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Cablegate: Suspension of Title Iii of Libertad Act - Uruguay

VZCZCXYZ0002
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMN #1155 3391545
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 051545Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6603
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA 0077

RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMN #1155 3391545
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 051545Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6603
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA 0077
,C O N F I D E N T I A L MONTEVIDEO 001155

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

FOR WHA/BSC AND WHA/CCA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/05/2016
TAGS: ETRD ETTC PREL CU UY
SUBJECT: SUSPENSION OF TITLE III OF LIBERTAD ACT - URUGUAY

REF: STATE 191752

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires James D. Nealon,
for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) Upon taking office on March 1, 2005, the
left-of-center Frente Amplio government immediately renewed
diplomatic relations with Cuba, which had been previously
suspended by the Batlle administration. This move appears to
have been a gesture by President Vazquez to the more radical
elements of his coalition, including Foreign Minister
Gargano, a strong proponent of stronger ties with Cuba.
Gargano and many in the Frente Amplio regularly criticize the
U.S. embargo on Cuba. The GOU opened an Embassy in Havana on
June 30, 2005, and Cuba's ambassador to Uruguay was sworn in
on November 7, 2005.

2. (C) The only two ministerial-level visits to Cuba occurred
earlier this year, one in January 2006 by Social Programs
Minister Arismendi (Communist Party), and the other in April
2006, when Health Minister Munoz accompanied a group of
Uruguayan patients for treatment in Cuba. Agriculture
Minister and ex-Tupamaro guerilla Jose Mujica accompanied
Munoz on that occasion. The only high-level Cuban visit to
Uruguay was the presence of Vice-President Carlos Lage at the
Ibero-American Summit of November 2006. Last year, the GOU
accepted Cuba's offer to conduct ophtalmological
interventions free of charge for Uruguayan cataract patients,
under a program called ""Operacion Milagro"" (""Operation
Miracle""). Over 1,300 patients have been treated so far.
The initiative has raised strong protests from the Uruguayan
Association of Ophtalmologists. The Cuban government also
offers scholarships for Uruguayan medical students, with
about 40 Uruguayan medical students graduating in Cuba every
year. Post is not aware of any Uruguayan investments in Cuba
or Cuban investments in Uruguay, nor of any bilateral trade
agreements between Uruguay and Cuba.

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3. (C) The GOU's involvement with Cuba appears quite limited
to a few areas of medical cooperation and to some expressions
of support by the more radical elements of the Frente Amplio
government. Minister Arismendi was ridiculed by large
sections of the Frente and by the opposition when she
suggested, upon her return from Cuba, that Uruguay apply
Cuban ""experiences"" in the area of education. While Post is
not aware of any declarations by the GOU criticizing the
human rights situation in Cuba, ForMin Gargano had to
publicly admit that Cuba is not a democracy, after he was
criticized for suggesting that Cuba be admitted into Mercosur
in May 2005. Other Mercosur members and several of Gargano's
Cabinet colleagues pointed out to Gargano that Cuba would not
fullfill the ""democracy clause"" condition for Mercosur
membership.
Nealon
...

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