Last October, the Spanish Foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos went to Havana – his goal; to normalise relations with Cuba. But Madrid’s top diplomat also wants to convince the EU to come back to a common position on Cuba established in 1996. That demanded the liberation of political prisoners and the respect of human rights before normal relations could be reached.
“Spain wishes to elevate relations between Cuba and the European Union, with Spain taking on the responsibility for the 27 member states,’‘ Moratinos said.
According to Cuba’s dissidents the arrival of Raul Castro in power has not resulted in more freedom.
The Cuban Commission on Human Rights says on the 6 January there were 201 political prisoners. That figure was 208 last summer, moreover, 869 dissidents were held in custody for a short time in 2009.
Among these was blogger Yoani Sanchez.
Known internationally for her scathing reviews on the hardship suffered by Cubans, she spoke exclusively to euronews via the internet.
‘‘I’ve noticed in the last few months a rise in repression and an increase in the punishment of those who think differently. We’ve seen this during several events and rallies in the street, a crackdown on the opposition, dissidents, independent bloggers, demonstrations that differ or have a criteria contrary to the state.The big challenge for Spain in the next few months as it holds the EU presidency is not precisely to put an end to the common position of the 27 member states in relation to the Cuban government, but it is more to look for a common position of solidarity with the people and the citizens, and to make a clear distinction that Cuba is not its government, that Cuba is neither a party nor an ideology, but its the ordinary people that form this society, and they need your solidarity and that the outside world needs to demand freedom of expression and the rights which all Cubans need,’‘ Sanchez said.
A unified EU policy towards Cuba is a long way off -but remains an issue Madrid will try to push forward.