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Viewing cable 09LONDON2592, UK INPUT: CUBA, LIBERTAD ACT

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09LONDON2592 2009-11-19 12:12 2011-02-04 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy London
VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLO #2592/01 3231205
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 191205Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4012
INFO RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA 0052
C O N F I D E N T I A L LONDON 002592 
 
NOFORN 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR WHA/CCA 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/19/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM ETRD ETTC CU UK
SUBJECT: UK INPUT: CUBA, LIBERTAD ACT 
 
REF: SECSTATE 115416 
 
Classified By: Political Counselor Robin Quinville for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).  

1. (C/NF) Summary: Poloff met with Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) officers November 18 per reftel to seek updated information about HMG actions and policies concerning Cuba. HMG remains committed to promoting the development of democratic institutions and human rights in Cuba and is disappointed at the lack of Cuban progress in these areas. The UK's policy toward Cuba continues to be based upon the EU Common Position of 1996, which sets out that "full co-operation with Cuba will depend upon improvements in human rights and political freedom."  UK officials have publicly called for improvement in Cuba's human rights situation.  No UK Minister has visited Cuba since 2005.  End Summary.  

2. (C/NF) During a November 18 meeting with Poloff, Sujeevan Satheesan, Head of the Mexico, Central America, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Haiti Section at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office  (FCO), and Marianne Kalloor, FCO Central America and Cuba Desk Officer, reaffirmed HMG's commitment to promoting the development of democratic institutions and the protection of human rights in Cuba.  Satheesan said that HMG, along with other EU governments, is disappointed that there has been no real movement on human rights in Cuba in the last six months.  Kalloor noted that while the EU Common Position of 1996 was once again rolled over in June, there had been significant pressure to scrap the formal political dialogue portion of the position.  Kalloor noted that Cuba "has not engaged us at all on human rights and political prisoners" and questioned whether it was useful to continue talking for the sake of talking.  For the time being, the EU will continue its formal political dialogue, but Kalloor said that this could be scrapped if they were no meaningful engagement by next year.  Satheesan and Kalloor stated that within EU fora the UK has raised, and will continue to raise, concerns about lack of Cuban progress in regard to human rights issues, such as political prisoners.  

3. (C) Further to the questions posed in reftel, Post provides the following updated answers pertaining to the UK's involvement in and relations with Cuba.  The answers are keyed to the questions posed in reftel:  Has the UK, in Post's opinion, worked to promote the advancement of democracy and human rights in Cuba?  --Yes.  The UK's policy toward Cuba continues to be based upon the EU Common Position of 1996, which sets out that "full co-operation with Cuba will depend upon improvements in human rights and political freedom."  HMG officials state that the UK has raised, and will continue to raise, within EU fora concerns about lack of Cuban progress in regard to human rights issues, such as political prisoners.  The UK has worked actively within the EU to negotiate a middle ground for the common policy between those who would like to completely open relations with Cuba and those who would like to isolate it.  The UK, as a matter of foreign policy strategy, adopts a nearly universal policy of constructive engagement and believes that engaging more Cuban officials will allow it to identify those who are most likely to facilitate a democratic transition in Cuba.  HMG has underscored that it remains committed to ensuring that dialogue between the EU and Cuba produces human rights improvements.  

4. (C) Has the UK made other public statements or undertaken other governmental actions, such as resolutions in Parliament condemning human rights abuses in Cuba; or actions in support of civil society in Cuba through diplomatic missions or other fora?  --The UK has not made public statements regarding Cuba in the past six months, but historically the UK has publicly condemned human rights abuses in Cuba.  --UK Embassy personnel in Cuba maintain frequent contact with opposition members there.  The British Embassy in Havana regularly meets members of the opposition, both in Havana and outside the capital.  The UK Embassy regularly raises human rights issues in bilateral meetings with the Cuban government in Havana, London and other fora, such as the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The UK also promotes human rights through its public diplomacy activities in Havana.  

5. (C/NF) Have there been any high level diplomatic visits between Cuba and the UK in the past six months? --No UK Minister has visited Cuba since 2005.  The UK,s policy is that a UK Minister must be allowed to meet members of the opposition during a trip to Cuba, but Cuban policy bans visiting ministers from meeting the opposition.  For this reason, no recent high-level visits have occurred.  --Sub-ministerial visits of UK and Cuban officials and experts do take place. Cuban Vice Foreign Minister Caballero called on Foreign Office Minister Meg Munn in April 2008. A Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship visited Havana in October 2008.  --A recent change in UK policy toward Cuba allows lower-level UK officials to meet with Cuban government officials rather than just members of civil society.  Previously, visiting UK government officials had only met with members of civil society because the Cuban government did not allow visiting officials to meet members of the opposition.  Going forward, meetings between visiting lower-level UK officials and Cuban government officials will be allowed even if UK officials are not allowed to meet with the opposition.  

6. (C) What is the nature of investments that UK businesses have in Cuba?  --UK businesses have limited trade ties with Cuba.  The FCO does not maintain detailed records of investments in Cuba by UK persons or entities.  

7. (SBU) Are there any bilateral trade agreements between the UK and Cuba?  --The FCO is not aware of any bilateral trade agreements between the UK and Cuba. DFID (the Department for International Development) does not have a bilateral aid program in Cuba.  

8. (SBU) Are there any exchange programs between the UK and Cuba, including but not limited to: scholarships for UK nationals to study in Cuba, Cuban paid medical travel for UK nationals, and Cuban doctors working in the UK?  --The only HMG exchange program involving Cubans is the Chevening Scholarship, which is a worldwide program that brings foreign nationals to UK universities for post-graduate study in a variety of fields.  Individual universities may have other scholarship programs.  --HMG has no specific program for Cuban doctors to work in the UK.  The FCO is not aware of any medical travel for UK citizens paid for by the Cuban government.  Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX 
Susman