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Cablegate: Spain/Cuba: Title Iii of Libertad Act

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMD #1299/01 3461221
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 111221Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5753

C O N F I D E N T I A L MADRID 001299

SIPDIS

FOR DAVID MCFARLAND, WHA/CCA
EUR/WE FOR STACIE ZERDECKI

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/10/2018
TAGS: ETRD ETTC PREL SP CU
SUBJECT: SPAIN/CUBA: TITLE III OF LIBERTAD ACT

REF: A. STATE 126578
B. MADRID 580
C. 2007 MADRID 2188

Classified By: DCM Arnold A. Chacon, for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

1. (U) The information in this message is keyed to
questions posed in reftel A, paragraph 5 and updates
information reported in reftels B and C.

2. (C) Has the host country, in Post's opinion, worked to
promote the advancement of democracy and human rights in Cuba?

Spain played a leadership role in lifting EU sanctions
and in re-starting the EU-Cuba dialogue on human rights, and
subsequently claimed credit for what the GOS assessed to be
successful talks and improved conditions in Cuba.

Of the four former prisoners of conscience who arrived
in Spain for medical treatment in February 2008 (ref B and
previous), three were granted Spanish residency and the
fourth was granted political asylum. Pedro Pablo Alvarez
Ramos lives and works in Barcelona and awaits fulfillment of
the GOS promise to bring five of his seven family members
from Miami to live in Spain. Omar Pernet, who participated
in President Bush's prisoner of conscience event on the
margins of the UNGA in September in New York, and Alejandro
Gonzalez Raga are in Madrid as is the fourth, blogger Jose
Gabriel Ramon Castillo, who was granted political asylum.
Spain agreed in June 2008 to resettle up to 10 Cuban migrants
from those currently protected at Guantanamo. To date, Post
continues to work with PRM and EUR/WE to solidify terms of
reference for the proposed resettlement.

Spanish opposition Partido Popular (PP) accused Foreign
Minister Moratinos of playing the role of "Castro's Godfather
in Europe" after Spain led the EU in lifting restrictive
measures against Cuba in June 2008. During his Senate
appearance on June 25, FM Moratinos defended the EU's action
by praising economic and social reforms in Cuba, as well as
the opening of political debate on the Island. Describing
Raul Castro's agricultural reform and looser restrictions on
internet use as "fundamental and revolutionary," Moratinos
nonetheless reiterated the EU's demand that Cuba release all
political prisoners and reminded the Senate that, while there
were about 330 political prisoners in 2003, the number had
decreased to 243 in 2008, a number he then said was "still
too many." Foreign Minister Moratinos told the Spanish
Senate on June 26 that the Vatican had encouraged other
European countries to support the lifting of sanctions on
Cuba, and that the Catholic Church had told the GOS that it
considered the (Spanish) policy toward the Island to be the
appropriate one (literally: &adecuado,8 or adequate). The
Minister noted that if the EU decided in a year "for any
reason" to end the dialogue (with Cuba), the people who would
be harmed were (the dissidents), not the more immovable
sectors of the Island."

Confidential guidance for Spanish ambassadors leaked to
the press following a September 8-11 chiefs of mission
conference
stated that Spain did not see the recent lifting of EU
sanctions on Cuba as compensation for Havana's recent
&modest but irrelevant8 internal reforms,
but rather as a way to establish a process of dialogue
between the EU and Cuba. The dossier stressed that the
lifting of the sanctions was not an end unto itself. Spanish
daily El Tiempo added that the first EU-Cuban dialogue would
take place in New York City on the margins of UNGA.
In terms of what the MFA expects Havana to have accomplished
by the time the EU and Cuba meet to evaluate Havana's human
rights progress, the MFA report states,
&Obviously it is not realistic to think that the Cuban
Government is going to free all of its political prisoners
between now and June 2009.8

Spanish officials played a leadership role in
formalizing the EU-Cuba political dialogue, including helping
Cuban FM Perez Roque prepare for October 16 meetings in
Brussels.

