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Cablegate: Netherlands/Cuba: Dutch Ngo and Trade Union

Published: Mon 26 Jul 2004 09:27 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 THE HAGUE 001876
SIPDIS
DEPT. FOR EUR/UBI, WHA/CCA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM CU NL
SUBJECT: NETHERLANDS/CUBA: DUTCH NGO AND TRADE UNION
SUPPORT FOR CUBAN CIVIL SOCIETY
REF: A. (A) STATE 152813
B. (B) STATE 153312
C. (C) THE HAGUE 1639
1. As noted in Ref C, the Dutch government actively supports
Cuban civil society and peaceful democratic opposition. The
Dutch consider their (bilateral and EU) objectives with
regard to Cuba to be parallel to those of the U.S., but are
sometimes wary of appearing too closely linked to specific
U.S. activities. As noted in Ref C, a number of Dutch NGOs
support Cuban civil society and are working to hasten a
post-Castro democratic Cuba. Per requests in reftels A and
B, the following is a list of Dutch NGOs and one trade union
interested and/or already involved in these areas.
PAX CHRISTI
-----------
2. Pax Christi's work helped raise awareness about Cuban
human rights prior to the EU's toughening of policies toward
Cuba. Pax Christi supports the Plan Varela Campaign, a
dissident-run petition drive to convince law-makers to put
constitutional rights - which are currently ignored - into
law. Pax Christi has contact with the Cuban dissident
movement Movimiento Cristiano Liberacion (MCL), which seeks
to stimulate the democratization of the Cuban regime, and
MCL-run magazine Vitral, which seeks to empower civil and
political awareness in preparation for a democratic
transition.
CUBA FUTURO
-----------
3. Less than a year ago, several members of Pax Christi's
Cuba team broke off to form Cuba Futuro, an organization
devoted exclusively to Cuba's human rights situation and
hastening a post-Castro democratic Cuba. Cuba Futuro works
to accomplish this by: denouncing Cuban human rights
atrocities in public fora; providing political and moral
support for Cuban civil society; and analyzing any domestic
activities that may detract from hastening a post-Castro
democratic Cuba. Cuba Futuro also supports international
efforts in France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, the Czech Republic
(including through cooperation with "People in Need") and new
EU member states to support Cuban civil society groups
preparing for a democratic transition. In the Netherlands,
Cuba Futuro draws attention among tourists traveling to Cuba
to human rights abuses (it co-organized a recent campaign at
Schiphol airport), and promotes public debate about the
ethics of maintaining a commercial relationship with Cuba
which it believes may support the repressive regime. Cuba
Futuro also works with the like-minded Christian Trade Union
Federation (see below) to draw attention to enterprises
working with the Cuban government circumventing ILO
standards. Cuba Futuro hopes to keep up the efforts started
in Pax Christi to convince European governments of the
continuing need to maintain relationships with Cuban
dissidents and a hard line toward the Cuban regime.
HIVOS and NOVIB
---------------
4. Dutch organizations Hivos (Humanist Institute for
Cooperation with Developing Countries) and Novib (Dutch
branch of Oxfam International), both of which receive a
significant amount of Dutch official development funding,
provide assistance to partner organizations in Cuba in the
areas of culture, gender, HIV/AIDS, food safety, biodiversity
and the environment. While some NGOs have raised debate over
the ethics of HIVOS and NOVIB assistance to Cuban NGOs which
are linked to the regime, the GoNL views contributions
through these groups as supporting civil society in that they
support initiatives of the Cuban people to stand up for their
own rights.
5. Hivos provides financial and political support to twelve
local partner organizations in Cuba, including agricultural,
development, and cultural programs. Novib funds through its
Cuban NGOs Centro de Intercambio y Referencia Sobre and
Centro Felix Varela, and Novib's joint Oxfam International
program provides assistance to Asociacion Cubana de
Produccion Animal, Asociacion Cubana de Tecnicos Agricolas y
Forestales, Asociacion Nacional de Agriculores Pequenos,
Centro Martin Luther King, and Grupo para el Desarrollo
Integral de la Capital.
Christian Trade Union Federation (CNV)
--------------------------------------
6. The Christian Trade Union Federation (CNV) has contacts
with the CUTC trade union in Cuba. It has subsidized the
"organizational development" of CUTC, and currently sponsors
the families of eight CUTC members in prison (for instance,
it pays transportation costs for visiting family members).
Domestically, the CNV has ongoing campaigns drawing public
attention to the Cuban prisoners. The CNV has staged
demonstrations at the Cuban Embassy and has co-organized a
campaign at Schiphol airport for tourists traveling to Cuba.
Together with Cuba Futuro, the CNV has called on the GoNL to
stop subsidizing companies that do business with Cuba, and
has called on Dutch companies to forgo investments in Cuba.
For more information, there are two websites listing CNV's
actions: http://cuba.jouwpagina.nl, and www.cuba.web-log.nl.
RUSSEL
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