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Cablegate: Holy See: Martino Discusses Nicaragua, Security Wall With

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PP RUEHAO RUEHCD RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHGA RUEHGD RUEHHA RUEHHO RUEHKW
RUEHLA RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHQU RUEHRD RUEHRG RUEHRS RUEHSR RUEHTM
RUEHVC
DE RUEHROV #0240/01 3251432
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P R 211432Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY VATICAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0557
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN 0585

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 VATICAN 000240

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR/WE LARREA; DRL/IRF HEWETT

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/21/2016
TAGS: PHUM SOCI NU CU MX VT
SUBJECT: HOLY SEE: MARTINO DISCUSSES NICARAGUA, SECURITY WALL WITH
AMBASSADOR

REF: A. A) VATICAN 0213

B. B) VATICAN 0225
C. C) VATICAN 0233

VATICAN 00000240 001.2 OF 003


CLASSIFIED BY: Peter G. Martin, Political Officer, Political,
Embassy Vatican, State.
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)
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Summary

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1. (C) Cardinal Renato Martino (please strictly protect here)
told the Ambassador November 16 that the Holy See had attempted
to get Cardinal Obando y Bravo out of Nicaragua in the run-up to
the recent elections, but that Obando y Bravo had not acted on
the Vatican's "invitation" for him to come to Rome. Martino
stood by his recent criticism of the proposed U.S. security wall
on the Mexican border, and called for greater U.S. communication
with Syria and Iran. He also touched on several other issues of
general interest to the U.S. Martino shows no signs of
relenting in his perpetual media campaign; Post remains engaged
with the cardinal in an attempt to influence him and the
headlines he creates. End summary.

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Nicaragua

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2. (C) The Ambassador called on Cardinal Renato Martino
November 16 to discuss recent comments the cardinal had made to
the press and other current events. Martino is President of
both the Holy See's Council for Justice and Peace, and the
Council for Migrants and Itinerant Peoples. Martino (strictly
protect here) told the Ambassador that the Holy See had called
Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo to Rome during the pre-election
period, but hadn't succeeded in getting him out of Nicaragua.
[Comment: though it didn't stop Obando y Bravo, it was good to
hear that the Vatican had heeded our call to try to minimize the
cardinal's lobbying for Ortega in the run-up to the elections
(ref a). Martino didn't go into detail, but was clearly
disgusted with Obando y Bravo's behavior, calling the whole
situation "sad".

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Mexican Border Wall

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3. (C) Martino made headlines November 14 when he criticized
the U.S.'s proposed security wall during a scheduled speech.
The Ambassador told Martino that when considering the security
wall, it would be wise to look at the broader context of U.S.
immigration policies -- and President Bush's continuing strong
efforts to promote comprehensive immigration reform. Martino
noted that his written text had not singled out the United
States and had been more generally critical of walls separating
peoples. He did not back down, however, from his response to a
question at the press conference, in which he termed the
proposed U.S. wall "inhumane". In conversations with Martino's
staff we have noted that whatever one thinks of the proposed
security wall, it is misleading to liken it to the Berlin Wall,
and also unfair to compare a wall on the border of a sovereign
country to walls separating peoples internally, such as a
much-criticized wall in Padova (Northern Italy) that separated a
high-crime immigrant neighborhood from its neighbors.

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Cuba

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4. (C) Often criticized within and outside of the Roman Curia
for being too sympathetic to Castro, Martino told the Ambassador
he agreed with the common consensus that the dictator would not
live much longer. He repeated his well-known opposition to the
U.S. embargo, and said he thought the sentiment among the
American people on Cuba policy was changing. He noted a recent
trip he had taken to Miami during which he had noticed that the
younger generation of Cuban Americans was not as hard-line on
Castro as he said the older generation was. Martino said he
hoped that when the island opened up again the U.S. would be
ready to engage, because there would be "many others" already on
the ground. The Ambassador noted relevant points on U.S. Cuba
policy, some of which we heard during the recent visit to the
Vatican of WHA DAS Madison (ref b).

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Middle East

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5. (C) Conversation did not turn to Martino's recent comments
criticizing the death-penalty sentence for Saddam (ref c), but
the Ambassador and Martino did discuss the Middle East
generally. The cardinal said that during a recent trip he had
urged the UK government to involve Syria and Iran as much as
possible as it addressed conflicts in the region. He asked the
USG to do the same. The Ambassador noted that the administration
had not ruled out speaking with the Iranians and other parties
under certain conditions, and was working hard on issues
involving Syria and Iran in the broader context of the
international community.

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Africa

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6. (C) Martino said he had raised what he saw as the West's
lack of attention to Africa on his UK trip. He said he had been
struck by economic inroads that the Chinese had made on the
continent, and also feared advances by Al Qaeda in the region.
According to Martino, if the West doesn't focus on Africa soon,
it will be "too late."

------

Bonds

------

7. (SBU) In response to a question from the Ambassador,
Martino showed off his freshly-purchased multi-government bond
supporting a campaign to immunize 500 million children in the
world's poorest countries. The bonds project hopes to raise $4
billion over the next decade and the eight sponsoring countries,
including France, Italy, Spain and Great Britain, have pledged
enough money over the next 20 years to redeem the bonds with
interest. The cardinal was optimistic about the future of the
program, which is also supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates
Foundation.

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Comment

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8. (C) Martino is always eager to weigh in with the media, and
has usually allowed himself a liberal definition of his Vatican
competencies when doing so. Justice and Peace is already a
wide-ranging department, covering war and peace issues, trade,
social justice, and other topics. Now that he is dual-hatted as
the chief of the Vatican's Council for Migration, Martino has
still more topics as potential targets. It isn't that his
opinions are usually that far out of sync with those of his
Vatican colleagues; a majority of them, for example, would
criticize the proposed U.S. border wall. But his strong
language and occasionally overdrawn comparisons cause a great
stir, and are often reported as "Vatican" views. As a result,
observers often get a mistaken impression of what Holy See
policy makers really think, and the nuances of their positions.
His comment (during the same speech referenced above) that the
problem of human trafficking today is "worse than" the African
slave trade, was typical of Martino. His desire for the
headlines added a distraction to his laudable attention to that
issue. By staying engaged with Martino we hope to influence
him, along with the substantial media attention he inevitably
attracts.
ROONEY

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