CABLE EN CUESTIÓN DE LA SECCIÓN DE INTERESES DE ESTADOS UNIDOS EN LA HABANA

09HAVANA356

SUBJECT 

CIVIL SOCIETY PROJECT PROPOSALS AND PRISONERS'

DATE 

2009-06-15 00:00:00

CLASSIFICATION 

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

ORIGIN 

US Interests Section Havana

TEXT 

UNCLAS HAVANA 000356

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT PASS USAID

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CU, EAID, PHUM, PREL
SUBJECT: CIVIL SOCIETY PROJECT PROPOSALS AND PRISONERS'
HUMANITARIAN NEEDS

-------------
INTRODUCTION
-------------

1. (SBU) Cuban Civil Society members frequently present USINT
officers with project proposals or requests for humanitarian
aid. USINT officers also provide input about civil society
conditions and aid requests during quarterly USAID LAC
Grantee Coordination Meetings and through regular
communication with the Department. In preparation for the
quarterly meeting being held in late June, this cable
summarizes three recent project proposals from USINT
contacts, and lists humanitarian needs of prisoners, as
reported to USINT officers by family members of prisoners and
other prisoner advocates. Although some context is included
in the humanitarian aid section in order to provide clarity,
this cable should not be viewed as an endorsement, critique,
or evaluation of any of the following civil society requests.
USAID and DRL grantees may find this information useful when
channeling their resources in current and future programs.
Further information on the local counterparts for civil
society projects can be provided upon request through WHA/CCA.

-------------------------------
CIVIL SOCIETY PROJECT PROPOSALS
-------------------------------

PROJECT A: CIVIL SOCIETY CONSTRUCTION IN IMPOVERISHED AREAS

2. (SBU) OBJECTIVE: Build/strengthen civil society structures
in poor neighborhoods throughout Cuba.

3. (SBU) PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Deliver humanitarian aid to
impoverished areas of the island; organize cultural exchanges
("intercambios"), sporting events/leagues, and non-political
ethics courses that will teach participants how to be "truly
free and democratic."
4. (SBU) RESOURCES REQUESTED: Either funding to purchase the
following items, OR the items themselves: medicine, food,
clothing, toys, sports equipment (particularly for baseball
and soccer), and literature for children, adolescents, and
adults. Deliveries could be tracked by the project
coordinator, and any contributors to this project would be
welcome to monitor/attend any event organized through the
project.

PROJECT B: LESBIAN GAY BISEXUAL TRANSGENDER (LGBT) COMMUNITY
BUILDING VIA WEEKLY NEWS BULLETIN
5. (SBU) OBJECTIVE: Strengthen the existing Cuban LGBT
community by increasing its awareness of and connection to
the global LGBT community.
6. (SBU) PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Create, publish, and distribute
a weekly Spanish-language news bulletin covering LGBT-themed
issues and developments outside Cuba. (Bulletin conceived as
the first step in a multi-tiered project designed to improve
the LGBT community's ability to publicize conditions on the
island and advocate for change in the promotion and
realization of constitutional and human rights.)
7. (SBU) RESOURCES REQUESTED: Laptop, Printer, Toner, and
Printer paper OR economic resources to buy same on-island;
Internet cards for use in hotels.

PROJECT C: PETITION DRIVE TO GATHER 10,000 SIGNATURES IN
SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION GUARANTEEING RELIGIOUS FREEDOMS
8. (SBU) OBJECTIVE: Strengthen Christian civil society at a
national and local level. Gather the minimum number of
signatures necessary to mandate consideration of draft
legislation establishing, in part: official recognition of
all religious congregations; the right to personal private
property for the practice of religion; the authorization of
public spaces such as stadiums and theaters for religious
use; and freedom for religious groups to provide humanitarian
and other forms of aid to vulnerable populations, including
prisoners.
9. (SBU) PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Establish/support a nationwide
network of 12 coordinators who will collect petition
signatures and build, at the local level, independent
Christian communities which would offer education in
Christian ideology and human and civil rights.
10. (SBU) RESOURCES REQUESTED: The coordinator (an
evangelical Christian pastor) has constructed a budget for
the project which includes logistical needs and salaries for
chief coordinators. He estimates a $595 CUC budget per month
will be necessary to complete this project. The project is
already underway, but the coordinator states that it has
stalled due to a lack of funding to cover basic
organizational costs.

