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Viewing cable 09MADRID483, SPAIN/CUBA: TITLE III OF LIBERTAD ACT

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MADRID483 2009-05-19 12:12 2010-12-17 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Madrid
VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMD #0483/01 1391238
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 191238Z MAY 09
FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 0647
C O N F I D E N T I A L MADRID 000483

SIPDIS

FOR EUR/WE AND WHA/CCA - GABRIELA ZAMBRANO

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/19/2019
TAGS: ETRD ETTC PREL SP CU
SUBJECT: SPAIN/CUBA: TITLE III OF LIBERTAD ACT

REF: A. STATE 48487
B. 2008 MADRID 1299

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires William H. Duncan, for reasons 1.4(b)
and (d).

1. (U) The information in this message is keyed to
questions posed in reftel A, paragraph 5 and updates
information reported in reftel B.

2. (C) Has the host country, in Post's opinion, worked to
promote the advancement of democracy and human rights in Cuba?

An April 2009 poll on recommendations for improving
Spain-U.S. relations found that 61 per cent of public
respondents thought Spain should, in order to improve its
bilateral relationship with the United States, mediate
between the United States and Cuba. The findings of the
independent government-affiliated thinktank Real Instituto
Elcano reflect Spanish public opinion about Spain's central
role in advancing democracy in Cuba.

Spain continues to play a leadership role in the EU's
political and human rights dialogue with Cuba and alludes to
its hopes for even greater EU-Cuba engagement during Spain's
EU presidency in the first half of 2010. Spanish government
officials have privately criticized the Czech Republic's EU
Presidency for being too "nationalist" and outspoken when it
comes to advocating for democratic reforms. A Czech
diplomat's public remarks in Madrid February 3, promising
that the Czech Republic would resume its demands for freedom
of expression and freedom of religion in Cuba upon the end of
its EU presidency, upset the Cuban Ambassador to Spain.

Spain has hinted publicly at a possible presidential
visit but MFA officials have downplayed the possibility so
far, indicating that such a trip would required a "big
change," i.e. the re-opening of Spain's Cultural Center or
the release of "lots" of political prisoners. Special
Ambassador for IberoAmerica Alonso Dezcallar told the Charge
on February 4 that Zapatero would go to Cuba "when the
conditions are appropriate." Dezcallar suggested the trip
was not imminent and that there was plenty of work to be done
between now and then. Spanish FM Moratinos commented May 13
in Prague that there was still a possibility President
Zapatero would visit Cuba within the year but noted there
were no firm plans at that time.

Spanish officials led by MFA Political Director Alfonso
Lucini traveled to Havana January 16-17 for the third round
of bilateral human rights talks with the Cuban government
since Spanish Foreign Minister Moratinos's April 2007 visit
to Cuba. On the eve of the talks, the GOC released Reynaldo
Lebrada Pena, one of 75 political prisoners detained in 2003.
The GOS delegation described the meetings to the media as
positive, constructive and friendly, but MFA officials
privately acknowledged that the release of Lebrada -- who had
all but completed his sentence -- was no great victory.
Subdirector General for Mexico, Central America and the
Caribbean Jorge Romeu confirmed Spain had given Cuban
authorities a prioritized list of about 12 prisoners of
conscience, including Oscar Biscet, during the human rights
dialogue.

As of mid-May 2009, Spain was close to welcoming eight
special Cuban migrants currently protected at Guantanamo, as
first agreed in June 2008. The "Historic Memory Law"
granting Spanish nationality to the grandchildren of
Spaniards who lost or forfeited Spanish nationality due to
exile went into effect December 31, 2008. The O,
anticipating the Spanish Consulate in Havana would receive as
many as 77,000 requests for citizenship a year in the first 3
years, added 35 employees to address the workload.

