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The EU Parliament (EP) approved last week a resolution denouncing the systematic violation of human rights in Cuba and demanding much stronger pressure from the European Commission so that the Castro dictatorship guarantees “the release of all political prisoners and persons arbitrarily detained solely for exercising their freedom of expression and assembly”.
This is a strong rebuke against the communist regime in Cuba, except on the part of the Socialist Party of Spain.
The weight of the three main groups representing the European legislature — Popular, Liberal and Socialist — guaranteed with 386 votes in favor (57% of the total) the approval of this transcendental resolution. In spite of the maneuvers of the Spanish Socialists led by their maximum leader, the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell, who for some time had been multiplying his efforts to try to change the result, disassociating himself from the general opinion of the House.
Far from condemning Castro’s tyranny, the ridiculous display of this experienced Spanish political official is unprecedented. Mr. Borrell not only objected to the clear and definitive text of the Community MEPs but also avoided making any reference to the increase of arbitrary detentions and political prisoners on the island, turning his speeches into a sort of tribute to the totalitarian regime that has repressed its people the most in the last 60 years.
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Precisely, the text approved by the MEPs recognizes the resounding failure of the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (PDCA) signed in 2016 between the EU and Cuba, of which Borrell has been one of its main supporters.
In this regard, the EP regrets that “the situation of human rights and democracy in Cuba has not improved after the entry into force of the political agreement with the EU”, while recognizing “the lack of commitment and willingness of the Cuban government to make progress or find ways to reform the regime.”
The document also warns that, far from having counteracted the authoritarian drift, the situation in Cuba has deteriorated and demands the repeal of the recent Decrees 349 and 370 that “violate freedom of expression”, and the right and guarantee of a fair trial for activists and dissidents.
The resolution also criticizes that the office headed by Josep Borrell — both in Brussels and Havana — arbitrarily excludes the Cuban democratic opposition and independent civil society organizations from the political dialogues promoted by the European Union, whose interlocutors are chosen by the Cuban authorities in an irregular manner.
It is not the first time that Borrell, in his capacity as Foreign Minister of the European Union (EU), breaks the European and international consensus to favor the Havana dictatorship. That is why the resolution also admonishes the unconditional financing exercise that the EU, through the European External Action Service headed by Josep Borrell, has maintained for the last three years with the Cuban regime while denying political opponents access to this type of funds paid by all European taxpayers.
Is the Cuban regime interfering with EU policy?
But Borrell’s gestures of connivance also involve his cabinet and the socialist group of which he headed the list in the previous European elections.
Last February, the EU ambassador to Cuba, Alberto Navarro, took a political stance together with a group of artists, intellectuals and professionals from the island, carefully chosen for their level of servility to the regime, to demand in a letter to Biden the lifting of the embargo.
Likewise, with Borrell’s approval, Navarro boycotted and denied access to the EU facilities in Havana to Cuban opponents awarded with the Sakharov prize to virtually participate in a hearing organized by the Delegation for Central America of the European Parliament.
Navarro’s decisions are not the only indications that some members of Borrell’s team may be working on behalf of the Cuban dictatorship.
A recent article published in the ABC newspaper under the signature of Javier Lorrondo, president of the NGO Prisoners Defenders, reveals an intimate and close relationship of a group of PSOE MEPs with the regime in Havana.
Specifically, a few days before the European Parliament approved the resolution, a political advisor, Pilar Ruiz Huélamo, member of the Socialists and Democrats groups in the EP, alerted the president of the PSOE in Europe, Javier Moreno Sánchez, about the interest of the Spanish Popular Party (PP) and the Renew Europe group in analyzing “the situation in Cuba” in the plenary session of the Parliament.
In the e-mail, to which the Spanish newspaper has had access, Huélamo warned: “PPE and RENEW have asked for an item in the next plenary session on the situation in Cuba, Borrell’s statement with resolution. One of the points they want to denounce is the one described in this manifesto that 5 deputies have already signed. As you know, it will be difficult to stop it, we do not have a majority. I wonder if you want to warn the Cuban Embassy or if I want to warn Heidy. Borrell’s cabinet is already aware of this. I take advantage of the e-mail to ask for an appointment with Javier next week to discuss this issue and others if possible.”
Spanish socialists Huélamo and Moreno exchanged in their e-mails at least three matters of special interest for the Cuban intelligence. They warned about the imminence of the resolution that was already signed by 5 MEP; regretted the inability of their political group to stop it; and highlighted the availability of the officials to inform the Cuban Embassy of a matter about which Borrell’s cabinet knew in detail.
There is no reason to doubt Borrell’s sincerity in his intention to recover democratic coexistence in Cuba. But neither is there any reason to question the criticisms of these MEPs about Borrell’s alleged attempt to boycott a debate (in the European Parliament) in coordination with the Cuban Embassy.
While the vast majority of MEPs were preparing to analyze the serious human rights situation in Cuba – with the certainty that high-ranking officials such as Joseph Borrell could have acted to disrupt any operation to guarantee the security and integrity of the European institutions – officials of the Spanish Socialist Party working in Strasbourg were allegedly spying on the MEPs and reporting to Havana in detail.
The implication of these high-ranking Spanish Socialist representatives apparently colluding with the Cuban regime leaves Borrell’s team in a very compromising situation and forces him to give a detailed explanation of the facts.
This time it is serious
It looks like the diplomatic policy that Josep Borrell has employed in Cuba has been inversely proportional to his achievements, and his decision to continue backing Cuba’s totalitarian regime is unbecoming of someone who, within EU governance, must ensure that the values of human dignity, freedom and democracy are upheld in the world.
From now on, Borrell has no moral authority to mislead both the Members of the European Parliament and the public opinion with confusing messages about the situation in Cuba.
The Spanish socialist politician has exhausted his arsenal of false messianic rhetoric when, among other things, he recently pointed out in the highest European parliamentary institution that the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement had created “new spaces for the participation of Cuban civil society”, and that he was aware that there is no better instrument to “accompany the country in political, economic and social reform.”
His statements do not correspond to his role as arbitrator nor to the democratic principles that should guide the High Representative for Foreign Policy of the European Union. Borrell’s lack of impartiality is particularly ignoble when dealing with a people and a political opposition – without voice or vote – suffering from one of the most ruthless and cruel repressive systems in the world.
Borrell should clarify his own words and explaining to European citizens and the victims of repression in Cuba why, almost four years after the enactment of the Agreement, arbitrary arrests, generalized terror and crimes against humanity continue on the island.
The demonstrations that took place in recent days in different cities around the world to condemn the shameful collusion of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) with the Cuban regime have demonstrated the capacity of mobilization that the thughs and the external accomplices of the Havana regime can face when it comes to orchestrating maneuvers to legitimize the repressive methods in Cuba.
This was the case of a recent protest in front of the Spanish consulate in Miami, in which the accredited Cuban exile lawyer, Santiago Alpízar, launched a harsh warning to the government of Pedro Sánchez: “Your conduct degrades the position of Spain in the Europe of solidarity of the Lisbon Pact and the cooperation agreement with Cuba, forged in exchange for freedoms and respect for the fundamental rights of all Cubans.”
Those who have the duty to defend the integrity of democratic institutions -like Josep Borrell- cannot adopt attitudes or resort to shady methods that deny their principles.
Juan Carlos Sánchez, journalist and writer. His columns are published in different newspapers in Spain and the United States. He is the author of several books and is preparing the essay "Nación y libertad en el pensamiento económico del Conde Pozos Dulces" // Juan Carlos es periodista y escritor. Sus columnas se publican en diferentes diarios de España y EE.UU. Autor de varios libros, tiene en preparación la obra de ensayo “Nación y libertad en el pensamiento económico del Conde Pozos Dulces”