Cuban dissident calls on EU not to forget human rights
While the EU wraps up a new framework for relations with Havana, Cuban
dissident Guillermo Fariñas warns that his country could descend into
civil war if this deal is not made dependent on respecting human rights.
EurActiv Spain reports.
“I feel like Cuba is going to end up mired in civil war, like Syria or
Libya. All the political, economic and social conditions point towards
that,” warned Guillermo “El Coco” Fariñas, interviewed at the European
Parliament’s Brussels headquarters.
Fariñas speaks in a calm voice, wears a baggy suit and is plagued by
blood circulation problems as a result of the last 54 days of fasting;
he has protested in this way 25 times before. He is in Brussels to
appear before the Parliament’s subcommittee on human rights today (12
“We’re here in search of the MEPs’ shame, ethics and morals. They want
the best for Cuba, but they give us the impression that they are being
manipulated by the Cuban government, which is very adept at making out
that changes have been made, when in fact nothing has been done,” said
the 2010 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought winner.
The Cuban journalist has spent more than 11 years behind bars for his
activism against the Castro revolution.
“I think that if the two biggest democratic political blocs in the
world, the EU and the US, don’t start making the Cuban government take
steps towards democracy, there will be a chain of social explosions,
because there will be so much accumulated hatred, and we’ll find
ourselves in civil war. We need a negotiated solution,” he said.
The EU hopes to close a bilateral agreement with Cuba before the end of
the year, defining a new stage of relations with the Latin American
nation; the only country in the region with which the EU does not have
such a deal.
The bloc and Havana started negotiating their first bilateral agreement
back in April 2014, before being initialled at a ceremony in the Cuban
capital on 11 March this year.
The aim of the deal is to supersede the EU’s Common Position, a set of
guidelines that have been in force since 1996, put forward by the then
conservative Spanish government, headed by José María Aznar.
Cuba’s authorities have always maintained that this policy has acted as
an obstacle to full-blown relations between their country and the EU.
In September, the European Commission called on the member states to
support a cooperation and political dialogue agreement with Havana. In
parallel to the deal, both parties established a formal dialogue on
“There cannot be economic prosperity if there isn’t freedom and
democracy,” insisted Fariñas. “We are in favour of an agreement and we
are in favour of the EU’s involvement in Cuba.” But the journalist added
that negotiating human rights with “bandits” is problematic.
In his view, the agreement should compile specific issues, like the
release of political prisoners, the legalisation of other political
parties and the creation of a democratic electoral law, among others.
“The EU and the US are competing to see who can get the most economic
privileges out of Cuba,” he said, adding that he finds it
“inappropriate” that the EU is not in consultation with the opposition
“We are the democrats,” insisted the intellectual, who once went from 82
kilos to 48 kilos during a hunger strike when he was enduring a 12 month
stint in prison.
His commitment to non-violence is clear, but he avoided launching a
direct critique of opposition groups based in Miami, New Jersey and
Puerto Rico, who have used violent means in the past in their attempts
to unseat the Castro regime.
“We cannot speak about left-wing terrorism being good and right-wing
terrorism being bad. We have to begin to forgive,” added the Cuban, who
is the midst of a European tour that has already taken in Madrid and
will take him to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg and the
universities of Valencia and Salamanca.
Fariñas accuses the Cuban revolutionaries of being the first to resort
to violence against the population; his own father belonged to Castro’s
26 July Movement that overthrew then dictator Fulgence Batista.
“They set bombs in order to create chaos and make people stay at home.
Fidel Castro ordered that,” he said.
He then spoke about Fidel’s brother Raúl, current president of the
council of state, who has been capable of pardoning the Revolutionary
Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), but “does not pardon his own compatriots”.
Source: Cuban dissident calls on EU not to forget human rights –