251,287 cables indexed
Reference ID: 04CARACAS2200
Subject: CHAVEZ'S FORMER PARTNER DISCUSSES THE DEVELOPMENT OF HIS POLITICS
Origin: Embassy Caracas, Venezuela Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Created:09 Jul 2004 Released:08 Dec 2010
Tags: PGOV, VE

This is the cable as published by El Pais on 30 Nov 2010, compared to the unredacted source.

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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CARACAS 002200

SIPDIS


NSC FOR CBARTON
HQ USSOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
USAID DCHA/OTI FOR RPORTER

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/02/2014
TAGS: PGOV, VE
SUBJECT: CHAVEZ'S FORMER PARTNER DISCUSSES THE DEVELOPMENT
OF HIS POLITICS

CLASSIFIED BY: A/DCM ABELARDO A. ARIAS FOR REASONS 1.4 (D)

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SUMMARY
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1. (C) HERMA MARKSMAN, CHAVEZ'S FORMER COMMON-LAW WIFE FROM
1984-1993, SPOKE TO POLOFFS ON JULY 1 ABOUT THE DEVELOPMENT
OF CHAVEZ'S POLITICAL IDEOLOGY. SHE CLAIMS THAT CHAVEZ WAS
INFLUENCED BY 1960'S GUERRILLAS. MARKSMAN DISAGREED WITH THE
OPPOSITION'S PORTRAYAL OF CHAVEZ AS AN IDIOT AND WARNED THAT
HE IS A DETERMINED MAN WHO TRUSTS FEW PEOPLE. WHILE WE
ACKNOWLEDGE THAT SOME OF HER INFORMATION MAY BE BIASED, WE
THOUGHT WASHINGTON MAY APPRECIATE AN INSIGHT INTO CHAVEZ FROM
SOMEONE WHO KNEW HIM INTIMATELY BEFORE HE ENTERED THE
NATIONAL STAGE. END SUMMARY.


---------------------------------------
ROOTS OF CHAVEZ'S BOLIVARIAN REVOLUTION
---------------------------------------

2. (C) HERMA MARKSMAN, A HISTORY PROFESSOR AND CHAVEZ'S
FORMER COMMON-LAW WIFE, DISCUSSED HOW CHAVEZ ARRIVED TO HIS
CURRENT POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY. (NOTE: COMMON-LAW MARRIAGE IS
A WIDESPREAD PRACTICE IN VENEZUELA.) AS A POOR CHILD GROWING
UP IN THE RURAL STATE OF BARINAS, MARKSMAN ALLEGES CHAVEZ WAS
INFLUENCED BY A TEACHER, WHO ADMIRED FIDEL CASTRO AND CHE
GUEVARA. SHE CLAIMS THAT CHAVEZ WAS AMBITIOUS FROM AN EARLY
AGE AND EVEN THOUGHT OF RUNNING THE COUNTRY AS A 20 YEAR-OLD.


3. (C) AS A JUNIOR OFFICER, CHAVEZ SOON FELL UNDER THE
INFLUENCE OF DOUGLAS BRAVO, A FORMER COMMUNIST AND GUERRILLA
LEADER DURING THE 1960S. CHAVEZ'S BROTHER, ADAN, PLAYED A
KEY ROLE IN INTRODUCING CHAVEZ TO BRAVO, ACCORDING TO LOCAL
PRESS REPORTS. MARKSMAN STATED THAT IT WAS BRAVO, NOT
CHAVEZ, WHO DEVELOPED THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE BOLIVARIAN
REVOLUTION, WHICH IS ROOTED IN THE WORKS OF SIMON RODRIGUEZ,
SIMON BOLIVAR, AND EZEQUIEL ZAMORA. BRAVO'S MOVEMENT
STRESSED THE NEED FOR CIVIL-MILITARY COOPERATION TO IMPLEMENT
THE BOLIVARIAN REVOLUTION. WHILE CHAVEZ BROKE WITH BRAVO IN
1986, HE MAINTAINED BRAVO'S POLITICAL IDEOLOGY, WHICH PLAYED
A KEY ROLE IN CHAVEZ'S FAILED COUP IN 1992. MARKSMAN ALLUDED
TO THE FAILED COUP--WHICH SHE HAS PUBLICLY CRITICIZED--AS A
CONTRIBUTING FACTOR TO HER ENDING THE RELATIONSHIP, THOUGH
SHE DID NOT DIRECTLY STATE THE REASON FOR ENDING THE AFFAIR
WITH CHAVEZ.


