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Viewing cable 07THEHAGUE2012, NETHERLANDS/VENEZUELA: KEEPING RELATIONS GOOD

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07THEHAGUE2012 2007-11-23 07:07 2011-01-25 17:05 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy The Hague
VZCZCXRO3610
RR RUEHAO
DE RUEHTC #2012/01 3270751
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 230751Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0731
INFO RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0659
RUEHAO/AMCONSUL CURACAO 0286
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS 0591
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 THE HAGUE 002012 
 
SIPDIS 
 
NOFORN 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/19/2017 
TAGS: PREL NL VE
SUBJECT: NETHERLANDS/VENEZUELA: KEEPING RELATIONS GOOD 
 
REF: A. A. STATE 154174 
 
     B. B. STATE 133106 
...


131245

2007-11-23

07THEHAGUE2012

Embassy The Hague

CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN

07STATE154174

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 THE HAGUE 002012 

SIPDIS 

NOFORN 
SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/19/2017 
TAGS: PREL NL VE
SUBJECT: NETHERLANDS/VENEZUELA: KEEPING RELATIONS GOOD 

REF: A. A. STATE 154174 

B. B. STATE 133106 
C. C. THE HAGUE 1994 

Classified By: Michael Gallagher, CDA, for reasons 1.4(b) and (d) 

1. (C) SUMMARY: On November 19, Charge delivered reftel A 
points to Laurent Stokvis, Director of the Department of 
Western Hemisphere Affairs, Anton Schellekens, Desk Officer 
for Kingdom (i.e, Aruba and Antilles) Affairs, and Wendy 
Engelberts, Desk Officer for Venezuela. Stovkis emphasized 
positive relations with Venezuela. At the same time, he 
explained that the trend in Venezuela also worries us, but 
details are lacking to make any specific charges of human 
rights violations. Post believes the Dutch will continue to 
stress keeping relations good with Venezuela. END SUMMARY. 

KEEPING RELATIONS GOOD 
---------------------- 

2. (C) Reviewing reftel A points with Charge, Stokvis 
responded our basic policy is keeping relations good. 
Joint Dutch-Venezuelan naval exercises earlier this year were 
a successful confidence building exercise. On a practical 
level, executive branch to executive branch, cooperation is 
good, except at the political level. Other Dutch agencies 
just pick up the phone to resolve problems. The Dutch 
don't have a sense that Venezuela has territorial ambitions 
right now. Venezuela has not affected Caribbean tourism. 
The Dutch are looking at these elements and for opportunities 
to engage positively. 

3. (C) Stokvis also stated the trend in Venezuela also 
worries us, but details are lacking to make any specific 
charges of human rights or Venezuelan Constitutional 
violations. First, the Dutch don't know the exact content 
of the proposed constitutional reforms. The government has 
made proposed reforms, and the parliament approved a 
counterproposal. It's important to have a clear idea of 
what you're criticizing to avoid losing the argument with 
Chavez, who will hold up different constitutions to rebut any 
criticisms. The Dutch prefer to look at specific Venezuelan 
actions rather than focus on controversial laws. At the same 
time, Stokvis welcomed further specific information about 
human rights violations, and asserted that the Netherlands 
will comply with its human rights obligations. He also 
expressed an interest in knowing about specific violations by 
Chavez of the Venezuelan Constitution. 

4. (C) Stokvis added that the Dutch are watchful of 
Venezuelan actions, and all is clearly not well. Political 
relations are not effective -- the Dutch embassy cannot get 
meetings with the Venezuelan MFA. Schellekens said that 
Curacao and Bonaire could face a refugee problem if there is 
violence in Venezuela. Stokvis theorized that Chavez could 
always try to escape a domestic political problems with an 
attack on the islands. 

CAUTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS CRITIQUES 
--------------------------------- 

5. (C) Venezuela Desk Officer Engelberts earlier expressed 
caution on criticizing the human rights situation in 
Venezuela. Discussing reftel B points with POLOFF on 
September 28, she noted that the Dutch were waiting to see 
the results of the constitutional referendum on December 2 or 
9. Engelberts acknowledged the Constitution would 
concentrate powers with the central government, but it was 
unclear how the reforms would affect local government. If 
human rights were affected, the EU would react. The Dutch 
raise human rights with every visit, but hadn't received 
notifications of abuses or visits by human rights defenders 
about Venezuela. Current polling suggests the people of 
Venezuela may not support the new constitution, but Chavez 
may include enough social reforms -- such as a shorter work 
day -- to pull in the needed votes. 

6. (C) In a conversation on August 30, 2007, Ms. Gertie 
Mulder, head of the Dutch MFA's South America Division, said 
Chavez was shocked by the reaction to his decision to close 
Radio Caracas Television. She was encouraged by the decision 
of the Venezuelan Supreme Court to permit cable broadcasts 
from Miami. Venezuela has a tradition of media freedom. 

DOWNPLAYING FRICTION WITH VENEZUELA 
----------------------------------- 

7. (C) Mulder also downplayed friction with Venezuela after 
the Dutch press reported on Venezuelan President Chavez's 
August 15, 2007 remarks suggesting that everything within 200 

THE HAGUE 00002012 002 OF 002 


miles of the Venezuelan coast belonged to Venezuela. (NOTE: 
the Netherlands Antilles lie 40 miles from the Venezuelan 
coast. END NOTE.) The MFA did not react publicly to 
Chavez's remarks until Dutch legislator Hans Van Baalen 
(Liberal Party) promised to make inquiry, and asserted that 
Venezuela should stay away from our Falklands. On August 
21, the MFA stated publicly that the Dutch ambassador in 
Venezuela had been instructed to ask the GOV for 
clarification of Venezuela's intentions. Asked about 
Dutch-Venezuelan discussions, Mulder noted that the 
Netherlands will continue to emphasize its good neighbor 
policy. The Dutch characterized the press reports as 
inaccurate -- Chavez had not included the Netherlands 
Antilles when he gestured to purported Venezuelan possessions 
on a map of the Caribbean. 

8. (C) Similarly, on Venezuelan arms acquisitions, the 
Netherlands does not see a threat. Mulder implied that the EU 
Code of Conduct was an appropriate and adequate tool to 
respond. 

COMMENT 
------- 

9. (C) Although post will continue to engage MFA contacts, 
parliament and NGOs about the human rights situation in 
Venezuela, we do not expect the Dutch to publicly take a 
tough line with Chavez barring extreme human rights abuses or 
threats to Dutch economic and territorial interests in the 
Caribbean. We found Stokvis generally more concerned about 
keeping an even keel with Chavez than rocking his boat. With 
respect to Venezuela, pragmatism prevails at the Dutch MFA. 
That said, we welcome the opportunity to re-engage with the 
MFA, especially if we have specific information regarding 
violations of human rights and/or legal norms to share with 
our Dutch colleagues. END COMMENT. 
Gallagher