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Cablegate: No Gou Comment On Castro Confirmation

VZCZCXYZ0012
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMN #0101 0571938
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 261938Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7982
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA 0108

UNCLAS MONTEVIDEO 000101

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL CU UY
SUBJECT: NO GOU COMMENT ON CASTRO CONFIRMATION

REF: MONTEVIDEO 68

1. (U) While Raul Castro's confirmation as President of Cuba
was reported prominently in the media, as of February 26, the
GOU had not made an official statement. Major dailies El
Observador, El Pais, and Ultimas Noticias ran columns
critical of the Castro "dynasty," and the lack of any move
towards democracy. The most prominent leftist newspaper, La
Republica, came to Raul Castro's defense and called the
transition "original, intelligent and non-traumatic."

2. (U) Key figures from the two major opposition parties
registered their criticism of the Castro exchange. Former
president Jorge Batlle (Colorado Party), who broke diplomatic
relations with Cuba in 2002, said he wished that "freedom be
established in Cuba once and for all." He also indicated
that "Fidel Castro is not a dictator, but a murderer"
alluding to the executions of regime opponents caught when
trying to flee the country. Meanwhile, Former President Luis
Alberto Lacalle (Blanco Party), called him "one of the worst
dictators in history has fallen." He doubted whether Castro
relinquishing power would actually "entail a benefit" for
Cubans since, he said, after almost 50 years, "there are
values that are deeply rooted into a society that doesn't
know anything different from this socialist government."

3. (SBU) COMMENT: The GOU's silence till now is
understandable. Uruguayans place a very high premium on
democracy and while some in the left-leaning Frente Amplio
government may sympathize with Cuba's "revolution," the
patently un-democratic transition is hard for them to
applaud. In addition, Cuba's most vocal backer in the GOU,
Foreign Minister Gargano, is on the way out of office,
departing March 1 (reftel).
Baxter

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