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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06BRIDGETOWN978
2006-06-08 18:38:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Bridgetown
Cable title:  

CUBAN-EASTERN CARIBBEAN LOVE AFFAIR CONTINUES

Tags:   PGOV  PHUM  PREL  EAID  CU  XL 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO2622
PP RUEHGR
DE RUEHWN #0978/01 1591838
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 081838Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2658
INFO RUCNCOM/EC CARICOM COLLECTIVE
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1449
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0071
RUEHCV/USDAO CARACAS VE
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J2 MIAMI FL
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J5 MIAMI FL
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BRIDGETOWN 000978 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL EAID CU XL
SUBJECT: CUBAN-EASTERN CARIBBEAN LOVE AFFAIR CONTINUES



1. (SBU) Summary: Cuba and the Eastern Caribbean continued
their very public romance in May. The St. Lucia Prime
Minister traveled to Havana and returned with a pledge from
Cuba to train 300 St. Lucian nurses, while his Government
praised the "wonders" of Cuba's eye care assistance program.
Dominica and St. Vincent saw the opening of Cuban embassies
and hosted Cuban delegations to discuss the various forms of
aid Havana provides to what are the two poorest countries in
the Eastern Caribbean. In Grenada, meanwhile, the Prime
Minister and other officials swiftly came to Cuba's defense
when a newspaper dared to report allegations that Cuban
medical personnel had sexually molested patients. In doing
so, the Government officials took pains to point out the
significant medical assistance Cuba provides Grenada. These
developments indicate that Cuba's relationship with the
Eastern Caribbean remains healthy, so long as the region
continues to receive some form of Cuban largesse. End
summary.



--------------------------


St. Lucia PM Visits Cuba


--------------------------





2. (U) St. Lucia Prime Minister Kenny Anthony traveled to
Cuba in May, where he visited medical facilities and met with
Caribbean students attending Cuban universities. During the
trip, Anthony characterized his nation's ties with Cuba as
being "not for sale" but based upon "profound respect and
friendship." After the PM returned from his five-day visit,
the Government of St. Lucia (GOSL) announced that Cuba would
provide nursing training to 300 St. Lucians, which is
intended to help St. Lucia overcome a shortage of nurses. As
is true throughout the Caribbean, many local nurses have left
the region for more lucrative employment elsewhere. The
nursing students are expected to depart for Cuba in June to
take an intensive three-month Spanish language program before
beginning their two-year nursing course.



--------------------------


Cuba Performs Wonders


--------------------------





3. (U) The St. Lucia Government also released a statement in
May praising Cuba's eye care assistance program, which
"continues to perform wonders for St. Lucians of all walks of
life." According to the GOSL, the program has treated 1,800
St. Lucians since it began in August 2005. St. Lucians
continue to travel each month to Cuba for advanced eye care,
with a group of 99 people having gone in May. The GOSL
calculated that to date the Cuban program has provided the
equivalent of a whopping US$6.2 million in assistance to St.
Lucia. The Government also noted that St. Lucia's diplomatic

representation in Cuba has been significantly upgraded over
the past year and its former Consulate in Cuba is now a
full-fledged Embassy.



--------------------------


Cuban Embassies and Aid


--------------------------





4. (U) Dominica and St. Vincent also opened embassies in Cuba
during the past year, a gesture that was reciprocated in May
when Cuba opened embassies on these small Caribbean islands.
Officials in Dominica and St. Vincent also met with Cuban
delegations that arrived for the biannual sessions of both
countries' Joint Commission for Economic and Technical
Cooperation with Cuba. The governments of Dominica and St.
Vincent portrayed these meetings as opportunities to discuss
current and future avenues of cooperation with Cuba.
Considering, however, that neither Dominica nor St. Vincent
has much to offer Cuba, these exchanges appear to have been
simply a chance for the Cubans to discuss with local
officials the aid being delivered to their countries.



--------------------------


St. Vincent-Cuban Compliments


--------------------------





5. (U) During a ceremony to mark the Cuban visit to St.
Vincent, Foreign Minister Louis Straker called Cuba "a source
of stability" for attempting to help eliminate poverty in the
Caribbean. Straker also commented, "In the area of foreign
affairs, we stand in support of the principles that Cuba
stands for: non-interference in the area. Cuba has not been

BRIDGETOWN 00000978 002 OF 002


interfering in the affairs of countries in the Caribbean."
The head of the Cuban delegation, Deputy Minister of Economic
Collaboration and Investment Orlando Miguel, publicly thanked
St. Vincent for voting in favor of Cuba's membership on the
UN Human Rights Council.



--------------------------


Grenada PM Sticks Up for Cuba


--------------------------





6. (U) Grenada did not host a visit by a Cuban delegation in
May, but the Government had an opportunity to demonstrate its
commitment to Cuba when Prime Minister Keith Mitchell and
other officials criticized a local newspaper for publishing
an article that alleged Cuban medical personnel working in
Grenada may have sexually abused patients. The weekly paper,
"Grenada Today," carried the story in its May 20 edition of a
woman who alleged that she had been fondled by a Cuban
doctor, later identified as actually being a nurse, before
going into surgery at Grenada's main hospital. According to
the paper, this was the second such allegation made against
Cuban medical personnel in the past few months.



7. (U) The newspaper was roundly criticized by the Prime
Minister, the Minister of Health, and other officials for
publishing unfounded allegations that could potentially harm
Grenada's relationship with Cuba. In objecting to the
report, all pointed to the substantial assistance Grenada
receives from Havana. One Government minister called on
supporters of the ruling New National Party to boycott the
paper. In a statement, the Cuban Ambassador to Grenada
called the report "anti-Cuban propaganda."



--------------------------


Comment


--------------------------





8. (SBU) These recent events involving Cuba and the Eastern
Caribbean are demonstrative of Havana's relationship with the
region. Cuba delivers what aid it can, considering its own
economic troubles, while the small Eastern Caribbean nations,
eager to receive aid from any source, offer Cuba predictable
praise and periodic votes at the UN and other international
fora. The establishment of new Cuban embassies in Dominica
and St. Vincent, which will likely serve to better coordinate
Cuban aid, indicates a deepening of this relationship.



9. (SBU) On the other hand, the attacks leveled by the
Grenada Prime Minister and other officials against a
newspaper that dared to say something uncomplimentary about
Cuban nationals suggests a level of insecurity about the
basis of this relationship. Despite their co-location, the
English-speaking, democratic nations in the Eastern Caribbean
have little in common with communist Cuba. Even the Foreign
Minister of left-leaning St. Vincent could offer only
lukewarm praise for Cuban foreign policy by recognizing the
principle of "non-interference." Regional leaders typically
credit Cuban charity, but not its politics.



10. (SBU) Havana and the Eastern Caribbean engage in a very
public sort of love affair that includes a fair amount of
romanticization of Cuba and its revolutionary leader.
Perhaps, however, underneath the warm embraces portrayed in
endless photo ops, if one were to take away Cuba's assistance
to its small island neighbors, their feelings for each other
would actually be rather tepid.
KRAMER