Miércoles, 13 de Diciembre de 2017
11:53 CET.
Politics

The EU lies and bites its tongue

The Council of the Union European (EU) is lying when it says that the agreement signed with the dictatorship of Raúl Castro in Brussels on 12 December, which put an end to the Common Position adopted in 1996, aims to "strengthen democracy and respect for human rights" in Cuba, as alleged by the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini.

Neither is it telling the truth when it says that the agreement will serve as a "common platform for bilateral investment and to cooperate more closely on global challenges." Cuba is a country in ruins that cannot invest or cooperate with anyone.

The objective really is that Europeans want to invest in Cuba and exploit the cheapest labor in the West (the average salary in Haiti, 59 dollars per month, doubles that of Cuba) and to trade not with the Island's "entrepreneurs," (as President Barack Obama had promised, but which never happened) but rather with Cuba's Armed Forces, which already control 80% of the Cuban economy.

This is a case of realpolitik and the EU should admit it, without diplomatic hypocrisy. The interest here is not in helping the military regime to cease its repression, democratize, and respect citizens' rights, but to make money.

The EU has followed in the footsteps of the Obama Administration, legitimizing Caribbean tyranny, but belatedly. This agreement comes when the American policy of "softening" Castroism with concessions has already proven to be a failure. They have only succeeded in giving the regime more breathing room.

The embargo, however, prevented Obama from going further, so he pressured Congress. A bipartisan willingness to put an end to the embargo was already emerging. But that possibility now seems to be fading away. The Trump Administration will probably change the ground rules and demand that Cuba's military-political elite show some results, or the "thaw" will be over.

The general wants cash

The EU surely thinks that, without the Americans' presence, it has carte blanche to economically take advantage of the Island, together with Chinese and the Russians. Big mistake. The economic and social cataclysm suffered by Cuba is of such a magnitude that its economy is incapable of assimilating mass investments. It lacks infrastructure and everything necessary for it. What General Castro does need is to be given or lent a lot of cash–and not for development, but for the reconstruction of the devastated Island, and to line his pockets a bit along the way.

Ms. Mogherini – an Italian with a solidly Marxist background – and other authorities EU authorities, should be asked: is it just and democratic that the EU invests in Cuba and accepts that the regime seizes 92% of the wages of Cuban employees, as if they were slaves?

The EU knows full well that Castroism never makes concessions of any type. It never gives an inch, in any area. Obama politically legitimized the dictatorship, opened the world to Cuba, made concessionsand countless gestures. In return Havana ... did nothing.

Although this EU-Cuba agreement must still be ratified by the national parliaments and the European Parliament, where it could run into some resistance – according to some MEPs in talks with opposition leader  Guillermo Fariñas – the Old Continent has already given dictator Raúl Castro a political slap on the back.

The document signed consists of three sections: "Political Dialogue," which includes human rights; "Cooperation and Development" (read that: the concession to Cuba of loans, products and technology); and "Economy and Trade." Provisionally, economic cooperation and trade will be implemented.

The political issue of rights human will be addressed in the future, and separately. To talk about what? The regime claims that there are only human rights of a social nature, and rejects civil, political and individual rights, which it describes as imperialist nonsense. Such a conception is fascist, from head to toe, and should be rejected by the EU.

Human rights: "enemy propaganda"

The last straw is that if one reads the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaimed by the United Nations in Paris in 1948, the Castro dictatorship does not respect a single one. Even those of a social nature, which they claim to acknowledge. Is the EU oblivious to the fact that in Cuba one possessing those articles can actually be sentenced to 20 years in prison for "enemy propaganda"?

Foreign Minister Castro Bruno Rodríguez had the nerve to declare in Brussels that his government is willing to discuss with the EU the violation of human rights in Europe and the USA. Mogherini's response to Rodriguez was that this opened "a promising stage between the EU and Cuba."  

The EU, in this way, is trampling on one of the cornerstones of modernity: a respect for human rights as the foundation of political legitimation.

The most outrageous aspect of this agreement is that Raúl Castro demanded, and the EU accepted, separating the political sphere from the question of human rights, isolating it in order go gain separate access to financial, technological and commercial help from the EU as an institution. The Common Position (since 1996), now repealed, made cooperation with Cuba contingent upon a respect for human rights.

This is clearly a political victory for Castro, as, under the protection of the impunity granted by Obama, the regime is ratcheting up its political repression. In 2015 some 8,000 political dissidents were arrested, and by the beginning of December the figure was approaching 11,000 arrests, with beatings and humiliation included.

As for the prospect of making money, the EU's optimism is astonishing. They are going to stumble on the same stone. For more than 30 years the European Nations have been issuing commercial loans and credits to the Castros, worth tens of billions of dollars. The regime has never returned a penny. And, since 1985, they haven’t even been making interest payments (the creditors' profits).

An EU report revealed in 2012 that Cuba owed the Paris Club – composed of 21 nations from the Americas, Europe and Asia – a total of 31.681 billion dollars, the largest amount of any debtor in proportion to the size of its economy. Cuba's global external debt was 59.681 billion dollars, for a per capita debt of 5,328 dollars, the highest in the Third World. 

In 2010 the EU itself revealed that Cuba owed 3.2 billion dollars to Spain, 3.17 billion to China (in convertible currencies), 2.775 billion to Japan, 1.967 billion to Argentina, 1.856 billion to France, and billions of dollars to 22 other countries. Under the guise of the "thaw," the regime succeeded in having many of these debts forgiven. And now the EU wants to make the same mistake, again. Cuba is not going to pay a thing, simply because it can't. 

The Island produces very little, importing almost everything, including about 80% of the food that it consumes. It is a country in ruins. With regards to investments, the Castroist/Guevarist "new man" is the most unproductive and negligent worker in the Americas. The culprit is the "revolution," which pays him a pittance and confiscates almost everything from those who work for foreign companies.

But the EU bites its tongue. It wants to take advantage of those unprotected slaves, and support them with skilled foreign workers, like those brought in from India by the French company that is building a hotel on Havana's Manzana de Gómez.

Apparently it doesn't matter that Cuba does not even respect the basic Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, proclaimed 227 years ago in Paris, five weeks after the storming of the Bastille.

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