Signs were evident. Touring Spain in May, the Cuban musical duo Buena Fe (Good Faith) had their concerts disrupted by thugs; some were canceled. A month later in Paris, protests orchestrated by a Cuban émigré university professor forced a prestigious poetry festival to withdraw the honorary presidency it was going to award Cuban poet Nancy Morejón.
On July 12, Cuba’s unstable relations with European governments went downhill fast. The European Parliament approved a “Resolution on the state of the EU-Cuba PDCA in the light of the recent visit of the High Representative to the island.” There were 359 votes in favor, 226 against, and 50 abstentions.
The PDCA is the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement that, facilitated by the European Council and signed in 2016, was supposed to encourage individual countries to downplay differences with Cuba in favor of European consensus and “constructive engagement.” It was to have “supported the process of economic and social modernization in Cuba.”
The PDCA replaced the EU’s “Common Position” that, from 1998 on, promoted relationships that Cuba regarded as “unilateral, interventionist, selective and discriminatory.”
Josep Borrell, the top EU diplomatic representative, had indeed visited Cuba in May on behalf of the PDCA. He was offering “support for the increasingly important Cuban private sector” and collaboration “in expanding economic reform taking place” in Cuba.
The resolution’s scope, with 60 themes, is vast, with lies sprinkled throughout. The flavor is apparent with these items:
• “Whereas … the Cuban Criminal Code … [allows for] ‘thousands of people [to be] sentenced to between one and four years of imprisonment every year, without there being any attributable crime …”
• “Whereas on 11 July 2021, the largest protests in Cuba since the 1994 ‘Maleconazo’ took place; whereas numerous protesters have been detained in Cuba since the July 2021 protests…”
• “The EP condemns the use of torture and ill treatment by the Cuban authorities …”
• “… Condemns the Cuban regime’s support for the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine and its defense of Russia and Belarus.
• “… Reiterates its call on the Council to … adopt sanctions against those responsible for the persistent human rights violations in Cuba, starting by sanctioning [President] Miguel Díaz-Canel …”
The European Parliament’s action signaled for Cuba that relations with the EU will likely turn stormy and no longer be merely inconvenient and unpredictable. That’s surely the goal, especially if there’s substance to a commentator’s charge that many of “these parliamentarians” have links “with CIA officers and diplomats stationed at the U.S. embassy in Brussels and Luxembourg”.
The result, according to Spanish EP delegate and Communist Party member Manuel Pineda, is that, “this Parliament has become a loudspeaker for the most reactionary and extreme right-wing positions, contaminating and clouding what should be the house of Europe’s sovereignty.”
The EP’s “Euroskeptic and anti-federalist” European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR) had introduced the resolution. ECR “shadow rapporteur” Herman Tertsch, a member of Spain’s rightwing Vox Party, explained that, “The resolution is a further step towards ending the EU’s intolerable complicity with the Cuban dictatorship and that of its High Representative, Josep Borrell.”
“The Cuban communists, like communists all over the world,” he observed, “will hopefully end up in the dustbin of history as wretches, murderers and failures.” He denounced “their accomplices in the democracies of America and Europe.”
The European Union is by far Cuba’s biggest trading partner and most foreign investment in Cuba comes from EU countries, as do more than one third of the tourists visiting Cuba. Having contributed €100 million over many years, as of 2021, the EU has donated most of the developmental assistance that Cuba has received.
The timing of the EP’s anti-Cuban resolution was significant. The vote missed by one day the two-year anniversary of the large anti-government protests occurring in Cuba on July 11, 2021. U.S. Secretary of State Blinken took the occasion to insist that “The United States stands in solidarity with those in Cuba who continue to desire a free democracy.”
Additionally, a long-anticipated heads-of-state summit meeting between the EU and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) took place soon after the vote, on July 17-19 in Brussels. The CELAC alliance includes all Western Hemisphere nations except the United States and Canada,
Preceding this summit were EU meetings with pre-CELAC regional alliances and CELAC-EU summit meetings in 2013 and 2015. The recent hiatus resulted from EU displeasure with “popularly elected governments and leaders” in Latin America. Now the object is to foster “respectful interchange” and to “acknowledge mutual interests.”
Chinese competition with Europe in Latin America and the Caribbean over trade, access to natural resources, and investment opportunities may have provided further encouragement.
Reflecting official sentiment ahead of the summit, journalist Claudia Fonseca Sosa stated that, “For Cuba, it’s important that … dialogue in Brussels be serious, participative, and diverse.” But aspirations she expressed of “consensus and bridge-building” are the very ones being stymied by the EP’s resolution.
The Foreign Relations Commission of Cuba’s National Assembly charged that, “The EP Resolution represents harassment of European businesses investing in Cuba or seeking to do so. It also expresses the will of extreme rightwing political forces to deprive the EU of its own independent policy toward Cuba … [and] contributes to the U.S. effort to isolate Cuba internationally and justify its genocidal blockade.”
In fact, “Adoption of this resolution singling out one … country violates principles of respect, inclusion and cooperation that were basic to the Third EU-CELAC Summit and casts doubt on EU intentions to restore relations with the region.”
Rightwing elements in the EP tried to undermine the EU-CELAC summit. They hit at the Cuban government’s perennial efforts to overcome isolation and gain a measure of protection against U.S. assaults.
As these two inter-related happenings pile on new grief for Cuba, the impression emerges of the shifting nature and operating methods of Cuba’s counter-revolutionary opposition, changes that are in line with how rightwing extremists are causing trouble elsewhere.
Cuban political analyst Iramís Rosique Cárdenas refers to the traditional rightwing current with “known liberal discourse of private property, market fundamentals, a minimum state … and with social democratic cooperation.” But another one operates through “a series of movements and organizations of the right and extreme right.” Their ideas, “held in common,” include: national chauvinism, reliance on strong states, economic protectionism, provincialism instead of multi-culturalism, xenophobia, “centrality of the traditional family,” discrimination against excluded minorities, nationalism, and religious fundamentalism.
He adds that, “The rightwing extremism active in the West displays virulent hostility against Latin American progressivism, especially the Bolivarian process, and against movements and states viewed as ‘remnants’ of 20th century communism or that, like China and Cuba, answer back to European and North American centers of power. The weakness of the left, especially in most industrialized countries, has contributed to its rise.”
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