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Cablegate: Apparent Changes in Goc Management/Logistics

VZCZCXYZ0008
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHUB #0306 1022026
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 112026Z APR 08
FM USINT HAVANA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3118

UNCLAS HAVANA 000306

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

M, OFM, L, WHA/FO, WHA/CCA, WHA/EX

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AMGT CU PREL
SUBJECT: APPARENT CHANGES IN GOC MANAGEMENT/LOGISTICS
POLICIES

1. (SBU) Summary: USINT has noticed several changes in the
way the GOC is handling management/logistics issues that may
indicate some changes in policy. End Summary.

2. (SBU) The following is a list of apparent policy changes
regarding management/logistical issues between USINT and the
GOC:

- Increase in local staff hiring: CUBALSE, the Cuban
government employment office that services diplomatic
missions, has begun to provide candidates for local staff
positions. A year ago USINT had close to 50 local hire
vacancies; now there are less than 20.

- Increase in facilities maintenance support: After
waiting more than a year, the GOC provided a crane last week
to lift an 8-ton air conditioning chiller onto the roof of
the Interests Section. The Cuban agency responsible for
providing houses to USINT personnel recently has been
noticeably more responsive in maintaining and repairing our
properties. The Refugee Annex project, which languished for
almost two years, was completed last month.

- Increase in pre-approvals to import supplies and
equipment: Though the GOC rejects some 25% of unclassified
pouches, it has increased the number of pre-approvals to
import official supplies and equipment via sea and air
freight, rather than the pouch. During the first week of
April we received seven pre-approvals (for items as diverse
as automobile parts, fire detectors, and air conditioning
Freon) and no refusals. During the same week, only two
pouches were rejected.

3. (SBU) There have been other noticeable aesthetic changes
around the Interests Section, which may be the result of
policy decisions, including:

- Offensive signboards removed: Two especially
offensive large billboards facing the Interests Section - one
comparing President Bush to Adolph Hitler and the other with
a thinly veiled sexual innuendo - have been dismantled.
Another anti-American billboard at the end of the block has
also come down. in all cases the frames remain, so it could
be a short-lived reprieve.)

4. (SBU) On the other hand, the clumsy hostility remains.
After months of neglect, rust and deterioration, the GOC has
shown renewed interest in sprucing up the "flag farm" in
front of the Interests Section. The poles have been painted
(without removing the rust, however) and outfitted with new
Cuban flags replacing the former black flags. We'll see how
long the Cuban flags, which are already shredding in the
steady Malecon wind, will last.
PARMLY

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