Viewing cable 08MONTEVIDEO82
Title: URUGUAY PLANTS VENEZUELAN FLAG IN ANTARCTICA

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08MONTEVIDEO822008-02-19 19:05:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Montevideo
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DE RUEHMN #0082/01 0501905
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 191905Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7965
INFO RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MONTEVIDEO 000082 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
BRASILIA FOR HUB BRAGHETTA 
DEPT FOR OES/OA, EBLOOM, LRHUGHES 
DEPT PASS NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION/OPP FOR KERB, SBORG, 
PWEST 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/19/2018 
TAGS: PREL PHSA KTIA EAID AY VZ UY
SUBJECT: URUGUAY PLANTS VENEZUELAN FLAG IN ANTARCTICA 
 
REF: MONTEVIDEO 68 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Frank Baxter for reasons 1.4 (B) and (D) 
 
SUMMARY 
------- 
 
¶1.  (SBU) SUMMARY:  The opposition Colorado Party joined 
forces with Frente Amplio (FA) deputies to approve a 
Venezuela-sponsored joint expedition to Antarctica that 
departed Montevideo this week.  According to GOU officials, 
Venezuela aims to become a full consultative party to the 
Antarctic Treaty (AT).  The trip will provide Venezuela the 
opportunity to fulfill some the requirements for membership 
(e.g. dispatching of a scientific expedition).  An official 
at Uruguay's Antarctic Institute (UAI) said the Institute was 
not consulted and objected to the prospect of Venezuela 
piggy-backing on Uruguay's Antarctic program in pursuit of 
its own dubious political and military objectives under a 
scientific guise.  In response to concerns voiced by 
opposition Blanco party deputies, the GOU told members of the 
Congressional Defense Committee that this joint expedition is 
not part of any plan for a military alliance with Venezuela. 
Meanwhile, newspapers carried photos of the Venezuelan and 
Uruguayan flags flying side-by-side at Uruguay's Antarctic 
research base.  END SUMMARY. 
 
THE EXPEDITION 
-------------- 
 
¶2.  (U) A team of Venezuelan scientists departed February 15 
on a 45-day expedition aboard the Uruguayan Navy research 
vessel ROU22 Oyarvide.  Local press touted this as 
Venezuela's first Antarctic expedition; laying the groundwork 
for the BRV to fulfill requirements it believes will allow it 
to become a full consultative party to the Antarctic Treaty. 
Venezuela is currently a non-consultative party to the 
treaty, which provides the BRV a seat at the table but no 
decision-making role in this consensus-based body. 
 
¶3.  (SBU) The expedition will include civilian and military 
scientists, with specialties ranging from marine biology to 
chemistry.  According to local press, Venezuelan President 
Chavez called the scientists "pioneers" on his Sunday radio 
and TV program in early February and told listeners "this is 
something historic." Venezuela's Science and Technology 
Minister added, "what we hope is to be able to build a base 
... a permanent Venezuelan scientific station on the 
Antarctic continent."  The press also reported that the 
expedition was made possible through cooperation between the 
Venezuelan and Uruguayan navies.  Venezuela is providing USD 
$558,000 to finance the expedition, along with fuel and 
supplies for the ship. 
 
¶4.  (C) NOTE: A UAI official told poloff that, in addition to 
the financial support cited by the media, Venezuela had also 
agreed to make repairs to the ROU4 Artigas, a Navy logistics 
ship that annually carries supplies to Uruguay's Antarctic 
base.   A senior navy official told emboffs in December that 
the Artigas could not travel to Antarctica this year as 
planned due to repairs needed after its participation in the 
PANAMAX naval exercises.  The Artigas stopped in Venezuela 
during its return trip from PANAMAX.  END NOTE. 
 
THE POLITICS 
------------ 
 
¶5.  (C) An official at the Uruguayan Antarctic Institute 
(UAI) told poloff that the expedition was the brainchild of 
current Vice-Minster of Defense (and soon to be Minister - 
reftel) Jose Bayardi.  He said the GOU had not consulted the 
Institute and that he and colleagues objected to Venezuelan 
meddling in Antarctic affairs, fearing the disruptive role it 
would play in such an international forum.  While he doubted 
that the BRV would actually gain consultative party status to 
the Antarctic Treaty, he considered the Uruguayan military's 
role in the venture ill-advised and focused on short-term 
political/financial gain.  He told poloff that officials from 
the UAI had gone as far as to provide background and briefing 
material on the expedition to opposition party members in 
Congress that they in turn used to attempt to torpedo the 
mission. 
 
¶6.  (U) Opposition deputies, mainly from the Blanco Party, 
accused the Vazquez administration of moving towards a closer 
military alliance with Venezuela by allowing such a mission 
 
MONTEVIDEO 00000082  002 OF 002 
 
 
to take place as part of Uruguay's Antarctic effort. 
 
¶7.  (U) The Congressional Defense Committee summoned 
Vice-Minister of Defense Jose Bayardi, who will become 
Minister of Defense on March 1 (reftel), last week to speak 
to the issue.  Bayardi told Congress an expanded military 
alliance is "not under consideration," but that Uruguay will 
provide Venezuela with all the necessary knowledge and 
experience to enable the latter to join the Antarctic Treaty 
as a consulting member.  The President of the Defense 
Committee, Jorge Menendez, who will replace Bayardi as 
Vice-Minister of Defense (reftel), strongly endorsed 
Bayardi's position and insisted that the expedition was of a 
purely scientific nature.  Meanwhile, newspapers carried 
photos of the Venezuelan and Uruguayan flags flying 
side-by-side at Uruguay's Antarctic research base, a gesture 
of welcome offered whenever foreigners visit the base. 
 
BACKGROUND 
---------- 
 
¶8.  (U) Antarctica is governed by the Antarctic Treaty (AT) 
and designated as a natural reserve dedicated to peace and 
science. Research stations are operated by 28 nations 
(including Uruguay) on the continent and nearby islands. No 
single nation has control over any section of the continent. 
Every year the original twelve Parties to the Treaty and 
those Parties that have demonstrated an interest in 
Antarctica - together called the Consultative Parties - meet 
"for the purpose of exchanging information, consulting 
together on matters of common interest pertaining to 
Antarctica, formulating, considering, and recommending to 
their Governments measures in furtherance of the principles 
and objectives of the Treaty", in what are known as the 
Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings. 
 
¶9.  (U) In addition to the consultative parties (currently 
28), since 1983 non-consultative parties (currently 18) have 
also been invited to take part in those meetings, but do not 
participate in decision-making.  A non-consultative party may 
only achieve consultative status if it "demonstrates its 
interest in Antarctica by conducting substantial scientific 
research activity there, such as the establishment of a 
scientific station or the dispatch of a scientific 
expedition" (Article IX of the Antarctic Treaty text). 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
¶10. (C) COMMENT:  While some in Uruguay support greater 
outreach to Venezuela, others are wary of such cooperation 
and would actively seek to diminish it.  In the end, 
Venezuela's petrodollars represent a strong temptation.  This 
is especially true since Uruguay's relative level of 
development disqualifies it from most international 
assistance.  It is also noteworthy that the UAF seems to have 
secured Venezuelan repairs for a ship it used in a 
U.S.-sponsored military exercise. 
 
Baxter