|Castro's Minister of Culture, Abel Prieto with EU's Federica Mogherini|
The European Union's High Representative visited Cuba and focused more on trade opportunities with the 58 year old Castro dictatorship while criticizing U.S. economic sanctions. She has not met with dissidents or directly challenged the regime's dismal human rights record. Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez tweeted today the image above and pointed out that "[y]esterday Federica Mogherini met with the current Minister of Culture, Abel Prieto, one of the ringleaders of the Acts of Repudiation against civil society activists in Panamá during the Summit of the Americas in 2015." The EU High Representative gave a speech that failed to address the main obstacle to a free and prosperous Cuba, in other words the Castro regime, and instead echoed much of the same propaganda put out by the dictatorship.
"I know very well that right now some are trying to isolate Cuba. We Europeans, want to show, on the contrary, that we are closer to you than ever" @FedericaMog pic.twitter.com/iSCFvtsF2Q— EU External Action (@eu_eeas) January 4, 2018
Day 7: At least 22 people killed, more than 1000 people arrested and internet disrupted. Regime stages rally in support of itself. Iron fist is out. Where is the world media? #IranProtests— Nazanin Boniadi (@NazaninBoniadi) January 4, 2018
Prior to leaving for Cuba, Ms. Mogherini drew attention because of her silence for four days, drawing international scrutiny and criticism, as the regime in Iran cracked down on pro-democracy demonstrators.
4th day of #IranProtests and you know who hasn't said a single word or shown any solidarity yet? @FedericaMog or #EU!— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) January 1, 2018
Your silence and refusal to stand on the side of those demanding their basic human rights & freedom is deafening! #Iran pic.twitter.com/7T5GAbD2sS
This is a continuation of a long retreat from the fundamental values of the European project. Consider the following previous actions.
The Common Position on Cuba provided moral support to Cuban democrats and achieved positive results some of which are highlighted below.
Former British ambassador to Cuba Paul Webster Hare described in 2010 how the EU Common Position on Cuba in 2003 responded to a brutal crackdown on nonviolent dissidents by imposing "diplomatic sanctions on Cuba and invited the dissidents and their families to their parties, alongside members of the government. Fidel Castro was furious, staging massive rallies against the Spanish and Italian embassies and freezing diplomatic contacts. The British embassy received a bomb threat. The solidarity which the EU fostered helped the formation of the Damas de Blanco group. They and Oswaldo Paya have both won EU Parliament prizes. All this was under the Common Position."
Sadly the tide began to change according to Ambassador Hare when Spain's socialists took over and Foreign Minister "Moratinos came to office in 2004 and proposed a radical shift in EU policy. He questioned the purpose of the sanctions, arguing the Common Position stood in the way of `a serene and confident relationship' between the EU and Cuba. Moratinos set about negotiating the sanctions away."
This was part of a larger trend by Europe of rejecting a foreign policy that put human rights first.
In 2014 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 is not solely confined to Cuba. In February of 2015 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.
"Above all, clear and unequivocal solidarity with all those confronted by totalitarian or authoritarian regimes wherever they are in the world. And economic or other particular interests should not hinder such solidarity. Even a minor, discreet and well-intentioned compromise can have fatal consequences– even if only in the long term, or indirectly. One must not retreat in the face of evil, because it is in the nature of evil to take advantage of every concession. Besides, Europe has already had its own unfortunate experience of appeasement policies.
Eduardo Cardet M.D., national coordinator of the Christian Liberation Movement, on January 19, 2014 advised the European Union that "[i]t is critical to put full respect for human rights before any kind of dialogue." Sadly, the European Union did not heed his advise. Today Dr. Cardet is a prisoner of conscience jailed since November 30, 2016 for offering a critical assessment of Fidel Castro and the dictatorship in Cuba."Our support can help open-minded people or outspoken witnesses to the situation in North Korea, Burma, Iran, Tibet, Belarus, Cuba or anywhere else, much more than we think. But it will help us too. It will help us build a better world and also to be more true to ourselves; in other words, to put into practice the values that we proclaim in general terms."
Sin embargo, el acercamiento entre la #UE y la Plaza de la Revolución también puede ser leído como un gesto de legitimación, un acto de apoyo y de solidaridad cómplice con el oficialismo #cubano. https://t.co/gwMHQhrP81 pic.twitter.com/HHb6IOcELj— Yoani Sánchez (@yoanisanchez) January 3, 2018