Cablegate: Cuban Opposition to Regime: The (Art) Show Must Go
RR RUEHAG RUEHROV
DE RUEHUB #0210/01 0641945
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 051945Z MAR 07
FM USINT HAVANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1392
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS
RUESDM/JTLO MIAMI FL
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0063
RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HAVANA 000210
STATE DEPT FOR WHA/CCA
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/05/2017
TAGS: PHUM KDEM SOCI CU
SUBJECT: CUBAN OPPOSITION TO REGIME: THE (ART) SHOW MUST GO
HAVANA 00000210 001.3 OF 002
Classified By: COM Michael E. Parmly for Reason 1.4(d).
1. (C) Summary: Using detentions, mob actions and other
methods, the Cuban Government blocked at least 27
pro-democracy and human rights activists from attending a
USINT-facilitated opposition art show on March 2, but at
least 70 others managed to participate. State Security
focused on youth activists, arresting, detaining or summoning
many of the 27, including XXXXXXXXXXXX and
XXXXXXXXXXXX. USINT is aware of only one case of
violence: Communist militants punched XXXXXXXXXXXX
a number of times and roughed up two other activists as they
tried to leave Santa Clara. Militant mobs, made up largely of
veterans, were mobilized against at least five Santa Clara activists.
The art exhibition, held at the PAOR, featured dozens of paintings
and other works, many with a political message. Uncensored news
materials were distributed and discussion flowed freely among
participants, who included XXXXXXXXXXXX. End Summary.
2. (C) Cuban State Security launched operations against
dissidents in Havana and the provinces of Matanzas, Santiago
and Villa Clara on March 2, preventing at least 27 mostly
young activists from attending an opposition art show in
Havana. Two key organizers of the event – XXXXXXXXXXXX
and XXXXXXXXXXXX- were prevented from attending, and
another, XXXXXXXXXXXX, remains incommunicado.
XXXXXXXXXXXX told us on March 5 that he complied with a
GOC order to appear at an immigration office in Havana on March 2
but was detained there until 8:30 pm, when the event ended.
XXXXXXXXXXXX said a State Security major alluded to the
event and mentioned the names of some of the participants.
XXXXXXXXXXXX said the political police also confiscated his
cell phone, its account based in Sweden.
3. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX told us late on March 2 that police
took him into custody four blocks from the PAOR and released
him after the event ended. Among other activists blocked were
, XXXXXXXXXXXX. At least 12 activists in Santiago were
prevented from attending, including XXXXXXXXXXXX, who
was detained. Of 17 invitees from Santa Clara, only five
managed to attend the show. Militant mobs were deployed
outside the homes of a number of Santa Clara activists,
4. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX met with us on March 5 and said he
and two other activists, XXXXXXXXXXXX and
XXXXXXXXXXXX were attacked by a mob while trying to leave
Santa Clara at around 4 a.m. XXXXXXXXXXXX. He said the three
were confronted by six people - four militants and two suspected
State Security officials - and were quickly joined by four other thugs.
XXXXXXXXXXXX said they informed the activists that they could
not leave. XXXXXXXXXXXXsaid they lacked authority to block
their movement, and that if the militants had a problem they should
contact the police. This prompted a violent reaction by members of
the mob, who pushed and shoved XXXXXXXXXXXX colleagues
and punched XXXXXXXXXXXX several times, including in the
head, left arm and chest. (Note: XXXXXXXXXXXX. End
Note.) Although XXXXXXXXXXXX was rendered unable to
travel immediately to Havana, Fernandez was able to board a
bus and later attend the exhibition.
5. (C) At the art show, activists viewed dozens of paintings,
ceramic masks and other artworks produced by opposition
members. Among the works that generated the most buzz was
Edgard Lopez Moreno's "This Is My City," a dark and somber
scene of a city in disrepair, with gravestones representing
lost freedoms and the graffito "Down With Fidel," a message
that has landed more than one dissident in jail for
disrespect. Participants also gathered in small groups to
discuss the GOC's latest crackdown, make new contacts and
pose for photos in front of the prisoners of conscience
HAVANA 00000210 002.3 OF 002
quilt, on loan from a U.S. NGO. Among those present were
four artists who took part in a half-hour art competition, in
which they each sketched a portrait of Poloff's dog.
Invitees then cast ballots on which sketch captured the best
likeness, and the two leading vote-getters were each awarded
an artistic photography book from the United States.
6. (C) The regime's blocking of at least 27 youth activists
follows the same pattern as the week before, when the GOC
prevented at least 22 dissidents from attending the February
23 closure of the "Congress" of independent librarians
affiliated with XXXXXXXXXXXX. The latest crackdown
underlines the regime's sensitivity over political activities by
the country's youth, who are largely disenfranchised, frustrated
and eager for change.