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DOCUMENTO Íntegro

Cable acerca de los diferentes enfoques sobre derechos humanos en Cuba

La mayoría de los países acreditados en La Habana, fundamentalmente los latinoamericanos y africanos, China y Rusia, renuncian a pedir al Gobierno cubano conversaciones sobre derechos humanos

ID: 236391
Date: 2009-11-24 13:33:00
Origin: 09HAVANA706
Source: US Interests Section Havana
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Dunno: 09HAVANA592 09HAVANA619 09VATICAN117
Destination: VZCZCXRO7150
PP RUEHAG RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHUB #0706/01 3281333
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 241333Z NOV 09
FM USINT HAVANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4943
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS PRIORITY
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 0005
RUEHVT/AMEMBASSY VALLETTA PRIORITY
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN PRIORITY 0160
RUCOWCV/CCGDSEVEN MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCOGCA/COMNAVBASE GUANTANAMO BAY CU PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HAVANA 000706

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CCA
STATE FOR DRL CNEWLING

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/23/2019
TAGS: PREL, PHUM, PGOV, CU
SUBJECT: FEISTY LITTLE MISSIONS DENT CUBA'S RECORD OF
BULLYING OTHERS TO SILENCE ON HUMAN RIGHTS

REF: A. HAVANA 619 (RECOMMENDATIONS FOR SPECIAL
RAPPORTEUR)
B. HAVANA 592 (GOC SIGNALS "READINESS TO MOVE
FORWARD")
C. VATICAN 117 ("VATICAN TWO-STEP WITH CUBA")

HAVANA 00000706 001.3 OF 003


Classified By: Poloff Joaquin F. Monserrate for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) Summary. The Cuban Government has been able to
stonewall its independent civil society from foreign visitors
who have, for the large part, been all too ready to give in
to Cuban bullying and give up on these encounters. A series
of recent visits has shown the different approaches that
foreign governments have taken to highlight, or not, Cuba's
sorry human rights record. The Asutralian Foreign Minister,
Switzerland's Human Rights Special Envoy and the Canadian
Cabinet-level Minister of the Americas not only failed to
meet with non-government Cubans, they didn't even bother to
publicly call for more freedoms after visiting Cuba in
November. Though also shunning NGOs, recent emissaries from
the Vatican and the EU, at least called out publicly for
greater rights. Some holdouts remain, refusing to bring
anyone of note if the Cubans insist on conditioning access.
Regardless of the approach, the result tends to be the same.
There is little of substance to be gained from a
"friends-at-all-costs" approach to Cuba. End Summary.

THE "BEST-FRIENDS-FOREVER" APPROACH: DO, SAY NOTHING
--------------------------------------------- -------

2. (C) Practitioners of this approach to Cuba include most
countries, including all Latin Americans and Africans,
Russians and Chinese, and many Europeans. The Brazilian
Polcouns in Havana best summed up this style: "We don't raise
(human rights) in public or private." No wonder, the U.K.
number-two in Havana grumbled, that "Cuba would love nothing
more than to have the same relationship with us that they
have with Brazil." Most of these countries would not raise
human rights even if the Government of Cuba (GOC) did not
object to them doing so. This group apparently now includes
the Swiss and Australians.

3. (C) The Swiss Human Rights Special Envoy Rudolf Knoblauch
met with his Cuban counterparts on November 12,
government-organized groups (GONGOs) and the Catholic
Cardinal. He did not meet with civil society leaders nor
make any public reference to Cuba's human rights record ("not
the Swiss way to do things," they told us). More
surprisingly, however, the Swiss admitted that Knoblauch did
not raise Cuba's human rights situation in private. As part
of the "Periodic Review," under their bilateral Dialogue, the
Swiss and the Cubans discussed multilateral human rights
issues, such as accession to international conventions and
the UNCHR, but did not touch upon Cuba's political prisoners,
access to prisons or the still-unscheduled visit of the
United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture (Ref A). They
invited Cuban officials to tour Swiss jails, something the
Swiss said "had worked" in their relations with Vietnam.

4. (C) Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith met with
Cuba's Vice President Jose Ramon Machado and Foreign Minister
Bruno Rodriguez on November 23. According to Australian
press reports, Smith said how "pleased" he was with
Australia-Cuba relations and praised bilateral "friendship
and cooperation," while Rodriguez thanked Australia for its
support against the U.S. embargo at the United Nations, the
Cuban press reported. Nothing was said in public about
political or economic reforms, or human rights.

THE "KEEP-IT-PRIVATE" APPROACH: SAY NOTHING PUBLICLY
--------------------------------------------- ------

5. (C) It is hard to gauge how many countries really bring up

HAVANA 00000706 002.3 OF 003


the tough subjects when they meet in private with the Cubans,
but many claim to do so. Although nothing of substance stops
visitors from engaging with civil society quietly (the way,
for instance, we managed to do with our U.S. visitors in
September, Ref B), most countries opt to shun meetings
altogether, bowing to Cuban pressure. Spain falls mostly in
this group, although to their credit, Foreign Minister
Moratinos spoke of the need for "gestures" after his meetings
here in September. Canada laid a claim on this group after
the November visit of Americas Minister Peter Kent.

