Cuban dissidents don't want sanctions lifted
Those who argue that Western democracies should lift sanctions on Cuba often claim that even the island’s dissidents favor the move. So it was interesting to see the statement issued Monday by ten of the 11 political prisoners who were deported to Spain by the Castro dictatorship last week.
Noting the “manifest willingness of some European countries” to liberalize E.U. strictures on relations with Cuba, the dissidents said they opposed “an approval of this measure,” because “the Cuban government has not taken steps that evidence a clear decision to advance toward the democratization of the country.”
“Our departure for Spain,” the statement added, “must not be considered a goodwill gesture but a desperate action on the regime’s part in its urgent request for credits of every type.”
That declaration took some courage on the Cubans’ part, since their host, the left-wing Spanish government of Jose Luis Zapatero, is the leading advocate of a relaxation of E.U. sanctions. After meeting Raul Castro in Havana this month, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos proclaimed “a new phase in Cuba” and insisted “there is no longer any reason to maintain the [E.U.] Common Position” on Cuba. The policy links any improvement in relations to progress on democracy and human rights.
But the ex-prisoners have the virtue of being right.
Though it has promised to eventually release 52 of the political opponents it imprisoned in the “Black Spring” crackdown of 2003, the Castro regime has offered no indication that it intends any change on the island. It has freed political prisoners before, without domestic reforms. And, as in the past, those released so far have been deported, rather than allowed to return to their homes on the island.
The Cubans were only reminding their hosts of what the European policy says -- that better relations have to be linked to steps toward democratization, and not the mere deportation of political prisoners. That also happens to be the stated policy of the Obama administration, which so far has resisted calls by liberals for an unconditional lifting of the already-loopholed U.S. trade “embargo.” (“Embargo” has become an odd term to describe what is actually Cuba’s fifth-largest trading relationship, one that in recent years has provided up to 40 percent of its food imports.)
The dissidents have more than one reason to be irritated with the Spanish government. At a press conference in Madrid Monday they complained that they had been denied the services they were promised before they left Cuba, including legal assistance. The government is also trying to prevent them from seeking political asylum -- in yet another concession to the Castros.
In the end, it’s likely that a few of the released prisoners will end up in the United States. If so, they might not be much help to those seeking an unconditional lifting of the embargo; they seem to want to insist on the cause of democracy. Imagine that.
Posted by: simpleton1 | July 20, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: mglesne | July 20, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: slatt321 | July 20, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Raysand47 | July 21, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: MerrillFrank | July 21, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: esch | July 21, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: walterlx | July 21, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Raysand47 | July 21, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Raysand47 | July 21, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: eardery | July 21, 2010 10:14 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Raysand47 | July 21, 2010 11:46 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: romilio | July 25, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.