Cablegate: Remarks by Cuban Opposition Leader to Potus
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HAVANA 000362
DEPT WHA FOR TOM SHANNON, KIRSTEN MADISON, CALEB MCCARRY
NSC FOR DAN FISK, MIKE KOZAK
COMMERCE FOR SECRETARY GUTIERREZ
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON PGOV KDEM PREL CU
SUBJECT: REMARKS BY CUBAN OPPOSITION LEADER TO POTUS
1. Following is an unofficial translation of remarks made by
prominent opposition leader Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello
during a video teleconference with President Bush on May 6.
Original Spanish version will follow septel.
2. (Begin unofficial translation). First I'd like to thank
you on behalf of those here today for this historical
opportunity not only with you, your staff but also with Mr.
Parmly of the US. Interests Section in Cuba and his staff.
I would like to acknowledge that we are aware of your
efforts, during your two terms, to assist in the
re-establishment of democracy in Cuba and you should know
that you are the President who has been closest to achieving
Democracy in Cuba will have to come from within and the
internal opposition is the spearhead that can help bring it
I would like to address the current situation in the country,
which to some may appear confusing, but to those us who have
been observing the behavior of this dictatorship for so many
years, we can describe it as more of the same.
The regime is willing to yield slightly in the economic and
social areas, but not the political realm; Raul Castro wants
to enjoy his few remaining years in power and will not allow
concessions that may affect his stability in power.
However, up until now, he has removed senseless prohibitions
and tried to encourage farmers to increase agricultural
production, which was practically abandoned.
The social situation is becoming more critical for the
government, and it knows that the possibility exists for the
social situation to explode. It is for this reason that the
government fears the opposition on the streets, because from
a small spark, a big problem can emerge.
The state of deterioration in the country is irreversible
without resources, and the regime will not use the few
resources it has available to address this problem. The
people, and specially the youth, don't see their future in
Our challenge is to take advantage of each new opportunity
that may be presented to us by the elimination of
For that we need resources, and despite all the economic
assistance that your country has provided to us, the
opposition has not had full access to it. How can we get one
million people in the streets if we are unable to gather more
than 20 at a time due to lack of resources?
We have tried to keep the government in check by distributing
human rights declarations in the streets, but between one
effort and another, sometimes months have to go by, before we
can gather money to pay for the expenses that these events
I believe that you, Mr. President, can give us the help we
need, so that those of us who peacefully fight can accelerate
the coming of a transition. For although it is correct to
say that the exile community has made efforts to help, and
documents and projects have been put forward to further our
actions - to take place after the change (regime collapse) -
the time between now and the transition must be shortened.
This is completely our responsibility but it also
indisputably depends on the help that you can give us. The
internal opposition is now more mature and cohesive, although
it maintains its political diversity.
I believe your country should not carry this burden alone,
but that it should be shared with other countries in the
world that are friends of democracy and advocates of human
rights, particularly the European Union.
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It would be very important that your allies in Europe stop
being guided by the Spanish policy of "patting (the regime)
on the back", which in the past few months has resulted in
high officials coming to Cuba and completely ignoring the
opposition just to please the dictatorship.
I would like to alert you that, among the prohibitions the
government plans to lift and announce through its obscure
methods, is the well known "white card" (tarjeta blanca),
which limits the exit of Cubans from the country. This is a
means to threaten your country, as its abolishment would
cause a massive exodus, something the government has been
pursuing for several months, and which we have previously
For the Raul Castro administration, the key issue is to
remove from the picture those who could, at a certain moment,
take to the streets and in this particular case, the youth.
They will try to obtain visas through other countries, giving
priority to Central and South America to eventually reach
U.S. borders. I believe Mexico will be particularly
vulnerable to illegal Cuban migrants, but others will try to
cross the border through Canada, given the possibility it
offers to obtain work permits.
However the possibility that routes through European or Asian
countries will be used cannot be discounted.
For a long time the exile community has used the argument
that resources cannot be given to the government. As a
result, remittances and family travel to Cuba were
restricted. I can assure you that at the time these
decisions were made I was totally in agreement with them. But
times have changed and today Cubans need resources more than
ever. Among other things, we need to prove that the sale of
a few pieces of equipment, which is giving world the wrong
impression about openness -- as portrayed by the
international press -- is a fallacy. Visiting Cuban
Americans would put an end to this by purchasing for their
families the few reserves that the regime can afford to
import. The Cubans would feel like people, since at this
moment they are "made into non-persons" and the pressure for
the government to lift more prohibitions would increase.
I know that the exile community and most of the
Cuban-American congressmen disagree, but I also know that one
must do what is necessary at a given moment and I can assure
you that at this moment, when we are so close to achieving
our objectives, we have to push towards it. In addition,
from an inside-Cuba perspective, without wanting to interfere
in your problems, with the elections fast approaching, it
would be good to have a unified position on Cuba between the
two most important political parties, as the exile community
is not composed only by the most radical organizations in
Miami, but also by those who are not involved in politics and
want to reunite with their families -- which, by the way,
they already do, but illegally and without the proper
Mr. President, it is also important to allow the exit of
families of political prisoners and dissidents who feel they
need to emigrate We know that the government uses this as a
means to send collaborators and agents to your country, which
delays the application process. There are those who have
helped the opposition and want to immigrate; there are also
those who join the dissident movement with the sole purpose
of immigrating. But working for the cause, if only for a
short time, is taking on a sufficient risk, as the government
harasses its opponents relentlessly.
I have not spoken of the political prisoners, for seated next
to me is an ex-political prisoner who stands as their symbol.
We also have the wife of a political prisoner, a Lady in
White, who with dignity, will be better able to explain to
you how those who suffer in prison constitute our number one
Finally, I would like to congratulate you for your work
against international terrorism for all these years and
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express that even though some presently disagree with you,
history will take you to the podium of the rewarded for your
tireless effort. (End unofficial translation).