US embassy cable - 94BUENOSAIRES6161

CASTRO SAYS HE WILL GO IF THE PEOPLE CHOOSE IT - WITH CONDITIONS

Identifier: 94BUENOSAIRES6161
Wikileaks: View 94BUENOSAIRES6161 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Buenos Aires
Created: 1994-09-15 21:06:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL PHUM PREF CU AR
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
P 152106Z SEP 94
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2019
INFO USINT HAVANA
C O N F I D E N T I A L BUENOS AIRES 006161 
 
 
E.O. 12356:  DECL:  OADR 
TAGS:  PREL, PHUM, PREF, CU, AR 
SUBJECT:  CASTRO SAYS HE WILL GO IF THE PEOPLE CHOOSE 
          IT - WITH CONDITIONS 
 
REF:  (A) 93 BUENOS AIRES 7070, (B) 93 STATE 227692 
 
1.  CONFIDENTIAL - ENTIRE TEXT 
 
2.  AT HIS REQUEST, AMBASSADOR AND POLCOUNS MET 
SEPTEMBER 14 WITH A LEADING MEMBER OF THE RADICAL 
CIVIC UNION, CESAR JAROSLAVSKY, FOR A DISCUSSION ABOUT 
CUBA.  JAROSLAVSKY WAS INVOLVED LAST YEAR WITH A 
PERSONAL APPEAL TO FIDEL CASTRO FOR THE RELEASE OF 
CUBAN POLITICAL PRISONER MARIO CHAVES DE ARMAS AND FOR 
THE TRAVEL OF HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST ELIZARDO SANCHEZ 
(REFTELS).  JAROSLAVSKY, WHO HAS GONE TO CUBA FOR SOME 
YEARS FOR MEDICAL TREATMENT, IS REPORTEDLY A PERSONAL 
FRIEND OF CASTRO DESPITE HIS CENTRIST POLITICAL 
ORIENTATION. 
 
3.  WASTING LITTLE TIME, JAROSLAVSKY CAME RIGHT TO HIS 
POINT:  HE HAD RECENTLY SPENT SOME TIME WITH CASTRO IN 
HAVANA AND WISHED TO SHARE HIS IMPRESSIONS. 
JAROSLAVSKY WAS ALARMED BY WHAT HE SAW AS A SITUATION 
SPINNING OUT OF THE CONTROL OF FIDEL OR THE UNITED 
STATES.  ACCORDING TO JAROSLAVSKY, CASTRO IS NOW 
WILLING TO STEP ASIDE IF NECESSARY BECAUSE HE NOW 
REALIZES THAT CUBA'S CRISIS CANNOT CONTINUE WITHOUT 
DANGER OF A COMPLETE BREAKDOWN AND/OR A COUP LED BY 
SECURITY FORCES.  CASTRO REPORTEDLY SEES NATIONAL 
ELECTIONS AS THE WAY OUT OF CUBA'S CURRENT DILEMMA BUT 
CANNOT ENVISION HOW ELECTIONS COULD TAKE PLACE GIVEN 
CURRENT SOCIAL TENSIONS AND ECONOMIC COLLAPSE.  CASTRO 
REPORTEDLY BELIEVES THAT FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS 
(I.E., APPARENTLY A VOTE IN WHICH HE HAS A CHANCE TO 
WIN) COULD NOT BE HELD UNTIL AT LEAST A MODICUM OF 
STABILITY AND BASIC ECONOMIC NECESSITIES (FOOD) CAN BE 
GUARANTEED. 
 
4.  JAROSLAVSKY COMMENTED THAT THIS WAS NOT A PLEA FOR 
THE U.S. TO EASE ITS ECONOMIC SANCTIONS AGAINST CUBA; 
HE REALIZED THAT U.S. POLICY WAS NOT LIKELY TO SHIFT 
WITHOUT CONCRETE EVIDENCE OF REFORM IN CUBA.  HOWEVER, 
A TRANSITION WAS UNDERWAY IN CUBA WHICH WOULD GO DOWN 
ONE OF TWO PATHS:  GENUINE POPULAR ELECTIONS AND 
RECONSTRUCTION OF THE COUNTRY, OR SOCIAL CHAOS AND A 
LIKELY MILITARY/SECURITY REGIME POSING A FAR GREATER 
THREAT TO THE U.S. THAN CASTRO DOES TODAY. 
JAROSLAVSKY BELIEVED THE U.S. WOULD HELP THIS 
TRANSITION COME OUT THE "RIGHT WAY" JUST BY ALLOWING, 
FOR EXAMPLE, LIMITED DONATIONS BY OTHER FOOD 
EXPORTERS, SUCH AS ARGENTINA, TO CUBA.  ALLOWING BASIC 
THIRD PARTY ASSISTANCE TO OCCUR DISCREETLY WOULD NOT 
SERIOUSLY UNDERMINE THE TOUGH U.S. LINE TOWARD CUBA 
AND WOULD PROVIDE A REAL TEST OF CASTRO'S WILLINGNESS 
TO PROVE HIS REGIME'S POPULARITY AT THE BALLOT BOX. 
JAROSLAVSKY CITED THE EXAMPLE OF GORBACHEV FACING A 
NEARLY SUCCESSFUL MILITARY COUP AS CLEAR EVIDENCE OF 
WHAT MIGHT WELL BE THE ALTERNATIVE IN CUBA. 
 
5.  COMMENT:  JAROSLAVSKY'S BASIC MESSAGE--ONE OFTEN 
HEARD IN LATIN AMERICA--WAS THAT LESS HEAT ON CASTRO 
WOULD MAKE HIM MOVE TOWARD A DEMOCRATIC TEST OF 
SUPPORT FOR HIS REGIME.  WE NOTED, HOWEVER, THAT MANY 
BELIEVED IT MIGHT BE JUST AS OR MORE LIKELY TO STIFFEN 
RESISTANCE TO REFORM.  JAROSLAVSKY STRESSED, WITH 
SCARCELY A WINK, THAT HE WAS NOT THE BEARER OF ANY 
MESSAGE FROM CASTRO TO THE UNITED STATES.  WITH THE 
CASTRO REGIME CLEARLY TRYING TO MAKE THE BEST OF A 
TERRIBLE SITUATION, SUCH PLEAS FOR BREATHING ROOM ARE 
LIKELY TO PROLIFERATE IN CASTRO'S THOUSANDS OF 
"PERSONAL CHANNELS" THROUGHOUT THE REGION.  THE 
ABILITY OF THE CUBAN GOVERNMENT TO ORGANIZE ELECTIONS 
UNDER CURRENT CIRCUMSTANCES MAY BE DOUBTFUL.  OF 
COURSE, IT IS JUST AS EASY TO BE SKEPTICAL ABOUT THEIR 
CONVERSION TO DEMOCRACY IN THE THROES OF ECONOMIC AND 
SOCIAL CRISIS.  AMBASSADOR TOLD JAROSLAVSKY THAT WE 
WOULD PASS HIS COMMENTS TO WASHINGTON; HE RESPONDED 
THAT HE EXPECTED NO ANSWER AND HOPED ONLY TO 
CONTRIBUTE TO A PEACEFUL POLITICAL TRANSITION TO 
DEMOCRACY IN CUBA WHICH WOULD BE IN THE INTEREST OF 
ALL. 
 
 
CHEEK 

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