European Union Policy on Cuba

Statement of the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, June 11, 2003

Once again the European Union has decided to kowtow to the U.S. government over the subject of its policy towards Cuba.

The European Union, ignoring usual diplomatic practices, published a communiqué on the morning of June 5 in which they announced punitive measures against Cuba and told the international community that they had sent a letter to Cuban authorities. This only reached the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that afternoon.

This did not take the foreign ministry by surprise: we were very well aware that Europe most probably, hoped that the aforementioned document be seen in Washington before it was seen in Havana.

They are very conscious in Europe that their decision to join in the U.S. government's attacks against Cuba will be seen as more proof of their contrition and repentance over the differences that arose over the war in Iraq between "Old Europe" -- as Mr Rumsfeld called it -- and the imperial Nazi-fascist government which is trying to impose a dictatorship on the rest of the world.

The new statement signed by the Fifteen is the culmination of a stage of continual pronouncements and aggressions against Cuba made at the very time when our country has had to deal with the cunning plans which people in Miami and Washington are hatching to try to come up with pretexts for a military attack on our country.

That escalation included:

March 25, a Note from the Presidency protesting the fair sentences handed down by Cuban courts on a group of mercenaries in the service of the U.S. government.

April 14, a new Statement from the Union's Foreign Relations Council, proposed by the Spanish foreign minister, in which the mercenaries are referred to as political prisoners and Cuba is crudely threatened with steps that would affect "plans to increase cooperation";

April 18, another protest Note from the Presidency which repeats the threats against Cuba;

April 30, at the request of a Spanish commissioner the European Commission's College of Commissioners decides to postpone indefinitely any consideration of Cuba's application to join the Cotonou Convention. Therefore, given Europe's treacherous behaviour, Cuba decided for the second time to withdraw its application which it had made because unanimously urged to do so by the Group of African Caribbean and Pacific Countries

Later, on May 27, there was another attempt to deliver a protest Note, but our Foreign Ministry refused to accept it because it thought this now constituted intolerable inference in Cuba's internal affairs.

And, lastly, this new Declaration appears and Cuba first learns about it from the foreign press and not from the European Union itself.

This unheard of display against our country has been all the more noticeable because of Europe's proverbial wisdom about keeping respectfully silent when it suits it and even in being a tolerant bystander to behaviour and acts far worse than those of which Cuba is now being groundlessly accused. How, for example, are we to judge its silence over the U.S. army's crimes against the Iraqi civilian population? It's too much. After exhausting her patience and capacity for dialogue and tolerance, Cuba feels obliged to reply to what it considers to be the European Union's hypocritical and opportunist behaviour.

In its most recent Declaration, "the European Union laments that Cuban authorities have ended their de facto moratorium on the death penalty." Cuba will not go into great detail about the extraordinary reasons, explained more than once, that forced it to take energetic measures against three armed hijackers who had criminal records who threatened to kill dozens of hostages, including several European tourists. Cuba has never heard a word from the European Union condemning the death penalty in the United States. It has never seen the European Union spearhead a motion in the Commission on Human Rights condemning the United States for inflicting the death penalty on minors, the mentally ill and foreigners who were denied their right to meet with their consuls. Cuba has never heard the European Union criticize the 71 executions that took place in the United States last year, including the executions of two women. Why does the European Union condemn the death penalty in Cuba and not in the United States?

Therefore Cuba does not take the Union's lament seriously; it knows it is replete with hypocrisy and double moral standards.

The Declaration quotes verbatim from the letter delivered to the Cuban foreign ministry in which it repeats the same arguments the U.S. government uses. It is once again seeking to disguise as "opposition members" and "dissidents" the mercenaries who, in the pay of the U.S. government, hope to play their part from inside Cuba in the U.S. government's goal of overthrowing the Cuban revolution.

