Archive for April 24th, 2014

Convergence of the United States and its allies across the Atlantic regarding Cuba

April 24, 2014


By: Rayner Pellón Azopardo

Regarding policies of confrontations by the U.S. and E.U. against Cuba; needless to say: history has demonstrated its failure.
Source: Rebelión

In the Dialogue link, dialogue promoted by the Hermanos Saiz Association (AHS) called for a debate – among young persons and academicians of recognized prestige – regarding the new elements of the imperial policy towards Cuba. The subject: What changes in the current policy of the United States as regards Cuba? that are promoted and carried out in not few cases, through the White House’s most faithful allies.

When strategic alliances are referred to on a global level, we need to refer to the transatlantic alliance, specifically the role of the European Union (EU) with its twenty eight member States and twenty members of NATO and its foreign projection. It assumes the fundamental role of “useful partner” in the division of work that ends up strengthening U.S. hegemony.

As a result, the relationship between the E.U. and Cuba has been burdened by the link between both actors and the United States to such an extent of demonstrating how a bilateral relationship becomes triangular. Regarding the scarce relevance of the Island in the pyramid of foreign priorities of the E.U. favored, generally, the quality of a communal link with the United States. Meanwhile the political and ideological order, the tendencies prove the permanence of a consensus between these conservative European forces in the sharing of strategies to promote, from different sides the so called democratic “transition” in Cuba. [1]

The scarce political cohesion of the E.U. particularly as regards to the Foreign Policy and Common security (PESC) and the open bias pro U.S. in several member states. Also joined are factors that limit the possibilities of the E.U. to promote an independent policy towards Cuba in accordance to the intents of Washington.

Known are the aggressions from the E.U. against Cuba that have been designed by the U.S. State Department. Undoubtedly the largest transcendence is the Common Position based on a “catalog of measures” presented by the special envoy of the United States, Stuart Eisenstadt in September of 1996 and later promoted by Spain in the E.U. Consensus. [2] The person responsible for proposing these measure of Washington in the E.U. Council was José María Aznar, whose ties with the terrorist organizations in Miami is notorious.

The Common Position left expressed the terms of a conditioning a purely political and marked character of interference, as a preamble and platform of later media campaigns and sanctions approved by the E.U. against Cuba in 2003. [3]

Its objective has been to undermine the pillars of the Cuban political system and promote a change of regime in the island. The document makes explicit reference to the purpose of “favoring a process of transition towards a plural democracy and (…) progressively and irreversible opening up of the Cuban economy”. In other words and reading the habitual intolerance demonstrated by the Western powers towards alternative models; the goal used to promote a transition towards a capitalist model in Cuba. [4]

The mentioned desire converged with the pretensions of all U.S. administrations since January of 1959 by the White House when the Cuban people regained their dignity by being independent and the possibility of leading their socio political and economic future of the nation.

Referring to the objective of the Common Position and the context in which it was approved, it is easy to see that this policy became complementary and subordinated to the illegal and illegitimate siege of the United States against the Island. The understanding of the European Union with the United States regarding the Helms-Burton Law (HBL) in April of 1997 constituted tactical proof of the convergence of these actors and support of the E.U. of the policy of subversion directed by the U.S. against Cuba.

According to the El País newspaper on November 13 of 1996 and later confirmed five months after, the U.S. special envoy Stuart Eisenstadt promised the countries of the community that support of the U.S. policy of Washington would “grant” successive partners 6 month deferment in the application of the HBL. Eisenstadt referred to the application of Title III of this law. [6]

With both policies, the Helms-Burton Law and Common Position of the E.U. it was intended to ignore that there is a legitimate democratic political system in Cuba, chosen freely and with sovereignty by its people. Therefore any attempt to promote reforms of its model from abroad is illegal and inadmissible to the Cuban society. The history of the Revolution has demonstrated that the sovereignty of Cuba is not on the table of negotiations regardless of the power of the counterpart and how beneficial an agreement could result in the economic field.

Consequently the adoption of the Common Position led to a continued deterioration of bilateral relations with Cuba in moments of sharp tensions. One of these periods of maximum tension occurred in 2003 when the measures of the Common Position were strengthened. Factors such as the ascension to president of George W. Bush (2000) and the acceptance of ten new member states of Eastern Europe (2004) contributed to a strained scenario.

The answer of Cuba was immediate. The suspension of cooperation with the E.U. and its member States and the freezing out of diplomats of the governments of the E.U. that added to the policy of invitations to the so called dissidents was a clear sign of the error committed. The policies of pressure have never been a fruitful road for the western pretension to increase its influence in Cuba. The resistance of the Cuban people after 50 years of an economic, financial and commercial blockade applied by the U.S. is proof.

Nonetheless there was a constant between the tendencies and principles shared by the U.S. and the E.U, the intent to extrapolate to all the nations of the planet the economic and socio political model prevailing in the capitalist countries as the only democratic road for development that disallows the criteria, culture and specificities of the underdeveloped nations. From this position, western ideologies and political criteria such as the free market, the multi party system, freedom of the press (this implies the privatization of the mass media) and from the discourse, the defense of human rights, the support of governments that practice a state of rights.

At the same time there was an attempt to homogenize cultural concepts and systems of values, since these are necessary for completing the process of world government. [7]

Also important levels of consensus are observed in their respective policies of national, regional and world security as well as actions to achieve a political ambiance and security favorable for their necessary internationalization of their capitals and economic activities sharing the belief in the legitimacy of their right to intervene, attack or sanction governments or nations that oppose their interests.

