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EU and Cuba clash after Brussels slams arrest of protesters

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By Euronews
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Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019   -   Copyright  Mark Lennihan/Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
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Cuba's foreign minister has hit out at the European Union after it expressed concern over protesters being detained on the island earlier this month.

Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, responded via Twitter, strongly rejecting the declaration and accused the EU's foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell of not daring to mention "the genocidal US blockade that violates European sovereignty and imposes its laws and courts".

His response included a personal attack on Borrell, saying "he lies and manipulates".

Borrell's statement called on the Cuban government to release all detained prisoners and to respect the "human rights and freedoms enshrined in universal human rights conventions".

"We urge it [the Cuban government] to release all arbitrarily detained protesters, to listen to the voices of its citizens, and to engage in an inclusive dialogue on their grievances," Borrell said.

The protests took place on July 11 over nationwide shortages and a lack of freedom in the country and are the largest since 1994. This time around they took place across the whole island and not just in the capital Havana.

Demonstrators are asking for political change amid a severe economic crisis aggravated by the pandemic.

Anna Ayuso, a researcher at the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs, said the EU isn't going to impose sanctions on Cuba any time soon.

"What happens in the future will depend very much on what the Cuban government does," said Ayuso.

"I do not believe that Europe is going to break relations or impose sanctions against the regime, but it will cool relations if the Cuban government's response is to toughen the policy of internal repression."