17.01.2006: DOMINICAN PRESIDENT RECEIVES STATE DAS FOR CARIBBEAN

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S E C R E T SANTO DOMINGO 000171

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

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

Leonel Fernandez.

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

AND COMMENT.

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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

his impressions.

(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.)

Border Assessment

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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

possible.

(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.

Narcotics

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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

Perez.

(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

American democracy.

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.

HERTELL



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