We Want for Cuba the Same as for Europe

The same wall of communism, which one day enclosed half of Europe behind a curtain of repression and misery, still stands tall in front of the Cubans. (DC)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, José Ramón Bauzá, Brussels, 14 November 2021 — When November begins in Europe, it brings with it the first days of cold, a prelude to a winter that is already looming; but it also brings to the Old Continent the memory of a past that still chills the souls of Europeans.

This week was loaded with symbolism here. We remember the Night of Broken Glass, in which the Nazis unleashed their anti-Semitic and genocidal terror in Europe; and on Armistice Day, at 11am on the 11th of the 11th month, we honor the youth lost in the collective suicide that was the First World War. Along with the memory of horror, we were also able to celebrate the hope brought by the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of decades of communist oppression and division among Europeans.

What we remember this week in Europe as a black chapter in our history is today a very alive and omnipresent reality in Cuba. Why do we close our eyes to her?

The same wall of communism, which one day closed off half of Europe behind a curtain of repression and misery, still stands imposing in front of Cubans, separating families, drowning dreams and hiding the horizon of a future that is denied to the youth of Cuba. continue reading

But, like the Berlin wall thirty years ago, the wall of Castroism already shows the cracks that time and the failure of an obsolete model have opened: loopholes through which, as in 1989, the torrential will of a people determined to recover its future will seep down.

The flow of brave Cubans who took to the streets on the now historic July 11 broke the first defense of the regime, fear. That spirit of dignity, which flowed free for a few hours, is the force that now inspires the Civic March on the 15th of November.

Will Europe continue to be blind to Cubans’ desire for change?

The European Parliament has never turned its face from what is happening on the Island. Time and again, the voice of this House representing 440 million Europeans has been clear and constant in its rejection of the regime. And, for the first time this September, the condemnation of the crimes of Castroism transcended political divisions to add deputies from the left, who broke ranks with their Spanish partners and their uncritical support for the regime.

But before this democratic majority, expressed so many times by the European Parliament, the High Representative José Borrell and some countries continue to resist listening to the voice of the citizens, held back by the ideological sectarianism that prevails in the Spanish Government.

In a show of cynicism that is now impossible to hide, the European Union follows the dictates of Pedro Sánchez and the Spanish socialists, treating the Castro dictatorship with a softness that contrasts, to our shame, with the harshness that Brussels shows towards other countries before abuses that pale compared to those committed daily by the Cuban regime.

What millions of Europeans feel at the passivity of our leaders is not only shame, it is also dismay. How can Europe — which suffered in its own flesh the terror of communism — close its eyes to the same oppression that a brother nation suffers today? How has the hand that Brussels extended to the regime improved the lives of Cubans? Where are the sanctions demanded by an overwhelming majority in the European Parliament?

The European Union must urgently change course, and give its unconditional help to those who can build the future of a democratic Cuba: the youth, the fearless opponents — such as my dear friend José Daniel Ferrer — and the incombustible civil society that on the 11th of July took to the streets en masse to give the regime a lesson in courage and decency.

In this endeavor, those of us who believe in the right of Cubans to live in democracy and freedom are fighting daily, and more Europeans are added every day to the numbers of us who do not understand how we tolerate in Cuba a system whose liquidation in Europe we celebrate every year.

The cold passes, the walls collapse, dictatorships fall. And just as we Europeans shook off the yoke of communist oppression from half a continent three decades ago, the courage and determination of Cubans can return, this November, democracy and hope to a people that waited long enough.

In that fight, your friends in Europe will always be by your side.

Editor’s Note: José Ramón Bauzá is a MEP for the Spanish Citizens party and a member of the Foreign Commission of the European Parliament.


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Cuba Released Ferrer. It Is Not Enough.

José Ramón Bauza (center) and Rosa María Payá, (second from left.)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, José Ramón Bauzá, Brussels , 6 April 2020 — The release of Cuban opposition figure José Daniel Ferrer last Friday was a rare piece of good news, among a stream of bleak reports. Together with three other activists from the Patriotic Union of Cuba, Mr. Ferrer had been illegally detained since last October by Cuban authorities, despite calls for his release.

But this humanitarian gesture should not divert our attention from the true nature of Cuba’s regime, lest we invite the next crackdown on independent civil society. For if Ferrer’s case illustrates one truth is this: whenever the communist regime wants something from the international community, it takes the Cuban people hostage.

After six decades of communist rule and international isolation, Cuba is falling apart. Sadly, this is more than a metaphor. Last January, three young girls died on their way back from school when a derelict building collapsed on them in the touristic heart of Havana. continue reading

The political order too was crumbling in Cuba until the EU threw a lifeline to the regime. With the revolutionary fervour fading from the memory of new generations, the regime was in dire need of legitimation and international support. This help came in the form of the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement – PDCA – signed in 2016 between the EU and Cuba.

Since the “common position” adopted in 1996, Brussels made relations with Cuba conditional on regime change. This approach was abandoned in favour of political engagement, hoping that a deepening of ties would persuade the regime to improve its human rights record. The arrest last October of José Daniel Ferrer, on politically motivated charges, showed how misguided this approach was. Emboldened by the legitimisation provided by the EU, and the block’s reluctance to suspend the PDCA even in the face of blatant violations, Cuban authorities have ramped up the repression of independent civil society.

The EU’s response to these breaches of the human rights provisions contained in the PDCA has been bland. For the Spanish and Latin American public, this comes as no surprise, especially since the appointment of Josep Borrell as High Representative. Prior to his role as Europe’s top diplomat, Mr. Borrell served as Foreign Affairs Minister for Spanish socialist PM Pedro Sánchez, whose flirtations with the leftist regimes in Venezuela and Bolivia have been widely criticised. Sanchez’s group in the European Parliament even voted against the November resolution that called for the release of José Daniel Ferrer, and a recent delegation to Cuba led by S&D’s head Iratxe García was criticised for visiting the island while many MEPs continue to be denied entry.

With the release of Mr. Ferrer, many in Brussels and Madrid will try to present this gesture as a sign of changing attitudes in Cuba, wanting to resume business as usual. This would be a serious mistake which will only further the misery of the Cuban people.

Whenever Diaz-Canel wants to divert attention from his regime’s shortcomings, the authorities resort to the imprisonment of opposition figures, just to release them later in a show of goodwill from Havana, and of ‘successful diplomacy’ from Europe. In the meantime, any discussion about the lack of real progress in the island is buried under this vicious cycle of illegal imprisonment, international condemnation and ‘welcomed steps’.

If we are truly committed to promoting the rule of law and human rights in Cuba now is the time to demand further changes in the island, starting with the release of all political prisoners, and the inclusion of independent civil society in the EU-Cuba human rights dialogue. Otherwise, the way to Cuban’s hell will continue to be paved with the EU’s good intentions.


José Ramón Bauzá is Ciudadano´s Member of the European Parliament. He is on Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.

COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.