US embassy cable - 94HAVANA5167

BEHIND CASTRO'S THREATS

Identifier: 94HAVANA5167
Wikileaks: View 94HAVANA5167 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: US Interests Section Havana
Created: 1994-08-06 19:49:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL PREF PGOV CU
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
O 061949Z AUG 94
FM USINT HAVANA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC NIACT IMMEDIATE 1969
INFO CCGDSEVEN MIAMI FL
COMDT COGARD WASHDC
FBIS KEY WEST
USCINCLANT NORFOLK VA
COMNAVBASE GUANTANAMO BAY
JTLO MIAMI
USIA WASHDC 7936
C O N F I D E N T I A L HAVANA 005167 
 
 
E.O. 12356: DECL:OADR 
TAGS:  PREL, PREF, PGOV, CU 
SUBJECT:  BEHIND CASTRO'S THREATS 
 
REF:  HAVANA 5150 
 
1.   CONFIDENTIAL -- ENTIRE TEXT. 
 
2.   WHY THE CHANGE IN GOC ATTITUDE TOWARD MASSIVE 
EMIGRATION?  FOR YEARS NOW, MOST OBSERVERS HAD JUDGED 
THE CUBAN GOVERNMENT AS UNLIKELY TO STAGE ANOTHER MARIEL 
OR TO OPEN ITS SHORES TO FREE EMIGRATION FOR FEAR OF 
UNLEASHING A SITUATION WHICH IT COULD NOT CONTROL.  WHAT 
HAPPENED OVER THE PAST SEVERAL MONTHS TO CHANGE THIS 
SITUATION WAS THAT CUBAN AUTHORITIES WERE GRADUALLY 
LOSING CONTROL, EVEN WHILE SEEKING TO PREVENT ILLEGAL 
EMIGRATION.  THE RATE OF ILLEGAL DEPARTURES BY REFUGEES 
TAKING CUBAN GOVERNMENT BOATS HAS INCREASED 
GEOMETRICALLY IN THE PAST SEVERAL MONTHS. 
 
3.   THE SITUATION WAS DRAMATICALLY AGGRAVATED BY THE 
DROWNINGS OF OVER THIRTY FLEEING CUBANS ON JULY 13 IN 
THE TUGBOAT SUNK BY THE ACTIONS OF OTHER TUGBOATS.  THE 
NEGATIVE INTERNATIONAL ATTENTION AND DOMESTIC DISCONTENT 
WHICH THIS INCIDENT PRODUCED ADDED GREATLY TO GOVERNMENT 
PRESSURES BY MAKING VIOLENT EFFORTS TO DETER BOAT THEFTS 
UNPALATABLE.  THE APPARENT USE OF WEAPONS TO SEIZE 
HIGHLY VISIBLE HAVANA HARBOR FERRIES WAS A MAJOR 
IRRITANT AND THE CUBAN GOVERNMENT BECAME CONVINCED THAT 
THE USG WOULD NOT ACT SERIOUSLY TO PUNISH ANY 
PERPETRATORS.  THE WIDESPREAD PUBLIC ANXIOUSNESS TO FLEE 
THE ISLAND PRODUCED BY THESE FERRY FLIGHTS LED ON AUGUST 
5 TO HUGE CROWDS WHICH SOON TURNED FROM THOUGHTS OF 
FLIGHT TO ANTIGOVERNMENT DEMONSTRATIONS AND LOOTING. 
 
4.   THE GOVERNMENT THUS WAS INCREASINGLY FACING A 
SITUATION IN WHICH IT FEARED LOSING CONTROL, EVEN AS IT 
SOUGHT TO PREVENT EMIGRATION.  IT IS IN THIS LIGHT THAT 
FIDEL CASTRO'S DECISION TO THREATEN TO UNLEASH MASSIVE 
REFUGEE FLIGHT UPON THE U.S. CAN BE UNDERSTOOD.  WE 
BELIEVE THAT SUCH A DECISION COULD STIMULATE DEPARTURE 
EFFORTS BY HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS, EVEN THOUGH PRIVATELY 
HELD VESSELS ARE RARE.  CUBA WOULD INDEED BE TAKING A 
SERIOUS RISK IN OPENING ITS BORDERS -- PROBABLY EVEN A 
GREATER ONE THAN IT REALIZES, BUT CUBAN AUTHORITIES 
ALREADY FELT THEMSELVES RUNNING GROWING RISKS.  BY 
MAKING THE THREAT AND PERHAPS IMPLEMENTING IT, THEY HOPE 
TO PUT PRESSURE ON THE U.S. TO ALTER ITS IMMIGRATION 
POLICY IN WAYS WHICH WOULD DIMINISH THE PRESSURES ON 
CUBAN AUTHORITIES. 
 
SULLIVAN 

Latest source of this page is cablebrowser-2, released 2011-10-04