Cuba Politics

EU Ambassadors Discuss Cuba’s Future With Well-Known Dissidents

Posted March 24, 2005 by Cubana in Cuba Politics.


Several European ambassadors on Monday listened to the ideas of four well-known Cuban dissidents on how to prompt change under Fidel Castro’s government, marking the first such gathering since the EU dropped sanctions against the island this year. Ambassadors from countries including Spain, France and the Czech Republic spent more than two hours discussing Cuba’s future and the situation of political prisoners with activists Oswaldo Paya, Martha Beatriz Roque, Vladimiro Roca and Manuel Cuesta Morua.

“A new process of political dialogue has started to open with this first meeting,” Cuesta Morua, spokesman for the dissident group Arco Progresista, said upon leaving the Havana residence of Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff, the EU’s business attache.

The attache, the EU’s highest ranking official in Cuba, declined to comment about the meeting. The ambassadors leaving the meeting made no declarations to international journalists waiting outside.

Despite personal differences between some dissidents present, those at the meeting said it was cordial and productive. The island’s dissident movement is plagued by bickering and deep mistrust among opposition ranks as well as disagreements over what role the United States should play in promoting change in Cuba.


But activists at the meeting said they found common ground in urging European nations to press for the liberation of dozens of imprisoned activists as well as for human rights such as the freedom of expression and association in Cuba.

“The liberation of the prisoners ... is an ethical obligation for Europe if it wants to have closer relations with the Cuban people,” said Paya, known internationally for organizing the Varela Project, a pro-democracy drive.


European nations were among many that criticized Cuba after 75 dissidents were rounded up and sentenced to long prison terms in a massive crackdown two years ago. Cuba accused the activists of working with U.S. officials to undermine Castro’s government - a charge the dissidents and Washington denied.

The EU changed policy toward the island in response to the crackdown, banning high-level visits by European officials and drastically reducing cultural events in Cuba.

The diplomatic freeze began melting in November as the EU reviewed the sanctions and Havana released 14 of the 75 imprisoned dissidents. At the end of January, the EU decided to drop the sanctions and restore normal relations with Cuba, while maintaining contact with government opponents.

The policy change, up for review this summer, irked some dissidents at the time.


“We have to wait,” said Roque, among the prisoners released last year and a vocal critic of the EU’s January decision. “They say they are going to do good things for us with this normalization, and we have to wait.”

“Perhaps, if we are going to wait three, four more months, they will see that Fidel Castro is deaf, and that it’s impossible to talk with him,” Roque added, speaking in English.

Member Comments

On March 25, 2005, bernie wrote:

I wonder how much pressure these activists have urged
European nations to press for the liberation of
HUNDREDS (not dozens) of cubans languishing in usa

On March 28, 2005, PABLOPUEBLO wrote:

As a genuine Latin Man,who come from a very real latin Family,
it is embarrasing to me,that Europeans or others have to come
to say what or not to do,etc,The cuban government is the guilty
one,because of obstination to deny political space for dissents,the majority of the cuban dissents are not puppets of
any american stewardships,I said the Majority in the Island and
in Europe and even in The States,there are common grounds on
which we can work to the betterment of our political,economical
and social situation,cuban society is splitted,so the cuban
political spectrum requiere more than one Party,we don’t need
many,my goodness me!! but more than one is required to harmonize the good willing of the majority of the cubans.May
GOD help us to find the sooner the better our way-out from
this social turmoil.I like the statement of Paya,when saying,
“this is not for the european pleasure,this should be for the
  interest of the cubans” Yeah,the Prime is the Cuban People,
and after Ok,some big brother could help us.

On March 28, 2005, waldo wrote:


Many people think that Amnesty International (AI) is trying hard to do a good job towards human rights at many locations of human mistreatment. However many believe that there is room for AI to expand and go beyond its present power and range of work. Recent press releases in Madrid and U.K. well covered the 71 Cuban political prisoners jailed in Havana, but offered no details about the 5 Cuban political prisoners jailed at five different locations throughout the U.S. Most would agree that in all fairness and equality AI ought to integrate into its cartel the case of the Cuban 5 (Antonio, Fernando, Gerardo, Ramon and Rene).

The stories and issues of both sets of prisoners do have many similarities and characteristics in common such as nationality, politics, trial, disproportionate sentencing, treatment and conditions in prisons, lack of family visits, etc. And, there is an additional very important motive-issue in favor of the Cuban 5 that does not exist in the case of the 71. The mission of the 5 was to collect information in order to avert future terrorist actions been planed in Southern Florida against their island. During the past 43 years, an estimated 3,000 human beings have died in Cuba as a consequence of innumerable acts of terrorism, aggressions and invasions emanating from abroad and with headquarters in Miami.

AI beyond task would be that of negotiator, conflict resolution and executor, bringing more power to it while contributing to ease tensions accumulated for over four decades between two equally Sovereign Nations. AI mission beyond would then be that of physically exchanging political prisoners from both sides of the Florida Strait with a mission statement like: ” 71 for 5 “.

On March 28, 2005, Dana Garrett wrote:

When will governments of the world send reprersentitives to the USA to discuss the “future of the USA” w/ our dissidents?

Imagine the cry of protest from our government if they did. 

On March 29, 2005, waldo wrote:

Fantastic idea Dana. That would be The Day!