Later on, the European Declaration appeals to Cuban authorities to ensure that the prisoners do not suffer unduly and are not exposed to inhuman treatment. Cuba will make no attempt to comment on this offensive appeal. All it will say is that it is a despicable thing to do. Cuba will not repeat the arguments it has used over and over again. It will only point out that it has never heard the European Union say one word of censure about the hundreds of prisoners -- some of whom are Europeans -- who the United States is holding, in violation of the most basic norms about human rights, in the naval base in Guantanamo which they force on us against our will. The European Union has never said a word about the thousands of prisoners that the United States has kept locked up since September 11, often simply because of the way they looked or because they are Muslims. These people do not enjoy even the most basic legal safeguards, nor have they been tried and their names have not even been published.

Four measures have been announced.

First: Limit bilateral high-level government visits. We must remember that in the last five years not one European Union head of state or government has visited Cuba.

Not even the king of Spain, Don Juan Carlos I, whose natural charm and modesty have earned him the respect of the Cuban government and people, could carry out his official visit; the head of the Spanish government, José María Aznar, who, according to the constitution must give his approval, was categorical. "The King will go to Cuba when it's his turn." What is more, only two of the fifteen's foreign ministers have visited Cuba since 1998: Mr. Louis Michel, of Belgium in 2001 -- he made a genuine effort to expand relations -- and Mrs. Lydie Polfer from Luxembourg, in 2003.

No one else in Europe -- and they have even less desire to do so -- wanted to upset Washington. Meanwhile in 2002 alone, 663 high-level delegations from the rest of the world visited Cuba, including 24 heads of state or government and 17 foreign ministers.

Second: To reduce the participation of member States in cultural events. On this unheard of decision by educated and civilized Europe we will only say that its authors should, at the very least, be ashamed of themselves. To make artists and intellectuals, both European and Cuban, and our people who benefit from cultural exchanges, into the particular victims of aggression is such a reactionary measure that it seems inconceivable here in the 21st century.

The first indication of this absurd policy had come from the Spanish government in April when it cancelled the Spanish delegation's participation in the "La Huella De España" (Traces of Spain) festival whose mission is to pay homage to the culture of this sister nation. And to that is added the fact that the Spanish Cultural Centre in Havana, far from promoting Spanish culture in Cuba, the purpose for which it was created, has, in open defiance of Cuban laws and institutions and in flagrant violation of the intent of the agreement that set it up, programmed a series of activities that have nothing to do with its original function.

In the next few days Cuban authorities will take the appropriate measures to convert this centre into an institution that truly meets the noble aim of popularizing Spanish culture in our country.

Third: To invite Cuban dissidents to national holiday celebrations.

This decision, which will, to all intents and purposes, turn European ambassadors in Havana into Mr. Carson's hired hands, and which will put the embassies of the European Union's member countries at the service of the U.S. Interests Section's subversive work -- something that up until now only the Spanish embassy has done openly -- formalises the European Union's intention of defying the Cuban people, their laws and institutions.

Cuba calmly but firmly issues a warning to European embassies and to local U.S. government mercenaries that it will not tolerate provocation or blackmail. The mercenaries who try to turn the European embassies in Havana into centres for conspiring against the Revolution should be aware that the Cuban people will be quite capable of demanding that our laws be rigorously applied. European embassies should be conscious of the fact that they will be failing to meet their obligations under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations if they allow themselves to be used for subversion against Cuba.

The responsibility for any measure that Cuba may have to take to defend its sovereignty and the consequences of these measures will lie exclusively with the European Union, which, with unmitigated arrogance has taken a decision which profoundly offends the Cuban people's sensibility and decorum.

Fourth: Re-examine the European Union's Common Position on Cuba.

This last point is Mr. Aznar and the Spanish government's way of announcing, from this moment on, its hopes of making the wording of the so-called Common Position on Cuba tougher. The Position, it is worth remembering, was imposed by Spain on the rest of the European Union in 1996.

On November 13 of that year, under the headline: "Spain proposes that the European Union cut credit to and cooperation with Cuba" the Spanish daily El País reported that:

"In Brussels tomorrow, the Spanish government will propose to its partners in the European Union that they implement a strategy of economic harassment of Fidel Castro's regime(....) The package Aznar is proposing closely follows the line of current U.S. policy. The plan Aznar's government wants to push through entails cutting off the flow of cooperation and credit from the Fifteen and raising the level of the dialogue with the anti-Castro opposition. "(...) The measures planned by Aznar ... envisage a complete break in Spanish Cuba policy."

