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    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
    interests.

    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
    choice.
    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.
    Twitter @RosaMariaPaya

    Source: Beating A Dead Horse Between Brussels And Havana / Rosa Maria
    Paya | Translating Cuba –
    translatingcuba.com/beating-a-dead-horse-between-brussels-and-havana-rosa-maria-paya/

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