17 December 2010

Wikileaks: Fear and Loathing of Chavez, Allies

Clown, mad, ignorant, disaster, thug, erratic and lost cause – these are some of the expressions that prominent Spanish diplomats offered in private about Latin American leaders, mostly those who form the Bolivarian bloc, that is, the leaders of Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and the Castro brothers of Cuba.

The insults, always in private and before U.S. diplomatic representatives, contrast with the official discourse of the Spanish state in recent decades. Other Wikileaks documents reveal the opinion about the ousted Honduran President, Manuel Zelaya.

These private declarations are those responsible for drawing the foreign policy of the current Socialist government of Spain and include the likes of Bernardino León, chief of staff of President Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, and the Foreign Minister, Trinidad Jiménez. 

In a conversation between Bernardino León and Tom Shannon, then No. 2 in the State Department, the former hard words for the Leftist Latin American leaders and also for the Argentines. The Ecuadorian President, Rafael Correa, he said, was given to being stupid while the Nicaraguan President, Daniel Ortega, was erratic, unpredictable and a lost cause. Evo Morales was ignorant and inexpert but honest.
Hugo Chávez was the principal objective though Spain has done thriving trade with him, for example selling him coast guard vessels. Behind closed doors, he said Chávez was a clown, ignorant and mad. The Wikileaks documents reveal Zapatero’s disregard for Fidel and Raúl Castro and quotes him as saying he is proud not to have met them or visited the island.
In a 2008 cable, the U.S. ambassador in Tegucigalpa, Charles Ford, said President Zelaya was almost a caricature of a landowning caudillo in his style and tone, an eternal rebel adolescent, someone who wanted to have a public image of a martyr, of someone who wanted to do good but was held back by powerful interests. 

Ford claimed Zelaya was linked to organised crime. Zelaya and Ford met almost weekly but still the President stuck to his choice of Honduras’ ambassador to the United Nations, someone the USA wanted to veto. There was a dark side to Zelaya, said Ford, with his Cuban and Venezuelan advisers. He did not have friends outside his family, said Ford, and suspected he might be addicted to drugs for his back pain.

In other Wikileaks documents, it emerges that the U.S. authorities sought information from Venezuelans linked to the oil industry in exchange for granting them visas. In 2005, the then Venezuelan Archbishop asked the USA to go hard after Chávez to “contain” him. 

No comments: