21 November 2006

Spain's Policy of Critical Dialogue

As Castro wastes away in a Havana hospital room, reportedly with a bible in hand and presumably looking for loopholes, he keeps losing the support of his fair weather European fans.

Even the socialist Zapatero government has joined in criticizing the communist regime. The European Union is divided in its approach to Castro’s Cuba. The Eastern European countries, formally under the Soviet yoke, and led by Prague understand that the only way to bring about political change in Cuba is through economic pressure. These countries which usually include Germany tend to side with the United States on trade sanctions and limitations as a means to pressure Havana into addressing its human rights issues and move towards democratization. The United States has refused to allow Cuba access to its capital and its markets until it stops oppressing the Cuban people and promoting instability in Latin America. Old Europe if you will, led by Madrid, prefers to do business with Havana while suggesting political reform by maintaining a “critical political dialogue”.(and lining their pockets at the expense of exploited Cuban workers)

With Fidel Castro Ruz on his death bead looking for divine redemption, these countries who had no qualms in entering into joint ventures with the Cuban regime, are now looking to get into the “right” side of history by offering up some empty rhetoric. Spanish Hotel companies, for example, pay the Havana regime for labor at its tourist resorts. The regime then turns around and pays its workers only 4% of what the foreign firm pays the Cuban government and pockets the difference. One can talk about democracy and human rights ad nauseaum, but entering into such agreements where one knows that Cubans are being exploited and treated as indentured servants is morally reprehensible and only perpetuates the injustice. That’s some socialist government: profits at the expense of worker exploitation.

That having been said , Spain , however, continues to put rhetorical pressure on the Cuban regime to democratize which has lead to friction between Havana and Madrid.

Spain’s socialist Secretary of State for Latin America, Trinidad Jiménez, has said at a Madrid news conference that Madrid’s political dialogue with Havana continues but that the interchange is sometimes “critical”. She didn’t say who does the criticizing but added that all that Spain wants for Cuba is all that comes with democratic freedom, elections, respect for fundamental human rights, and socio-economic development. She didn’t mention profits.

Jiménez was on the receiving end of a “critical political” exchange last year when as the then main foreign policy figure for the Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party, she condemned the acts of repudiation that the regime ordered on a prominent dissident. She also added that Spain’s socialist government only wanted Cuba to have democracy. Those statements earned her the ire of Castro himself who publicly repudiated Ms. Jiménez.

Spain also received another critical political exchange recently the secretary General of Reporters Without Borders, Robert Menard, was presented with the Fourth Antonio Asencio prize for journalism by King Juan Carlos of Spain

At the awards ceremony Menard took up the plight of 24 journalists jailed in Cuba. He praised Spain for denouncing the murders of journalists in Colombia and Mexico, but complained that Spain has remained complacent with the repressive Cuban dictatorship.

The European Union seems to be taking the formerly feared Castro’s impending trip to Hades as an opportunity to push for reform in Cuba. Fair Weather Fans jumping on the funeral wagon.This is most welcomed.

No comments: