Cuba will have to improve its record on human rights to help normalise relations with the European Union. The 27-nation bloc’s Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Karel De Gucht has reassured Cuban President Raul Castro that regime change is not on the EU’s agenda… but he said there is a lot of room for closer cooperation on universal rights: “… a politically oriented development dialogue that could start as soon as the beginning of next year.”
De Gucht’s three-day visit to the one-party communist state coincided with the presence for the first time in eight years of a European pavillion at the international trade fair in Havana. More than 600 European companies were represented, others American. This also follows a five-year EU-Cuba rift over Havana’s treatment of dissidents. Human rights groups say there are 200 political prisoners in Cuba. The government says it has no political prisoners, because fair legal process is followed to incarcerate anyone found guilty of crimes.