"LITERACY ACCOMPLISHED:" LIBERTAD ACT AND BOLIVIAN-CUBAN RELATIONS

Código Fecha Clasificación Origen
08LAPAZ2581 16 December 2008 Confidencial Embassy La Paz

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RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
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C O N F I D E N T I A L LA PAZ 002581

SIPDIS

WHA/CCA; WHA/AND

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/13/2018
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PINR, EAIR, ETRD, KDEM, BL, CU
SUBJECT: "LITERACY ACCOMPLISHED:" LIBERTAD ACT AND
BOLIVIAN-CUBAN RELATIONS

REF: A. SECSTATE 126578
B. LA PAZ 1179
C. 07 LA PAZ 3152

Classified By: EcoPol Chief Mike Hammer for reasons 1.4 (b,d.)

1. (U) The following responses are keyed to the questions in
reftel A and reflect new developments since reftel B.

2. (C) Has the host country, in Post’s opinion, worked to
promote the advancement of democracy and human rights in Cuba?

No, the Bolivian government continues to see Cuba as a viable
path for development.

3. (C) Has the host country made other public statements or
undertaken governmental actions ... or actions in support of
civil society in Cuba through host country’s diplomatic
missions or other fora?

No. To the contrary, Bolivian government officials are
uniformly supportive of the Cuban government. Bolivian
president Evo Morales considers Fidel Castro an "advisor" and
"a very wise man."

— Morales announced a "national and international" campaign
in November to readmit Cuba to the OAS as a sign that all OAS
countries "are respectful of our differences." And, Evo said
if Cuba could not be readmitted, another parallel OAS should
be formed without the United States. Morales confided he had
not spoken with "commander (Venezuelan President Hugo)
Chavez" about the campaign as of late November and there is
little evidence the campaign is anything more than a
publicity ploy. (Note: Morales made a similar pitch to the
move the United Nations out of New York about the same time
last year. End Note.) Reacting to the suspension of U.S.
trade preferences (ATPDEA), Morales remarked October 6 that
Fidel Castro had advised him "not to fear an economic
blockade by the United States." Castro allegedly concluded
Bolivia was in far stronger position than Cuba to whether
U.S. sanctions, with friendly neighbors and rich natural
resources, leading Morales to conclude that "being
decertified or having the textile (market) taken always or
blocked by the ATPDEA is not going to affect us at all."
Morales made the comments during his annual pilgrimage to
Vallegrande, near the site of Ernesto "Che" Guevara’s death
in 1967.

— The Cuban Ambassador to Bolivia Rafael Dausa frequently
speaks on the Bolivian-US diplomatic situation, usually
critiquing the United States for alleged involvement in
Bolivian sovereign affairs. Dausa applauded the Bolivian
government’s decision to expel the DEA in November and the
Ambassador in September. Dausa said, "In our judgment, there
exists sufficient reasons and arguments to consider that the
DEA and the U.S. Ambassador, Philip Goldberg were violating
international law by interfering in Bolivian internal
affairs." Dausa also openly opposed the autonomy referendums
of four Bolivian Departments in 2008, calling them "legally
baseless" and "secessionist."

— In a September 16 statement, Cuban President Raul Castro
denounced the "interference of the U.S. government in the
internal affairs of Bolivia. Castro also clarified that
Cuban "cooperation workers" in Bolivia "are totally and
exclusively dedicated in helping in the health and
educational programs benefiting the sister nation."

— A small pro-Cuba group, the Bolivian Movement of
Solidarity with Cuba, occasionally organizes workshops and
seminars, often in conjunction with Che Guevara anniversaries
(i.e. when Che came to Bolivia, when he did something in
Bolivia, his death in Bolivia). The group also organizes

occasion rallies in support of Cuban policy and writes love
letters to the Castros, which are small and virtually ignored
by the press but are covered extensively by the Cuban
Embassy’s Web site.

— A number of Cuban-government authors made cases in 2008 to
support Bolivian Presidency Minister Juan Ramon Quintana’s
conspiracy theory that USAID is supporting the overthrow of
the Morales Administration, spuriously linking USAID
contractors with similar efforts to topple the Venezuelan and
Cuban governments (via Radio Marti).

4. (C) Have there been any high-level diplomatic visits
between Cuba and host country in the past six months?

— President Morales received a Cuban National Assembly
delegation November 5. Assembly Vice President Ana Fidelia
Quirot offered Cuba’s help to prepare Sucre for the 16th
Bolivarian Games in 2009. The group visited La Paz to attend
the second annual Cuban-Bolivian Inter-Parliamentary Meeting
of Friendship. Also attending: Inter-Parliamentary
Friendship President and Cuban Deputy Jorge Gonzalez and Jose
Luis Toledo, Chairman of the Cuban National Assembly’s
Constitutional and Juridical Commission.

