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The European Union, Cuba and Human Rights
December 14th, 2016
Without a Cuban gesture towards a more open political system, it does not make sense to discuss an agreement since the one party regime of Raúl Castro would not approve any improvement in the area of human rights. Thus, the negotiations between the EU and Cuba started rather poorly if we believe there was ever any genuine interest by the EU in achieving any progress regarding a more open political system in the island.
By Gabriel C. Salvia

An Agreement of Political Dialogue with Caribbean Rhythm

The negotiations regarding the agreement of political dialogue and cooperation between the European Union (EU) and Cuba continue although Raúl Castro's government rejected the recommendations to open the political system and put an end to the systematic repression of its citizens. The same recommendations were phrased in 2013 by many European countries at the UN Human Rights Council.

In fact, it was the incumbent foreign minister of Cuba, Bruno Rodriguez, who intervened in May 2013 during the last Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of his country in Geneva. On that occasion, he said that Cuba only rejected the implementation of 20 proposals as they were incompatible with the Cuban legal system and contradicted the spirit of cooperation and respect that should prevail in any UPR. These proposals that were sharply denied by Rodriguez came from a total of 14 EU countries among which were Germany, Austria, Belgium, Slovenia, Spain, Estonia, France, Hungry, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, United Kingdom, Czech Republic and Romania.

Therefore, without a Cuban gesture towards a more open political system, it does not make sense to discuss an agreement since the one party regime of Raúl Castro would not approve any improvement in the area of human rights. Besides this, the government continues to claim that fundamental rights and liberties are guaranteed. However, as they are conditioned to fit the needs of the socialist society, these rights and liberties are de facto nullified. As a result, it comes as no surprise that civil society organisations such as the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, Ladies in White, Cubalex, the Centro de Estudios Convivencia or the Unión Patriótica de Cuba are outlawed. Even the exercise of universal rights like freedom of association, meeting, expression and the right to file a claim are considered a crime.

For this reason, it is rather absurd that both parties, the EU and Cuba, had agreed in the initial recitals to “respect human rights as stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant international instruments”; and acknowledge their “commitment to the principles of democracy good governance and rule of law”.

Cuba has made no reform on its juridical and institutional system that straightforwardly forbids the exercise of human rights, and, at the same time, repression has increased over the last months. European embassies in Havana could confirm this repression either by attending to the protest marches of the Ladies in White or by getting in touch with Cuban activists that have been victims of the oppressive regime.

Thus, the negotiations between the EU and Cuba started rather poorly if we believe there was ever any genuine interest by the EU in achieving any progress regarding a more open political system in the island. It is rather illusive to think that a political dialogue will improve the situation for the Cuban people, especially, if we take into account that Cuba rejected the proposals of the EU members in Geneva. Furthermore, the arguments presented by Castro’s Minister of Foreign Affairs – the same person who signed the agreement with Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the EU – claim that his government respects human rights.

Apart from what the agreement stipulates, it is impermissible that various European countries seem to ignore the legitimate work of Cuban democratic activists. This fact turns them into accomplices of human rights repression.

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