17.01.2006: DOMINICAN PRESIDENT RECEIVES STATE DAS FOR CARIBBEAN
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S E C R E T SANTO DOMINGO 000171
STATE FOR WHA, WHA/CAR, WHA/EPSC, INR/IAA; USSOUTHCOM ALSO
FOR POLAD; TREASURY FOR OASIA-J LEVINE;
USDOC FOR 4322/ITA/MAC/WH/CARIBBEAN BASIN DIVISION;
USDOC FOR 3134/ITA/USFCS/RD/WH; DHS FOR CIS-CARLOS ITURREGUI
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/12/2016
TAGS: DR, HA, PBTS, PGOV, PREL, SNAR
SUBJECT: DOMINICAN POLITICS II #14: DOMINICAN PRESIDENT
RECEIVES STATE DAS FOR CARIBBEAN
Classified By: Defense Attache LtCol William Tucker and
EcoPol Counselor Michael Meigs. Reason; 1.4 (b) and (d)
1. (U) This is the 14th cable in a series reporting on the
second year of the administration of Dominican president
Dominican Politics II #14:
Leonel Fernandez Receives DAS for Caribbean Patrick Duddy
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(C) SUMMARY AND COMMENT. In a 75-minute conversation with
State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary Patrick Duddy
January 11, President Leonel Fernandez focused largely on
Haiti, agreed on the importance of the upcoming Haitian
elections and agreed that it would be highly undesirable for
"Baby Doc" Duvalier to return to Haiti; he said he would not
allow Duvalier into the Dominican Republic. To further
Haiti,s prospects for development, Fernandez offered to hold
in the Dominican Republic a conference of Haitian business
leaders or a government summit. He suggested that the
Haitian diaspora could be called to make a more significant
contribution. Describing his own visit to Haiti, he said
that though protesters had attacked his motorcade and
attempted to kill him, he and his administration have
publicly downplayed the incident so as not to inflame
Dominican emotions to retaliate. Fernandez viewed the
USG-produced assessment of the Haitian-Dominican border as
thorough, good, strategic and helpful to stopping all kinds
of trafficking. He asked the Embassy to arrange a detailed
briefing for his government on the contents of the
assessment. The Ambassador used the occasion to present a
USAID-fundedmulti-volume study of new trade opportunities for
the Dominican Republic under CAFTA. Pleased, Fernandez
suggested that his think-tank Funglode and the Embassy host a
seminar to disseminate the information. Fernandez appeared
to appreciate Duddy,s insights into Haiti. His comments
indicate he shares the USG view of the importance of the
elections and of economic development as essential for a
resolution of the crisis. Both his views on Duvalier and his
prudent management of Dominican public opinion suggest he
will offer support for shared goals on Haiti. End SUMMARY
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Memorandum of Conversation
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(U) Dept of State Deputy Assistant Secretary Patrick Duddy
called on President Fernandez during the evening of January
11, accompanied by the Ambassador and Embassy staff members,
including the Defense Attach. DAS Duddy explained that he
had just arrived from Haiti. President Fernandez asked for
(SBU) DAS Duddy explained that the Department of State is
very involved in Haiti and described his previous experiences
with that country. During his January 10-11 visit, after
talking with MINUSTAH, officials of the Organization of
American States, officials of the Interim Government of Haiti
(IGOH), and others, he became convinced that the upcoming
elections would be successful. President Fernandez asked why
they would be successful this time. DAS Duddy noted that
there was better preparation. The directors of the voting
centers were trained and they in turn were training staff for
the 800 voting centers. Many national identification cards,
also used for voter registration, had been distributed.
Voter lists are being formed and in many cases already exist.
Both the IGOH and the Elections Board appear committed to
the current election date of February 7, 2006. Duddy
acknowledged that there were difficulties to overcome but
said that given the context he was optimistic.
