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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07HAVANA33 2007-01-11 20:38:00 CONFIDENTIAL US Interests Section Havana
Cable title:  

CUBA'S VALDES TAMAYO, FREED 75ER, DIES AT HOSPITAL

Tags:   PHUM KDEM SOCI CU 
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VZCZCXRO6129
PP RUEHAG RUEHROV
DE RUEHUB #0033/01 0112038
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 112038Z JAN 07
FM USINT HAVANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1118
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES PRIORITY
RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUESDM/JTLO MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 0048
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HAVANA 000033 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE DEPT FOR WHA/CCA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/11/2017
TAGS: PHUM KDEM SOCI CU
SUBJECT: CUBA'S VALDES TAMAYO, FREED 75ER, DIES AT HOSPITAL


HAVANA 00000033 001.2 OF 002


Classified By: COM Michael Parmly for Reason 1.4(d).



1. (C) Summary: Cuban pro-democracy activist Miguel Valdes
Tamayo died at 50 on January 10 after battling heart
problems. Valdes, an executive of the Assembly to Promote
Civil Society (APSC), was among the 75 activists rounded up
and sentenced to long terms in March/April of 2003. In June
2004, the Cuban Government freed him on conditional
probation, apparently for health reasons. But Valdes did not
cease his political activities until New Years Eve, when he
was taken to the hospital after suffering sharp chest pains.
We paid our respects January 11 along with two dozen
dissidents and family members. The GOC placed some
restrictions on the funeral. We do not expect the death to
have any discernible impact on GOC policy on political
prisoners. Suggested press guidance provided in Paragraph
Six. End Summary.



2. (U) Miguel Valdes Tamayo of APSC lost a battle with heart
disease late January 10 at a Havana hospital. Valdes, 50,
was among the 75 peaceful activists sentenced to long terms
in the "Black Spring" crackdown of 2003. In June 2004, the
Cuban Government released him on conditional probation, on
apparent health grounds. But Valdes, a Havana native who
worked as a TV repairman, did not halt his human-rights
activities until December 31, when he was taken to the
hospital after suffering acute chest pains. On April 8,
2003, Valdes was tried with Oscar Biscet Gonzalez, Angel Moya
Acosta and Orlando Fundora Alvarez and sentenced to 15 years
for "acts against the independence or territorial integrity
of the state." The trial transcripts state that Valdes was a
man "disaffected by the Revolution" who "didn't participate
in activities of the social organizations." The court
concluded that Valdes had served the United States by
releasing information that distorted Cuba's economic and
socio-political situation.



3. (C) Valdes, who suffered from an enlarged heart, had not
enjoyed good health for years. At a June 28 meeting, he was
sweating profusely and could talk for no more than one or two
minutes before pausing to catch his breath. However, he was
well enough to attend a December 10 lunch at the COMR, where
a "prisoners of conscience quilt" was on display, with one
panel bearing his name. Valdes was an active official of
APSC and was involved in the launch of a human-rights
newsletter. He was also a frequent visitor to USINT's
internet centers, and continued to use the centers even after
Cuban authorities started harassing him nearly every time he
left USINT. In October, police detained him outside of USINT
at least five times.



4. (C) Valdes is the first 75er to pass away. (Fifty-nine
are still in prison; the other 16 were released on health
grounds.) We paid our respects at a Havana funeral home on
January 11, where roughly two-dozen family members and
dissidents, including freed 75er Carmelo Diaz Fernandez and
at least three Ladies in White, had gathered. The GOC
informed them that although a hearse and two taxis would take
the body and mourners to the cemetery later in the day,
dissidents would not be allowed to enter the vehicles.



5. (C) Valdes' death prompted a number of wives of political
prisoners to think about their own husbands' mortality. Elsa
Morejon Hernandez, the wife of Biscet, noted that her
husband, an inmate at Combinado del Este, has heart problems
of his own, as well as abscessed gums that have swollen the
right side of his face. Ana Aguililla Saladrigas, the wife
of Francisco Chaviano Gonzalez, among Cuba's longest-serving
political prisoners, told us she had little hope that Valdes'
death would help her husband's prospects for conditional
probation, despite the fact that Chaviano has a lung tumor
that appears malignant.

COMMENT


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





6. (C) As the sad incident with the taxis suggests, the GOC
is unlikely to regard Miguel Valdes Tamayo's death as
anything more than the welcomed departure of an iconoclast
and a dangerously free thinker. In the fullness of time, we
hope, citizens of a free Cuba will regard Valdes as one of
the relatively few Cubans brave enough to stand up to
totalitarianism in Castro's Cuba.

SUGGESTED PRESS GUIDANCE


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




HAVANA 00000033 002.2 OF 002




7. (U)

QUESTION: WHAT ABOUT THIS CUBAN DISSIDENT WHO DIED, MIGUEL
VALDES TAMAYO? WILL HIS DEATH CHANGE ANYTHING IN CUBA?

ANSWER: MIGUEL VALDES TAMAYO WAS A BRAVE DEFENDER OF HUMAN
RIGHTS. HE, LIKE 74 OTHERS, WAS UNJUSTLY IMPRISONED IN 2003
FOR PEACEFULLY PROMOTING RESPECT FOR THE BASIC RIGHTS THAT
CUBANS ARE DENIED. ALTHOUGH VALDES WAS RELEASED ON
CONDITIONAL PROBATION IN JUNE 2004 FOR HEALTH REASONS, IT IS
LIKELY THAT HIS INCARCERATION WORSENED HIS HEART PROBLEMS.
FIFTY-NINE OTHER MEMBERS OF THE 75 REMAIN BEHIND BARS, WHERE
THEY SUFFER FROM APPALLING CONDITIONS. THE CUBAN GOVERNMENT
SHOULD IMMEDIATELY RELEASE ALL 283 DOCUMENTED POLITICAL
PRISONERS AND STOP PUTTING PEOPLE IN JAIL FOR PEACEFUL
POLITICAL ACTIVITY.
PARMLY