July 20, 2023
The Cuban musical duo Buena Fe (Good Faith) toured Spain in May. Thugs disrupted their concerts, forcing the cancelation of a few. A month later in Paris, protests orchestrated by a Cuban émigré university professor forced a prestigious poetry festival to take away the honorary presidency it had bestowed upon Cuban poet Nancy Morejón.
On July 12, Cuba’s relations with European governments went from unstable to possibly disastrous. The European Parliament (EP) approved a “Resolution on the State of the EU-Cuba PDCA.” The vote was 359 in favor, 226 against, and 50 abstentions—signaling trouble ahead for Cuba.
The PDCA is the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement that, signed in 2016, committed individual European countries to rely upon consensus and “constructive engagement” in their dealings with Cuba. It replaced the EU’s “Common Position” that, from 1998 on, promoted “interventionist, selective, and discriminatory” relations with Cuba.
Josep Borrell, the top EU diplomatic representative, visited Cuba in May. He was advocating for the PDCA as a means of “support for the increasingly important Cuban private sector” and for “the expanding economic reform taking place” in Cuba.
With its 60 items, the resolution’s scope was vast. False allegations of human rights violations appeared throughout. The resolution “condemn[ed] the Cuban regime’s support for the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine and its defense of Russia and Belarus.” It called for sanctions by the European Council “against those responsible for the persistent human rights violations in Cuba, starting by sanctioning [President] Miguel Díaz-Canel.”
If the resolution is any indication, EU-Cuba relations are going to be stormy. That was the whole point, surely, for those parliamentarians linked up, says one observer, “with CIA officers and diplomats stationed at the U.S. embassy in Brussels and Luxembourg.”
Spanish EP delegate and Communist Party member Manuel Pineda claimed that the EP “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 resolution had been the project of the “Euroskeptic and anti-federalist” European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR) within the EP. ECR member Herman Tertsch, belonging to Spain’s fascist-leaning 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.”
He denounced Cuba’s Communists, “communists all over the world,” and “their accomplices in the democracies of America and Europe.”
Meanwhile, the European Union is Cuba’s biggest trading partner and EU countries account for most foreign investment in Cuba and one-third of all tourists visiting there. The EU has donated most of the developmental assistance received by Cuba over many years ─ €100 million as of 2021.
The timing was significant. The vote missed by one day the two-year anniversary of large anti-government protests occurring in Cuba on July 11, 2021. U.S. Secretary of State Blinken used that anniversary to insist that “the United States stands in solidarity with those in Cuba who continue to desire a free democracy.”
Additionally, a 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 17-18 in Brussels. CELAC 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 encouragement.
Reflecting official Cuban sentiment ahead of the summit, journalist Claudia Fonseca Sosa stated, “For Cuba, it’s important that … dialogue in Brussels be serious, participative, and diverse.” However, the EP’s resolution was aimed directly at aspirations of “consensus and bridge-building.”
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 right-wing political forces to deprive the EU of its own independent policy toward Cuba.”
As new grief falls on Cuba, the role of a newly evolving version of counterrevolution, fully evident elsewhere in the world, is hitting at the island. For Cuban political analyst Iramís Rosique Cárdenas, that kind of conservative politics with “known liberal discourse of private property, market fundamentals, a minimum state…and with social democratic cooperation” is disappearing.
He describes “a series of movements and organizations of the right and extreme right” with ideas of national chauvinism, reliance on strong states, economic protectionism, provincialism instead of multi-culturalism, xenophobia, “centrality of the traditional family,” exclusion of minorities, nationalism, and religious fundamentalism.
He adds, “The right-wing extremism active in the West displays virulent hostility against Latin American progressivism, especially the Bolivarian process, and against movements and states…like China and Cuba, [that resist] European and North American centers of power.
-This article originally appeared in People’s World.