A confidential January 2009 U.S. embassy cable recounted Sobel's encounter with Marco Aurelio Garcia, shown in the photo (source of image: Terra magazine).
The Ambassador asked how central discussion of Cuba would be, in Garcia's view, to establishing relations with the region. "You can't talk about Latin America," he responded, "without talking about Cuba." It has become a "sign" for the region. Garcia urged a "strong" U.S. overture to Cuba "without conditions," such as removing the embargo. It would be, he said, a small price to pay for a large gain. On the one hand, he said, the Cubans would be astounded and embarrassed, and the United States would gain the moral high ground. On the other, he stressed that, on the basis of his long relationship with Cuba and knowledge of Cuban history, he was certain the Cubans would never agree to a proposal that had explicit conditions attached. The Ambassador asked if Raul Castro's proposal for a prisoner exchange, made during his December 18 visit to Brasilia, was the Cubans' own idea. Garcia said his impression was that it was Raul's idea, that is was spontaneous and had not been vetted inHavana. "Raul is a military man," Garcia said. "He understands the correlation of forces."