6. (C) The Canadians also failed to meet with the independent
civil society or make public pronouncements after the visit
of Minister Kent. This was surprising, since Kent and Prime
Minister Harper had been publicly critical of Cuba's human
rights record, something that led the GOC to cancel Kent's
visit last April. Canadian officials in Havana told us that
Kent raised the issue of Cuba's political prisoners but that
the GOC had immediately turned the discussion into one of
definitions. (Note: The GOC claims all of its prisoners of
conscience are common criminals. Its stock answer to the
topic is to deny it holds political prisoners.) It's an
interesting debate, our Canadian counterparts claimed, "If
someone takes money from the U.S., does that make him a
political prisoner?"

7. (C) In his meetings with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno
Rodriguez, Kent reportedly asked also about the visit of the
Special Rapporteur, but again the Cubans changed the subject.
"How many Rapporteur visits has Canada had?," Rodriguez was
said to have shot back. Kent left town saying little, a
style that "works better for the (GOC)," our northerly
neighbors assured us.

THE "WE-RESPECTFULLY-DISAGREE" APPROACH: GOING PUBLIC
--------------------------------------------- --------

8. (C) The missions that air their concerns publicly are in
the minority. Although the official press ignores it, the
GOC frowns upon these utterances and often acts offended.
Countries that go public usually also meet with civil
society, but others don't. Outspoken visitors sometimes step
out of their missions' carefully managed talking points, as
was apparently the case, for instance, of the latest
high-level visitors to Cuba from the European Union and the
Holy See.

9. (C) The EU Commission in Havana sits snuggly in the
"Best-Friends-Forever" camp. Their functionaries share with
us their reproach of the "radical" Swedes and Czechs, with
their human rights priorities, and can't wait for "moderate"
Spain to take over the EU Presidency. The former Development
Commissioner, Louis Michel, keenly followed that line during
his visits to Cuba. Not so his successor.

10. (C) On an early November visit to Cuba, the Belgian Karel
de Gucht put aside Cuban equivocations and declared that
"there is a set of fundamental rights that are universal,"
and called on Cuba to "create the right conditions" to enact
these rights. In respectful tones and emphasizing that the
EU was not after "regime change," De Gucht put the GOC on
notice that, if it did not begin to improve its human rights
record, it could give up any hope of normalizing relations
with the EU. Despite this, in a November 23 interview with
CNN, de Gucht seemed to soften this line and called for
normalization without demanding prior gestures from Cuba.

11. (C) The Vatican's Social Communications Council President
Archbishop Claudio Cello, a grizzled veteran of China-Vatican
negotiations, also mixed praise with tough love. Originally
calling on the GOC to allow further radio access to Cuban
churches, Celli went off script, and called on greater
information and internet access for all Cubans. He even

HAVANA 00000706 003.3 OF 003


singled out Cuba's blogger community for praise, something
the GOC "didn't like at all," according to Holy See diplomats
in Havana (leading Celli to "clarify" his comments upon his
return to Rome).

THE "TAKE-YOUR-VISIT-AND-SHOVE-IT" APPROACH: LITTLE LOST
--------------------------------------------- -----------

12. (C) Some countries refuse to let the GOC dictate to them
when it comes to visitors. Although they will accommodate
GOC petulancy by hosting dual national day ceremonies (and
spare Cuban officials the "affront" of sharing space with
Cubans it deems unworthy) and cordon off their ambassadors
from civil society engagement, the holdout countries resist
pressure to disengage from civil society altogether. In many
cases they have chosen to keep their principals at home if
the price is kowtowing to the GOC. Germany, the Czech
Republic and the United Kingdom may pay a price in terms of
lost business and access from their principled stance.
Others who stand in this camp have less to lose from sticking
it to the Cubans, and include Poland and Sweden.

13. (C) In November, the Ambassador for the Order of Malta (a
Catholic church NGO given diplomatic status by the GOC) took
the "take-it-and-shove" it approach to new heights. After
the GOC told him that he could only bring in the Belgian
Ambassador (firmly in the "BFF" camp) but not the USINT Chief
of Mission to a humanitarian event he was organizing at a
leper hospital, he cancelled the event and left town.

14. (C) COMMENT. The Cuba overwhelming majority of the 100
foreign missions in Havana do not face a human rights dilemma
in their dealings with the Cubans. These countries wouldn't
raise the issue anyway. The rest, a group that includes most
of Europe, Canada, Australia, Japan and the United States,
claim to employ different approaches to address their human
rights concerns in Cuba -- but the truth is that most of
these countries do not press the issue at all in Cuba. The
GOC does not like to talk about its human rights situation,
and even less to be lectured publicly. It deploys
considerable resources to bluff and bully many missions and
their visitors into silence. For the most part the rewards
for acquiescing to GOC demands are risible: pomp-full dinners
and meetings and, for the most pliant, a photo-op with one of
the Castro brothers. In terms of substance or economic
benefits, they fare little better than those who stand up to
the GOC.
FARRAR