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Cablegate: Codel Sires Supports Czech Efforts in Cuba

VZCZCXRO1355
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHPG #1037 2501631
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 071631Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY PRAGUE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9588
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA 0097

UNCLAS PRAGUE 001037

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
H PASS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL EZ
SUBJECT: CODEL SIRES SUPPORTS CZECH EFFORTS IN CUBA


1. (SBU) Summary: CODEL Sires met with Czech government and
NGO officials during a visit to Prague August 27-28. CODEL
consisted of Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ), Congressman
Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), and Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart
(R-FL). CODEL stressed U.S. appreciation of Czech leadership
within the EU maintaining the spotlight on human rights in
Cuba. The Congressmen emphasized the need to continue
providing support for Cuban political prisoners and the
internal opposition and sought Czech ideas on ways to enhance
collaboration between our two countries. End Summary.

Czech FM Schwarzenberg
-----------
2. (SBU) Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, accompanied by
Czech Ambassadors Kolar (US), Palous (UN), and Koselt (Cuba),
warmly welcomed CODEL. CODEL members offered thanks for the
Czechs' active engagement in support of democracy and human
rights in Cuba, and for the generally strong U.S.-Czech
partnership. They praised Czech-led efforts within the EU,
and also the Czech role in bringing together like-minded
members of the EU and elsewhere to support opposition efforts
in Cuba. They encouraged expanded Czech efforts in this
regard, and expressed hope that a "Friends of Democratic
Cuba" effort would be expanded to other regions, including
Latin America. Schwarzenberg pledged to continue Czech
efforts.

3. (SBU) On future EU efforts, Schwarzenberg termed the
coming year critical. He thought that if there was not any
improvement on the island by the time next June's review of
the EU Common Position comes around, it would be clear that
the Spanish policy of engagement was not working.
Schwarzenberg pressed for a policy that permitted interaction
with everyday Czechs, noting the important benefit that
dissidents in communist Czechoslovakia derived from contact
with Westerners. He also stressed the importance of
providing literature and other information in Spanish, so
that dissidents had accessible access to outside views.

4. (SBU) CODEL members explained current U.S. policy in
support of dissidents, but also withholding large-scale
American tourism (which would bring huge economic benefits)
until there were concrete improvements on the island. They
also discussed the benefit of calling international attention
to the plight of political prisoners.

Czech Parliamentarians
----------------------
5. (SBU) The CODEL focused on the issue of Cuba during
meetings with the leadership of the Czech Senators and
members of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee. They
praised Czech parliamentarians, noting their visits to meet
with members of the Cuban opposition and political prisoners
serve notice to the Cuban government that the international
community will not overlook human rights complaints while
also serving as a beacon of hope for the Cuban people. The
Czech parliamentarians inquired about exposing the Cuban
population to U.S. democratic principles through lifting the
restriction on U.S. travel to Cuba. Both sides raised the
issue of the future transition within the Cuban government,
and First Vice-President of the Senate, Senator Petr Pithart,
provided the delegation with an article he had written on the
difficulties surrounding a transition from Communism,
entitled "Taking Over the Power."

Czech NGO - People in Need
--------------------------
6. (SBU) The Czech NGO "People in Need" provided an overview
for CODEL Sires of their work in Cuba as well as within
Europe to publicize the situation in Cuba. Within Cuba their
work is primarily focused on assisting the underground
dissident movement (particularly political prisoners and
journalists) and exposing the misuse of political power.
They provide direct assistance to political prisoners and
their families - such as medical equipment, books and
requested documents. For Cuban journalists, they provide
this same assistance, as well as linking Cuban journalists
with European media outlets. They have found that
journalists registered as European correspondents are less
frequently harassed by the Cuban government. Within Europe
"People in Need" host public celebrations of key Cuban
dissident anniversaries and they have a European website with
information on Cuba. As well, they network closely with
fifteen other European NGOs on Cuban issues.
GRABER

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