Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Work smarter with a Pro licence Learn More

Search

 

Cablegate: Costa Rica On Cuban Transition: We,Ll Do It Our Way

VZCZCXYZ0018
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #1955/01 2441724
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 011724Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5994
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO IMMEDIATE 0418
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO IMMEDIATE 3588
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA IMMEDIATE 0017

C O N F I D E N T I A L SAN JOSE 001955

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/01/2016
TAGS: PREL PGOV CU CI CS
SUBJECT: COSTA RICA ON CUBAN TRANSITION: WE,LL DO IT OUR WAY

REF: A. STATE 139584
B. WHA-SAN JOSE EMAIL 8/16/06

Classified By: Ambassador Mark Langdale for reason 1.4 (d)

1. (C) SUMMARY: On August 28, Ambassador and DCM called on
FM Bruno Stagno to discuss how to further bilateral and
regional cooperation in support of a democratic transition in
Cuba. Stagno was receptive to the suggestion that Arias and
the GOCR use Costa Rica,s "moral stature" to advocate change
in Cuba, but with caveats. He said the GOCR is not convinced
a genuine transition us underway; Costa Rica has limited
moral authority with Cuba, anyway; Arias will have to focus
more on domestic or other pressing international issues (such
as relations with Nicaragua); and Mexico,s domestic
political uncertainties have hampered efforts to form a
contact group with Chile and Costa Rica. Stagno raised the
notion of first lifting the U.S. embargo as a catalyst for
motivating the Cuban "street." The Ambassador made clear that
this was decidedly not the USG view. The FM dismissed the
September 1 SICA meeting as "technical," and thus not the
venue for crafting a common approach on Cuba. Neither he nor
President Arias will attend. Instead, the UNGA will be an
"important opportunity" to discuss Cuba. For his part,
Arias penned an Op-ed on August 29 which helpfully described
Cuba as a dictatorship and called for creating the conditions
for the Cuban people to choose a course for themselves, but
which unhelpfully urged lifting the embargo and a U.S.
withdrawal from Guantanamo Bay. Despite the latter aspect,
Arias, stance on Cuba has been the most forward-leaning in
region. We will encourage him to continue leaning in the
right direction. END SUMMARY.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

--------------------------------------------- --
STAGNO: LIMITS TO MORAL AUTHORITY
--------------------------------------------- --

2. (C) On August 28, Ambassador and DCM called on FM Bruno
Stagno to discuss how to further bilateral and regional
cooperation in support of a democratic transition in Cuba.
Drawing from refs, the Ambassador stressed the need for
regional solidarity with the people of Cuba, and applauded
President Arias, recent statements in support of democracy
on the island. The Ambassador also pointed to A/S Shannon,s
August 23 Washington press conference and DVC with Costa
Rican media on the issue, and noted that USOAS Ambassador
Maisto,s visit to San Jose in September would likely touch
on Cuba-related issues (and other topics).

3. (C) Stagno was receptive to the suggestion that Arias and
the GOCR use Costa Rica,s "moral stature" to advocate change
in Cuba, but with the following caveats:

-- The GOCR is not convinced that a genuine transition is
underway. The last four weeks could be a "test run,"
measuring both domestic Cuban and international reaction.
Even if Fidel,s illness marked the start of a true
transition, in the GOCR,s view, Raul Castro, FM Perez-Roque
and other senior figures in the regime were likely prepared
to "ride out the storm" for some time. Stagno agreed that
the regime was on "unsure footing," however;

-- The GOCR,s "moral authority" is hobbled because Cuba
views Costa Rica as "an enemy" and the two countries lack
full diplomatic relations. Although the GOCR,s CG in Havana
is very active, doing what he can with the contacts that he
has, Costa Rica feels "alone and outgunned" in dealing with
the regime and reaching out to dissidents. The public
Arias-VP Lage contretemps over a possible meeting in Bogot
during the Uribe inauguration had made matters worse.
According to Stagno, Arias wanted a "quiet conversation" with
Castro in which he would stress that "the world had changed"
and it was therefore time for Castro to "stop sacrificing
himself" for the sake of the revolution. When Fidel became
indisposed, the notion of a meeting with Lage seemed
appropriate. Arias never intended to present a "letter" to
Lage, but once the story appeared in the Costa Rican media,
the meeting was off;

