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Cablegate: Cuban Dissidents Connect Live with Slovaks In

VZCZCXRO6260
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHSL #0211/01 0951535
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 051535Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY BRATISLAVA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0836
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA PRIORITY 0021

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BRATISLAVA 000211

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR AND WHA/CCA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM KDEM KPAO CU LO
SUBJECT: CUBAN DISSIDENTS CONNECT LIVE WITH SLOVAKS IN
INSPIRATIONAL WEBCAST

REF: A. HAVANA 332

B. BRATISLAVA 140

1. (U) SUMMARY. Cuban youth dissidents and former Slovak
dissidents and student leaders from the 1989 Velvet
Revolution connected live via webcast on April 3 to share
experiences. On the same day that Spanish Foreign Minister
Moratinos concluded his visit to Cuba (ref A), Embassy
Bratislava hosted 40 Slovaks who offered advice and moral
support to 20 Cubans, hosted by USINT Havana, in an event
that was inspirational for all involved. Embassy Bratislava
will continue to support the promotion of human and civil
rights in Cuba through targeted events. END SUMMARY.

20 CUBANS, 40 SLOVAKS, ONE CONNECTION
-------------------------------------

2. (U) On April 3 - the same day that Spanish Foreign
Minister Moratinos finished his visit to Cuba, forty Slovaks
from government, parliament, NGOs, and student groups
gathered in the Embassy to speak with twenty Cuban youth
dissidents and independent journalists in Havana by webcast.
The occasion allowed participants to discuss issues of
political dissent, ranging from peaceful resistance to
wrongful imprisonment. The Cuban dissidents earned applause
from the Slovaks, who exhorted them to "continue the
struggle." The Cubans, gathered in the COM's residence in
Havana, repeatedly expressed their thanks for the willingness
of the Slovaks to share experiences and hopes.

3. (U) Former Slovak dissident Miroslav Kusy and Velvet
Revolution student leaders Zuzana Mistrikova, Anton Popovic,
and Filip Vagac described their experiences in opposing the
former regime and helping the transition to democracy in
Czechoslovakia. Chairman of the parliamentary human rights
committee Laszlo Nagy (Party of the Hungarian Coalition,
SMK), a member of the intelligentsia who also helped with the
transition, moderated the event. Also sitting at the front
table, Chairman of the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH),
former Speaker of Parliament, and current MP Pavol Hrusovsky
assured the Cuban dissidents that concerned people across the
Atlantic care and speak out about the Cuban dissidents.
Working in an information vacuum, the Cubans were heartened
to hear that their cause is known and supported outside their
country.


WHAT HAPPENS THE DAY AFTER?
---------------------------

4. (U) One question the Cubans posed to the Slovaks: "What
happened to the Communists after the revolution? Are they
still among you?" The reply that former oppressors are
living and working in Slovak society today was surprising to
the Cubans. The Slovaks explained that the cycle of
oppression had to break, that retaliation was not the path to
democracy. Cementing this theme, the Slovaks recommended
that the Cubans learn as much as possible about individual
rights and responsibilities and the rule of law to prepare
for the day they can begin to build their own democracy.

5. (U) For their part, the Slovaks asked the Cubans directly
what they could do to help support their cause. The Cubans
responded that continued moral support and financial support
when possible would be helpful. MP Nagy pointed out that
members of the Slovak audience had made trips to Cuba
carrying money and encouragement for the democratic cause
(ref B). KDH leader Hrusovsky mentioned the Cuban dissident
whom he has "adopted".


THE PARTICIPANTS
----------------

6. (U) Robert Zanony, Deputy Spokesperson for Prime Minister
Fico, attended the webcast, as did the MFA's Cuba desk
officer and head of the Latin America section. The
international secretaries for KDH and SDKU (Slovak Democratic
and Christian Union) sat in the audience. The NGOs Pontis
Foundation, People in Peril, Hlava 98, Citizen and Democracy
and the think-tank Slovak Foreign Policy Association were
represented. Local university and high school students also
attended the event to show their support.

7. (SBU) In Havana, Slovak DCM Anton Jurkovic helped USINT
moderate the event. Cuban attendees were: independent
journalist Carlos Serpa Maceira, independent journalist (and

BRATISLAVA 00000211 002 OF 002


75er) Jorge Olivera Castillo, Ahmed Rodriguez Albacia (Young
People Against Censorship, JSC), Belinda Garcia (JSC),
Ricardo Rodriguez Borrego (Alternative Republican Movement),
Edgard Lopez Moreno (Marti Youth Coalition, CJM), Orlando
Valdespino Mont (CJM), Caridad Martin Garcia (CJM), Alexander
Decon Perez (CJM), Giselle Fernandez Estrada (CJM), Antoine
Clemente Hernandez (CJM), Livan Ruiz Brito (CJM), Yunieles
Rivera Mena (CJM), Nestor Rodriguez Lobaina (Cuban Youth
Movement for Democracy), Enrique LastNameUnknown (Cuban Youth
Movement for Democracy), Alvaro Yero Felipe (Cuban Human
Rights Foundation), Yeney Santiuste Garcia (relative of
"Ladies in White" supporter), Ignacio Estrada (Cuban Human
Rights Foundation for HIV/AIDS sufferers).


COMMENT
-------

8. (U) Following the successful webcast, Slovak participants
relayed their pleasure in passing on their knowledge,
experiences, and emotional support to the Cubans. Both sides
felt inspired and energized by the event. In Charge's
closing comments to the assembled Slovaks, he urged the young
Slovak students to exercise their voice in civil society at
home and abroad and praised the work of Slovak NGOs. In
addition to supporting transformational diplomacy directly
across borders, this webcast enabled us to highlight for
Slovak government officials the crucial role that their own
NGOs play in democracy promotion.


OTHER EMBASSY ACTIVITIES
------------------------

9.(SBU) On March 16, the Ambassador gave an interview at the
Pontis Foundation's successful "Cage of Solidarity" event
commemorating the 2003 crackdown on 75 peaceful Cuban
dissidents. The Embassy provided support to the event in
terms of planning advice, lending of equipment, and providing
posters of 10 Cuban dissidents for display. Next on the
agenda, the Ambassador intends to host a discussion group at
the end of April featuring the Slovak participants (including
KDH MP and former Justice Minister Daniel Lipsic and NGO
reps) in the International Committee for Democracy in Cuba
(ICDC) conference in Berlin.
SILVERMAN

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