This proposition would be added to the measures reported on by the newspaper that day -- these includes Aznar's attempt to cancel cooperation between the fifteen countries and Cuba, the end of business agreements and the elimination of the scarce, expensive and short term credits that Cuba used to receive at that critical time in special period.

Dialogue with the opposition. Each of the fifteen European ambassadors in Cuba would appoint a diplomat who had specialised in setting up a high level dialogue with groups that oppose Castro. The European governments would invite these groups to maintain high level permanent contacts with them.

"This package would be made formal through an EU 'common position' and would be directly inspired by the U.S. policy of harassment trumpeted abroad by itinerant U.S. ambassador, Stuart Eizenstadt."

According to El País, and this was later confirmed by what happened: "This U.S. diplomat has gone around the European foreign ministries stressing the need for the European Union to abandon its current strategy" towards Cuba.

"Eizenstadt has also promised that if the fifteen members of the Union go along with the U.S. way of seeing things, Washington will 'grant' its partners successive postponements in the application of the Helms-Burton Act which tightens the blockade on Cuba and harasses European companies investing in Cuba."

El País ended by saying: "Spain, which used to be the mainstay of an autonomous way of doing things would thus become, if its initiative was successful, the spearhead of the opposite tendency."

And Mr. Aznar's initiative was successful. The Common Position sprang from it as did later on the shameful European Union's Understanding with the United States over the Helms-Burton Act in which European governments agreed to bow to the conditions imposed by the United States in return for a U.S. promise not to sanction European companies. This new campaign of the European governments against Cuba also stems from Aznar's initiative. Mr. Aznar, obsessed with punishing Cuba and now a minor ally of the Yankee imperial government, has been the person mainly responsible for the fact that the European Union has not developed an independent and objective approach to Cuba and today is the man mainly responsible for its traitorous escalation in aggression, just when our little island has become the peoples' symbol of resistance to the threat that the United States may impose a Nazi-fascist tyranny on the rest of the world, including European peoples -- who were recently unrecognised and humiliated when their stalwart opposition to the war in Iraq was ignored -- and even on the American people themselves.

Cuba knows that the Spanish government has been funding the annexationist and mercenary groups which the superpower is trying to organize in our country -- just as the U.S. government does, following the dictates of the Helms-Burton Act.

How can we explain Mr Aznar's interest in "promoting democracy in Cuba" if he was the first and only European head of government to support the fascist coup in Venezuela and offer his "support and availability" to the ephemeral "president" of the Venezuelan coup?

Nevertheless, Cuba places no blame on the noble Spanish people, nor on any of the other European peoples. Quite the contrary. Cuba is aware of how much warmth and admiration it arouses in many of the citizens of those countries -- in spite of the loathsome media campaigns- which send us almost a million visitors every year. Cuba knows how much solidarity it arouses in Europe and throughout these years has received a helping hand from thousands of European non-governmental organisations, civic associations and town councils.

Cuba is aware that the European peoples -- giving an exemplary ethical and humane lesson -- opposed the war in Iraq, which the European Union could not, however, avoid, divided as it was by the betrayal of the rest of Europe lead by the Spanish government and humiliated by a superpower which went so far as to announce that it would launch a military attack on the Hague if a single U.S. soldier was brought to trial at the International Criminal Court there.

Cuba has only feelings of friendship and respect for the European peoples but cannot allow their governments, trailing along behind the Spanish government's commitment to the groups of Cuban born terrorists who operate in Miami and to Bush's government, to be a part of setting up mercenary groups in Cuba whose purpose is to help Yankee attempts to destroy the Cuban Revolution and annex our country to the Unites States.

The European Union's decision to join in with the U.S.' aggressive policy against Cuba has been welcomed with great joy and loud applause not only by the U.S. government, whose secretary of state said: "The United States will be able to join with the European Union in a common strategy against Cuba," but also by the mercenaries who are still working for the U.S. government inside our country and by the spokespeople for the Miami terrorist groups.

