Although the European Union’s parliament vote outcome does not come as a surprise, it does not make their decision to turn their back on the Cuban people and take the side of the apartheid Castro dictatorship any less disappointing or disturbing. This is not the first time the EU has chosen profit over people, tyranny over liberty, or slavery over freedom in their quest to cash in on business opportunities in apartheid Cuba.
You can say it is par for the course when it comes to the EU and Cuba, but no less despicable or tragic.
European Union continues its retreat on human rights accommodating another dictatorship
The talk today is of globalization, but we must state that unless there is global solidarity, not only human rights but also the right to remain human will be jeopardized. – Oswaldo Paya, European Parliament, December 17, 2002
Today a majority of the European Parliament rejected the legacy of Vaclav Havel putting profits over principle, abandoning Cuban dissidents to advance a commercial relationship with the Castro regime. By a vote of 567 votes to 65, with 31 abstentions, European Parliament members backed the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (PDCA) between the EU and Cuba. Previous rapprochements with the dictatorship in Cuba have coincided with a worsening human rights decision and the death of high profile dissidents.
Ideas have consequences and the rejection of Havel’s ideas began back in 2014 when Czech deputy foreign minister Petr Drulák argued that a “foreign policy with its stress on human rights was wrong and harmful.” This abandonment of human rights did not begin with Cuba but in February of 2015 when the European Union lifted sanctions on the Robert Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe. This was followed in February of 2016 with lifting sanctions on the Alexander Lukashenko regime in Belarus. This is the continuation of a decline in human rights around the world that has been going on for over a decade. Empowering and appeasing dictators had terrible consequences in the 20th century and this mistake is being repeated in the 21st century. The case of North Korea should be a cautionary warning for those advocating this approach.
This latest retreat from a human rights centered policy occurred while Amnesty International has issued two urgent actions in the space of a week on human rights activists on hunger strikes in Cuba protesting harassment, intimidation and arbitrary imprisonment.
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