIFIED BY: DUDDY, AMBASSADOR, DOS, AMB; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

1. (S) Summary: In separate meetings with the Ambassador
between February 17-19, several of Venezuela's major private media
XXXXXXXXXXXX acknowledged that relentless Venezuelan Government (GBRV)
pressure against their television and print outlets has threatened
to put them out of business. XXXXXXXXXXXX, confirmed the allegations of Globovision's
outgoing director, XXXXXXXXXXXX, that threats from senior GBRV
officials had forced them to fire XXXXXXXXXXXX and to tone down
Globovision's strongly anti-Chavez orientation. In a separate
conversation, XXXXXXXXXXXX asserted that due to the paper's substantial
loss of advertising revenue from companies that had either been
nationalized or been threatened by the GBRV, the paper would go out
of business by April without substantial financial assistance.
XXXXXXXXXXXX asked the Ambassador whether the U.S. could provide such
assistance. End Summary.



--------------------------------------------- ----------------------
--------

XXXXXXXXXXXX Resigns; Alleges GBRV Pressure on Globovision Owners

--------------------------------------------- ----------------------
--------



2. (SBU) Following more than a week of widespread
speculation regarding the potential sale of opposition-oriented
television network Globovision (Ref A), station director Alberto
XXXXXXXXXXXX announced his resignation during a February 18 press
conference. XXXXXXXXXXXX, who is also a minor shareholder in the
station, alleged to reporters that Energy Minister Ali Rodriguez
and Venezuela's Central Bank President Nelson Merentes had
pressured the station's principal shareholders, Globovision
President XXXXXXXXXXXX and Banco Federal President Nelson
XXXXXXXXXXXX, to sack XXXXXXXXXXXX, to get rid of controversial anti-Chavez
talk show host Leopoldo Castillo, and to soften the station's
strongly anti-Chavez orientation. In resigning, XXXXXXXXXXXX affirmed:
"For now my objectives have been met. The channel has not been
sold, Leopoldo Castillo is still on the air, and Globovision will
not change its editorial line." He added, "I have absolute faith
in Globovision and XXXXXXXXXXXX that they will not modify their
editorial stance."



3. (C) In a private meeting on February 17, XXXXXXXXXXXX told the
Ambassador that GBRV pressure on XXXXXXXXXXXX involved trumped up legal
charges stemming from a May 21, 2009, raid on XXXXXXXXXXXX's Caracas
residence. The raid had resulted in the confiscation of 24 new
vehicles and hunting trophies (Ref B), criminal charges against
XXXXXXXXXXXX and his son, and an order preventing XXXXXXXXXXXX's departure
from the country. (Note: XXXXXXXXXXXX has consistently claimed the
automobiles belonged to his car dealership and were at his home for
security reasons, and that the hunting trophies had been legally
acquired abroad. End Note.) According to XXXXXXXXXXXX, the February 12
lifting of XXXXXXXXXXXX's overseas travel ban by the GBRV was a
bargaining chip used against XXXXXXXXXXXX to force his acquiescence.
XXXXXXXXXXXX opined that the pressure point applied by the government
against XXXXXXXXXXXX was ultimately his son: "XXXXXXXXXXXX would do anything
to keep him safe."



4. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX affirmed to the Ambassador that Nelson
XXXXXXXXXXXX had been under similarly intense GBRV pressure to
engineer a change in Globovision's management and editorial line.
XXXXXXXXXXXX claimed that XXXXXXXXXXXX had been threatened by Energy
Minister (and previously Finance Minister) Rodriguez that if
XXXXXXXXXXXX did not comply with GBRV demands, "we will go after your
bank."

