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Cablegate: Cuba Aghast About Landing in Flight Screening List

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OO RUEHAO RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS
RUEHTM
DE RUEHUB #0008/01 0061727
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 061727Z JAN 10
FM USINT HAVANA
TO RHEFHLC/HQ DHS WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5069
RHMFIUU/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
INFO RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS IMMEDIATE
RUCOWCV/CCGDSEVEN MIAMI FL IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHMFIUU/FAA NATIONAL HQ WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHMFIUU/US CUSTOMS AND BORDER PRO WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHMFIUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HAVANA 000008

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 AGHAST ABOUT LANDING IN FLIGHT SCREENING LIST

REF: REF: ZUNIGA-FARRAR E-MAILS 1/5/10

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. The Government of Cuba (GOC) complained
about reports that it had been included on the list of
countries whose nationals would require additional screening
before flying to the United States. Moreover, the GOC said
that it was in the dark about the extent and application of
the new screening procedures, stating that all it knew had
come from international press reports. Foreign Ministry
officials lamented that Cuba's inclusion was unfair and
hostile, in light of the GOC's anti-terrorism cooperation
with the rest of the world and the United States. The U.S.
Interests Section (USINT) explained that the measures were
not aimed particularly at Cuba, and promised to share with
the GOC the latest on the new procedures as soon as it is
received. USINT requests urgently information from
Washington on the new screening measures and timetable for
implementation. END SUMMARY.

"WE DON'T BELONG THERE"
----------------------

2. (SBU) On January 5, 2009 officials from Cuba's Foreign
Affairs Ministry (MINREX) presented a note to USINT COM and
Pol/Econ Chief to protest its inclusion in the list of
countries whose flights and nationals would be subject to
increased screening. The officials complained that Cuba
"didn't belong in that group" of countries, especially given
its strong stance against Islamic terrorism in particular.
Noting that Cuba had been one of the first countries to
condemn the 9/11 attacks and offer assistance in the
aftermath, and its willingness to cooperate on law
enforcement with the United States, the Minrex functionaries
said that the decision to include Cuba was "unfair,"
"hostile" and "humiliating."

3. (SBU) Cuba's mission in Washington delivered the same
message to WHA/CCA. Following both meetings, the Minrex
officials in Havana issued a statement to the international
press, complaining about the measures. (Note: the tone of
the meeting in Havana was businesslike and included
productive discussions on other issues, including an offer to
extend law enforcement cooperation.)

IN THE DARK
-----------

4. (SBU) The GOC officials complained that they were in the
dark about what the new procedures entailed, saying that they
had been unable to obtain any information from U.S. officials
or even from the Transportation Security Administration's
(TSA) website. The Minrex officials were particularly
concerned about the applicability of new procedures to
third-country nationals transiting through Cuba, Cuban
nationals transiting through third countries, and Cuba's
diplomats visiting the United States. At the meeting with
USINT officials, the GOC representatives seemed unsure about
the fate of the growing flow of charter flights between Cuba
and the United States.

UNSURE OURSELVES
----------------

5. (SBU) USINT COM acknowledged that the Mission had scant
information itself about the new procedures, while assuring
the Cubans that the measures were to combat terrorism and
were not political or aimed at interrupting charter flights
to and from Cuba. We promised to share information with the
GOC as soon as we receive it, hopefully before the end of the
week.

ACTION REQUEST
--------------

6. (SBU) USINT requests information on the new TSA measures
and timetable for implementation which we can discuss with
the GOC. We understand (Ref) that State has requested
informally information from TSA. The lack of information

HAVANA 00000008 002 OF 002


thus far has stirred a frenzy of press speculation, created
uncertainty amongst the U.S. air charter companies, and riled
the GOC. Prompt guidance from Washington on what action we
seek would help us to promote aviation security and manage
the broader fallout over this issue.
FARRAR

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