The Council of Ministers approved October 31 the
"Historic Memory Law" granting Spanish nationality to the
grandchildren of Spaniards who lost or forfeited Spanish
nationality due to exile, and the legislation was close to
implementation as of December 2008. Havana's Spanish Consul
Pablo Barrios anticipates that the consulate will receive as
many as 77,000 requests for citizenship a year in the first 3
years, which could result in as many as 120,000 Cubans
receiving Spanish citizenship, according to press reports.
Other Embassy contacts estimate that 100,000 persons in Cuba
and Venezuela could have claim to Spanish citizenship under
the law. The Spanish consulate in Havana reportedly will add
to its current staff of 50 another 35 employees to address
the workload.

3. (C) Has the host country made public statements or
undertaken other governmental actions, such as resolutions in
the
national assemblies condemning human rights abuses in Cuba;
or actions in support of civil society in Cuba through host
country's diplomatic missions or other fora?

Career diplomat Manuel Cacho was appointed October 17
as Spain's Ambassador to Cuba. Cacho replaced the
controversial Spanish Ambassador Carlos &Charlie8 Alonso
Zaldivar, highly criticized by dissident groups and human
rights activists in Spain. A lawyer who had served since May
2005 as the Spanish MFA's Director General for External
Communications, Cacho served previously as Ambassador to
Syria and Nigeria and as Consul General in Jerusalem.

In the lead up to the early November Iberoamerican
Summit in San Salvador, MFA Secretary of State for
Iberoamerican Affairs Trinidad Jimenez told left-of-center El
Pais on October 31 that it was unreasonable to expect that
Cuba, after 50 years of the Castro regime, could change in a
few months. She said her goal continued to be renewed
dialogue, with Cuban citizens as the protagonists.

4. (C) Have there been any high-level diplomatic visits
between Cuba and the host country in the past six months?

The Cuban Minister of Commerce visited the Zaragoza
Water Expo during "Cuba Day" on August 8.

Cuban Foreign Minister Perez Roque visited Spain the
week of October 14; had an audience with King
Juan Carlos I; and met with met with PSOE officials Jose
Blanco, Leire Pajin and Elena Valenciano; VP Fernandez de la
Vega; and FM Moratinos.
During a joint press conference, FM Moratinos announced that
Spain would give Cuba 24.5 million euros to rebuild the areas
affected by the
hurricanes and that the GOS would consider Cuba's request to
restructure Cuba's commercial debt. According to the media,
Cuba's debt to Spain
amounts to 1.88 billion euros. The GOC has requested that
Spain forgive half and renegotiate the other half. The GOS
also offered Cuba
a line of short-term credit of between 50-100 million euros.
Secretary of State for International Cooperation Soraya
Rodriguez traveled to Cuba on October 17 to assess the
development assistance situation, and a Cuban delegation came
to
Spain the next week to meet with Ministry of the Economy
officials regarding details of the debt and credit line.
Moratinos also announced that Spanish and Cuban
representatives would meet for the third time in Havana the
second week of January 2009 to discuss and assess human
rights in Cuba. FM Moratinos opined that the roadmap
established by Spain and Cuba "moves forward satisfactorily."
Shortly after FM Moratinos announced that President Zapatero
had accepted Raul Castro's invitation to visit Cuba in 2009
and that the exact date would be determined through
diplomatic channels. President Zapatero said, however, that
he had not yet decided whether or not he would travel to
Cuba. "The proposal is there; the project is there, and we
will see at the right time if it is carried out and how it is
carried out," the President said.

Spanish Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs
Trinidad Jimenez told Spanish National Radio (RNE) on October
21 that, given the changes that have taken place in Cuba, she
thought that a visit from the Spanish President would happen
during the current Spanish Congress. Emphasizing that most
Latin American Presidents and even former Spanish President
Aznar have visited Cuba, Jimenez stated it was a matter of
finding the right moment for such a visit. Further, on what
she called the verge of a political dialogue between Havana
and the European Union, Jimenez insisted it "would not be
understood" were Zapatero not to travel to the island in the
near future.

