Cuba Politics

Cuba, the European Union and Dissidents - Opinion

Posted January 07, 2005 by publisher in Cuba Politics.

By Myriam Marquez | Orlando Sentinel

The European Union’s Council for Latin America wants the EU to suspend sanctions imposed against Cuba after the communist island’s 2003 crackdown on dissidents. So Cuba plays nicey-nice and resumes diplomatic relations with eight European countries.

And once again Cuba’s people lose any hope for real change. No surprise.

Those are nations that long have excused Cuba’s half-century rule by one man as “growing pains.” France, Italy, Germany, Britain, Austria, Greece, Portugal and Sweden are Cuba’s diplomatic pals again. They follow the socialist government of Spain, which is clamoring for the EU to restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba.

Of course, trade and tourism have continued during the almost two years of strained diplomatic relations between the EU and Cuba.

That’s the problem Cuba’s democracy lovers face. There is no international will to press Fidel Castro’s regime toward change. No universal approach, like there was during South Africa’s apartheid when the world’s largest democracies agreed to use economic sanctions to force democratic change.

Cuba has its own apartheid, and it’s as much based on race as it is adherence to the communist party line. You can count the number of blacks in power there on a few fingers in an island where blacks and mixed-race Cubans dominate. But, hey, as long as Europe can get Cuban rum and cigars, and a few prostitutes for its tourists, why worry? Be happy.

Cuba released a few prisoners of conscience last month, expecting a quid pro quo from the EU. Fidel Castro is a master at using imprisoned dissidents as currency when it suits him.

In a few weeks the EU will consider its council’s proposal, which recommends that EU embassies stop inviting Cuban dissidents to national holiday celebrations for six months. To be “fair” the EU wouldn’t invite Cuban officials to those events either.

Had Cuba released all its dissidents, maybe the EU’s namby-pamby course would be warranted. But, as usual, Cuba only released a few high-profile dissidents while several hundred others remain behind bars.

Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque maintains that Cuba’s dissidents are nothing more than “mercenaries, paid and controlled by the government of the United States.” The EU would make such an outlandish accusation even more plausible by locking out dissidents from its embassies.

French and other diplomats vow that won’t happen, that they will continue to meet with dissidents but simply not invite them to formal affairs. Such a nuanced half glass of diplomacy will do nothing to help those who are bravely trying to exact change in Cuba through peaceful means.

Europe likes to lecture the rest of the world, particularly the United States, on human rights. What hypocrisy. With the exception of a few EU nations, like the Czech Republic that endured decades of Soviet oppression, European leaders continue to wink at Cuba’s oppression. Shameful.

Myriam Marquez can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 407-420-5399.

Member Comments

On January 07, 2005, Michelle wrote:

I am very curious to know your opinion on the United States having formal relations with China and other non-democracies.  I think that it is a fair question given the fact that your argument is based on the fact that you oppose relations with Cuba because it is not a democracy.  Or, are you just opposed to anyone having relations with Cuba because you don’t like Castro?  If it was a dictatorship run by someone other than Castro, then would you still be opposed to relations with Cuba? 

Is this a stand for democracy and freedom or is it a personal vendetta against Castro?  If is pro-freedom and democracy, then I would advise making a list of all the countries of the world that are not democratic, and proposing that both the U.S. and Europe cut off all ties, political, cultural, diplomatic, humanitarian, and economic.

That would be more just and less hypocritical then simply choosing Cuba as a target because of personal hardhsips. 

However, from someone who has been to Cuba multiple times, the Cubans—-the ones that actually live in Cuba, are always thrilled to see both Americans and Europeans. 

Cutting off relations with Cuba simply hurts the Cuban people more than it hurts the Cuban Government. 

On January 07, 2005, publisher wrote:


Sorry but I forgot to mention the author’ name at the top of the article. I have added it now.

The opinions and comments posted by visitors to the Havana Journal are those of the authors and not necessarily those of management of the Havana Journal.


On January 07, 2005, Michelle wrote:

Sorry, I did realize who the author was and should have addressed the commentary specifically. 

On January 08, 2005, Jesus wrote:

“Those who are bravely trying to exact change in Cuba through peaceful means”
Is she refering to the 45 years of hostility and aggression by the U.S.? The funding and training of an invasion, assasination attempts, economic embargo and pressure on other countries to do the same?
I have a different view of “peaceful means”.