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Viewing cable 06MADRID3095, SPAIN/CUBA: SPANISH DOCTOR CONSULTS ON CASTRO

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MADRID3095 2006-12-27 15:03 2010-12-15 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Madrid
VZCZCXRO4733
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHMD #3095 3611553
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 271553Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1512
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 5076
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 0466
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES PRIORITY 0303
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 1059
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO PRIORITY 0572
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA PRIORITY 0175
C O N F I D E N T I A L MADRID 003095 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
EUR FOR A/S FRIED AND PDAS VOLKER 
WHA FOR A/S SHANNON AND PDAS SHAPIRO 
EUR/WE FOR ALLEGRONE, CLEMENTS, AND CERVETTI 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/26/2016 
TAGS: PREL CU SP
SUBJECT: SPAIN/CUBA: SPANISH DOCTOR CONSULTS ON CASTRO 
ILLNESS 
 
 
Classified By: DCM Hugo Llorens; Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D) 
 
1. (U) Spanish media reported that Doctor Jose Luis Garcia 
Sabrido, Chief Surgeon of the Community of Madrid's Gregorio 
Maranon Hospital, had examined Fidel Castro for 90 minutes on 
December 21.  Garcia Sabrido asserted on December 26 that "as 
far as I know, Castro does not have cancer."  Garcia Sabrido 
also said Castro was recovering well "for someone of his 
advanced age," and could conceivably recover sufficiently to 
return to power.  In a news conferecence, Garcia Sabrido 
stated that "(Castro) does not have a malignant tumor," and 
is recovering from very serious and complex surgery and that 
the post-operative process includes "muscular and nutritional 
rehabilitation."  Garcia Sabrido declined to elaborate on the 
nature of Castro's condition.  He said that Castro's 
intellectual ability remained intact, but failed to discuss 
his current physical condition, other than to say that it was 
"stable."  Garcia Sabrido, who admitted treating other 
unnamed Cuban leadership figures, lauded Castro's medical 
care in Havana and said he had not recommended any changes in 
his rehabilitation regimen.  Asked for his personal views on 
the Cuban system, Garcia Sabrido said that he "admired the 
successes of Cuban society, but do not want to offer my 
opinion on other political issues." 
 
2. (C) Following up on these reports, Post consulted various 
sources for additional details.  One contact, XXXXXXXXXXX, a Cuba activist and 
close associate of noted exile author Carlos Alberto 
Montaner, said that he was certain that Doctor Garcia Sabrido 
was being truthful and that if he said that Castro did not 
have cancer, then Castro did not have cancer.  XXXXXXXXXXX said 
that Garcia Sabrido freely acknowledged his sympathy for 
Fidel Castro and was a frequent visitor to the island, but 
that in the Madrid medical community he was also known as a 
skilled surgeon with a high degree of integrity.  XXXXXXXXXXX 
found it impossible to contemplate that Garcia Sabrido would 
have risked his professional reputation merely to delay 
public knowledge of the details of Castro's illness.  XXXXXXXXXXX 
said that in having Garcia Sabrido make a positive assertion 
that Castro does not have cancer, the Cuban Government has 
obtained a credible foreign specialist to confirm what they 
have been claiming in recent weeks. 
 
//BUT CUBAN EMBASSY DID REQUEST CANCER DRUGS// 
 
3. (C) XXXXXXXXXXX said that while he felt compelled to accept 
Garcia Sabrido's statements, he was still confused by 
elements of this case.  Most importantly, XXXXXXXXXXX had 
confirmed from sources in the Madrid Community health system 
that the Cuban Embassy in Madrid had requested specialized 
cancer drugs (sitostatic drugs to inhibit cancer cell growth) 
and pain killers in June 2006.  XXXXXXXXXXX speculated that the 
drugs may have been for another Cuban leader. 
 
//COMMENT// 
 
4. (C) The fact that Doctor Garcia Sabrido is technically an 
employee of the Popular Party-governed Community of Madrid 
generated some mild discomfort for Madrid PP leader Esperanza 
Aguirre, who made clear that Garcia Sabrido had undertaken 
his trip to Cuba in his own capacity and without Community 
funds.  All political figures generally defended the 
humanitarian nature of Garcia Sabrido's actions, though some 
Cuban activists in Madrid suggested that Spanish donors 
should also insist on being able to provide medicines to 
Caritas and other charitable organizations in Cuba.  Our 
sense is that most Spaniards will find Garcia's Sabrido's 
actions appropriate.  In a conversation with DCM, MFA 
Director General for Foreign Policy Rafael Dezcallar said 
that he had no new information as a result of the Garcia 
Sabrido's trip to Cuba, but said he believed Spanish 
officials could debrief Garcia Sabrido soon and offered to 
meet with DCM at a later date to discuss the issue further. 
We will continue to investigate and report any new 
information as it develops. 
AGUIRRE