While in Madrid, FM Perez Roque confirmed his October
16 meeting with an EU delegation to formalize the beginning
of an EU-Cuban dialogue and called for the elimination of the
EU common position on Cuba. FM Moratinos said the GOS
supported replacement of the "common position," renewed
annually, with a "cooperation agreement" between Havana and
the EU-27.
PSOE Vice Secretary General Jose Blanco traveled to
Cuba November 6 to encourage Spanish businessmen to continue
working in Cuba. Blanco met with Cuban FM Perez Roque, Cuban
Communist Party Director of International Relations Fernando
Ramirez, and First Vice President Jose Ramon Machado Ventura
-- even though prior to his planned travel to the Democratic
Party electoral party in Washington, PSOE sources had said no
meetings with Cuban authorities or dissidents were planned.
Blanco's official program included a dinner with 500 Spanish
businessmen, visits to Spanish cooperation centers, and a
meeting with the Archbishop of Havana.

5. (C) Did the host country offer or deliver humanitarian or
other assistance to the Cuban people in the wake of the major
damage caused by Hurricanes Gustav (August 30) and Ike
(September 8)?

Spain announced August 21 that it would offer
humanitarian aid to the authorities of countries affected by
Tropical Storm Fay, including the Dominican Republic, Haiti
and Cuba. The aid was to be expedited through the Spanish
Agency for International Development (AECID) through its
Humanitarian Logistic Center located in Panama.

The Spanish Development Agency planned to send planes
September 5 and 6 to Haiti and to the people of Pinar del
Rio, Cuba, carrying humanitarian supplies for those affected
by the hurricanes. Spain delivered 21 tons worth of
humanitarian aid ) including food, tents, and water
sanitation equipment ) by plane on September 16. Cuba
accepted offers of assistance from Spain and Belgium, the
only two EU countries with normalized relations. The Spanish
press reported the Cuban government's request that the United
States lift sanctions for the next six months, along with
Commerce Secretary Gutierrez's assistance offer.

The European Commission and Cuba agreed October 23 to
resume cooperation and issued a joint declaration
establishing a guiding development framework. The EU may
allocate between 20 and 25 million euros to areas for
potential cooperation including the environment, science and
technology, commerce, cultural exchanges, and training to
manage natural disasters. The EU planned separately to
contribute an additional two million euros for reconstruction
in the wake of Hurricanes Ike and Gustav.

Secretary of State for International Cooperation Soraya
Rodriguez and Spanish Agency for International Development
Cooperation (AECID) Director Juan Pablo de Laiglesia went to
Cuba in October to work out the details of additional
hurricane assistance. The GOS delegation met with Cuban FM
Perez Roque and Communist Party officials as well as NGOs and
Spanish partners. Rodriguez and Cuban Vice Minister of
Foreign Investment and Economic Cooperation Ricardo Guerrero
agreed on a three-part plan that acknowledged the 488,000
Euros in humanitarian assistance provided by Spain in
September and October; provided shelter to those who have
lost their homes (at a cost of 2.27 million Euros); and
repaired damaged infrastructure (21.7 million Euros).

6. (C) What is the nature of investments (and names, if
known) that host country businesses have in Cuba? What host
country
businesses participated in the Havana Trade Fair (November 3)?

Information on Spanish foreign investment in Cuba is limited,
in part because Spanish companies avoid publishing such data
and the Spanish government does not provide detailed
information. Spain's Ministry of Economy and Finance
reports that between 1995 and 2007, Spanish investment in
Cuba amounted to roughly 4.7 billion euros, or approximately
6 billion dollars. The Ministry reports that in 2007,
Spanish companies invested 4 million euros. Figures for 2008
are not yet available. Spain is among the countries with the
largest economic presence in Cuba and leads the rankings in
investment projects. Tourism, electricity, and small
machinery (and, until recently, tobacco) make up the bulk of
Spanish investment in Cuba. Nine of the twelve foreign
companies that invest in Cuba's tourism sector are Spanish.

