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Viewing cable 05MADRID4054, SPAIN/CUBA: TITLE III OF LIBERTAD ACT

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MADRID4054 2005-11-22 17:05 2010-12-17 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Madrid
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MADRID 004054

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/23/2015
TAGS: ETRD ETTC PREL CU SP
SUBJECT: SPAIN/CUBA: TITLE III OF LIBERTAD ACT

REF: A. STATE 207359
B. MADRID 2131

Classified By: Political Counselor Kathy Fitzpatrick; reasons 1.4 (B) a
nd (D).

1. (U) Spain remains among the most important foreign
investors in Cuba, a position it has held since the beginning
of the 1990s. The "Association of Spanish Companies in Cuba"
(AEEC) represents over 170 Spanish companies that trade with
or invest in Cuba. The current Socialist (PSOE) government
has continued the long-standing Spanish policy of promoting
trade with and investment in Cuba. However, the AEEC
complains that the Zapatero administration has not reinstated
the provision of political risk insurance through the
"Spanish Credit Insurance Company" (CESCE) for sales to and
investments in Cuba, suspended several years ago due to
Cuba's substantial unpaid debts to CESCE. The Zapatero
government has continued its policy of seeking engagement
with the Cuban government and reduced the Aznar government's
emphasis on promoting human rights. Spain did not invite
dissidents to its October 12 national day event in Havana in
order to avoid conflict with the Cuban government on that
issue. Spain successfully argued in EU councils to delay a
review of the EU Restrive Measures on Cuba from December 2005
until June 2006.

2. (C) At our insistence, Spanish officials acknowledge
privately that normalized relations with the Castro
government have not yielded significant results, but claim
that more time is needed to allow their measures to bear
fruit in the form of increased political space for dissidents
and greater influence by EU governments over Cuban government
human rights practices. In meetings with USG officials,
including Cuba Transition Coordinator Caleb McCarry, EUR A/S
Dan Fried, and WHA PDAS Charles Shapiro, Spanish officials
made clear that the GOS will continue to focus on building
ties to members of the current Cuban regime, who they believe
Spain may be able to influence in the post-Castro era. At
the same time, Spanish officials assert that they have
replaced the invitations to dissidents to attend national day
events with a more robust "structured dialogue" between
dissidents and EU diplomats in Havana.

3. (C) We do not believe Spain will deviate from its current
policy of engagement with the Cuban government, both because
of the substantial investments in Cuba by Spanish companies
and because of the Zapatero government's belief that
engagement will lead to increased Spanish influence over
Castro's successors. However, the continued intrasigience of
the Castro government and opposition by some EU members to
the suspension of EU Restrictive Measures against Cuba appear
to have reduced for now Spain's willingness to seek a further
weakening of EU policy towards Cuba. This could change if
the Cuban government releases a substantial number of
political prisoners (which the GOS would claim as a
vindication of its policy). While the opposition Popular
Party (PP) is highly critical of the PSOE government's
diminished support for Cuban human rights activists, all
political groupings in Spain are unified in their opposition
to the Libertad Act, and particularly to Title III. Both the
PSOE and the PP would likely seek unified EU retaliatory
action if Title III action were taken against a Spanish
company.

4. (U) Spanish companies are well aware of the potential of
U.S. legal action against them under the Libertad Act and
take care to obscure precise information regarding their
investments in Cuba. However, we have obtained the following
general information regarding the major Spanish investors in
Cuba:

-- Grupo Sol Melia: Hotel/Tourism industry. Locations in
Cuba include Havana, Varadero, Cayo Largo, Cayo Santa Maria,
Ciego de Avila, Cayo Largo del Sur, Cayo Guillermo, Playa
Esmeralda, and Santiago de Cuba. The total investment amount
is unknown, but press reports indicate Sol Melia will invest
USD 50 million in two hotels in 2004-2005.

-- Inversiones Ibersuizas: Commercial investment firm.
Investments in Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba. According to
press reports, Inversiones Ibersuizas has invested a total of
USD 150 million in various Cuban projects.

-- Occidental Hotels and Resorts: Hotel/Tourism. Investments
in Havana and Play Yuraguanal. Investment amount unknown.

-- Grupo Pinero: Hotel/Tourism. Investment in Varadero.
Investment of at least USD 2 million, according to press
reports.

-- Iberostar: Hotel/Tourism. Investments in Varadero, Cayo
Coco, and Trinidad. Investment amount unknown.

-- Barcelo: Hotel/Tourism. Investments in Varadero and Cayo
Largo del Sur. Investment amount unknown.
-- NH Hoteles: Hotel/Tourism. Investment in Havana.
Investment amount unknown.
-- Grupo Riu: Hotel/Tourism. Investment in Varadero.
Investment amount unknown.

-- Hotetur: Hotel/Tourism. Investment in Varadero and
Havana. Investment amount unknown.

-- Aguas de Barcelona: Utility. Investment in Havana in
joint venture with Aguas de La Habana. Investment of at
least EUROS 5 million in 2002. Subsequent investment amounts
unknown.

-- Grupo Altadis: Tobacco. Unspecified location. Investment
amount unknown

-- Grupo Freixenet: Wine/Alcoholic Beverages. Unspecified
location. According to press reports, Freixenet has invested
USD 200,000 to help the Cuban wine industry.

-- Repsol YPF: Energy. Investment in Cuban territorial
waters. According to press reports, total Repsol investment
is USD 25-40 million.

-- Iberia Airlines: Transportation industry. Investment in
Varadero. Investment amount unknown.
AGUIRRE