Cuba: What do the Cables from Havana Say? (Part III)

*This post is the third part of a series: You can read the first post here and the second here.

On March 15, 2007, the head of the United States Interests Section in Havana, Michael E. Parmly, sent a cable explaining the results of a personal meeting with Martha Beatriz Roque, one of the leaders of the Cuban opposition. During the meeting, Roque said her main objective in the coming months would be to “find a way to get a million Cubans to come out into the streets to demand meaningful political and economic changes.”
To do this, says the cable, they intend to use Fidel Castro's funeral and the tenth anniversary of the creation of the document “The Homeland Belongs to All of Us”, written by members of the Working Group of Internal Dissent: Felix Antonio Bonne Carcasses, René de Jesús Gómez Manzano, Vladimiro Roca Antúnez and Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello.

A cable dated April 2006 gives an account of the constant monitoring of the Castro brothers’ health by the United States Interests Section in Havana. In this letter, Parmly talks about the decline in public appearances by the current Cuban President and the deteriorating health of Raúl Castro, using the Japanese ambassador as source, Iwata, who stated that “Raúl was in a worse physical condition than Fidel. “

A few months later, Fidel Castro's illness was officially announced, which caused his resignation. In this context, since March 2, 2007, the opposition began to organize cultural events. These were “encouraged by the U.S. Interests Section”, as confirmed by a cable titled “The Cuban Opposition: The (art) Show Must Go On” , dated March 5 of that year. The cable says the opposition should foster: “the constant search for human stories or other news that would demystify the heroic narrative  of the Cuban medical system. “

With Fidel Castro out of the public arena and the increased activity from the opposition, the leader Martha Beatriz Roque [MBR in the cable] explains that “mobilization should be encouraged at the exact moment that would generate significant changes. ” Parmly, in the meantime, acknowledged that the actions of the opposition, “while useful and necessary, are insufficient to achieve regime change. From our point of view, only XXXXXXXXX [deleted in original] and Oswaldo Paya [principal author of the Varela Project] have the national recognition to mobilize a figure close to one million Cubans. “

Three years after the cable was delivered, the proposal by Martha Beatriz Roque has not yet been materialized. Apparently, contrary to Parmly's predictions, the most significant figures of the traditional opposition do not have the popular support necessary to trigger an uprising. The successor of the Interests Section, Jonhatan D. Farrar, in a cable dated April 2009, says, “it is the new generation of nontraditional dissidents who are closer to achieving long-term impact on post-Castro Cuba. ” For this reason, in recent years, there is focus on the performance of two key figures: the Catholic Church and “alternative bloggers.”

However, in a cable dated August 2009 titled “The Catholic Church and the Transition in Cuba”, Farrar admits that “the church keeps away from any public discussion which might be considered counter-revolutionary” and even “has kept away from known opposition figures such as Oswaldo Paya and Dagoberto Valdes, devout Catholics. “

Given this state of affairs, the choice of alternative bloggers is gaining followers. But for this to work, it is of vital importance to increase Internet access and lower its costs. On April 18, 2006, the Cuban dissidents Vladimiro Roca and Elizardo Sánchez requested an interview with the representative of the diplomatic section, Michael Parmly, to discuss the withdrawal of Internet service of 10 independent journalists in 2004 for “inappropriate behavior”.

During the meeting, Parmly announced that other embassies with a presence in Havana gained access to the Internet. Among these were the Offices of Norway, the Netherlands, Britain and the Czech Republic. The Canadian embassy also planned to create a center with Internet access with about eight computers.

Four years later, in a cable classified as “secret,” Jonhatan D. Farrar acknowledged that “the old guard of dissidents was isolated and the Cuban government did not pay much attention to their articles or manifestos because they had no national or international resonance. ” At the same time he encouraged monitoring bloggers “whose ability to stay one step ahead in the use of new technologies and the growing international popularity reached was causing serious headaches for the government.”


  • Gualterio Nunez Estrada

    Everyone who live in Cuba knows that opposition to Castros’s goverment link to the American Interest Section can not be supported by most of the population of Cuba and they became isolate by the people in his own neighbourhood for one reason: The Helms-Burton was designed to take over nationalized properties in Cuba as the same would be able the cubamerican inmigration who legalized claims of property behind american court’s. Nobody is stupid in Cuba, even is they are no communist to support lossing of the property of his own country by americans, that’s the reason american must pay and loss dollars if they want some opposition inside Cuba.Of course, there are a marked and stocks in Havana and Miami about dissidents and some luxury watchover.

  • […] face trial in Cuba on March 4, according to the US Interest Section in Havana, in a more… Cuba: What do the Cables from Havana Say? (Part III) – Global Voices Online – 02/24/2011 Cuba: What do the Cables from Havana Say? (Part […]

  • Gualterio Nunez Estrada

    Even, in Cuba there are a lot of criticism inside the cuban goverment, the Army and in the normal population but at the same time. the same people who criticized the Castro’s goverment isolate this dissidents because they are afraid about his vinculation with Washington’s Helm-Burton Law and cubanamerican claims about his properties in the island, that the point they can not easy recruit dissident university graduates and was force to recruit in the jail inmates with criminal record of violence behavior against woman and elderly before they became “political”, the only way to have a look in the international community and american media and to able to be supported by american money. You can see and took inside cubans in the island what I see living there as journalist and making interviews with dissidents. In my recently vacaction trip of ten days in 2009 I confirm this point of view. There are more criticism than in 1996 but and the same time they support the state, most than the goverment by itself. The interest section in Havana is playing the game of cat and mouse, that’s it, to do the job.

  • The cables show the disconnect these “dissidents” have with the Cuban people and the blind assessment USIS has of Cuban politics. Marta Beatriz Roque, Elizardo Sanchez, Osvaldo Paya or any of the members of “The Homeland Belongs to All of US” (better labeled dissidents working for USA) could not muster 1,000 people much less one million. The absurdity of US policy blinds them to the fact that even if 100,000 Cubans take to the street to “celebrate” Fidel Castro’s departure, the millions upon millions of Cubans that would spontaneously grieve, would drown out the relative few who may celebrate. The bloggers are just pawns without even a bishop. As to the bloggers activities, their disconnect the to political realities of the country and lack of leadership and real credibility, renders them ineffective.

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