Viewing cable 03VATICAN5111
Title: CUBA: HOLY SEE TAKES TRADITIONAL VIEW ON UNGA

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
03VATICAN51112003-11-12 14:37:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vatican
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L  VATICAN 005111 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/WE LEVIN; WHA/CCA 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/12/2013 
TAGS: CU ETRD PHUM PREL VT UNGA
SUBJECT: CUBA: HOLY SEE TAKES TRADITIONAL VIEW ON UNGA 
RESOLUTION 
 
REF: A. STATE 301451 
 
     ¶B. VATICAN 1406 
     ¶C. VATICAN 1775 
     ¶D. VATICAN 2071 
 
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Brent Hardt for reason 1.5 (b) and (d) 
. 
 
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SUMMARY 
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¶1. (C) Reviewing the recent UNGA vote on the U.S. embargo on 
Cuba, the Holy See reaffirmed its opposition to the embargo, 
while affirming its distaste for the regime's human rights 
abuses.  MFA Caribbean Affairs Office Director Giorgio Lingua 
repeated the Vatican's view that the embargo is ineffective, 
and said he hoped the U.S. would change its approach on the 
issue.  While the Holy See is disappointed with the lack of 
progress on human rights and religious freedom issues almost 
six years after the 1998 papal visit to the island, Lingua 
took a long-term view in assessing the regime, noting some 
positive signs and adding that "Castro is not immortal."  End 
summary. 
 
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UNGA Vote: Holy See Sees Little Effect 
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¶2. (C) Poloff met November 7 with MFA Caribbean Affairs 
Office Director Giorgio Lingua to discuss the recent vote on 
U.S. embargo on Cuba at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) (ref 
A).  Lingua acknowledged the EU's condemnation of Cuba's 
human rights situation in its explanation of vote (EOV) and 
noted the Holy See's distaste for such abuses.  Lingua was 
nevertheless doubtful that the EU's statement would affect 
the overall situation.  Lingua agreed with poloff that the UN 
Resolution was simply a way for Castro to deflect attention 
from the regime's abuses and other ills, but insisted that 
the U.S. was playing into Castro's hands by giving him this 
diversion. 
 
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Policy Change on the Horizon? 
----------------------------- 
 
¶3. (C) Lingua noted the U.S. Congressional vote last month to 
ease travel restrictions to Cuba.  Cuba's isolation, he 
contended, only fortified the regime and discouraged 
compromise.  He wondered if the move might prompt the 
administration to consider a change of policy on the embargo. 
 "Bush is a strong leader who could take this step without 
losing status," Lingua said.  After so many years of similar 
strategies without significant results, Lingua wondered aloud 
why the administration wouldn't try a new approach. 
 
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Upcoming Anniversary 
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¶4. (C) Lingua also reflected on the upcoming sixth 
anniversary of Pope John Paul II's visit to Cuba in January, 
¶1998.  "We had hoped for more by this time," he said, when 
assessing the current state of affairs for freedom of worship 
on the island.  While the Cuban population is perhaps 
 
 
subjected to fewer limitations on worship than it was six 
years ago, Lingua argued, this is still not freedom.  The 
Holy See was particularly troubled by the government's 
restrictions on Catholic publications.  Lingua said that 
Castro was using the Cuban bishops' refusal to comply with 
the regime's registration requirement for publications as an 
excuse for his continued persecution of the Church -- a 
disingenuous tactic related to the leader's use of the 
embargo issue. 
 
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Comment: Light at the End of the Tunnel? 
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¶5. (C) Lingua's comments reflected the Vatican's usual 
cautious approach to Cuba, as well as its traditional 
opposition to embargoes in general -- particulary this one. 
Overall, however, Lingua was more optimistic on Cuba than he 
has been in recent meetings (ref B,C,D), and took a long-term 
view.  "Castro is not immortal," he said, noting that there 
are opposition figures in Cuba who are simply waiting for the 
right opportunity to become vocal.  He further noted that he 
saw evidence of an increased willingness on the part of Cuban 
bishops to criticize Castro,s regime in recent years. 
 
¶6. (C) Lingua did not foresee any upcoming Holy See 
statements on Cuba, though he noted that when a new papal 
nuncio is appointed, the occasion might present the 
opportunity for the Vatican to make mention of Castro's human 
rights failings.  Post will track the appointment and 
encourage the Holy See to do just that when the time comes. 
(Note: There is no word on when the new nuncio to Cuba will 
be named, but with a new Vatican foreign minister settling in 
later this month, it will likely be a few months until an 
appointment is made. End note). 
 
HARDT 
 
 
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 2003VATICA05111 - Classification: CONFIDENTIAL