EU/CUBA In light of a military coup against a democratically elected government in Niger, the European Union quickly acted to suspend development aid to the African nation. This was prompted by great concern over the regression of democracy in the region, given the previous military coups in Mali and Burkina Faso. There are further worries about the role played by the Wagner Group in these military takeovers, as well as the growth of Russian influence in the region.
The EU’s firm response to the situation in Niger is certainly warranted, as is its steadfast support for Ukraine, and its legitimate defense against Russian aggression. However, what boggles the mind is the morally incoherent policy of the EU towards Cuba.
The communist dictatorship in Cuba has denied its people the most basic civil liberties and rights for over six decades. This same regime has served as an enthusiastic Soviet and Russian proxy, actively participating in foreign interventions from Angola to now Ukraine. Not only that, but the Havana regime has actively worked to undermine democracy in the entire region, having a direct role in propping up dictatorships in Venezuela and Nicaragua.
Why is this double standard applied to the Cuban people? Why has the European Council ignored until now the resolutions from the European Parliament, the statements and resolutions from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the refusal of the Lithuanian Parliament to ratify the cooperation agreement with the totalitarian regime in Havana, and many other protests of this kind throughout Europe and Latin America?
Earlier this year, during its presidency of the European Council, the Swedish government stated that it views with concern the continued negative developments in Cuba and the repressive actions of the Cuban state. The Swedish government said that “it can be stated that the PDCA [Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement] has now been applied provisionally for just over five years and the government’s assessment is that there are reasons for a review of the EU’s engagement policy and the PDCA, including the EU’s aid to Cuba.” Despite this, no action was taken.
The fact is that the EU financing of tyranny on the largest island in the Caribbean has served only to embolden repression. The billions poured in by Europe—through the PDCA, the Club of Paris credit lines, and loan forgiveness—have not reached the people of Cuba: it has financed the regime that represses them.
For the sake of the freedom and life of Cubans, for the sake of democracy in Latin America, in further support for Ukraine, the EU should review its misguided policy towards the totalitarian state ruling the island nation.
An institutional ban on any and all opposition, over 1,000 political prisoners, suppression of independent labor, negation of free speech, and severe limitations on religious worship are among the key characteristics of the system imposed on Cubans. Over the years, the Cuban people have repeatedly risen up against their oppressors through different means, the latest uprising having begun on July 11, 2021.
Europe should not continue to ignore this insistent cry for freedom. It is time for the EU to end the PDCA.
BJÖRN SÖDER (SD)
Member of Parliament in Sweden
DR. ORLANDO GUTIERREZ BORONAT
Elected coordinator of the Assembly of the Cuban Resistance.
(The article was published in The European Conservative on the 28th of September 2023)