Viewing cable 06VATICAN262
Title: CUBA: NUN COMMENTS ON FIDEL'S HEALTH

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
06VATICAN2622006-12-15 16:10:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vatican
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P 151610Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY VATICAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0591
INFO RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN 0619
C O N F I D E N T I A L VATICAN 000262 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL:  12/15/2016 
TAGS: PREL CU VT
SUBJECT: CUBA:  NUN COMMENTS ON FIDEL'S HEALTH 
 
REF: 04 Vatican 1401 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: Christopher Sandrolini, Deputy Chief of Mission, 
EXEC, State. 
REASON: 1.4 (d) 


¶1. (C) Summary.  A prominent abbess in Rome described her recent 
visit to Havana and commented on the state of Castro's health in 
a December 12 meeting with Ambassador; she also suggested some 
possible contacts for the USG.  The abbess has been 
controversial in the past.  End summary. 

¶2. (C) Ambassador Rooney called on Mother Tekla Famiglietti, 
Abbess General of the Brigittine Order of the Most Holy Savior, 
on December 12.  Mother Tekla -- in charge of the Brigittines 
for some 25 years and sometimes called ""the most powerful woman 
in Rome"" -- had just returned from a visit to Cuba.  She had 
hoped to meet Fidel Castro, whom she had befriended some years 
earlier (reftel) at the inauguration of Mexican President 
Vicente Fox. 

¶3. (C)  Mother Tekla said that during this trip she found a 
different attitude among priests, nuns, and government contacts; 
there is a feeling of impending change resulting from the coming 
end of the Fidel era.  People want change, though some of those 
close to Fidel are threatened by it.  Mother Tekla commented 
that Cubans would be less agitated in Cuba itself than in Miami 
when the changes begin.  She hoped the USG would not wait for 
Castro's death to begin opening up, but would instead act now to 
relax the embargo and help people; this would also steal a march 
on others, such as China, who are already on the ground. 


¶4. (C) Mother Tekla said she had been to Fidel's house many 
times before, typically meeting first with his private secretary 
Carlos Valenciaga Diaz.  She had intended to do so this time, 
but then felt that Castro was now too weak and ill.  Diaz told 
her that Fidel has lost 20 kilos and is a shadow of his former 
self; he does not have cancer but is bleeding from the stomach. 
A room in Castro's house has been converted into a hospital room. 
 
¶5. (C) Mother Tekla said she works with Licencia Caridad, head 
of the ministry for religious affairs, and Eusebio Leal Spencer, 
whom Castro put in charge of getting a new facility built for 
Mother Tekla.  She thinks Spencer may know some people who might 
be of interest to the USG as potential leaders once a government 
change has occurred. 
 
Comment 
-------------- 

¶6. (C)   Mother Tekla is well known in Rome (if sometimes 
controversial), and we have reported on meeting her in the past. 
 Reftel describes a flap over her 2004 visit to Havana with 
Cardinal Sepe for the opening of the Brigittines' house there, 
which Castro used as a propaganda opportunity to the 
embarrassment of the Holy See.  We report this conversation for 
its possible interest in terms of news about Fidel's health, and 
the suggested contacts. 
 
ROONEY