Tuesday, June 19, 2007

EU resolution approved

The EU foreign ministers reviewed their Cuba policy and made their decision. EU diplomatic sanctions remain suspended, and there is a new action: an invitation to Cuban government officials to come to Brussels for talks.

Both sides are claiming victory; Spain because of the offer of a new dialogue, the Czechs because the sanctions were suspended, not terminated.

The Bush Administration seems to have used more than the usual diplomatic tools in this debate. In addition to the Secretary of State’s visit to Madrid, there were conferences, activities by European organizations, and campaigning by Cuban exile organizations. While USAID’s Kremlin-like impermeability makes it impossible to find which of these were funded by Washington, these activities call to mind the recommendations in the Administration’s 2004 Cuba commission report, which call for $5 million to be spent on “small grants and other assistance to local national groups interested in promoting greater information about U.S. policies toward Cuba and greater national involvement in support of democracy and the development of civil society in Cuba,” and to “fund and promote international or third-country national conferences to disseminate information abroad about U.S. policies on transition planning efforts related to Cuba.”

At any rate, the foreign ministers’ resolution:

  • noted that Cuba is in a “new situation” due to Fidel Castro’s delegation of executive powers last July;

  • called on the Cuban government “to undertake the political and economic reforms necessary to improve the lives of the Cuban people;”

  • “deplores” that the human rights situation “has not changed fundamentally, in spite of a reduction in the number of political prisoners and acts of harassment”

  • expressed “solidarity and constant support for all who work in a peaceful manner for freedom, democracy, and respect for universal human rights;”

  • said the EU will continue dialogue with Cuban civil society and “offer all sectors of society concrete support in favor of a peaceful change in Cuba;”

  • announced that “a Cuban delegation will be invited to Brussels” to discuss potential economic, scientific, and cultural cooperation and the EU’s “point of view about democracy,” all on a “reciprocal and nondiscriminatory basis.”

OK, now let’s fight about something else.

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