From: “Reva Bhalla”
Sent: Monday, December 5, 2011 9:13:24 PM
Subject: INSIGHT – VENEZUELA – Update on Chavez’s health, power struggle,
etc. – VZ302
ATTRIBUTION: STRATFOR source
SOURCE DESCRIPTION: well-connected VZ source working with Israel
SOURCE RELIABILITY: B – source is anti-Chavez, but I’ve gotten better at
reading him over the years to tell when he’s feeding me shit and when he’s
giving useful info – his info on the VZ regime has checked out, but i tend
to be more skeptical on iran-related info
ITEM CREDIBILITY: B
SPECIAL HANDLING: Alpha, scrub source info and also make sure rest of
latam team sees this
SOURCE HANDLER: Reva
Chavez’s health – the tumor started as a growth close to the prostate, it
spread to the colon, which is what led to a lot of confusion in the OS
about the treatment of prostate v. colon cancer in hormonal v.
chemotherapy. A reliable source on the medical has explained that the
cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and into the bone marrow up to the
spine, ie. very serious.
Chavez temporarily stopped the chemo in order to make an appearance at the
recent CELAC meeting. The medical team is made up of both Russian and
Cuban doctors. Both sides are clashing. THe Russian team blamed the
Cubans for an improper surgery the first time in trying to remove the
tumor. The second surgery over the summer was basically the Russian team
trying to clean up the Cuban team’s mistakes. The Russians complain that
the Cubans dont have the right imagery treatment to properly treat
Chavez. The Cuban medical diagnosis is 2 years. The Russian medical
diagnosis, due to improper medical equipment, is less than one year. The
source on the medical team complains that Chavez is a very ‘bad patient.’
He doesn’t listen to his doctors, he ceases treatment when he has to make
a public appearance. Now the Russian and the Chinese doctors are going at
it because Chavez sought hte advice of a Chinese doctor that advocates
more natural treatments and the Russians are saying this is horse shit
treatment. only chavez can get the most politicized medical team in the
(note – if you see medical reports on Chavez’s health in WSJ or Brazil’s Veja magazine, it’s probably coming from this source.)
Who replaces Chavez?
I would keep my eye on FM Nicolas Maduro. Maduro is loyal as a dog to
Chavez. (the source knows Maduro personally, from the days that Maduro was
a driver of the metro bus.) At the same time, maduro is seen as the most
pragmatic in the regime. If Chavez’s health deteriorates significantly
before the scheduled Oct 2012 elections, expect him to proclaim Maduro as
his successor in one way or another. You can already see him propping up
Maduro in a lot of ways. This is less risky than Chavez going through with
elections, winning, suddenly dying and then a power struggle among the
Chavistas breaking out. It will be much harder in this latter scenario for
Maduro to assert himself against rival Chavistas like Diosdado Cabello,
Rafiel Ramirez, etc.
Remember that there are four key players propping up the regime – China,
Cuba, Russia, Iran. All four are split on how to manage a post-Chavez
regime. China and Russia are more insulated, as they’ve tried to get away
from Chavez the personality, to preserving Chavismo, the regime. Russia
has set up a specific task force (note the Patrushev visits) to help
manage the post-chavez transition. Both China and Russia are backing
Maduro as their preferred successor. Cuba, however, is in trouble. They
can’t count on a Maduro to continue subsidizing them with thousands of
barrels of oil every day. No one is really paying attention to Cuba – they
can;t count on the Europeans for investment. Without VZ, they’re screwed.
The Cubans so far have been backing Adan Chavez (Chavez’s brother) as the
preferred candidate, but he doesnt have the same following. Cuba may shift
to backing Maduro. (At this point in the convo, i brought up the
possibility of Cuba, having the best intel on VZ, using that intel to
leverage with the US and open up its options – he agreed that’s what the
Castros will do to survive but he hasnt seen serious signs of this.. yet.)
Maduro is seen as more of a Lula candidate. He has a following, he has
charisma, but he’s also a balancer. He’s the kind of guy that would open
up to the US and keep tight with everyone else, but that still makes Iran
nervous. The source seems to think that Obama in his second term would
open up to Maduro (and this is something that he is actively working on.)
The opposition –
Venezuela is divided into 5 different strata – A, B, C, D, E – A ++ is the
elite of the elite, the boli-bourgeoisie that that Chavez has very
successfully vilified. Chavez doesn’t give a shit about these guys. His
base is the D and E.
Capriles Radonski, Leopoldo Lopez, Maria Corina Machado are all the A++ –
way too elitist. They can’t win over the chavista vote.
The only one that has a real chance is Pablo Perez – Zulia governor – he’s
actually seen as one of the people. The conversation between him adn the
Castros is jsut starting up. (i asked if Perez is talking to Maduro yet –
he says not yet.)
guess who has been most cooperative with us lately? The military elite.
These guys have been living the good life. They love women… lots of
women. THey love booze. They love bora bora. They are easy to bribe. They
dont care about chavez. they care about maintaining their current
lifestyles. We’ve seen a lot of these military elite reach out to us
lately, trying to insulate themselves in a post-Chavez scenario.
This is why you’ll see Chavez investing a lot of time and money in
developing the militia. They’re his best insurance policy. The more of a
problem the militia can create on the streets, the more the military elite
will hestiate before acting against him or his potential successor.
The intent of the ley de precios is very simple. The money laundering
schemes in food, pharmaceuticals, energy parts, etc. etc. have gotten
worse./ Completely unchecked. This price controls law is the government’s
way of controlling opposition campaign spending. Very straightforward –
they have the legal justification to intimidate corporations into cutting
back their support for the opposition, or else, their company is taken
over. This will allow the state more control of the private sector.
(side note) – we were talking a bit about a recent PdVSA-Iran joint
venture. They shifted their main base of operations from Caracas to
Ankara, though. This has become a trend lately, where a lot of Iran’s
sanctions circumventing oeprations in VZ are quietly being relocated to
Turkey. Part of Turkey’s balancing act with Iran.
these were the main points. will update with more..little fuzzy from wine
Wow, would be interesting to see what she’d say if she were really wasted!
I have a personal interest in this story. When I worked in Caracas, Stratfor started calling for info. The kid who was calling was very young, early 20s, and was trying to write analysis reports on the very complex economic, political and oil situation in Venezuela, without ever having visited the country. I pointed him to some sources for a while, but at some point, he asked me a truly ignorant question, I think about the currency rules, and I told him I couldn’t help him if he wasn’t going to study on his own. Point being, Stratfor seemed miserably sourced on Venezuela at that time, and may still be. It’s depressing to think that one source may have managed to spin Stratfor, WSJ and Veja. You sure have to wonder what this “working with Israel” means — and where the information was really coming from.
Kepler was noting Israel’s interest in the Venezuela-Iran links weeks ago.