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CHAVEZ IS NOBODY'S FOOL
-----------------------

4. (C) THROUGHOUT HER MEETING WITH POLOFFS, MARKSMAN ASSERTED
THAT CHAVEZ SHOULD NOT BE UNDERESTIMATED. SHE DESCRIBED THE
PRESIDENT AS AN EXCELLENT STORYTELLER, WHO OFTEN
CHARACTERIZES HIS OPPONENTS AS DEVILS, WHICH IS A POWERFUL
RELIGIOUS SYMBOL AMONG THE POOR. WHILE THE EDUCATED CLASS
MAY SCOFF AT CHAVEZ'S FIVE-HOUR TELEVISION BROADCASTS,
MARKSMAN CLAIMED THAT THE POOR BELIEVE THAT THE PRESIDENT IS
INTERESTED IN THEIR ISSUES. SHE ALSO STATED THAT CHAVEZ IS
FOCUSED ON HIS GOAL OF TRANSFORMING THE COUNTRY AND IS
WILLING TO WIN AT ANY COSTS. CHAVEZ WOULD ONLY HAVE AGREED
TO THE PRESIDENTIAL RECALL REFERENDUM IF HE THOUGHT HE COULD
WIN, ACCORDING TO MARKSMAN.

------------------------
CHAVEZ'S INNER CIRCLE
------------------------

5. (C) MARKSMAN STATED THAT CHAVEZ IS LOYAL TO NO ONE AND
DOES NOT HAVE TRUE FRIENDS. IF HE HAS A PROBLEM, HE WILL
ONLY CONFIDE IN HIS BROTHER, ADAN, WHOM SHE CHARACTERIZED AS
A COMMUNIST, AND CUBAN LEADER FIDEL CASTRO. SHE ALLEGED THAT

CARACAS 00002200 002 OF 002

OUPS IN LATIN AMERICA. SHE
STATED THAT CHAVEZ DOES HAVE SEVERAL OF ADAN'S FRIENDS IN
GOVERNMENT, INCLUDING GUILLERMO GARCIA PONCE--A POLITICAL
ADVISER TO CHAVEZ, MEMBER OF THE DEFUNCT POLITICAL
PARTICIPATION COMMISSION OF THE NATIONAL ELECTORAL COUNCIL,
EDITOR OF VEA NEWSPAPER, AND COMMUNIST PARTY OFFICIAL.

6. (C) SHE LISTED SEVERAL INDIVIDUALS WHOM SHE CONSIDERED TO
BE THE MOST DANGEROUS MEN IN GOVERNMENT, INCLUDING DIOSDADO
CABELLO (FORMER INFRASTRUCTURE MINISTER, NATIONAL LOGISTICS
COORDINATOR FOR THE COMANDO MAISANTA AND GUBERNATORIAL
CANDIDATE FOR MIRANDA STATE); AND ELIECER OTAIZA (FORMER
DIRECTOR OF CIVILIAN INTELLIGENCE SERVICE, DISIP, AND THE
CURRENT DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR COOPERATIVE
EDUCATION, INCE). AS CHIEF OF INCE, OTAIZA HAS RUN VARIOUS
"MISSION" PROGRAMS, ACCORDING TO MARKSMAN. SHE ALSO
MENTIONED WILLIAM IZARRA, DIRECTOR OF IDEOLOGY FOR THE
COMANDO MAISANTA, JESSE CHACON, COMMUNICATIONS AND
INFORMATION MINISTER, AND RONALDO BLANCO LA CRUZ, GOVERNOR OF
TACHIRA STATE.


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COMMENT
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7. (C) WHILE MARKSMAN'S STATEMENTS MAY BE BIASED, SHE DOES
OFFER A UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE INTO THE CURRENT PRESIDENT. HER
CHARACTERIZATION OF CHAVEZ AS AN AMBITIOUS, DETERMINED MAN
CONTRASTS WITH THE OPPOSITION'S PORTRAYAL OF HIM AT TIMES AS
A BUFFOON. CHAVEZ'S UNWILLINGNESS TO TRUST OTHERS, HOWEVER,
LIKELY CONTRIBUTES TO HIS GOVERNMENT'S FAILURE IN EXECUTING
MANY OF HIS INITIATIVES.
MCFARLAND

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2004CARACA02200 - CONFIDENTIAL