Beating A Dead Horse Between Brussels And Havana
Beating A Dead Horse Between Brussels And Havana / Rosa Maria Paya
Posted on December 19, 2015
The issue of human rights must permeate every point of the agreement
between the EU and Cuba
El País, Rosa Maria Paya, 18 December 2015 – In more than a year of
negotiations with the Cuban government, the European Union still does
not exhibit significant advances beyond commenting on the establishment
of a structural framework for an accord and trade issues.
The Cuban government played its cards right. It made public part of the
conversations it has maintained (for years) with the government of the
United States, and the already precipitated rush for “positioning” in
Cuba went berserk. Under the assumption, among other naivetés, that the
biological end of the brothers-in-chief would spontaneously bring
democracy, European and other entrepreneurs tried to assure themselves
of a place on the island before “the coming of the Americans,” no matter
how much money they lost in the process.
I will not dwell on the obvious nonexistence of a Cuban market, where
the people have no purchasing power nor the democratic resources to
engage with foreign investors and self-management, because in Cuba the
only legal company is the government. It is clear that privileged
foreigners, always in a minority role with the government – given that
it is the sole owner on the island – are guaranteed lack of competition.
But it is at the risk of losing everything the instant they start to be
“inconvenient,” whether because they demand to collect what is owed
them, or because a more interesting (and submissive) partner appears.
There are examples of European entrepreneurs who have even ended up in
Cuban prisons, like the Englishman Stephen Purvis.
The reality is, when one deals with mafias there are no win-win
solutions. Despite the precarious economic situation the country finds
itself in, paradoxically the Cuban government manages to appear as if it
has nothing to lose in the negotiations with the EU. However, it would
be a failure for European diplomacy to end the process of negotiations
and to have to admit that the Cuban government is not willing to
compromise on anything and, what’s more, that it will not meet the basic
requirements on matters of human rights that the EU requires of its
partners. The pressure at this point increases contrary to logic, and
this increases the possibilities of ending up signing anything, in a
desperate effort to show some results, and thus satisfying only economic
To close a negotiated agreement, the EU requires the inclusion of a
human rights clause, which the Cuban government is trying to define in a
way that they can manipulate or simulate compliance with its conditions.
But if in a stroke of common sense and coherence, Europe realizes that
it is the Cuban government that needs Europe, not Europe that needs
Cuba, the EU has in its hands a lever to support democracy, and with it
true peace, progress and stability in Cuba and in the region. A
condition necessary, this time, to establish a framework of guarantees
for European economic interests.
It has been more than 65 years since free and plural elections have been
held in Cuba, and there is a legal framework to hold them. The space for
economic reforms is also very limited, because the constitution was
illegally altered in 2002 to make “irrevocable” and set in stone the
economic, political and social system of the island, which is linked to
the control of the “highest leading force”: a Communist one-party system
and its monopolistic management. The EU cannot ask for a constitutional
change, but it can support the right of Cubans to choose their own
future, to choose the system they want to live in, and to participate in
the economic and political life of the country. The alternative is
called apartheid, it is insupportable and it is immoral.
There is a non-partisan citizen’s initiative called Cuba Decides, which
promotes the holding of a binding plebiscite that would allow Cuban
citizens to vote for the changes necessary to initiate a process of
democratic transition. No matter how many cosmetic reforms are made by
the powers that be, this process will not have begun as long as Cubans
cannot participate fully in it. The issue of human rights must permeate
every point of the agreement between the EU and Cuba and cannot be
treated as an issue independent of the others. The conditions that the
EU establishes now should be measureable and verifiable in the short and
medium term. We therefore hope that the realization of a binding
plebiscite on the island is supported, with concrete conditions that
guarantee an international presence and a clean process. Like what
happened in Chile in 1988, with the support of a good part of the world.
Neither the EU nor the Obama administration is charged with resolving
the Cuban problem. But they do have a historic responsibility to execute
specific steps of effective solidarity with a real transition to
democracy. Supporting the participation and citizen sovereignty of the
Cuban people – instead of the exclusive management of a
corporate-military caste that has been in power 56 years without ever
having been freely chosen by the people – is, in any case, the decent
Who could be against the Cuban people’s right to choose?
From El País, Americas Edition: Rosa María Payá is a promoter of “Cuba
Decides” and the daughter of the late dissident leader Oswaldo Paya.
Source: Beating A Dead Horse Between Brussels And Havana / Rosa Maria
Paya | Translating Cuba –