In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

EU lifts sanctions on Cuba

Posted by smeddum on June 21, 2008

20 June, 2008
EU Lifts Sanctions on Cuba (Granma)

BRUSSELS, June 19.— The European Union agreed Thursday to lift its sanctions against Cuba, informed EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, quoted by Reuters.

“The sanctions on Cuba will be lifted,” Ferrero-Waldner told reporters after the Foreign ministers of the 27-member bloc reached an agreement in Brussels.

The unjust measures of the EU were imposed in 2003 under the pretext of Cuba’s decision to arrest 75 counterrevolutionaries, paid and supported by the US to subvert the political, economic and social order of the country.

The sanctions included limiting governmental visits, reducing European participation at cultural events in Cuba, and inviting counterrevolutionaries to organized receptions when the different EU member states celebrated their national celebrations.

In addition to eliminating the sanctions, the EU seeks to reactivate a political dialogue with Cuba. The sanctions were first applied on the insistence of Spain under the rightwing government of Jose Maria Aznar, a close ally of George W. Bush. Following the position of the current government of Spain, the rotating president of the EU, currently held by Slovenia for the first semester of 2008, prepared a document proposing to lift the sanctions and to launch a political dialogue with the Cuban government headed by President Raul Castro.

AFP reported that 27 EU Foreign ministers agreed with the proposition during the opening of the European Council summit. Now the document must be officially approved, possibly next week at an EU Agriculture Ministers Council meeting in Luxembourg.

A proposal by the Czech Republic —one of the EU governments that is most submissive to US interest— introduces in the text a “renewed commitment” with the so-called Common Position of 1996, promoted by Aznar that became an instrument of meddling in Cuba’s internal affairs.

The EU members committed themselves to reexamine “the results of the political dialogue and human rights” within a year. “What will not be reassessed is the implementation of the sanctions, because these are permanently lifted,” said Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos.

“The Foreign ministers of the 27 EU countries have unanimously decided to permanently lift the 2003 sanctions and to begin a period of dialogue without conditions nor limited by any measures that the Spanish government believes were never useful and had in fact been counterproductive,” said Moratinos at a press conference.

From Washington, the reaction was one of disappointment: “We would not be supportive of the EU or anyone else easing those restrictions at this time,” said US State Dept. spokesperson Tom Casey.

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