---------------------------------------
HUMANITARIAN AID REQUESTS FOR PRISONERS

---------------------------------------

11. (SBU) Political prisoner advocates (including immediate
family members and former prisoners) regularly present USINT
officers with requests for humanitarian aid for delivery to
prisoners. (NOTE: Post would continue to discourage use of
the diplomatic pouch for shipments of humanitarian aid to
political prisoners and would encourage NGOs to diversify
their mechanisms for getting assistance to the island. END
NOTE.) The following lists summarize those requests, without
giving priority to any area or item. Anecdotally, advocates
emphasize that water purification mechanisms, basic medical
supplies, and mosquito nets are top priorities.
12. (SBU) Prisoners receive supplies through family visits,
which are generally granted every 45-90 days, depending on
the prisoner. Legally, families are allowed to deliver up to
30 pounds of goods on these visits for an individual
prisoner's use; in practice, weight allowances can shift
dramatically, based on any number of factors including prison
guards, personal preferences.
13. (SBU) Advocates believe the following items could
generally be delivered to inmates by their families and would
not be confiscated by prison guards. (Items are categorized.)
------------------
14. (SBU) HYGIENE (quantities adequate for 1 prisoner, per
month):
- Body soap (1 bar per month, or a minimum of 3 hotel-sized)
- Laundry detergent/soap
- Dish soap
- Razors
- Shaving Cream
- Sanitary Pads for females
15. (SBU) CONTEXT: Prisoners are generally given one small
(hotel-sized) bar of body soap per month, which will
disintegrate within 3-5 uses. Prisoners often eat with their
own dishes and utensils, but are not given cleaning supplies,
either for their dishes and eating utensils, or for their
uniforms. They must wash their dishes in dirty and usually
parasite-ridden water. Female prisoners do not receive
tampons or sanitary pads, and those items are too expensive
for many families to purchase, and/or unavailable in many
areas of Cuba.
------------------
16. (SBU) CLOTHING/BEDDING
- Sheets
- Towels (Body and dish)
- Shoes (preferably long-lasting boots)
- Socks
- Underwear
- Flip-flops (for shower)
- Camping Mat or other form of mattress/cover for cement beds
- Mosquito Net
17. (SBU) CONTEXT: Although prisoners are given uniforms,
family members stress that uniforms do not include footwear
or underwear. Inmates need flip-flops for showers as well as
shoes for daily wear, since fungal infections and other
contagious skin conditions are an ongoing problem due to an
overall lack of sanitation. Prisoners often sleep on cement
slabs. Prisons do not supply bedding, and many families
cannot afford to purchase sheets, or cannot find them on the
market. Although some inmates receive mattresses, they are
frequently only half an inch thick and rot easily; many
mattresses are also infested with vermin. Camping mats
designed to withstand heat, humidity, insects, and mold would
be an ideal form of aid, so long as the mats could be
transported with ease. Many families travel for a day or more
(and via several types of transportation) in order to visit a
prisoner.
------------------
18. (SBU) NUTRITION
- Water purification tablets (enough for 3L of water per day)
OR containers with water filters
- Multi-vitamins (one per day)
- Meal Replacement/High Calorie Bars
- Powdered Milk (500 grams per month, preferably soluble in
cold water)
- Protein Powder
- Fish oil tablets
- Chicken soup packets (2 per day)
- Seasoning packets (2 per day)
19. (SBU) CONTEXT: Family members repeatedly tell USINT that
prisoners rely on the food they receive during visits as
their primary diet. One mother states that her son has
survived for four years by eating crackers with mayonnaise,
which he rations according to the quantity she can bring when
she visits. According to current and former prisoners, food
in the prisons is often rotten or otherwise inedible, and
portions are dangerously small. Inmates may receive a small
piece of bread in the morning; lunch may be a small piece of
meat (perhaps 2 ounces), accompanied by rice or pasta.

Prisoners report uncooked or rotten rice and meat, as well as
frequent servings of "bone soup" - i.e., hot water flavored
only by meatless bones.
-----------------
20. (SBU) MEDICINE
- Anti-fungal powder
- Antacids
- Basic pain relievers
- Fever-reducing pills
- Anti-inflammatories
- Anti-diarrheals
- Antibiotic ointment
- Antihistamines
- Menthol
- Band-aids/gauze
- Clean syringes
21. (SBU) CONTEXT: Prisoners and family members report that
medical supplies are virtually non-existent in prisons,
particularly basic "over-the counter" supplies. Prisoners
have requested clean syringes because prison authorities
reuse needles when giving vaccinations and other shots.

22. (SBU) COMMENT: Outside of humanitarian aid, prisoners
also constantly request Spanish-language reading material.
Family members report that reading material will be
confiscated if it is political or economic in nature, written
in English, or obviously linked to the US or a US-based
organization. Sports books, almanacs, and atlases have been
particularly popular with inmates.
23. (SBU) COMMENT: Cuban blogger YOANI SANCHEZ recently
posted a specific description of how people off-island could
provide aid to Cuban bloggers. Her posting provides
additional insight into the current needs of Cuban civil
society and can be found in Spanish at
www.desdecuba.com/generaciony/?p=1206, or in English at
www.desdecuba.com/generationy/?p=620. The posting is titled,
"How to Help" ("Como Ayudar").
FARRAR

HEADER 

VZCZCXYZ0021
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHUB #0356/01 1661707
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 151707Z JUN 09
FM USINT HAVANA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4487


XTAGS: XTAGCU, XTAGEAID, XTAGPHUM, XTAGPREL
XDEST_

TAGS 

 

This is not the original Wikileaks document! It's a cache, made on 2011-08-25 00:10:21. For the original document check the original source: http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/06/09HAVANA356.html