The so-called Council for Cuba's Freedom, a Miami group of Batista supporters which has recently been demanding that President Bush decrees a naval blockade of Cuba, said: "We are glad that Europe is joining in with the pressure." and the terrorist Cuban-American National Foundation was extremely happy and emphasised that "it was time that the European countries realised."

The DPA news agency gave this title to its report: "Rejoicing in the exile community over the European Union's decision on Cuba" and said that extremist Cuban groups reacted enthusiastically and that the top story on Miami Spanish language TV stations' evening news broadcasts was the European Unions decision. The news bulletins focused their coverage on the measures that the EU will take.

It's obvious whose needs are met by the European Union's statement and why the Miami terrorist groups are so happy, groups that are responsible for bombs attacks on European interests in Cuba and even for the death of a young Italian, Fabio di Celmo. It is quite clear why those who are today demanding that the U.S. government tighten the blockade and step up military aggression against our country are clapping their hands. Cuba, for its part, will defend its right to be a free and independent nation with or without European support and will even stand up to the connivance between certain governments and the fascist clique that today rules the United States.

Cuba does not look upon all European governments equally and is well aware which ones are the chief instigators of this unwonted provocation. Moreover, it must be said that the conduct of the Italian government headed by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is giving a helping hand to the Spanish government's conspiratorial activities.

Italy took a unilateral decision to suspend its development cooperation with Cuba which this year might have been worth almost 40 million Euros. This included cancelling:

An aid credit for 17.5 million Euros which would have helped to improve irrigation systems and increase food production in Granma and Havana provinces.

An aid credit of 7.4 million Euros for the Plaza del Cristo in Old Havana. This money would have made it possible to repair the homes of some 500 families, two schools and drinking water, electricity and sewage services for those living in the neighbourhood.

A donation of 400,000 Euros to set up a Senior Citizens Care Centre in the old Belén Convent. This would have provided services to some two hundred older people and would have been managed by the Office of the Historian, local Public Health authorities and the Sisters of Charity order.

A donation of 6.8 million Euros though the United Nations Development Programme which would have been used to support local basic social services such as education, health, care for the physically challenged and senior citizens.

A donation of 6.8 million Euros, through UNDP, which was to have been used for buying equipment for the eastern provinces, basically for the health and food production sectors.

A donation of 534,000 Euros which would have financed a cooperation and exchange programme between the Italian University of Tor Vergata and the University of Havana.

This is the highly strange way in which the Italian government is preparing to defend the human rights of the Cuban people.

This ridiculous role the Europeans are playing would make one laugh were it not for the serious problems this escalation entails.

And we must state very clearly:

Cuba does not recognize the European Union's moral authority to condemn it and much less to issue it with a threatening ultimatum about relations and cooperation. Cuba has taken decisions that only the Cuban people and the Cuban government are competent to judge, these decisions are absolutely legitimate and rest solidly on our country's laws and Constitution.

The European Union, which unlike Cuba is not blockaded nor militarily threatened by the United States, should look with respect on the Cuban people's struggle for its right to independence; it should keep discreetly silent when it knows that it has often kept its mouth shut when it is looking after its own interests; when it knows that it has never adopted a common position on the repressive Israeli regime; when it knows that it opposed the Commission on Human rights even looking at the threat that war posed to Iraqi childrens' right to life.

Finally, the Ministry of Foreign relations reminds the European Union that Cuba is a sovereign country that won its full independence as the result of a long and painful process which included more than half a century's struggle against a corrupt neo-colonial society which established itself in our country after the shameful Paris Agreements in which Spain ceded Cuba to the United States behind the backs of Cuban patriots. Cuba has won the legal right, recognised by international law, to decide for itself, exercising its full sovereignty and with no foreign interference, the economic, political and social system which best suits its people.

Cuba does not accept the interfering and disrespectful language of the latest European Union Statement and asks it to refrain from offering solutions that the Cuban people did not ask it for. Cuba, however, reiterates its respect and admiration for European peoples with whom it hopes to strengthen honourably and in a dignified manner the most fraternal and sincere relations as soon as History sweeps away all this hypocrisy, rottenness and cowardice.