Discrepancias en el Ministerio de Exteriores

Cable sobre presiones para evitar un viaje a Cuba

Date:2007-03-23 17:10:00
Source:Embassy Madrid
DE RUEHMD #0545/01 0821710
P 231710Z MAR 07

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MADRID 000545



E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/22/2017



MADRID 00000545 001.2 OF 003

Classified By: DCM Hugo Llorens, reasons 1.4 (B) and (D)

1. (C) Summary. MFA Director General for Iberoamerica Javier
Sandomingo informed DCM on March 23 that Spanish Foreign
Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos plans to visit Cuba, though
no date has been fixed. Sandomingo (strictly protect) shared
this with the DCM during a readout of the March 17 visit to
Madrid of Cuban FM Felipe Perez Roque, making clear that
Moratinos himself was the strongest proponent of a high level
Spanish visit to Cuba and that others in the media "and in
the Zapatero Government" opposed such a visit. He said that
MFA Secretary of State for Iberoamerica Trinidad Jimenez, who
was on travel with the Royal family, had asked Sandomingo to
brief the DCM on Moratinos' intention to visit Cuba, per her
agreement to keep the USG informed (REF A). Sandomingo
assessed that a Moratinos visit could help advance Spanish
objectives in Cuba, including increased dialogue with
potential post-Castro leaders, Cuban agreement to allow the
resumption of Spain's development aid to Cuba, and the
reopening of the Spanish Cultural Center in Havana that was
shut down by Castro in 2003.

2. (C) The DCM asked whether Spanish officials saw any real
signs of change in Cuban Government policy that would warrant
such optimism or the symbolism of a high level Spanish visit,
noting the Cuban Government's continued strong repression of
dissidents. Sandomingo acknowledged that he did not see much
evidence of substantial policy shifts in Cuba, but allowed
that such changes might be taking place. He reviewed overall
Spanish objectives in Cuba, saying the fundamental objective
was to get the Cuban Government "to leave its people alone
and let them lead normal lives." The DCM asked that the USG
be informed immediately if a date was set for a Moratinos
visit, noting that any surprises would be badly received by
the USG since we had tried in good faith to coordinate Cuba
policy with Spain. Sandomingo said that Trinidad Jimenez had
emphasized with Moratinos the need to advise partners prior
to making news of such a visit available to the press.
Post's assessment is that Moratinos is indeed the driving
force behind Spanish plans to visit Havana. The Zapatero
Government's desire to firm up its left wing in the runup to
key May 27 regional/municipal elections may be one factor in
Moratinos' plans to go to Cuba, but his rivalry with Jimenez
and his conviction that he can affect change in Cuba through
good relations with Perez Roque may be more important
considerations. The fact that this visit does not have
unanimous support virtually guarantees that internal
differences on this policy will be aired in the Spanish
media. End Summary.


3. (C) The DCM requested the meeting with Sandomingo to
review the March 17 visit of Cuban FM Perez Roque (REF B).
Sandomingo provided a brief readout, saying Perez Roque had
mostly reviewed long-standing Cuban grievances, such as the
EU Common Position, the existence of the 2003 EU Restrictive
Measures on Cuba (suspended at Spain's behest in 2004), and
the continuing elaboration of an EU strategic document
regarding Cuba. Sandomingo discussed Spain's views on each
of these issues, saying that the Common Position was not
particularly effective, but it was the best available tool in
the absence of EU consensus on how to deal with Cuba. He
said that Spain had "nothing against" the development of a
strategic document on Cuba at the EU level, but that the
drafts shared by other EU members contained language that
would guarantee a break in Cuban-EU relations. Sandomingo
asserted that maintaining a principled stand on the need for
democracy in Cuba was a key element of Spanish policy, but so
was Spain's determination to keep open its channels to the
Cuban leadership. The DCM noted that President Zapatero
himself had recently publicly declared his preference for a
democratic Cuba and suggested that further statements by
Spanish officials along these lines would be very helpful in
sending the right message to the Cuban leadership.


4. (C) Ending his review of Perez Roque's visit, Sandoming
said that, at Trinidad Jimenez's request, he wanted the DCM
to know that the MFA was working to lay the groundwork for a

MADRID 00000545 002.2 OF 003

Moratinos visit to Havana and that he (Sandomingo) would be
going to Cuba on March 25 to establish the parameters for
such a visit. Sandomingo said that he would not be going to
Havana with proposed dates, but said that it was Moratinos'
intention to visit Cuba. (NOTE: The conservative Spanish
daily "ABC" reported March 23 that Moratinos planned to visit
Cuba during the second half of April, despite mixed signals
from Jimenez as to whether this trip was on the agenda. END
NOTE). Sandomingo pointed to the controversial nature of
this planned visit and said that he expected strong criticism
of a Moratinos visit not only from the opposition Popular
Party, but also from Spanish "media generally sympathetic to
the Zapatero Government and from members of Zapatero's
Government itself." However, he dismissed as irrelevant the
media speculation surrounding contradictory public statements
by Trinidad Jimenez this week regarding Cuba, telling the
Spanish Senate on March 19 of MFA plans to visit Cuba, then
telling a Parliamentary committee on March 21 that there were
"no plans to visit Cuba."

