One of Spain’s goals while it is presiding nation of the European Council is to continue trying to normalise relations between the EU and Cuba. Its relaunch effort got off to a rocky start with a Spanish member of the European Parliament and his wife on Sunday being denied entry to the one-party communist island.
The government said the Cuban authorities did not give a reason why Luis Yáñez (his wife went too, both on tourist visas) was put on the first plane back to Spain, and Madrid has asked Havana for an explanation.
Yáñez said: “The whole thing is awkward; it’s an error. I was given no warning, either verbal or written that I was banned from entering Cuba, that I’m on a kind of blacklist. I hope the incident won’t stand in the way of the Spanish government’s efforts and initiatives during its EU presidency… towards achieving a new common position or new European Union policy with Cuba.”
Cuba routinely turns away foreigners who take part in unauthorized activity, such as talking to government opponents. Yanez said he had intended to call Cuban “social-democratic” friends.
Human rights groups say the Castro regime continues to deny Cubans their fundamental freedoms. Several EU states have strong reservations about closer relations with Havana, until it makes concessions to pluralist democracy.