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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: L’alignement européen sur Washington

by Bernard Duraud

Cuba : Europe’s Alignment with Washington

Translated Thursday 20 March 2008, by Isabelle Métral

Salim Lamrani is a lecturer, writer and journalist: he specializes on relations between Cuba and the United States. His latest book is Double morale. Cuba, l’Union européenne et les droits de l’homme [1], Paris, Editions Estrella, 208 (The double standard: Cuba, the EU, and the ruman rights issue)

HUMA : Your latest book is about Cuba and Europe. The European Union assumes the right to arbitrate the conflict, taking it upon itself to deal out plus or minus marks (especially the latter). How come it is so fiercely set against Cuba?

LAMRANI: I will quote UE official documents so as to explain this hounding of Cuba. The Council of Europe expresses its “concern over the fact that the Cuban government has gone back on certain reforms that had led to a timid economic opening. The Council deplored that these restrictions further narrowed the scope for private initiative.” It is clear that Europe is taking advantage of the human rights issue to advance its wish for a return to capitalism through private enterprise and the setting up of a free-market economy in Cuba.

HUMA: Would you say that Europe is in step with Washington’s aggressive policy?

LAMRANI: It definitely is. The EU’s economic clout is undeniable, but on the diplomatic level, the EU is still a dwarf, being incapable of taking a constructive position by breaking out of the sphere of US influence. The common position adopted in 1996 emanates from Washington and was boosted by José Maria Aznar, the former Spanish prime minister. It aligns itself with the US aggressive policy towards Cuba and is bound to fail for Havana will not be moved by the use of threats. It accepts no foreign interference in its internal affairs.

HUMA: By analysing Amnesty International reports, you prove that the sanctions taken against Cuba supposedly in the name of human rights simply do not make sense. How’s that?

LAMRANI: To justify its hostile policy to Cuba (the 1996 common attitude and the political and diplomatic sanctions since 2003) the EU invokes the question of human rights. The only country on the American continent that is punished in this way is Cuba. Now, according to Amnesty International reports, the American country that least violates human rights is Cuba. That is the first paradox. Moreover, the same reports show that nearly all of Europe has a much more disastrous record than Cuba. Amnesty mentions cases of political assassination in the United Kingdom, of torture and degrading treatments in Belgium and France, of the use of evidence obtained under torture in Germany, of trafficking in human beings in Greece, of impunity for crimes committed by public agents in Spain, of children barred from access to education on ethnic grounds in Hungary, of enforced sterilization for ethnic minority women in the Czech Republic…And all this on the continent of the Enlightenment and of Democracy!

Amnesty International never reported similar facts for Cuba, even if it does mention certain breaches. So the European Union lacks the moral authority to lecture Cuba on the human rights issue. Besides, no fewer than 135 member countries, namely above two thirds of the General Assembly, elected Cuba in May 2006 to be a member of the new UN Council for Human Rights. In point of fact, the US and Europe are using the human rights issue as a pretext for imposing a biased political approach to Cuban reality that the rest of the world rejects.

HUMA: How do you envision Cuba’s future?

LAMRANI: Speculations about its future start from a false premise, namely, that the Cuban revolutionary process rests on the shoulders of Fidel Castro alone. Actually, the process has struck deep roots in Cuban society in the course of nearly four generations. It cannot be reversed. To speak of a transition would be a serious mistake. Cubans are not at all disposed to go back to a market economy, knowing it would jeopardize their social benefits and their sovereignty.

[1In order to purchase this book, contact amranisalim@yahoo.fr

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