— Cuban Cultural Minister Abel Prieto unveiled Fidel
Castro’s book "Peace in Colombia" at the Government Palace
December 2. Morales promised to distribute the book in
Bolivia.

— Bolivia’s Constituent Assembly President, Silvia Lazarte,
attended the June unveiling of another Cuban-government
published book, "Fidel, Bolivia, and Something More,"
documenting Fidel Castro’s 1993 visit to Bolivia, in Havana.

— Cuban Deputy Cultural Minister Fernandeo Rojas led a Cuban
delegation July 27-30 to attend pro-Morales events in the
run-up to the August 10 recall referendum. The delegation
also attended Bolivarian Alternative for the American (ALBA)
and meetings.

— Morales announced in December plans to sponsor a week of
celebrations in Bolivia to commemorate the 50th anniversary
of the Cuban Revolution. Morales also promised to send a
large delegation of local and national officials to Havana
January 1 for the Cuban government’s celebration, although it
appears that such plans have been canceled.

5. (C) Did the host country offer or deliver humanitarian or
other assistance to the Cuban People in the wake of the major
damage caused by Hurricanes Gustav (August 30) and Ike
(September 8)?

President Morales "expressed interest" in Cuba’s recovery
from the hurricanes December 3 and explained that Bolivia
would try to help by sending a letter to the participants of
the Climate Summit being held in Poland and generally work to
counter the effects of climate change.

6. (C) What is the nature of investments (and names, if
known) that host country businesses have in Cuba? What host
country businesses participated in the Havana Trade Fair
(November 3)?

— Bolivia still has no significant investments in Cuba.

— Bolivian representatives attended FIHAV 2008 and signed
agreements at the event through Promueve. Promueve replaced
Center of Promotion (CEPROBOL) as the Bolivian government’s
main production promotion organization after CEPROBOL was
shut down in October 2008. The Government is currently
encouraging Bolivian exporters that were specifically
affected by the U.S. trade preferences (ATPDEA) suspension to

register with Promueve to access new markets, including Cuba
and Venezuela.

7. (C) Are there any bilateral trade agreements between host
country and Cuba?

— Cuba and Bolivia have not made any significant new
agreements since signing a "Complementary Economic Agreement"
November 21, 2007 reftel C). The two countries remain bound
by their 1995 Economic Cooperation Agreement and the
"People’s Trade Agreement" with Venezuela (ALBA.) Despite a
series of publicized bilateral agreements and trade fairs
under the Morales administration, trade between Cuba and
Bolivia remains relatively insignificant. Bolivian exports to
Cuba did increase in 2008 to $500,000 from $100,000 in 2007,
however it still remains at less than 1 percent of Bolivian
exports.

— There have been no significant breakthroughs between
Bolivian and Cuban officials regarding bilateral trade. In
November, ALBA officials met in Venezuela to discuss future
plans, but no firm deals were signed. In October, Bolivian
Vice Ministry of Economic Affairs Pablo Guzman and Cuban
Ambassador to Uruguay Marielena Ruiz Capote signed an
agreement on tariffs on the margins of the Latin America
Integration Association (ALADI) in Montevideo. However, like
prior bilateral trade agreements, the agreement is unlikely
to result in any significant increase in trade.

— In November, Bolivian authorities approved licenses for
the state-run Cuban airline Cubana de Aviacion to fly in and
out of Santa Cruz. The route will fly Havana-Caracas-Santa
Cruz once a week at a cost of approximately $800 USD. The
carrier might eventually compete with the Bolivian national
airline, BoA, who previously announced a similar ALBA flight
plan. BoA is set to begin their domestic operations in
December and Cubana de Aviacion announced they will begin
their flights in January of 2009.

8. (C) Are there any exchange programs between host country
and Cuba?

