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HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Politics

Spain and UK to seek “more effective” policy on Cuba

Posted November 10, 2004 by Dana Garrett in Cuba Politics.
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Spain and the UK have agreed to look at revisiting European policy on Cuba “so it can be more effective,” Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said following talks with British counterpart Jack Straw.

“The United Kingdom agrees with the Spanish position to revise some measures so they may be more effective,” Mr Moratinos added on 28 October.

Meanwhile in Havana on an official visit, shadow foreign minister Michael Ancram called for more trade between the UK and Cuba.

Last month, Spain called on the European Union (EU) to help Cuba negotiate entry into the Cotonou Agreement, an EU trade and development aid pact with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) developing countries.

European Union nations met on 19 October for talks called by Spain on whether the 25-nation bloc should adopt a softer line towards Cuba.

The officials agreed to request reports from their respective ambassadors in Cuba on the current situation there, EFE news agency reported. These reports will be the basis for discussion during the next meeting, taking place 16 November.

A group of EU legislators, meanwhile, ended a two-day visit to Havana on 4 November. The visit, said Spain’s Miguel Angel Martinez, who leads the group of Cuba “friends” in the European Parliament, aimed to “move forward from a blocked situation that we see as very unfortunate”.

The delegation met Vice President Carlos Lage, Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque, National Assembly speaker Ricardo Alarcon, and Roman Catholic cardinal Jaime Ortega, and EU ambassadors in Havana.

No meetings were held with anti-government activists.

“I came here to try to solve a problem, not to try to help poison a situation,” Mr Martinez said. “We decided who the parties were who it was in our interest to see, since we believe they have the duty and power to get out of a situation that is in no one’s interest

United Kingdom could increase trade with the island

FOR Michael Ancram, opposition spokesman onm foreign affairs in the British Parliament, the experience of his first visit to Cuba and the Caribbean is highly important, as it has confirmed what his country should do to increase its trade with the island.

After touring various pavilions of the Havana Trade Fair, he noted that UK-Cuban trade amounts to merely $21 million per annum, well below that of the United States, which maintains its blockade of the island, and added that there are business opportunities for the United Kingdom that are not being taken up.

Ancram expressed his intention to encourage British companies to make a full analysis of business possibilities with Cuba, highlighting the biotechnology sphere in which the island has developed and which constitutes an area for sharing experiences and closing commercial transactions to the benefit of both sides.

He also referred to agriculture another sector for mutual deals in the form of joint enterprises.

On the other hand, the minister stated that the current difficulties between the European Union and Cuba should be resolved. He added that he would talk with his government about formulas that could be discussed in order to reach solutions and move ahead.

Ancram observed that he was impressed to see the participation of U.S. entrepreneurs in FIHAV 2004 in spite of the blockade and added that there were certain lessons to be deduced from that.

He also recalled a constant interest in relation to Cuba, and mentioned the Cuba Initiative organization, whose chairman Lord Moynihan is to make a visit to Havana in the next few days and with whom will be discussing the experiences of his first visit to the island.

“I hope that what I have learned throughout these years will allow me to make a contribution to constructing better relations between Cuba and the United Kingdom,” he concluded.

Member Comments

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On November 11, 2004, Jesus Perez wrote:

My most sincere desire is that Cuba is able overcome its economic problems by fair trade with the EU, China and Latin America. Let Mr. Bush continue with the same ilogical policy and Cuba flourish in spite of it.

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On November 11, 2004, Dana Garrett wrote:

“Let Mr. Bush continue with the same ilogical policy and Cuba flourish in spite of it.”

Jesus, I know the sentiment you are expressing in your statement and I partly agree w/ it.  But the problem is the USA trade embargo has extraterritorial aspects that affect even the EUís ability to trade w/ Cuba.  Itís these extraterritorial aspects that give the embargo the quality of a partial blockade.

Beyond that, as a USA citizen I have grown sick & tired of the idiotic consequences that the last 45 years has brought my nation.  For Godís sake, Cuba is our neighbor.  Itís unnatural and unfriendly not to have good relations w/ oneís neighbor.  Itís also just stupid.  I want it to end. 

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On November 12, 2004, Cubana wrote:

Totally agree with your comments on the blockade Dana. As an example two of my credit cards are useless in Cuba because, although issued by British banks, settlement of transactions is via US banks. It is quite disgraceful that I, as a UK citizen, am affected in this way by American legislation.

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On November 12, 2004, Dana Garrett wrote:

“As an example two of my credit cards are useless in Cuba because, although issued by British banks, settlement of transactions is via US banks. It is quite disgraceful that I, as a UK citizen, am affected in this way by American legislation.”

Wow, I never thought of it at that level of specificity.  The reach of the USA’ embargo is quite long.

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On November 13, 2004, Jesus Perez wrote:

Dana, I agree with your assesment of the “extraterritorial aspects” of the blockade and the fact that it is stupid and we all want to see it end. Unfortunately, most Americans are not too concerned with foreign policy issues as long as they perceive events going well at the national level, how else do you explain Mr. Bush’ victory?