Cuba Politics

“No clue” Condoleezza wonders why EU won’t pressure Cuba for democratic reforms

Posted January 22, 2007 by publisher in Cuba Politics.

NOTE: Original title: Few nations follow U.S. in condemning Cuba


Shortly after an ailing Fidel Castro handed power to his brother Raul last summer, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called her Spanish counterpart, Miguel Angel Moratinos.

With Havana seemingly on the edge of change, Rice hoped the European Union would issue a statement urging Cuba to adopt democratic reforms. As the leader on Latin American affairs within the EU, Madrid had the clout to make such a declaration happen, diplomats familiar with the outreach say.

The Spaniards declined.

To this day, the EU and most Latin American democracies have been conspicuously quiet on Cuba despite a stepped-up U.S. effort to garner those kinds of declarations on Cuba. Diplomats and analysts say the silence shows that many nations are both unwilling to be associated with U.S. policies toward Cuba and reluctant to anger Havana by criticizing its communist government.

‘‘The embargo focus of U.S. policy [toward Cuba] has been ineffective,’’ said Kenneth Roth, president of Human Rights Watch, a group critical of both U.S. sanctions on Cuba and the island’s repressive ways. ``It’s driven away natural allies who otherwise might be willing to help promote human rights.’‘


Bringing international attention on Cuba was a priority for the Bush administration even before Castro temporarily handed power to his brother and six top aides on July 31. A few weeks earlier, a big inter-agency policy report on Cuba said that Western democracies ``should take a leading role in guiding Cuba on a path . . . to representative democracy.’‘

U.S. officials with Latin American responsibilities often discuss Cuba on their trips abroad.

The State Department’s Cuba Transition Coordinator, Caleb McCarry has traveled to Spain, Finland—which then held the EU’s rotating presidency—and Germany, which currently holds it.

Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere Thomas Shannon has traveled widely in Latin America as well as China, Spain and Canada. And Kirsten Madison, who among other duties oversees the Cuba desk at the State Department, has been to France, Italy and Belgium.

The State Department says it is not only out to convince others on the merits of U.S. policy on Cuba.

‘‘This is not us giving them information only,’’ spokesman Eric Watnik said. ``We want to know what they are doing to help the Cuban people and see if we can work together in supporting a democratic transition.’‘

So far, the administration has little to show for its efforts. Only a handful of formerly communist nations in Central Europe and Costa Rican President Oscar Arias have called for a democratic transition in Cuba. The Cuban foreign ministry later blasted Arias, a Nobel Peace prize winner, as a ``vulgar mercenary.’‘

The reluctance of other nations to speak out is dismaying Cuban Americans.

U.S. ambassador to Spain Eduardo Aguirre last month told a group of Spanish reporters that he’d ``like the European Union at some time to make a simple statement, that they’d like to see democracy in Cuba.’‘

Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said many nations are eager to condemn alleged U.S. violations in the Guantanamo Bay prison but unwilling to speak out on the plight of Cuban political prisoners.

‘‘After almost 50 years of this double standard of silence toward Cuba’s lack of freedoms, I am not very surprised by the lack of international support,’’ she said.


European diplomats interviewed by The Miami Herald, many of whom declined to be identified because Cuba is a delicate subject, say all its members want democracy in Cuba. But some governments like those in Spain, France and England feel that condemning Havana at this time would prompt the communist government to dig its heels rather than embrace change.

The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the three Baltic states are pushing for a EU pronouncement, the diplomats say. Hungary’s ambassador to Washington, Andres Simonyi, said Europe is ‘‘edging’’ towards a common position on Cuba, which he said is a ‘‘special case’’ because of its history and its ``present situation.’‘

‘‘Hungary has a clear view that we have been through a democratic change and, of course, we would like to see as many countries as possible’’ take a democratic path.

In Latin America, most big democracies like Argentina and Brazil have long held that they cannot interfere in the internal affairs of another country. Mexico’s new conservative President Felipe Calderon has said he will seek to promote democracy in the region, but so far has not mentioned Cuba.

There’s also resentment against the U.S. Helms-Burton Act of 1996, which punishes foreign companies that invest in Cuban properties seized from U.S. citizens, as well as the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba.

U.S. officials say they understand that other nations oppose Washington’s ‘‘tactics’’ but that the two sides should work together to achieve democracy in Cuba.

But that’s ‘‘not how things work,’’ said Jos´┐Ż Miguel Vivanco, the Americas director for Human Rights Watch. ``They also need to open the whole policy agenda for debate.’’

Member Comments

On January 22, 2007, publisher wrote:

“Rice hoped the European Union would issue a statement urging Cuba to adopt democratic reforms.”

This woman is useless. I understand she was completely wrong about the future of the USSR and now she has no clue about Cuba. But then again, seems that no one in the Bush Administration has a clue.

Condoleezza, you might want to talk to some people knowledgeable about Cuba that are outside your little circle of cronies. Be careful though, you may learn something about Cuba, Cuban people and Cuban politics.

On January 23, 2007, MiamiCuban wrote:

For Condi Rice “democratic reforms” simply means giving the U.S. corporations free reign to go into Cuba and ravage the country as they’ve done in Santo Domingo, Haiti, Ecuador, and elsewhere in Latin America.  I don’t think the Cubans want that brand of democracy.  I say leave Cuba alone to chart its own course and stop making demands that they do this or that.  If we don’t make demands on China or VietNam for reform, why should we do it with Cuba?

Condoleeza Rice needs to get her head out of the sand.  She’s made enough of a mess as it is.

On January 23, 2007, Varsi Padayachee wrote:

Rice is just the mouthpiece for the Ros-Lehtenin cabal and the no solution administration. However, she is a culpable as the rest. Ros-letinin cannot understand why the rest of the world does not cow tow to US policies vis-a-vis Cuba. Simple! Fidel Castro and Cuba are just an island of 11 million people and quite easily outsmarted the US in every attempt to bring them down. This is not about the people of Cuba and Democracy. It is all about US Corporate interests and cheap pride. Take a look at US attempts at democracy in the rest of the World!
1) Supported an UNDEMOCRATIC attempt to overthrow Pres. Chavez
2) Threatened Bolivia with repurcussions if Evo Morales became Pres.
3) Threatened Ecuador with repurcussions if they elected Correra President
4) Palestine is today’s Apartheid South Africa
5) The US supports the despotic regimes of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan and Mexico
6) Our Govt. openly supports torture eg Abu Gharib and Guantanamo
7) The US was instrumental in removing a duly elected leader in Haiti
I can go on. The world is wise to our hennaigans. They will not be hoodwinked any longer. For those out there who need further proof, check out the new BBC World Survey to guage how low we have sunk, even amongst Americans.
The sooner we get rid of these incompetents in the WH and Admin. the sooner we will find opportunity to re-establish our honest broker role.

On January 23, 2007, J. Perez wrote:

Hypocresy, double standards and as Varsi calls it “cheap pride”, that sums up our policy toward Cuba. We do not make demands on China or Vietnam because it would go against our interests. Our foreign policy is $$$ driven, it is as simple as that, sad isn’t it?