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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09HAVANA651
2009-10-28 20:52:00
CONFIDENTIAL
US Interests Section Havana
Cable title:  

RELEASED CUBAN PRISONER PONDERS HIS OPTIONS,

Tags:   ECON  PREL  PHUM  CU 
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VZCZCXRO2834
PP RUEHAG RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHUB #0651/01 3012052
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 282052Z OCT 09
FM USINT HAVANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4873
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS PRIORITY
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID PRIORITY 0167
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCOWCV/CCGDSEVEN MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HAVANA 000651 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CCA
STATE FOR DRL CNEWLING

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/23/2019
TAGS: ECON PREL PHUM CU
SUBJECT: RELEASED CUBAN PRISONER PONDERS HIS OPTIONS,
GRATEFUL TO SPAIN

REF: A. A) 08 HAVANA 162 (PRISONER RELEASES TO SPAIN)

B. B) HAVANA 639 (MORATINOS VISIT)

HAVANA 00000651 001.2 OF 002


Classified By: COM Jonathan Farrar for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)



1. (C) Summary: The Government of Cuba (GOC) paroled
political prisoner and "75'er" Nelson Aguiar Ramirez on
October 20 following the visit of Spanish Foreign Minister
Moratinos. Aguiar was the first 75'er to be released since
February, 2008, and is in extremely poor health. In
conversation with Poloffs, Aguiar stated that he will attempt
to seek medical treatment in Spain. If he is unsuccessful,
he may approach the U.S. Cuban dissidents expressed
happiness for Aguiar personally, but resented the GOC's
strategy of trading political prisoners for political
currency. End Summary.

DETAINED SINCE 2003


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





2. (C) Political prisoner Nelson Alberto Aguiar Ramirez was
detained in the spring of 2003 along with seventy-four other
dissidents, the group that became known as the "75'ers." He
was charged with "collaborating" with the United States
(under Law 88) and sentenced to thirteen years in jail.
(Note: Fifty-three of the 75'ers remain in jail. End note.)
Aguiar's wife, Dolia Leal Francisco, was one of the founders
of the Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White), an advocacy group
comprising female relatives and supporters of political
prisoners. Aguiar, who was already in chronically poor
health when he was jailed, was held in the Cuban prison in
Guantanamo province until November, 2004, when he was
transferred to the hospital ward of Combinado del Este
prison, in Havana. Prior to his release, he was described by
several USINT contacts as one of the most ill 75'ers.

THREE TIMES A CHARM


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





3. (C) Aguiar is believed to have been on a "short list" of
prisoners for release at least twice before - in the summer
of 2004, when eleven high-profile prisoners were released, as
well as in February 2008, when the GOC released four 75'ers
and their families into Spanish exile (Ref A). Aguiar is the
first 75'er released early since 2008. (Fellow 75'er Ricardo
Librado Linares Garca was released in February, 2009, after
completing his sentence.)



4. (C) During a meeting with USINT Poloffs on October 21,
Aguiar recounted that a high-ranking state security officer
told him that he would be the GOC's top choice if Spanish
Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos requested a prisoner
release. On October 21, a day after Moratinos' departure,
Aguiar was taken from his hospital ward without warning, and
released to his waiting wife. State security had informed her
only hours before that they were freeing him.



5. (C) Aguiar is currently resting at home. He told Poloffs
he plans to seek medical treatment in Spain, but may turn to
the U.S. if he cannot find someone in Spain to cover his
medical costs. He is suffering from a variety of ailments
including herniated discs and advanced arthritis. His
chronic poor health only worsened in prison, and prison
officials failed to provide him medication or medical records
upon his departure. Although he has been given parole rather
than unconditional release, he claims that state security
officials told him he could depart Cuba if he pleased. He
did not ask them if he would ever be allowed to return.

NEGOTIATING FOR CARROTS


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





6. (C) We spoke with Aguiar and his wife the day after he was
released. Neither of them knew for certain why he had been
chosen, but both credited a letter which Aguiar's wife wrote
to Spanish Prime Minister Rodriguez Zapatero in 2008,
describing Aguiar's delicate situation. His wife also
believes that her lowered profile within the Damas de Blanco
over the past few years might have made it easier for the GOC

HAVANA 00000651 002.2 OF 002


to release her husband. (Note: Leal insists that she
diminished her Damas activities on the orders of her
cardiologist, and not because she was attempting to secure
Aguiar's release. End Note.) Aguiar's poor health and age
(64) has always made him a likely candidate for release.



7. (C) COMMENT: State security discussions with Aguiar prior
to his release suggest that prisoner negotiations between
Spain and the GOC were at least in progress prior to
Moratinos' visit, if not already concluded. Aguiar was
clearly grateful for his release and viewed Spain's strategy
of cooperation with Cuba as a sound one, telling us, "If one
road doesn't work, it's best to try another one." Other
contacts on the island disagreed, however, saying that while
they were personally happy for Aguiar, political prisoners
were neither currency nor carrots, and should not be traded
for political favor.
FARRAR