Cuba and the European Union: Oil and Water / Angel Santiesteban

If the European Union only recommends that its chief of diplomacy, Catherine Ashton, “talk” with Havana’s dictatorship, it won’t serve any purpose other than to understand one more time that totalitarian governments cannot transform themselves nor do they want to. Nevertheless the Foreign Ministers have approved “opening up negotiations for a bilateral agreement.”

Negotiating with the Castro brothers would be a betrayal of the European block itself. The Cuban regime holds an extremist position and won’t cede one iota of its unanimous power. The Universal Rights that the 28 members of the EU proclaim would never be found in the current Cuban system.

What more does the opposition want than to meet the formula that ends the anguish on the archipelago? Although it tries to be optimistic, that possibility seems far away to me, especially when the Cuban regime hasn’t even signed the United Nations Human Rights pacts. Cuba has refused for more than five years to ratify the pacts, justifying itself by saying that first some points in the Constitution must be changed.

Nevertheless, this doesn’t prejudice the members from electing Cuba to the Commission of Human Rights. Thus can cynicism and irony be found at times in politics. Let’s hope that the European Union doesn’t repeat this terrible error, in spite of the lobbying of Cuba’s ambassadors in their countries.

The European Union, in order to be coherent in foreign politics, first must think about the Cuban people, and then of the millions who can stop profiting from negotiating with a tyranny. The opposite would be to disrespect themselves, and to regress in their foreign policies and position on Universal Human Rights.

Luckily, the wisest words I’ve read on the change of the “Common Position” of the European Union have been those of the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Durao Barroso, who warned the Havana regime that, “It’s very important that Cuba respect human rights, that it release its political prisoners. It’s very important that there be freedom of expression and freedom of association,” Barroso declared before a press conference in Madrid, together with the president of the Spanish government, Mariano Rajoy. The community commissioner emphasized the necessity that “Cuba open itself to values that are completely democratic.”

Personally, disgracefully, I’m not optimistic. I agree with the reservations of Germany and the Czech Republic that Raúl Castro will not respect the idea of democratizing the country, and that he has devised some interplay of political manipulation for the negotiation.

As long as the European Union maintains the principles set forth in the Common Position, it doesn’t have to fear a weakness in its reception abroad, since it understands that for the Cuban government to be flexible on the issue of human rights would weaken its iron grip on the Cuban people, its slaves.

What is clear is that without changes Cuba can only go backwards, because what is certain — we reaffirm — is that the Castro family isn’t thinking of abandoning power, because they behave like a dynasty and believe that power belongs to them by right. The opposition, with international help, must show them they are wrong.

Once again the Cuban people see themselves exposed to different economic interests, without the possibility of having any say in the matter. Let’s pray and fight so that this time is the exception.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison Settlement, February 2014

Please follow the link and sign the petition to have Angel Santiesteban declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.

Translated by Regina Anavy

26 February 2014