Cuba Politics

EU to formally restore ties to Cuba - more credit on the way?

Posted October 23, 2008 by publisher in Cuba Politics.

By Michael Voss | BBC News, Havana

European commissioner Louis Michel has arrived in Havana for meetings aimed at a formal resumption of co-operation between the EU and Cuba.

The two-day visit is the result of the EU agreeing to remove all sanctions against communist Cuba in June.

Mr Michel will meet Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque.

The European commissioner for development and humanitarian aid will also tour hurricane-damaged areas, Cuba’s Granma newspaper reports.

So far Cuba has refused to accept offers of hurricane assistance or any other forms of development aid from the European Union. That could be coming to an end.

How to deal with Cuba is one area where Europe and the United States have substantial differences.

Since Raul Castro took over the presidency, following his brother Fidel’s retirement due to ill health, EU policy has been to try and develop a dialogue with Cuba in the hope of influencing change.

But the Cubans demanded that the EU formally lift the diplomatic sanctions which it imposed in 2003, following the mass arrest of dissidents. The sanctions were suspended in 2005, but only eliminated altogether at the EU summit in June.

Now if this week’s talks are successful the two sides are expected to sign a formal accord, reinstating co-operation.

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Member Comments

On October 23, 2008, publisher wrote:

This is a simple original title “EU official in Cuba to renew ties” and a very short article but it is LOADED with hidden meaning to me.

1. The EU commissioner is going to Cuba. That is a huge statement by the EU to send the commissioner.

2. The EU development and humanitarian aid will tour hurricane damaged areas. This means he will of course be ESCORTED through hurricane damaged areas which means that he will only see EXACTLY what Raul and Fidel want him to see. Nothing more and nothing less and certainly not any reality. They will clean up some areas to show how well they have recovered but take him through severely damaged areas to show how much (free) money they need for repairs.

3. “the Cubans demanded”... interesting. I guess the EU is now very interested to kiss Fidel’s and Raul’s asses? Raul will probably give Spain and England and other EU countries more land so they can build joint venture hotels and golf courses.

4. Did I mention that Cuba will let EU give Cuba credit now? I can see that headline now… EU renegotiates Cuban debt and extends one million Euro credit to Cuba.

Am I too cynical? Am I way off?

On October 23, 2008, edward wrote:


Your cynicism is based on Cuba’s notorious credit history. Maybe we have the EU setting an example to the new US administration that this realy is the way to go.

Yes, Cuba can benefit from Eu investment not just monetary but from skills and technical expertise. Yhe EU can benefit from biomedical expertise and knowledge as well as potential ivestments in oil franchises.

I’m planning on a trip to Cuba myself during December/January and will be able to comment directly hurricane damage and how the city of Havana compares since I was last there 18 months ago.

On October 23, 2008, publisher wrote:

Thanks. Keep us posted. We’d love to have a write up if you can.

On October 23, 2008, HavanAndrew wrote:

Just what the world needs, more dead beat debt. If the EU finds some credit to free up after the international banking mess they will have to then collect it from a terminally bankrupt country. Good luck, Brothers Castro! The rest of the world is broke just like you. The free ride is over and now it is time to pay the piper.

On October 24, 2008, Cubana wrote:


1. He is only one of many EU Commissioners. As the Commissioner for Humanitarian and Development Aid he seems the most obvious choice after the hurricane strikes.

2. Agreed. But was ever thus in totalitarian regimes?

3. Typical left-wing BBC bias! But on the other hand all journalists working in Cuba legally have to be approved by the regime and their work is vetted, so to be able to continue they need to be, shall we say, circumspect in what they write.

4. There was never a ban on giving credit or any other economic sanctions, as far as I am aware. The only ‘sanctions’ were diplomatic i.e. a ban on high-level visits.

On October 24, 2008, Cubana wrote:

However, I am not impressed with these two statements:

1. Development commissioner Louis Michel and Cuban foreign minister Felipe Perez Roque signed a joint declaration in Havana on Thursday (23 October) that restores bilateral co-operation between the EU and Cuba and recognises the country’s political independence and the principle of non-intervention in its domestic affairs.

“The principle of non-intervention in its domestic affairs” has an ominous ring to it. Totalitarian regimes always use this excuse when outsiders bring up their human rights abuses.

2. Mr Michel has no plans to meet any opposition groups over the course of his trip, which is to end on Sunday.

Why not? This just gives legitimacy to the Castro regime.

On October 24, 2008, Cubana wrote:

P.S. The two statements were from this article:

On October 24, 2008, edward wrote:

Good stuff…

The people of Cuba need all the help they can get. My mother -in - law says that there is very little food to be had from the markets. Cuba as we are aware has suffered massive hurricane damage which has virtually wiped out all the normal harvested crops.

Did I see somewhere that the US administration offered $100,000 in aid?...meanwhile it’s OK for the fat cats at the top of our banking institutions to cream millions off for themselves whilst tax payers like you and me have to bale them out. Personally, I’d rather a proportion of my hard earned 35% tax be payed to help people like the Cubans get fed and watered properly. The fat cats can go to hell in a hand cart.

On October 24, 2008, publisher wrote:


Right. EU seriously kissing Fidel’s ass.


Typical communist reply, change the conversation to the US.

The US has NOTHING to do with this one.

On October 24, 2008, pipefitter wrote:

It seems to me that embargo policies are falling by the wayside as countries realize that it’s not the way to nurture change in a country for the betterment of it’s citizenry. We should all wake up to this fact and maybee the world would be a better place. If you watch the news from latin america you will see that these countries are forming closer ties every day with each other and are even trying to speed up the process of integration. Railroads, power grids, pipelines, development banking, goods and technology etc. are all being integrated and bartered.

On another note, it seems that some things are improving on the cyclone devistation front. I received some “E mails” from Holguin Cuba yesterday and all our family in the area now have power water and tele back but the repairs to houses hasn’t advanced because of lack of materials. The food situation is almost back to normal with the exception of fruit and vegetables because they were mostly destroyed.

On October 24, 2008, publisher wrote:

Thanks for the update. Hope they are well.

Let’s hope the US engages rather than alienates with the next President.