On January 31 and February 1 in Madrid, demonstrators
gathered respectively to call for the lifting of the U.S
embargo and express hope the new U.S. administration would
facilitate Cuban development while respecting its sovereignty
and, subsequently, to protest the Cuban Revolution and to
demand freedom for the people of Cuba. Called by the
"Association of IberoAmericans for Liberty" (AIL), the second
demonstration drew support from the conservative Partido
Popular (PP), Catalan CiU, and other political parties and
organizations.

3. (C) Has the host country made public statements or
undertaken other governmental actions, such as resolutions in
the
national assemblies condemning human rights abuses in Cuba;
or actions in support of civil society in Cuba through host
country's diplomatic missions or other fora?
Spain is careful to conduct its diplomatic relations
with the Government of Cuba and wary of upsetting GOC
officials via unsanctioned contact with dissident groups.
Shortly after taking office, MFA Secretary of State for
Iberoamerican Affairs Juan Pablo de Laiglesia said May 6 he
expected to continue with the program of his predecessor with
regards to Cuba: renewed dialogue, with Cuban citizens as
the protagonists. He cited "advances," defended continued
dialogue (understood to be with the GOC), and lauded U.S.
policy changes while voicing high expectations for increased
U.S. attention to the entire region, noting President Obama
had sent important signals during the April Summit of the
Americas.

President Zapatero said on numerous occasions during
the U.S. political transition that he hoped for in-depth
conversations with President Obama on conflictive issues
including Cuba. The GOS, in an official communique,
congratulated President Obama's mid-April decision to lift
restrictions on remittances and family member trips and
commented that it facilitates reconciliation between Cuba and
the United States. Conservative opposition Popular Party
(PP) Communication Secretary Esteban Gonzalez Pons expressed
the PP's hope the measure would help with the democratization
of Cuba.

4. (C) Have there been any high-level diplomatic visits
between Cuba and the host country in the past six months?

Former Cuban Foreign Minister Perez Roque visited Spain
in October 2008.

FM Moratinos spoke by phone March 4 with new Cuban
Minister of Foreign Affairs Bruno Rodriguez who reportedly
"expressed his willingness to maintain all the commitments
and to accelerate the work agenda" between Spain and Cuba.
Moratinos told the media in Brussels that FM Rodriguez had
assured him he was reviewing the agenda with former FM
Perez-Roque and planned to honor the objectives of his
predecessor. "The message is clear: continuity and
commitment to continue taking steps forward in the agenda we
had set for 2009," said Moratinos on March 5.

Moratinos and Rodriguez met in Prague on May 13, during
the EU-Grupo de Rio meeting. Moratinos reported the working
meeting resulted in an agreement to continue working together
with the same mutual respect and commitment to strengthen the
bilateral relationship. Moratinos expressed his hope that
the EU-27 would reconfirm the dialogue mechanism in June, but
doubted whether the EU would revoke the Common Position on
Cuba. Unnamed Spanish sources have indicated that Spain
would like to review the Common Position during its EU
Presidency and reportedly FM Rodriguez supports a review in
2010, according to the media.

Representatives of Spanish autonomous community and
local governments visit Cuba often and maintain contacts and
collaborative relationships. The Cuban government encourages
and facilitates relations with the autonomous communities,
especially with the Basque Country and to a lesser extent
with Andalucia, Galicia, Castilla-La Mancha, and the Canary
Islands.

5. (C) What is the nature of investments (and names, if
known) that host country businesses have in Cuba? What host
country
businesses participated in the Havana Trade Fair (November 3)?

Information on Spanish foreign investment in Cuba is
limited, in part because Spanish companies avoid publishing
such data and the Spanish government does not provide
detailed information. Spain's Ministry of Economy and
Finance reports that between 1995 and 2007, Spanish
investment in Cuba amounted to roughly 4.7 billion euros, or
approximately 6 billion dollars. The Ministry reports that
in 2007, Spanish companies invested 4 million euros, but that
there was no significant new investment in 2008. Spain
remains among the countries with the largest economic
presence in Cuba and leads the rankings in investment
projects. Tourism, electricity, and small machinery (and,
until recently, tobacco) make up the bulk of Spanish
investment in Cuba. Spanish companies have a dominant
position in the country's tourism industry; most of the four-
and five-star hotels managed by foreign firms are in Spanish
hands.