5. (C) Sandomingo said that the Spanish Government saw Cuba
as being in the initial phase of a period of change, though
Fidel Castro's reemergence might delay progress for the time
being. He said that Spain's primary objective at the moment
was to promote stability in Cuba and to put itself in a
position to influence the orientation of the post-Fidel Cuban
leadership. He suggested (without much enthusiasm) that a
Moratinos visit could advance specific Spanish objectives in
Cuba, including:

-- Cuban agreement to allow resumption of Spanish development
programs in Cuba, unilaterally suspended by Cuba in 2003.
Sandomingo said that, ideally, Spain could convince Havana to
allow the resumption of all EU aid, but that the resumption
of Spanish aid alone would represent a victory. He said that
Spanish aid was aimed at fomenting the growth of Cuban civil

-- Cuban agreement to reopen the Spanish Cultural Center in
Havana shuttered by the Cuban authorities in 2003.
Sandomingo said that he had opened the Cultural Center during
his stint as charge d'affaires in Havana and that the first
session had been a discussion of Spain's political transition
(much to the annoyance of Cuban Government officials). He
said that the Cultural Center had served as one of the few
channels of uncensored information to the Cuban people and as
a "free space" for Cuban intellectuals and other citizens.

-- Launching discussions on Cuba's need to repay outstanding
official short-term debt to Spain (REF C). Sandomingo
assigned much lower priority to this objective, saying the
political objectives were at the forefront of Spanish MFA


6. (C) The DCM asked whether Moratinos decision was final.
Sandomingo said that the decision would not be finalized
until dates for a visit had been fixed, but that he was
certain that Moratinos wanted to go to Cuba. The DCM asked
whether Spain saw any signs of positive change in Cuba that
would warrant such a high level visit, noting that the regime
continued to crack down on dissidents. Sandomingo
acknowledged that he had not seen anything more than minor,
unspecified indicators of a desire for change by Cuban
officials. However, he allowed that change might be underway
and that this could justify a Moratinos visit. Sandomingo
reviewed Spain's objectives in Cuba, which he broadly defined
as convincing the Cuban leadership to "leave its people alone
and let them lead normal lives." He said that,
unfortunately, Cuba's repressive apparatus had eliminated
internal political pressure as a factor, but said that the
poor socio-economic conditions experienced by the Cuban
people represented a significant factor that did have to be
taken into account by the Cuban Government. Spain's
assessment is that some in the Cuban leadership, including
around Raul Castro, agree with the need to cease harrassing
the population and are open to reform. Sandomingo argued
that it was important to encourage Cuba's post-Castro
leaders, to make them feel less fearful of change and
therefore more willing to accept a shift in the status quo.


7. (C) The DCM underscored the importance of Spain

MADRID 00000545 003.2 OF 003

maintaining close consulations and a dialogue with the USG on
Cuba and asked that the MFA advise the USG immediately if
Moratinos confirmed his plans to travel to Cuba. The DCM
reiterated A/S Shannon's request that Spain "not leave the
USG alone" on Cuba and coordinate with us as much as
possible, given our joint interest in a democratic Cuba. He
laid down a marker, cautioning Sandomingo that any surprise
announcement of a Moratinos visit to Havana would be badly
received in Washington, particularly in light the USG's good
faith effort to coordinate with Spain on Cuba policy. The
DCM regretted that he had had to wait five days for a readout
of the FM Perez Roque visit after having first requested such
a meeting on March 19. Sandomingo said he fully agreed on
the need for good communication and noted that Trinidad
Jimenez had emphasized to Moratinos the need to brief key
partners (meaning the USG) before announcing to the media any
specific plans by him to visit Havana. On the issue of
discussions with the USG, Sandomingo said that Trinidad
Jimenez would likely be forced to postpone plans for an April
visit to Washington and that May presented a better
opportunity. Sandomingo confirmed that both he and Jimenez
would be in Madrid for the May 17-18 conference organized by
the Inter American Dialogue.


8. (C) While disappointing, Moratinos' planned visit to Cuba
does not come a shock, given media reporting over the last
few months of a possible visit. Post's assessment is that
Moratinos is indeed the driving force behind Spanish plans to
visit Havana. The Zapatero Government's desire to firm up
its left wing in the runup to key May 27 regional/municipal
elections may be one factor in Moratinos' plans to go to
Cuba, but his rivalry with Jimenez and his conviction that he
can affect change in Cuba through good relations with Perez
Roque may be more important considerations. The Spanish
Government is well aware of USG sensitivities on this issue
(see REF A). The depth of internal differences within the
Zapatero Government is somewhat surprising and reflects the
varied expertise of those involved. Moratinos has little
experience on Cuba and appears optimistic regarding his
ability to change Cuban leadership behavior. By contrast,
Trinidad Jimenez, Javier Sandomingo, and MFA DG for Foreign
Policy Rafael Dezcallar have worked on Cuba for many years
and are more skeptical of the Cuban leadership in general,
and of Spain's capacity to change their behavior. In any
case,the fact that this visit does not have unanimous GOS
support virtually guarantees that internal differences on
this policy will be aired in the Spanish media
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