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Cablegate: Cuba Still in the Dark About Passenger Screening,

VZCZCXRO5126
OO RUEHAO RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS
RUEHTM
DE RUEHUB #0026/01 0111929
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 111929Z JAN 10
FM USINT HAVANA
TO RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEAORC/US CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5092
RHEFHLC/HQ DHS WASHDC IMMEDIATE
INFO RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCOGCA/COMNAVBASE GUANTANAMO BAY CU PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RUCOWCV/CCGDSEVEN MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RUEKJCE/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HAVANA 000026

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CCA AND WHA/PD
DHS FOR OIA/LMIZELL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL EAIR PGOV CU
SUBJECT: CUBA STILL IN THE DARK ABOUT PASSENGER SCREENING,
ALL-OUT CAMPAIGN TO BE REMOVED FROM LIST

REF: A. STATE 1187 ("ENGAGING ON NEW PASSENGER SCREENING
RULES")
B. HAVANA 8 (CUBA AGHAST AT LANDING ON LIST)

1. (SBU) Chief of Mission and Pol-Econ Chief met on January
11 with Cuban Foreign Ministry officials to deliver points
per Reftel A on the new regulations on passenger screening.
The officials, including North America Division Director
Josefina Vidal, said that this was the first official
information that they had received on the new procedures.
The Cuban Government (GOC) has not been contacted by the
private airlines that fly between Cuba and the United States
or by other USG agencies.

CUBA STILL IN THE DARK
----------------------

2. (SBU) The Cuban officials noted that, despite the many
official links between the U.S. civil aviation and security
authorities (including, they added, the Transportation
Security Administration, which conducted airport inspections
in Cuba a few years ago) the GOC had not received any
information on the new passenger screening rules. They said
that the private airlines that operate in Cuba, including the
charter airlines that fly to the United States directly, had
yet to share any information either. "As of last Thursday
(January 7), we had yet to receive anything on these
regulations," and were going solely by news reports, Vidal
stated. The Foreign Ministry officials did not say whether
the GOC intended to cooperate with the new regulations, a
decision that would not seem forthcoming until they had
information on what would be required of them.

QUESTIONS ON NEXT STEPS
-----------------------

3. (SBU) The Cubans asked whether they could expect to
receive further information on the regulations, to which the
COM replied in the affirmative. In particular, the GOC
officials asked whether forthcoming information, including
the details of the new procedures, would come through the
private airlines or the USG, or both, and when they could
expect to receive it. We said that we would reply with
further details as soon as this information is available to
us.

STILL INDIGNANT, SEEKING EXCLUSION FROM THE PASSENGER LIST
--------------------------------------------- -------------

4. (SBU) The GOC continues to demand its removal from the
passenger screening list in the strongest tones. Vidal said
that the GOC understood the United States' need to protect
ourselves from terrorism and enact the necessary measures,
and assured us that "Cuba would never tolerate an act of air
terrorism" being hatched from the island. At the same time,
she complained that Cuba's inclusion did not advance U.S.
safety concerns and that it was "clear" to them that the new
passenger screening rules "had been taken without seriousness
or reflection." Note: Cuba's inclusion into the passenger
screening list and the State Sponsors of Terrorism group of
countries has been decried in the official media
relentlessly, in an all-out GOC-orchestrated campaign against
Cuba,s presence in both lists.

SEEKING MODIFICIATION OF THE PASSENGER LIST
-------------------------------------------

5. (SBU) Although the GOC understands (but does not accept)
that removal from the State Sponsors list is not a simple
issue, the Foreign Ministry officials seemed interested in
the fact that the passenger screening list of countries was
under review and would continue to be reviewed as
circumstances merit. Although skeptical ("we know very well
that once you get in these lists, you never come out," Vidal
countered), they asked what were the prospects of getting
Cuba out of the passenger screening list.

ACTION REQUEST: INFORMATION AND REVIEW

HAVANA 00000026 002 OF 002


--------------------------------------

6. (SBU) Post seeks further information about the new
passenger screening rules and next steps between USG agencies
and GOC counterparts, in order to maximize chances that the
GOC will cooperate. We would also urge the interagency
community to review the impact that the new screening rules
may have on direct flights between Cuba and the United
States, and whether adjustments to the regulations or list of
countries are warranted in light of existing circumstances.
In the meantime, charter flights continue although the new
regulations have not been implemented.
FARRAR

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