-- President Arias is constrained by the need to be perceived
as primarily a "domestic president," in order to achieve
other parts of his agenda. If the GOCR focuses on any
regional issue, it will be Nicaragua. As the November
elections approach, and especially if Ortega remains
positioned for a possible victory, Costa Rica will have to
turn its attention in that direction (instead of worrying
Cuba); and

-- Although Chile and Mexico could be helpful, efforts to
form a regional contact group on Cuba with Costa Rica and
languished because of the domestic political uncertainty in
Mexico.

--------------------------------------------- -
STAGNO: WHAT ABOUT THE EMBARGO?
--------------------------------------------- -

4. (C) The FM raised the notion of first lifting the U.S.
embargo as a catalyst for motivating the Cuban "street" to
voice its opposition to the Raul succession and the regime.
The Ambassador made clear that this was decidedly not the USG
view. The sequence would have to be the reverse; much would
have to change on the island before the President would
consider approaching Congress about the embargo. Referring
back to A/S Shannon,s public remarks, the Ambassador
reminded Stagno that a presidential offer to approach
Congress about the embargo had been on the table (although
rejected by Fidel) since 2002. The Ambassador stressed that
this was not the time to "give" anything to Cuba, but a time
to "push," using tools such as the Inter-American Democratic
Charter. Cuba can be pushed off balance, he concluded.

5. (C) Stagno dismissed the September 1 SICA meeting as
"technical," and thus not a venue for crafting a common
approach on Cuba. Neither he nor President Arias will
attend. Instead, Stagno will attend the NAM meeting in
Havana September 13-16 as an observer, before joining Arias
in New York for UNGA-related events the week of September 17.
The NAM meeting would offer Stagno a first-hand look at what
is going on in Cuba, he said, plus provide an opportunity to
lobby for Costa Rica,s UNSC seat in 2008. The UNGA, he
stressed, will be an "important opportunity" to discuss Cuba.
Stagno added that Perez-Roque,s invitation to attend the
NAM was a surprising volte-face, given the brouhaha with Lage
in Bogot.

---------------------------------------
ARIAS: THE GUANTAMO GAMBIT?
---------------------------------------

6. (SBU) Although Stagno never mentioned Guantanamo (or
hinted that Arias was about to write anything about Cuba),
the President,s August 29 op-ed in leading daily La Nacion
called for regional efforts "in every international forum" to
press for lifting the embargo and closing Guantanamo Bay and
returning the base,s territory to Cuba. These two arguments
marred what was otherwise an impassioned, articulate
description of Cuba as ". . . plain and simple, a
dictatorship," and a call to ". . . creat(e) the conditions
for the Cuban people to truly choose a course for
themselves."

----------
COMMENT:
----------

7. (C) Despite the op-ed (which was 95 percent helpful),
Arias, stance on Cuba has been the most forward-leaning in
region. We will encourage him to continue leaning in the
right direction; the Ambassador has requested a meeting with
Arias to clarify what he meant in the op-ed. Interjecting a
Guantanamo argument makes no sense (and has found little
resonance here). Arias, comments may reflect some tactical
distancing from the U.S., and we have heard this explanation
from some contacts here. Although the president agrees in
general on the need for democracy in Cuba, he can,t be seen
as a U.S. lackey, on Cuba or any other issue. On the other
hand, Arias, foreign policy objectives in this
administration already seem to be filtered through the prism
of the 2008 UNSC race. If so, potential vote-getting
legalisms, however far-fetched (such as pushing for USG
withdrawal from Guantanamo) may increasingly color GOCR
thinking.
LANGDALE

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
 
 
 
World Headlines

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.