Yanez and the Common Position
As soon as Spain occupied the presidency of the European Union (EU), the Cuban authorities prohibited the Spanish Member of the European Parliament, Luis Yanez, from entering the national territory. Yanez arrived at the Island on a tourist trip accompanied by his wife, the Deputy Carmen Hermosin. The prohibition, regardless of whether Yanez had or had not the intention of meeting any dissident, goes against the understanding of the EU that “High Level Officials visiting Cuba, may converse with the peaceful opposition”.
For Cuba, the visit of Yanez constituted an excellent opportunity to demonstrate that it really wished to better its relations with the EU and support the Spanish Minister of Foreign Relations, in favor of the suspension of the Common Position which consists in “encouraging a process of transition to a pluralistic democracy, respect for Human Rights and the Fundamental Freedoms, as well as a sustainable recuperation and the betterment of life’s condition for the Cuban people”.
The message implicit in this event could be read this way: It does not matter whether they are Socialists, Liberals or Conservatives. It does not matter if they have a moderate and constructive position or that they may criticize Human Rights violations. It does not matter if they come as politicians or tourists. Simply said, we are not going to change anything. We prefer to have a confrontation. The reaction came immediately. The President of the European Council, Jose Luis Zapatero, who up to this point was in favor for the EU to change its position in dealing with the Cuban authorities, declared that: “The policy of the EU towards Cuba it not a priority during our presidency”, and “Europe must show a demanding position before the Cuban Government.”
The EU, the largest supra-national organization of the world, composed of 27 countries, and the United States of America, the major economic and military power of the world, form two important forces in the international arena with defined policies in regard to the internal situation of Cuba. Such policies are in accord with respect to the declared ends, yet different in respect to the legitimacy and methods employed.
Since the Trade Embargo of the United State against Cuba started, the policy of confrontation between both governments was that of animosity as oppose to dialogue. That policy, illegitimate on the basis of International Law, did not help us in strengthening our position but it made it more difficult. Instead of protecting us against the arbitrariness of the State, it collaborated with it. Instead of promoting the appropriate climax for the advance of Human Rights, it made it regress. On the other side, the Council of EU1 adopted in 1996 the Common Position based on dialogue and collaboration, which was ratified in 2005.
Fourteen years after the adoption of the Common Position, it has not attained its proposed objectives. In the Spring of 2003, when the inclusion of Cuba in the accords of Cotonu was being discussed, the relations were interrupted due to the repressive wave by the Cuban government against the Internal Opposition. Later, in 2008, when the relations were re-established, the possibility that the policy of the EU based on critical dialogue would predominate over the policy of confrontation emerged. More recently, in 2009, with the change of policy of the present U.S. Administration towards Cuba and the weakening of the confrontational line, the hegemony for critical dialogue was created.
The importance of the critical dialogue -much more prominent in this time of globalization- is based on the social processes of change within countries, depending on internal factors as well as external ones. Contingent on the greater or lesser force of the first ones, the second ones assume a larger or smaller importance. In the case of Cuba, the weakness and destruction of the potential subjects related to change, explains and conditions the importance of the exterior forces.
The Common Position, in its new context, arrives at the right time to accomplish the pending objectives: the transition to a pluralistic democracy, the respect for Human Rights and the Fundamental Liberties. If the Cuban Government intends to conduct those relations by way of confrontation, the response of the EU must not be to renounce to the dialogue, much less to favor the suspension of the Common Position, given that the Cuban Government has not done anything that can justify it. Nor do the difficulties in the negotiation processes, nor the unfounded expectations of change, constitute reasons to discontinue such policy.
The unconditional liberation of all the political prisoners, the end of repression, the persecution for political reasons and the ramification on the part of the Cuban Government concerning the Political Rights’ Pact and the Social Economics and Cultural Pacts, signed in 2008, bring about three problems of great importance in order to measure the fulfillment of the objectives of the Common Position. These three things are so crucial for the society and for the dignity of the Cuban people that they cannot be subjected to any other type of demands, as was the intention of the Cuban Minister of Foreign Relations when during a visit to the Commission of Human Rights in Geneva he declared that: “If the EU were to depart from the sterile vote at the Commission of Human Rights in Geneva,” Cuba Would be willing to sit down with the EU to agree on a program.” And that Cuba, “would feel the moral debt to go along with the EU decision and would sign a Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Pact the following day acknowledging that we have started a new agenda in our relations”.
Among the objectives of the EU in its relations regarding the critical dialogue with the Cuban Government, the unfolding of contacts and interchanges with the civil society must be taken into consideration so that its citizens may emerge gradually from the political marginality in which they find themselves and may be able to participate in the conformation of Cuba’s democratic future. The inability of the actual model based on determined “free” medical and educational services in exchange for the lack of liberties and basic rights, has led to the general deterioration from the economic to the cultural, going through a state of increasing moral crisis which will be the most difficult thing to fix in the future.
Were the EU to decide to full re-establish the cooperation without taking into consideration the demands contained in the Common Position, it would be helping to strengthen the immobility and sustainability of a situation that is threatening the existence of the Cuban nation.
Translated by David Fernandez