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Posted May 27, 2005 by Cubana in Castro's Cuba

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Monday, 23 May

Spain defended Monday in Brussels the European Union’s recent rapprochement with Cuba arguing that despite setbacks such as last week’s expelling of several European legislators, the situation is better than before the thaw.

Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos called for “objectivity” in evaluating what he described as “advances” brought about by the EU policy shift sponsored by Spain- towards Cuba.
Key elements of the new policy include the freeing of dissidents as well as allowing the opposition to hold a congress last weekend in Havana.
“We must look at where we stood before and where we stand now” said Mr. Moratinos at a press conference at the end of the EU Foreign Relations Council meeting.

Following the suspension of EU diplomatic sanctions, Havana had released 14 political prisoners, dissidents have been able to meet with foreign ambassadors and Europe’s diplomatic representatives, and - for the first time - a dissidents’ convention had been held on the island.

“These are the facts. Are they insufficient? Yes, we’d like to move more quickly. But earlier we met with those dissidents in jail who, obviously, did not have the ability to hold conventions” underlined Mr. Moratinos.

The unprecedented congress of democracy advocates held in Havana over the weekend ended with a call for democracy and the immediate release of all the Communist regime’s political prisoners, estimated to be over 300.

Regarding the expulsion of several European diplomats and journalists who had planned to attend the convention, Mr. Moratinos said that the Cuban government reaction was “unacceptable”, but insisted the incident should not overshadow the importance of the assembly itself and the broadening of “democratic space in Cuba”.

“What really matters is that 150 Cuban dissidents - representing more than 350 anti-government organizations - have been able to gather together for the first time in recent years in Cuba and have expressed themselves freely and publicly, without any obstacles from the Cuban authorities”, highlighted the Spanish minister.

Early this year EU temporarily suspended diplomatic sanctions against Cuba and will review the situation sometime next June.

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