Today a majority of the European Parliament rejected the legacy of Vaclav Havel putting profits over principle, abandoning Cuban dissidents to advance a commercial relationship with the Castro regime. By a vote of 567 votes to 65, with 31 abstentions, European Parliament members backed the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (PDCA) between the EU and Cuba. Previous rapprochements with the dictatorship in Cuba have coincided with a worsening human rights decision and the death of high profile dissidents.
Ideas have consequences and the rejection of Havel's ideas began back in 2014 when Czech deputy foreign minister Petr Drulák argued that a "foreign policy with its stress on human rights was wrong and harmful." This abandonment of human rights did not begin with Cuba but in February of 2015 when the European Union lifted sanctions on the Robert Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe. This was followed in February of 2016 with lifting sanctions on the Alexander Lukashenko regime in Belarus. This is the continuation of a decline in human rights around the world that has been going on for over a decade. Empowering and appeasing dictators had terrible consequences in the 20th century and this mistake is being repeated in the 21st century. The case of North Korea should be a cautionary warning for those advocating this approach.
This latest retreat from a human rights centered policy occurred while Amnesty International has issued two urgent actions in the space of a week on human rights activists on hunger strikes in Cuba protesting harassment, intimidation and arbitrary imprisonment. On Sunday 50 Ladies in White ( EU Sakharov Prize laureates) were arbitrarily detained to prevent them attending Mass and peacefully marching for the release of Cuban political prisoners. Ignoring all this and the murder of 2002 Sakharov laureate Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and youth leader Harold Cepero of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) on July 22, 2012 and the imprisonment of the current MCL leader Eduardo Cardet is a sad testament to the current political climate where the worse are full of passionate intensity and those who know better pay lip service to human rights while legitimizing murderous dictatorships in Zimbabwe, Belarus and Cuba.
If the members of the European Parliament were serious about human rights in Cuba they would immediately suspend the newly announced agreement, because the provisions on human rights are being violated by the Castro regime.