Following is a list of Spanish companies present in Cuba,
organized by sector:

Tourism: Globalia Hoteles, Sol Melia, NH Hoteles, Marsans
Group, Iberostar Group, Barcelo, Occidental, and RIU. Sol
Melia owns and operates 24 hotels in Cuba. Barcelo has plans
to
open five new hotels in Cuba between now and 2010.

Financial Sector: BBVA, Banco Sabadell, Caja de Ahorros del
Mediterraneo, and Caja Madrid. (These institutions have small
representative offices that presumably do mostly trade
finance.)

Energy and other utilities: Repsol YPF, Aguas de Barcelona,
Endesa, and Iberdrola.

Tobacco: Altadis (formerly Tabacalera, S.A.) is a major
investor in tobacco, cigars, and food and beverages, but was
acquired by UK-based Imperial Tobacco on January 25, 2008.
It is not known what portion Spanish investors may have
retained. The company has a 50 percent interest in
Corporacion Habanos, the exclusive worldwide distributor of
premium Cuban cigars brands.

Airlines: Iberia

Dairy: Penasanta, S.A.

6. (C) Are there any bilateral trade agreements or other
cooperative agreements between host country and Cuba?

Agreement between the Kingdom of Spain and the Republic of
Cuba on Air Transportation, signed in Havana, April 22, 2005.
See Boletin Oficial de Espana (BOE - Spain's equivalent of
the Federal Register) of September 6, 2006 - Section 1.

Agreement between the Kingdom of Spain and the Republic of
Cuba on Mutual Customs Assistance, signed in Havana, August
8, 2001. See BOE of March 17, 2003 - Section 1.

Agreement on Economic and Industrial Cooperation between the
Republic of Cuba and the Kingdom of Spain, signed in Madrid
on October 3, 1985. See BOE of February 13, 1986.

Agreement between the Kingdom of Spain and the Republic of
Cuba on the Promotion and Protection of Investment, signed in
Havana on May 27, 1994. See BOE of October 6, 2000 - Section
1. 
Convention between the Kingdom of Spain and the Republic of
Cuba to avoid double taxation and prevent tax evasion on
income and assets; and Protocol, signed in Madrid February 3,
1999. See BOE of January 10, 2001 ) Section I.

Complementary Agreement on Tourism, signed in Havana on
September 10, 1978. See BOE of March 2, 1987 - Section 1.

Complementary Agreement to the September 10, 1978 Basic
Convention between the Kingdom of Spain and the Republic of
Cuba on Scientific and Technical Cooperation, November 19,
1984. See BOE of March 2, 1987, Section I.

Note: Spain is Cuba's third largest trading partner and has
the largest number of joint ventures within Cuba, mostly
involving small and medium-sized Spanish companies and
concentrated in the tourism and light industry sectors.
Spain exported 785 million euros worth of goods and services
to Cuba in 2008, up from 668.5 million euros in 2007. Spain
imported goods and services from Cuba worth 147 million euros
in 2008, only about four million more than in 2007. Spain
exports mostly mechanical and electrical equipment,
appliances, hotel equipment, construction equipment,
automotive spare parts, chemicals and foodstuffs. Spain
imports mostly tobacco, liquor and fresh fish from Cuba.
There is an active Hispano-Cuban Business Committee that
promotes trade between the two countries.

7. (C) Are there any exchange programs between host country
and Cuba, including but not limited to: scholarships for host
country nationals to study in Cuba; Cuban-paid medical travel
for host country nationals; and Cuban doctors working in host
country? Post is not aware of any such exchange programs.
DUNCAN