Viewing cable 07VATICAN89
Title: DAS MADISON ENGAGES VATICAN ON CUBA

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
07VATICAN892007-05-14 10:42:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 SECRET Embassy Vatican
VZCZCXRO4128
PP RUEHAO RUEHCD RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHGA RUEHGD RUEHHA RUEHHO RUEHKW
RUEHLA RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHQU RUEHRD RUEHRG RUEHRS RUEHTM RUEHVC
DE RUEHROV #0089/01 1341042
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 141042Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY VATICAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0734
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN 0764
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 VATICAN 000089 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/WE LARREA 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL:  5/14/2032 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM KIRF CU VT
SUBJECT: DAS MADISON ENGAGES VATICAN ON CUBA 
 
REF: A. A. STATE 57510 
 
     ¶B. B. PARMLY - FRIEDMAN 4/30 EMAIL 
 
VATICAN 00000089  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: Peter Martin, Political Officer, Vatican, State. 
 
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d) 
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Summary 
 
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¶1.  (C)  WHA DAS Kirsten Madison described the worsening human 
rights situation in Cuba to the new XXXXXXXXXXXX, and 
appealed to the Vatican on the issue of the Catholic magazine 
Vitral.  XXXXXXXXXXXX repeated general Vatican support for Vitral 
and promised to look into the matter further.  Monsignor XXXXXXXXXXXX, told Madison that Cardinal Ortega had 
likely pressured local Bishop Serpa to shut the magazine down, 
apparently motivated by some personal feelings about the 
leadership of the magazine.  XXXXXXXXXXXX was not wholly convinced 
that the Spanish could have done more during the Moratinos 
visit, though he did not dispute the negative effects the visit 
had upon dissidents. XXXXXXXXXXXX suggested that some concession on 
restrictions such as family travel to Cuba could be useful for 
advancing U.S. interests generally.  DAS Madison's visit was 
useful in accessing XXXXXXXXXXXX's goldmine of information on the 
Church in Cuba, and helping to shape the views of XXXXXXXXXXXX, 
still learning the intricacies of Cuba issues.  End Summary 
 
 
 
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Vitral 
 
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¶2.  (C)  XXXXXXXXXXXX, still getting up to speed on his substantial 
portfolio (including Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia 
and Brazil), stuck to the official line on Vitral, saying that 
as far as he knew the magazine had been "suspended" for 
financial reasons.  He repeated what Post has reported before: 
the Vatican was not behind the closure of Vitral.  XXXXXXXXXXXX and 
XXXXXXXXXXXX (please protect throughout) both expressed concern that 
this important voice be silenced.  However, XXXXXXXXXXXX repeated 
his contention that the Holy See would be very hesitant to 
interfere in a bishop's diocese on an issue like this 
 
 
 
¶3.  (C)  XXXXXXXXXXXX, who served in Havana and previously covered 
Cuba in the Secretariat of State, seemed to be more in the know 
on the issue.  He said that the government had been trying to 
close Vitral for years, but was afraid of the potential 
backlash.  When the local bishop (Siro) retired, Cardinal Ortega 
pressured new Bishop Serpa to shut it down, apparently motivated 
by some animosity towards the leadership of the magazine.  In 
any case, XXXXXXXXXXXX said, the government must be happy because 
the Church did its dirty work for it.  [Note: Vatican officials 
have hinted in the past that Ortega had become too cozy with 
Castro.] 
 
 
 
¶4.  (S)  Madison stressed the concern about the closure she had 
already heard from governments and non-governmental 
organizations during her trip, and XXXXXXXXXXXX was sympathetic. 
We suggested that if the Vatican shared our interest in Vitral 
continuing publication, they might arrange for Bishop Serpa to 
receive a grant from Caritas or another Vatican-related aid 
organization (ref a).  In this way the Holy See could signal its 
interest in an understated way, sending a message, but offering 
the bishop a face-saving way to backtrack on his decision. 
XXXXXXXXXXXX said that the issue would be at the top of his agenda 
as soon as the pope's trip to Brazil was out of the way; it was 
currently consuming the Secretariat of State.  [Note: We have 
not heard confirmation that Serpa is coming to Rome (ref b), 
though some Cuban prelates are apparently coming later this 
month for a meeting at the Pontifical Council for Justice and 
Peace.] 
 
 
 
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Human Rights 
 
 
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¶5.  (C)  XXXXXXXXXXXX was surprised to hear Madison's description 
of the worsening human rights situation in Cuba, but did not 
dispute it, simply seeking details.  [Note: Post has a follow-up 
appointment with him this week at which we will pass further 
points supplied by WHA.]  XXXXXXXXXXXX was not as surprised, 
recounting three recent incidents of harassment of Catholic 
clergy at the airport. 
 
 
 
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Moratinos 
 
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¶6.  (C)  Madison noted that Cuba's democratic opposition was 
feeling vulnerable in the aftermath of the  recent visit of 
Spanish FM Moratinos to Cuba. XXXXXXXXXXXX repeated his contentions 
that the Spanish offer to meet at a lower level with dissidents 
following Moratinos' departure was significant, and that it 
would have been difficult diplomatically for the Spanish to have 
done otherwise.  Madison emphasized the deflating effects the 
decision had had on dissidents, who look to Europe for support 
in their struggle for human rights.  The fact that some 
activists had put aside their considerable differences to sign 
the Unity for Freedom statement showed how vulnerable the 
Spanish had left them feeling and demonstrated a degree of 
strategic thinking that was a new phenomenon. 
 
 
 
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Embargo, Restrictions 
 
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¶7.  (C)  The Holy See's view on the embargo is well known and 
neither interlocutor dwelled on it.  But XXXXXXXXXXXX said that some 
concession on restrictions such as family travel could be useful 
for advancing U.S. interests generally.  He suggested that a 
gesture like that could perhaps win over support from the 
Europeans on other Cuba issues. 
 
 
 
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Comment 
 
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¶8.  (C)  XXXXXXXXXXXX offered a goldmine of information on the 
Church in Cuba; a visit with him is well worth the time for our 
top officials following Cuba.  He told us that Bertone was 
engaged on these issues.  Madison's visit was also very helpful 
in orienting XXXXXXXXXXXX on U.S. policy.  He is not yet a Cuba 
expert, but is a sharp diplomat and will quickly get up to speed 
on his countries when the dust clears from the papal visit to 
Brazil.  We will continue to engage XXXXXXXXXXXX, as we hope he 
will become the helpful advocate on Cuba and Venezuela that 
XXXXXXXXXXXX was in his position. 
ROONEY