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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08HAVANA389 2008-05-16 20:15:00 CONFIDENTIAL US Interests Section Havana
Cable title:  

MYSTERY OF CUBAN DISSIDENT SWALLOWING TOXIC

Tags:   CU PGOV PHUM PINR PREL 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L HAVANA 000389 

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/CCA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/15/2017
TAGS: CU PGOV PHUM PINR PREL
SUBJECT: MYSTERY OF CUBAN DISSIDENT SWALLOWING TOXIC
SUBSTANCE

Classified By: COM: James L. Williams: For reasons 1.4 b/d



1. (C) Summary: Iraida Soledad Rivas Verdecia, member of
Ladies in White and wife of prominent Cuban dissident,
Roberto de Miranda, on May 8, drank form a glass that may
have contained a toxic substance. De Miranda states that he
does not know how this happened. He said that the incident
is difficult to explain as a an accident, but he does not
have evidence that someone deliberately tried to harm Rivas.
End Summary.



2. (C) Roberto de Miranda is the president of the Colloquium
of Independent Educators, the founder of Cuba's first
independent library, and one of the 75 pro-democracy
activists arrested in a massive crackdown in 2003. On any
day of the week the house is full of visitors, neighbors and
dissidents staying there temporarily. Rivas feeds a large
number of people nearly every day. On May 8, she provided
lunch for 15 people.



3. (C) After lunch, Rivas drank a glass of water that she
left in the refrigerator. Any visitor who frequently went to
the house would have been able to identify the glass as the
one Rivas always uses. Rivas stated that on this occasion
she tasted something like kerosene. The family contacted a
doctor who came to the home. De Miranda knows a network of
medical providers who offer care to the dissident community.
Vomiting was induced and after several hours Rivas recovered.



4. (C) Neither Rivas nor de Miranda could think of a clear
scenario where this could have happened accidentally. Many
people had access to the kitchen. De Miranda stated that a
fourteen-year old retarded girl was present that day but it
is hard to imagine that she would have tampered with the
water and then returned it to the same place in the
refrigerator. De Miranda said that he allows anyone to enter
his house without consideration, even if they may be
infiltrators from state security. He admits the possibility
that this was an act of intimidation perpetrated by someone
from State Security. Although de Miranda receives little
from abroad, he mentioned the possibility of someone being
jealous because de Miranda has cellphones and receives
medicines from abroad.



5. (C) A further mystery is that nearly immediately someone
called anonymously de Miranda's son, Mikael, who lives in
Florida, and stated his mother had just swallowed a toxic
substance. De Miranda said that many people in Cuba know his
son's number but he does not know why someone would have
called without leaving a name.



6. (C) Comment: De Miranda is trying to treat this
incident as an accident because he does not want to cause
panic within his group. However, he immediately took
measures to control the visitors to his house, blocking
access to the kitchen and the bedroom. The facts around this
incident are unclear, yet it added stress to an already tense
environment in which many opposition figures are apprehensive
because the GOC has stepped up a media campaign against the
opposition, trying to brand them as "counter-revolutionaries"
and "mercenaries in the pay of the US government."

WILLIAMS
PARMLY