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Cablegate: Military Exercises Fail to Rouse Cubans

VZCZCXRO7687
PP RUEHAG RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHUB #0721 3381150
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 041150Z DEC 09
FM USINT HAVANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4966
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS PRIORITY
RUCOWCV/CCGDSEVEN MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCOGCA/COMNAVBASE GUANTANAMO BAY CU PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L HAVANA 000721

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CCA AND WHA/PD

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/03/2019
TAGS: CU PGOV PM PREL
SUBJECT: MILITARY EXERCISES FAIL TO ROUSE CUBANS

(SBU) Cuba mobilized as many cameras and reporters as it did
soldiers for island-wide military exercises that concluded on
Saturday, November 28. The following day, when Cuba
celebrated Armed Forces Day, the top military brass, led by
President Raul Castro, congratulated itself on the success of
the exercises, which they attributed to "organization, more
than weaponry." The maneuvers, called "Bastion 2009," had
not been held since 2004. The scenario for the Bastion
exercises was, once again, a U.S. invasion.
(SBU) In the days leading to the three-day exercises, the
official Cuban media tried to drum up enthusiasm in the
island. Cubans were exhorted to show their readiness to
defend themselves and repel any attack, and coverage was
nonstop. Generals went on talk shows and the radio to
promote the exercises -- based, according to one contact, on
the Communist concept of "total war" where the entire
population is mobilized for action.
(SBU) However, the population reacted with indifference.
"Before we would all be asked to do something," a local
observer told Poloff, "but this time around, nobody in my
neighborhood was asked to participate." Sirens went off on
Saturday morning in residential areas, but few bothered to
come out. Some offices and factories, we were told, used the
mobilization to clean up clutter, while the foreign press
reported exercises taking place in relaxed and haphazard
settings.
(SBU) Our contacts also dismissed notions that Bastion 2009
was meant as a message to the United States. Rather, they
say, it was meant for local consumption, to show Cubans that
their government and armed forces remain strong and capable
despite the economic difficulties that the island is facing.
Many, it seems, slept right through that message.
FARRAR

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