CARACAS 00000219 002 OF 003


--------------------------------------------- ----------

XXXXXXXXXXXXConfirm Capitulation

--------------------------------------------- ----------



5. (S) In a February 18 meeting with the Ambassador, XXXXXXXXXXXX
largely confirmed XXXXXXXXXXXX's account. Following various
GBRV threats, some even from Chavez himself in the past, XXXXXXXXXXXX
claimed that Minister Rodriguez had attempted to pressure XXXXXXXXXXXX into
buying out Globovision shareholders XXXXXXXXXXXX and XXXXXXXXXXXX, firing
XXXXXXXXXXXX, and getting rid of Leopoldo Castillo, to forestall the GBRV
withdrawing millions of dollars in deposits from Banco Federal;
XXXXXXXXXXXX added that he "had practically been forced to sell the
bank." XXXXXXXXXXXXtold the Ambassador the GBRV strategy
was for XXXXXXXXXXXX to buy Globovision for nearly 32 million dollars
and for XXXXXXXXXXXX to "leave quietly... to work on expanding
Globovision from abroad." XXXXXXXXXXXX further agreed to "Send
Leopoldo Castillo away for a while... first class tickets for two
weeks in Australia."



6. (S) Despite XXXXXXXXXXXX's pronouncements at his press
conference that Globovision would not self-censor despite the GBRV
pressure, XXXXXXXXXXXXadmitted they were being forced to
soften the station's future editorial line. XXXXXXXXXXXXobserved that
"this arrangement has bought us some time. Globo will continue on,
however we will not use the screen to scare people. We will report
on the problems in an objective, independent manner... we will,
however, most likely refrain from naming names." When asked why
the Government had allowed the station to operate for so long,
XXXXXXXXXXXX replied, "The Government needs to leave a small window open
to pretend there is freedom of expression here. " XXXXXXXXXXXX added,
"Globovision is Chavez's 'Carta de Libertdad de Expression' ("free
speech credential")... he can say, 'look here is Globovision, see,
we are a democracy'.''



7. (S) XXXXXXXXXXXX told the Ambassador that the station is
financially independent and healthy despite the GBRV's recent
attacks, increased lawyer's fees, and continual legal harassment.
(Note: Globovision currently confronts civil and criminal charges
stemming from six separate GBRV investigations. End Note.) In
reflecting on his decision to bend to the GBRV's will, XXXXXXXXXXXX
noted "I have over 13,000 employees, plus the bank, to care for."
Looking towards the September National Assembly elections,
XXXXXXXXXXXX predicted: "If Chavez wins, we are all gone. Our next
meeting will have to be in Boca Raton... Buying time before the
election is the name of the game. XXXXXXXXXXXX


--------------------------------------------- ----

Major Newspaper Taking Its Last Gasps?

--------------------------------------------- ----



8. (S) In a separate February 19 meeting, Ambassador Duddy
met with XXXXXXXXXXXX. Lamenting the GBRV's
"economic asphyxiation" of El Nacional and the independent media
generally, XXXXXXXXXXXX told the Ambassador that El Nacional was reaching
the end of its financial rope. Due to plummeting advertising
revenue that stemmed from the loss of advertising partners that had
either been nationalized or been otherwise intimidated by the GBRV
to cease such advertising, XXXXXXXXXXXX predicted that El Nacional could

CARACAS 00000219 003 OF 003


be out of money and thus business by April. XXXXXXXXXXXX affirmed that
fellow independent daily El Universal was also having severe
financial difficulties, and for similar reasons. (Note: In his
February 18 meeting with the Ambassador, XXXXXXXXXXXX had
highlighted that El Universal had lost over 14% of its advertising
revenues just with the recent nationalization of supermarket chain
Exito. End Note.) XXXXXXXXXXXX commented, "Globovision has now been lost.
We will be the next to go."



9. (S) XXXXXXXXXXXX noted that increased GBRV nationalizations would
further reduce already limited commercial space/advertising
revenue, and limit the independent media's space to maneuver in the
months ahead. To keep El Nacional alive, XXXXXXXXXXXX asked the Ambassador
whether the Embassy knew of services of private financing they
could approach outside the country, or failing that, if the USG
could be persuaded to help. (Note: The Ambassador noted that
investors and financial institutions in the U.S. were increasingly
anxious about expansion in Venezuela. He also noted that he had
never heard of the USG underwriting a newspaper even, for instance,
during the difficult period in the early 80's in Pinochet's Chile.
End Note.)



10. (C) Comment: Chavez continues to reduce the private media's
ability to serve as a countervailing democratic force. With
Globovision executives softening their tone, counting their
remaining days, and major print media in apparently dire financial
conditions, Chavez is close to his goal of "domesticating" or
eliminating the remaining free and independent media in Venezuela.
End Comment.
DUDDY

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