Cablegate: Libertad Act: Ipnut for Uk

Published: Mon 22 Dec 2008 05:05 PM
DE RUEHLO #3197/01 3571739
R 221739Z DEC 08
C O N F I D E N T I A L LONDON 003197
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/21/2018
REF: STATE 126578
Classified By: Political Counselor Rick Mills for reasons 1.4 b and d
1. (C) The following pertains to the UK's involvement in and relations with Cuba, keyed to questions posed in reftel:
2. (C) Has the UK 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." 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 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 is remains committed to ensuring that dialogue between the EU and Cuba produces human rights improvements.
3. (C) Has the UK made other public statements or undertaken other governmental actions, such as resolutions in Parliament condemning human rights abuses in Cuba; statement in support of democracy following the undemocratic succession of power from Fidel Castro; or actions in support of civil society in Cuba through diplomatic missions or other fora? -- Yes. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) officials regularly cite Cuba in their speeches as the only non-democratic country in Latin America, as Foreign Secretary Miliband did in a February speech at Oxford University on "The Democratic Imperative." In HMG's annual Human Rights Report, Cuba is listed as one of the 21 "Major Countries of Concern," noting particularly the detention of political prisoners and the lack of international access to prisons; the systematic denial of political, civil and economic freedoms; government harassment and intimidation of dissidents; and the death penalty. Ministers are frequently called upon to answer questions in Parliament about Cuban issues including the number of political prisoners held on the island, and their answers are generally in synch with USG views. The UK mission in Havana supports civil society NGOs with small project support, but seeks to do so in a way that does not overtly antagonize the regime. -- 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 monitors events held by dissidents, such as public meetings or for example, activities to mark Human Rights Day. 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.
4. (SBU) Have there been any high level diplomatic visits between Cuba and the UK in the past six months? -- No UK Ministers have visited Cuba since 2005. Working level visits of UK and Cuban officials and experts 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.
5. (SBU) Did the UK offer or deliver humanitarian or other assistance to the Cuban people in the wake of the major damage caused by Hurricanes Gustav (August 30) and Ike (September 8)? -- Yes. HMG committed 7.5 million GBP (approx. $11.3 million) of humanitarian aid to the Caribbean in September 208 in response to the damage caused by hurricanes Gustav and Ike. The UK response included GBP 250,000 for Cuba through the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent societies' emergency appeal. (Note: Most UK aid to the Caribbean was committed to Haiti, as the worst hit country in the region and as the least able to cope. The UK is also a major contributor to the European Union's global humanitarian aid budget (ECHO) and the UN's Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). End Note.)
6. (C) What is the nature of investments that UK businesses have in Cuba? What UK businesses participated in the Havana Trade Fair? -- UK businesses have limited trade ties with Cuba. The FCO website describes Cuba as a "unique and challenging market in which to do business" and notes that there are "niche opportunities" for UK companies in the following sectors: agriculture, energy (including oil and gas) and information and communication technology. The FCO does not maintain detailed records of investments in Cuba by UK persons or entities. -- The British Embassy did not participate in the Havana Trade Fair in November 2008 and does not have information about any British businesses that took part.
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 exchange program involving HMG 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
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