Following is a list of Spanish companies present in Cuba,
organized by sector:

Tourism: Globalia Hoteles, Sol Melia, NH Hoteles, Marsans
Group,
Iberostar Group, Barcelo, Occidental, and RIU. Sol Melia
owns and operates 24 hotels in Cuba. Barcelo has plans to
open five new hotels in Cuba between now and 2010.

Financial Sector: BBVA, Banco Sabadell, Caja de Ahorros del
Mediterraneo, and Caja Madrid. (These institutions have
small representative offices that presumably do mostly
trade finance.)

Energy and other utilities: Repsol YPF, Aguas de Barcelona,
Endesa, and Iberdrola.

Tobacco: Altadis (formerly Tabacalera, S.A.) is a major
investor in tobacco, cigars, and food and beverages, but was
acquired by UK-based Imperial Tobacco on January 25, 2008.

Airlines: Iberia

Dairy: Penasanta, S.A.

Note: In terms of actual money invested, the overwhelming
majority comes from the tourism companies and the erstwhile
Spanish tobacco firm, Altadis. Repsol does some exploration
work in Cuba, and the other companies mentioned have
representative offices.

Spain was one of the countries with the largest participation
in the November 2008 Havana Trade Fair; however, post does
not have a list of participating companies.

7. (C) Are there any bilateral trade agreements or other
cooperative agreements between host country and Cuba?

Agreement between the Kingdom of Spain and the Republic of
Cuba on Air Transportation, signed in Havana, April 22, 2005.
See Boletin Oficial de Espana (BOE - Spain's equivalent of
the Federal Register) of September 6, 2006 - Section 1.
Agreement between the Kingdom of Spain and the Republic of
Cuba on Mutual Customs Assistance, signed in Havana, August
8, 2001. See BOE of March 17, 2003 - Section 1.
Agreement on Economic and Industrial Cooperation between the
Republic of Cuba and the Kingdom of Spain, signed in Madrid
on October 3, 1985. See BOE of February 13, 1986.
Agreement between the Kingdom of Spain and the Republic of
Cuba on the Promotion and Protection of Investment, signed in
Havana on May 27, 1994. See BOE of October 6, 2000 - Section
1. Convention between the Kingdom of Spain and the Republic of
Cuba to avoid double taxation and prevent tax evasion on
income and assets; and Protocol, signed in Madrid February 3,
1999. See BOE of January 10, 2001 ) Section I.
Complementary Agreement on Tourism, signed in Havana on
September 10, 1978. See BOE of March 2, 1987 - Section 1.
Complementary Agreement to the September 10, 1978 Basic
Convention between the Kingdom of Spain and the Republic of
Cuba on Scientific and Technical Cooperation, November 19,
1984. See BOE of March 2, 1987, Section I.

Note: Spain is Cuba's third largest trading partner and has
the largest number of joint ventures within Cuba, mostly
involving small and medium-sized Spanish companies and
concentrated in the tourism and light industry sectors.
Spain exported euros 668 million worth of goods and services
to Cuba in 2007, up from 629 million euros in 2006. Spain's
exports to Cuba between January and September 2008 totaled
560 million euros. Spain imported goods and services from
Cuba worth 143 million euros in 2007, only about three
million more than in 2006. Spain imported an additional
108.7 million euros worth of goods and services between
January and September 2008. Spain exports mostly mechanical
and electrical equipment, appliances, hotel equipment,
construction equipment, automotive spare parts, chemicals and
foodstuffs. Spain imports mostly tobacco, liquor and fresh
fish from Cuba. The strong Spanish export performance in Cuba
is somewhat surprising as Spain's official export credit
agency (CESCE) does not guarantee export credits to Cuba.
During 2007, there were discussions about resuming export
credit guarantees, but that would first require a debt
agreement between Spain and Cuba. Thus far, post is not
aware such an agreement has been reached. There is an active
Hispano-Cuban Business Committee that promotes trade between
the two countries.

8. (C) Are there any exchange programs between host country
and Cuba, including but not limited to: scholarships for host
country nationals to study in Cuba; Cuban-paid medical travel
for host country nationals; and Cuban doctors working in host
country? Post is not aware of any such exchange programs.
AGUIRRE

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