— Although the Cuban Embassy and other sources claim almost
2,000 Cuban doctors are working in Bolivia, President Morales
said the number was 1,000 in November. Cuban President Raul
Castro claimed Cuban medical personal provided assistance to
17 million Bolivians from the programs inception in 2006 to
September, 2008. Cuban health officials asserted in June
that the number of consultations was 13.6 million with 13,400
lives saved. Although the program is generally praised by
the Bolivian poor in remote rural areas, who might otherwise
forgo routine medical care, complaints concerning Cuban
doctors’ lack of training and equipment are still being
reported. Rural Bolivians have told U.S. military medical
personnel temporarily assigned to rural medical assistance
programs in Bolivia that the Cuban doctors routinely refer
them to larger cities for care because the Cubans can only
treat basic ailments and injuries and can supply few needed
medicines. Opposition contacts claim the Cuban medical
centers serve a dual purpose as a training and organization
hubs for leftist groups and are highly suspicious of planes
ostensibly transporting medical personnel in and out of
Bolivia. According to a Peruvian diplomat, the Cuban Embassy
once bragged they were well informed about what was happening
throughout the country thanks to the reports of their
doctors. In September reporters asked a group of Cubans
arriving at the Cochabamba airport about the reason for their
visit. None of the arrivals would comment, however the
Bolivian government later assured they were medical
personnel.

— President Morales declared the Department (state) of Beni
"free of illiteracy" December 13, the department to be so

designated in 2008, marking the culmination of the Cuban plan
to eliminate illiteracy in Bolivian territory under the "Yes
I Can!" campaign. Although the plan fell 3,000 short of its
goal to make 823,000 Bolivians literate by September, it was
apparently close enough to declare the entire Bolivian
country of about 9.2 million "literate." There will be a
formal ceremony celebrating the end of the 33-month, $36.7
million (according the Bolivian Education Ministry) program
December 2008 in Cochabamba. According to press reports,
Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo, OAS Secretary General
Jose Miguel Insulza, and UN representatives. Bolivia is the
third country to "graduate" from the program after Cuba
(1961) and Venezuela (2005). Morales said many of the more
than 100 Cuban literary advisors aided by Venezuelan
logistical and equipment support would now be moved to
Paraguay and would eventually "liberate all of Latin America
from illiteracy." The program is constantly praised by Evo
Morales, who endorsed the audio-visual method to UNICEF in
2008 and often holds ceremonies with the Cuban Ambassador for
areas that are considered "free from illiteracy" by the
program, using such events as a launching pad for broader
endorsements of Cuba and attacks on the United States.
Comments made during the literacy declaration of Chuquisaca
state November 24 were typical: "I hope we can name
Chuquisaca also a territory free from neoliberalism, fascism,
and racism." Cuban Ambassador Rafael Dausa claimed at the
event that the newly literate "are true protagonists of this
battle in defense of the (President) Morales’ democratic and
cultural revolution," vindicating concerns that the program
is largely a leftist propaganda tool. Dausa added that the
literacy program would help Bolivians vote in favor of the
government’s draft constitution during a January 25
referendum, which will "guarantee the dignity" of Bolivians.
Dausa announced a follow-on program "Yes I Can Continues,"
which is scheduled to begin in 2009 to take graduates to the
next level of learning/indoctrination. Our opposition
contacts contend the program "graduates" anyone who can write
their name, identify numbers, and understand road signs.
Opposition congresswoman Elsa Guevara Aguirre (protect) told
us the vast majority of "Yes I Can" graduates could not
understand or fill in their own ballots during the August 10
recall referendum, essentially allowing pro-government
election "volunteers" to vote on their behalf.

— Cuba offers limited scholarships to Bolivian students
seeking to study at Cuban universities and Morales claimed in
November that more than 5,000 Bolivians were studying in Cuba
(As of mid-2008, Cuban sources claim 1,000 Bolivians had
graduated medical from Cuban medical courses since 2006).
The Cuban Embassy continues to deny any irregularity in the
death of Beatriz Proco Calle, a Bolivian medical student who
died under mysterious circumstances in Cuba and whose cadaver
was sent back without "lungs, kidneys, liver, ovaries, tongue
and teeth," according to Proco’s family members. The family
alleges the Cuban Embassy pressured the family’s silence on
the matter, although Ambassador Dausa accuses the family of
leveraging the death for money. The Bolivian government
denied the family’s request for an investigation.

9. (C) COMMENT. The Morales government looks up to the Cuban
government like a big brother. The Venezuelan link remains
crucial, as Cuba, bolstered by subsidized Venezuelan oil,
sends medical and literacy assistance to Bolivia with heavy
Venezuelan logistical support. Venezuela and Cuba can be
expected to exercise considerable influence in Bolivia so
long as Evo Morales remains in power. Please note, we have
no independent means of validating the Castro math applied to
the self-documented statistical benefits of Cuban social
programs in Bolivia. We also do not know how many Cuban
literacy volunteers will leave to Paraguay or stay for the
follow-on literacy program in Bolivia. In any event, the
Cubans have provided an excuse to stay in Bolivia
indefinitely, as Ambassador Dausa claimed the program could

be extended to include secondary education and even
university studies. END COMMENT.
URS