(SBU) DAS Duddy considered the security situation to be the
most worrisome aspect. "Haiti is what it is." A secure
environment is difficult to achieve, but MINUSTAH is working
to establish the level of security necessary to hold
successful elections, which will be a tremendous step. The
world has the impression that the international community has
not maintained its commitment in the past, Duddy commented,
but successful elections can reverse that view. "The
elections are not an exit strategy; rather, they are point of
entry." A successful election process in Haiti will benefit
the Dominican Republic.
(SBU) "The security situation in Haiti is dire," responded
Fernandez. "It is good to have a plan, but during our visit
I sensed the despair and the strong feeling of hopelessness
prevalent in the society."
(SBU) DAS Duddy maintained that optimism is possible,
pointing out the strong international character of the
efforts to support Haitian development. He noted the number
of MINUSTAH troops (7500), the international aspect of the
participation in this mission, and the extent of the
commitment of the Southern Cone countries.
(S) Fernandez inquired about the circumstances surrounding
the death of Brazilian Army General Urano Teixeira da Matta
Bacellar. DAS Duddy confirmed that all indications pointed to
suicide. Fernandez expressed skepticism. He had met
General Bacellar; to him, suicide seemed unlikely for a
professional of Bacellar´s caliber. Fernandez said he
believes that there is a small group in Haiti dedicated to
disrupting the elections and creating chaos; that this group
had killed MINUSTAH members in the past (a Canadian and a
Jordanian, and now the Brazilian General); and that there
would be more violence against MINUSTAH forces as the
election date approaches. The President said he knew of a
case in which a Brazilian MINUSTAH member had killed a
sniper. Although he allowed that Bacellar´s death might be
due to an accidentally self-inflicted wound, he believes that
the Brazilian government is calling the death a suicide in
order to protect the mission from domestic criticism. A
confirmed assassination would result in calls from the
Brazilian populace for withdrawal from Haiti. Success in
this mission is vital for President Lula of Brazil, because
it is part of his master plan to obtain a permanent seat on
the U.N. Security Council.
(SBU) DAS Duddy restated his understanding that the evidence
pointed to suicide and that the specific circumstances of the
other assassinations in all likelihood ruled out a conspiracy.
(S) Fernandez elaborated further on his hypothesis: there was
a cover-up of an assassination and that more attacks would
occur. He was firm in this view and repeated the warning.
(S) The Ambassador asked who might be behind such an attack.
Fernandez said he did not know. He commented that in the case
of the demonstrations against his visit to Port au Prince in
December 2005, Haitian activist Guy Philippe had organized
the effort. Fernandez said that Philippe had people working
for him inside the National Palace.
Fernandez´s Visit to Haiti
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(U) DAS Duddy praised Fernandez on his handling of the
aftermath of the Port au Prince demonstrations.
(SBU) Fernandez retrieved from his desk a book of photos from
the visit. He described his visit to the National Palace in
Port au Prince: the growing crowd, his uneasiness, the lack
of security, the "ambush" of his motorcade as they were
leaving, machine gun fire, and the role of Dominican
helicopters and MINUSTAH troops in rescuing the motorcade.
(S) He said that entities within Haiti had killed MINUSTAH
troops via sniper attack on previous occasions, and he
believed they would do so again. Their goal was chaos.
"Imagine," he said, "the chaos that would have resulted if
they had killed me in Haiti. There would have been wholesale
persecution of Haitians in the Dominican Republic." For this
reason he had downplayed the incident to the press, but the
truth was that it had been very serious.
No Visa for "Baby Doc"
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(C) DAS Duddy agreed that there are those who want to disrupt
the elections. He was not convinced that this was part of a
planned effort to assassinate MINUSTAH members. Duddy
stressed that the next few weeks were vitally important for
Haiti, and that the U.S. and the international community
remained committed to a successful outcome. He advised the
President that "Baby Doc" Claude Duvalier was trying to
return to Haiti and urged Fernandez not to allow Duvalier to
obtain a visa for the Dominican Republic so as to pass
through en route to Haiti. Fernandez agreed that the arrival
of Duvalier would be detrimental to the process and said that
Duvalier would not be permitted into the Dominican Republic.
(Note: Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso told Duddy on
January 12 that strict instructions to this effect had
already been issued to all Dominican diplomatic missions.)
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(SBU) DAS Duddy inquired about the USG interagency Border
Assessment delivered to the President in mid-December.
Fernandez called it "a good report" and commented on its
thoroughness. He raised the reports that day of deaths of 24
Haitian migrants who had suffocated inside the locked freight
container of truck while being smuggled across the Dominican
Republic. Improved security on the border would help to
prevent such events, the President said. He acknowledged
indications that that there had been military and official
complicity in this event.
(SBU) Fernandez stressed the importance to him of a formal
presentation to the Dominican government of the interagency
border assessment. This could be part of a day-long workshop
during which members of the assessment team would present
("via PowerPoint") the results of the assessment. Such a
presentation would be necessary in order to convince the
Dominican people of the importance of improving border
security. The Ambassador commented that Embassy staff might
be able to make the presentation, if members of the original
team were not available.
(U) The President asked if the public presentation of the
border assessment report could take place "next week"
(January 17-20), as it was impossible to advance the subject
without this taking place. "This is a priority," he said.
"State Building," Not Peace Keeping
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(C) Fernandez asked if there was any prospect of stability in
Haiti after the elections. He had been the first Dominican
president to visit the country in 65 years, he commented,
"and perhaps the last for the next 100." He described his
impression from the visit of a pervasive feeling of
hopelessness, indifference and despair. Most of the people
in the streets showed no reaction to the passing presidential
motorcade. This contrasted with his experience elsewhere in
the world, and he attributed the Haitians´ reaction to years
of being beaten down by dictatorships and bad governments.
Duddy replied that the international community had an
opportunity to turn this around now. Real improvement is
(SBU) Fernandez said the mission in Haiti wasn´t
"peacekeeping", but rather "state building". He outlined how
the Dominican Republic had successfully incorporated the
contributions of expatriate Dominicans into the development
of a successful Dominican democracy. He thought Haiti should
call in similar fashion on its expatriate community. DAS
Duddy agreed that this could be a very useful approach.
(SBU) When asked by the Ambassador if he could assist in the
organization of the Haitian expatriate community. Fernandez
offered to hold a conference in the Dominican republic of
Haitian business leaders, as well as a governmental summit.
Such an event could not take place in Haiti, given his recent
experiences with poor security there.
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(SBU) The Ambassador raised U.S. concerns about narcotics
trafficking. Fernandez stated that the purpose of the border
assessment had been to identify ways to stop all kinds of
trafficking: drugs, arms, and people. Successful
implementation of the border assessment recommendations
("development of a modern border") would achieve this.
(C) The Ambassador mentioned that Secretary of the Armed
Forces Admiral Pared Perez had told journalists about a plan
to develop a separate border force under armed forces command
and control. Fernandez downplayed those comments, commenting
that they were not part of any developed strategic plan. The
implication was that the approach was an idea only of Pared
(SBU) Fernandez spoke about the success of the "Barrios
Seguros" program, using increased police presence in poor
neighborhoods of the capital to cut down on crime. In one
particular neighborhood there had only been one murder in the
past five months. He described plans to hire university
students to patrol, unarmed, in police uniform.
CAFTA-DR Best Prospects
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(SBU) The Ambassador closed the encountering by presenting to
Fernandez copies of a USAID-financed study that identified
the products that offered the best export prospects under
CAFTA-DR. Accepting the five thick binders and a CD with a
related application, Fernandez asked that the Ambassador set
a date for public presentation of these materials.
(U) Departure conversation turned to the film "The Good
Shepherd," currently being filmed by Robert Deniro in Santo
Domingo and Santiago. Fernandez spoke of the need to promote
the country as a site for movie production. This would be
another way for the country to become a showcase for Latin
2. (U) Drafted by Defense Attach Lt. Col William Tucker.
3. (U) This piece and others in our series can be consulted
at our SIPRNET web site
(http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/santodomingo) along with
extensive other material.