The relationship between the European Union and Cuba continues to be hampered by the EU’s dissatisfaction with the status of human rights on the island. Officials from Cuba and the EU just concluded a meeting in anticipation of a EU review next month on whether to resume sanctions it had lifted last year, when the 27-member Union agreed to scrap sanctions on Cuba “to encourage democratic reforms.” The decision was to be review annually.
At the conclusion of Monday’s meeting, EU Aid Commissioner Louis Michel declared his dissatisfaction with Cuba’s response to the EU’s human rights concerns, although he opposed any move to resume sanctions. He called instead “for more dialogue with the Caribbean island. “Our views did converge on the issues of climate change and U.N. reform; they did not in the area of human rights,” Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout said after EU officials held talks with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez. “We came back to the issue of political prisoners in Cuba and their health, and the answer we got was that in Cuba there are no political prisoners,” he told reporters. Despite this, Kohout said the talks had been “a real dialogue, not just two monologues.”
For his part, Bruno Rodríguez asserted that Cuba was in compliance with international standards on political prisoners, blaming the EU’s “obsolete” emphasis on human rights on United States’ pressures. “It was imposed by a North American government which is not in power any more, and I view it today as an obstacle to the process of normalization,” he told reporters. He said all inmates in Cuba had undergone due legal process and were not political prisoners. “These are legal decisions, and not of a political nature,” he said. “The Cuban penal system fully complies with all standards in this domain.”
The question of a possible resumption of sanctions will be debated by the European Union this coming June.
The report from Reuters can be found at http://uk.reuters.com/article/globalNews/idUKTRE54A4P320090511
Image above: Cuban women, dressed in white, the so-called Damas de Blanco (Women in White) discuss human rights in the Cuban constitution in commemoration of the International Human Rights Day December 10, 2007 in Havana, Cuba. 2007’s UN Human Rights Day marked the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Damas de Blanco are asking for liberty for their husbands, fathers and brothers, who are, according to them prisoners of consciousness. From Getty Images at http://www.daylife.com/photo/0b1T5H96WU50y