Excerpted from Miami Herald article
A Cuba-related dispatch—a 2008 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Madrid—reported that on a visit to Spain, Florida Sen. Mel Martinez had met with Cuban dissident Hector Palacios, then in the country undergoing medical treatment after five years in Cuban prison.
Palacios said U.S. assistance was not reaching the dissidents and noted the irony of being jailed as an agent of US imperialism when the actual amount of US government funding was minimal.
He said they ran into problems doing things as simple as finding the small amounts of money needed to bring dissidents from one part of the island to another to attend demonstrations.
Another 2008 cable from the embassy in Madrid reported on a meeting between Spain’s right-of-center Prime Minister José Maria Aznar and Thomas Shannon, then assistant secretary of Western Hemisphere affairs.
Aznar praised President Bush’s strong stance in support of a democratic transition in Cuba and said we needed to monitor carefully the steps Raul Castro was taking, some of which were in the right direction. Nevertheless, both the U.S. and the European Union needed to stay on the record as promoting democratic transition and openly supporting civil society and the dissidents, the cable added.
In another Cuba-related disclosure made public by Wikileaks, a Sept. 9 2009 cable from the U.S. embassy in Brazil noted that two senior Brazilian foreign policy officials had discussed their government’s view on Cuba with a visiting Obama administration official.
The Brazilians “laid out their view that Raúl Castro is more pragmatic and less ideological than Fidel, with a focus on getting short-term economic results,” the cable said.
They see Cuba as taking a path similar to that of Vietnam under Raúl, whom they acknowledged was a transitional leader.
In their view, Brazilian support for Cuba and efforts to “create a new niche” for Cuba in the hemisphere open additional space that Raúl needs to engage the United States.
The Brazilians also noted that a large Brazilian investment to expand the port of Mariel west of Havana “only makes sense on the assumption that Cuba and the United States will eventually develop a trading relationship.”
Anna Ardin’s ties to Cuba
Anna Ardin, one of the Assange’s alleged victims, works in Sweden’s Uppsala University and is known in some Cuban exile and dissident circles.
She visited Cuba about four times between 2002 and 2006 as a representative of Swedish social democrats, said Manuel Cuesta Morua, head of Cuba’s Arco Progresista, a social-democratic dissident group.
She later wrongly alleged that some European funds for Cuban dissidents had been mishandled, Cuesta Morua said by telephone from Havana. She was said to have been born in Cuba, he added, but he never confirmed it with her.
Ardin has written for Asignaturas Cubanas, a Cuban exile magazine published in Sweden, and her 2007 master’s thesis at Uppsala University was titled The Cuban multi-party system. Is the democratic alternative really democratic and an alternative after the Castro regime?
She could not be reached for comment, and Cuban exiles in Sweden who know her said she was keeping a low profile because of Assange’s detention.
Two left-of-center websites also alleged that she was close to Cuban exile author Carlos Alberto Montaner and the Ladies in White, female relatives of Cuban political prisoners.
The websites portrayed Ardin’s links to Cuba as evidence of a U.S.-backed plot to smear and jail Assange. One site said Montaner had links to the CIA.
Montaner told journalists that he did not recall ever meeting Ardin and dismissed the CIA allegation as Cuban propaganda. Ladies in White spokeswomen Berta Soler and Laura Pollán said they did not know Ardin.
Ardin’s Cuba connections were first reported Sept. 14 by CounterPunch, a liberal newsletter co-edited by Alexander Cockburn, a steadfast critic of U.S. foreign policy.