Search

 

Cablegate: Why All the Fuss About the "Cuban Five"?

VZCZCXRO5716
PP RUEHIK
DE RUEHUB #0738/01 3481749
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 141749Z DEC 09
FM USINT HAVANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4990
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
RUEKJCE/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HAVANA 000738

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CCA AND WHA/PD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM PGOV CU
SUBJECT: WHY ALL THE FUSS ABOUT THE "CUBAN FIVE"?

REF: A. HAVANA 592 ("GOC SIGNALS READINESS TO MOVE
FORWARD")
B. HAVANA 721 ("MILITARY EXERCISES FAIL TO ROUSE
CUBANS")
C. HAVANA 594 (CUBA CHAMPIONS HUMAN RIGHTS AND
DEMOCRACY IN HONDURAS)

HAVANA 00000738 001.3 OF 002


1. (SBU) Despite mammoth efforts by the GOC in pressing the
case of the five Cuban and Cuban-American spies in U.S.
jails, most Cubans don't really know or even care about their
fate. The spies' value to the GOC is mostly for propaganda
and, domestically at least, it has not returned the huge
investment that the government has staked in the case.

CUBAN FIVE EVERYWHERE YOU GO
----------------------------

2. (SBU) The lengths to which the Cuban Government (GOC) has
gone in making a public issue of the five Cubans and
Cuban-Americans convicted in 2001 for spying in the United
States are significant. The "Cuban Five" (also known in
Havana as the "Five Heroes") are omnipresent on the island:
on the covers of all newspapers, on billboards and walls in
the streets, on the radio and TV, on every government
reception hall, in cultural and academic centers, and in all
schools, including the Latin American School of Medicine
sitting room where WHA DAS Williams met with American
students (Ref A).

3. (SBU) Former President Fidel Castro has written several
Reflections about the Five, while brother and current
President Raul attended the funeral of the mother of one of
the spies last month. National Assembly President Ricardo
Alarcon has serialized no less than 14 episodes, and still
counting, on the court proceedings of the Five. Cuban
students, a father of one told us, are made to write essays
about the Five in grade school.

PRESSING THE CASE INTERNATIONALLY
---------------------------------

4. (SBU) Cuba has also unleashed a tenacious international
campaign. The GOC has engineered or successfully lobbied for
international petitions and demonstrations on behalf of the
Five, and even got Spanish Foreign Minister Moratinos to meet
with wives of the Five in Madrid last November. EU
Cooperation Commissioner Karel de Gucht went as far to state
that he saw an "obvious link" between the release of the Five
in the United States and of the hundreds of prisoners of
conscience that the GOC holds. Indeed, the GOC has publicly
stated that it would be willing to consider releasing
political prisoners if the Five are "returned" (two of the
five spies are American citizens).

GENERAL INDIFFERENCE TO THE FIVE IN CUBA
----------------------------------------

5. (SBU) Despite the unrelenting domestic and international
campaign on behalf of its "Five Heroes," Cubans appear mostly
indifferent to their fate. "Oh, God, I can't stand it,
everywhere you turn, it's the Five this and the Five that,"
the wife of a noted jailed dissident told us. But when
Polcouns asked her to name them, she couldn't. In fact,
USINT officers have asked several dozen Cubans at random to
name the Five and no one has been able to name even four of
them. "Jose... Roberto, or is it Ramon?... I don't know, I
don't get involved in politics," a medical technician told
PolCouns, before giving up. "Hell if I know, who are these
people anyway?" a bookseller of revolutionary materials in
Old Havana told us. Ironically, the only person in Cuba who
knew the names of all the spies was an activist for prisoners
of conscience in Cuba. "But I have to know! My whole life
revolves around people in jail," he replied with a smile.

AS A RALLYING CRY THE FIVE ARE NO ELIAN
---------------------------------------

6. (SBU) Most observers in Cuba believe that the GOC's
campaign is primarily aimed to motivate people on the island

HAVANA 00000738 002.3 OF 002


to rally behind the government. "They want to make this into
another Elian," a contact told us, in reference to the 1999
campaign to seek the return from the United States of a child
who was the sole survivor of an escape by raft from Cuba.
"But it's not catching on." As a dissident political
observer explained, the level of mass participation in Cuba
has fallen dramatically, and most people are exhausted of
political mongering. Like the military exercises to prepare
against a U.S. invasion (Ref B), the "outcry" over elections
in Honduras (Ref C) and countless other manufactured
campaigns, GOC efforts to energize an apathetic populace seem
to be failing.

A PROPAGANDA FAILURE
--------------------

7. (SBU) The GOC, it seems, has seen scant return on its
massive investment in trying to raise the profile of the five
spies. Many international partners have obliged, but their
public support is as much for domestic audiences in Cuba as
for the international community. "Nobody cares outside Cuba,
and it's important to (the GOC), so why not?" was how an EU
diplomat explained his Foreign Minister's public solidarity
with the Five. Some in Cuba, perhaps their former handlers
or colleagues, may truly care about the fate of the Five, but
it seems clear that the main value of the spies to the GOC is
as a propaganda tool for Cubans on the island. In that
sense, it has been a failure. Even it the Cuban government
were to successfully position the Five as bargaining chips
for prisoner exchanges, it would gain little more than the
minor "vindication" of seeing its political prisoners equated
with spies.
FARRAR

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

IPPPR: The Independent Panel Calls For Urgent Reform Of Pandemic Prevention And Response Systems

Expert independent panel calls for urgent reform of pandemic prevention and response systems The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response is today calling on the global community to end the COVID-19 pandemic and adopt a series of bold and ... More>>

NGO Coalition On Human Rights: Call For A Stop To Police Brutality In Fiji

A viral video has circulated online showing two police officers utilising disproportionate and excessive force in detaining the suspect, an individual half their size. In the video it shows the man’s head being pressed down on the ground, his arms being ... More>>

UN: India’s New COVID-19 Wave Is Spreading Like ‘Wildfire’, Warns UN Children’s Fund

7 May 2021 A new wave of COVID-19 infections is spreading like “wildfire” across India, leaving many youngsters destitute, the UN Children’s Fund UNICEF said on Friday. In the last 24 hours, India registered 3,915 coronavirus deaths and 414,188 ... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs

UN: Economic Recovery Under Threat Amid Surging COVID Cases And Lagging Vaccination In Poorer Countries

New York, 11 May — While the global growth outlook has improved, led by robust rebound in China and the United States, surging COVID-19 infections and inadequate vaccination progress in many countries threaten a broad-based recovery of the world ... More>>

Study: Cut Methane Emissions To Avert Global Temperature Rise

6 May 2021 Methane emissions caused by human activity can be reduced by up to 45 per cent this decade, thus helping to keep global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change, according to a UN-backed ... More>>

UN: Learning From COVID-19, Forum To Highlight Critical Role Of Science, Technology And Innovation In Global Challenges

New York, 4 May —To build on the bold innovations in science, technology and innovations that produced life-saving solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN will bring together experts to highlight measures that can broaden the development and deployment ... More>>