To question, weaken or destroy national governments preparing to build alternative models of development or those that simply are not considered functional for the globalizing purposes have also been a common objective of the U.S. and the E.U. in the international scenario. The application of political or military measures, the promotion of internal subversion and mass media campaigns aimed at delegitimizing political system are some of the instruments used among a widespread arsenal in which these actors cooperate.

The promotion of the U.S. and its allies of the notion of good government have answered to the interest of interfering in the domestic affairs of other countries. The fulfillment of their demands transforms into the requirement to help access of flows of external aid, of being eligible for bank loans and not obtain bad qualifications as possible destinations of foreign investments, commercial advantages or simply achieve the signing of agreements and other benefits.

Regarding Cuba specifically the E.U. has intended to legitimize and has managed to contribute funds to an opposition the U.S. has built and financed in Cuba. This so called dissidence has demonstrated that it is missing the most elemental national values and, on the contrary, has been characterized by its submissiveness and willingness in favor of imperial interests in the Island. These features typify them as agents in the service of a foreign power that is a serious violation of the penal code in Cuba but also U.S. and European laws.

Probably the most visible example of financial contributions of the E.U. is the Sajarov Prize awarded by the European Parliament (EP), with an aid package of 50 000 Euros. Since 2002 to date this institution has rewarded three times representatives of the alleged opposition in Cuba. When it decides to award the counterrevolution in Cuba at the expense of all persons who truly risk their lives in the world to defend the cause of human rights and freedoms, the ideological part of these prizes are much more visible than its official goal: “the defense of human rights”. [8] The resolutions of condemnation issued by the EP have been another instrument that has supported “the U.S. intent” referring to Cuba. In 2004, 2006, 2007and 2010; the EP issued resolutions of condemnation regarding the “situation of human Rights in Cuba”. [9] In this point it is important to note the result of a double standard projection, the resolutions of the EP has contributed to stigmatize the countries that don’t follow its cannon of democracy, demonstrated its intolerance of alternate models. The correlation of internal forces of this institution also explains their projection regarding Cuba and other progressive governments of Latin America. Suffice it to note that the sum of the seats of the popular, conservatives and liberals is enough to achieve an absolute majority (55% of the congresspersons). Another factor to consider about these resolutions is the condemnation issued by the EP that they do not necessarily represent European society.

A review of popular participation in parliamentary elections of the E.U. reports that since 1999 less that 50% of the persons go to vote. Considering these factors it is obvious to ask one question. With what moral support does the European Parliament count on to dictate democratic recipes to a government that is supported by the immense majority of its population?

The disrepute of the “opposition” in Cuba is well known and although publicly the U.S. and E.U appear as uninterested defenders of their rights it is interesting to reveal the true criteria regarding these mercenaries who, in spite of the political, economic, and media resources dictated to them lack all popular support. As revealed in a confidential memorandum sent through SINA (the United States Interest Section in Havana) on April 15, 2008, to the State Department these are some it is evaluations [10]:

“… there is no proof to demonstrate that dominant dissidents in Cuba have any influence on the common Cubans. Informal surveys made for those requiring visas or asylum have demonstrated that they barely have knowledge of the dissident personalities or their agenda (…) despite affirmations that affirm that ‘thousands of Cubans’ have no proof of this support(…); have no influence in Cuban society and offer no alternative policy to the Cuban government.”

Other European diplomats share this view and expressed during a meeting with Jonathan D. Farrar: “In a meeting the representatives of the European Union disqualified the dissidents in the same terms as the government of Cuba, insisting on the fact that they “do not represent anyone”. [11]

The double standard of the communitarian euro policy and its convergence with the U.S. in the international scenario disavows alone the alleged objective of intending to promote democracy in Cuba and of being real defenders of human rights. The resolution adopted by the EP in March of 2010 based on the death of a common prisoner in Cuba, while it does not adopt a single resolution against the coup in Honduras (2009). This is evidence of an unequal attitude of the E.U. in face of its counterparts whose real reference are the interests of the block and not the defense of human rights or democracy.

A good beginning for the E.U. in favor of human rights would be to condemn the strategic partner for the forced disappearances, the torture, secret jails and centers of detention where the International Humanitarian Right are not honored nor the condition of human beings to hundreds of persons. The E.U. has not also adopted a common position regarding the repressive regime of Israel; the facts confirm that Israel continues to deprive the Palestinian nation with its policy of economic asphyxiation and destruction of its people, of the most elemental rights.

They do not also condemn the unjust prison of Antonio Guerrero,
Ramón Labañino and Gerardo Hernández suffering in U.S. prisons for defending their compatriots from death and terror. At the same time they are silent about the protection Washington gives to the confessed terrorist such as Posada Carriles, intellectual author of blowing up in full flight a civilian plane of Cubana de Aviación in 1976. He also supports acts of terrorism such as a series of bombs placed in Havana in 1977 that caused the death of a young Italian. There are many evidences of double standard and existing complicity between the U.S. and the E.U. in the international scenario, particularly how Washington has promoted through its allies its policy towards Cuba.

The specific mention questions Cuba in the final declarations of the Transatlantic Summits held in 2007 and 2008 are another proof. [12] From the starting point of the analysis and retaking the central theme of the last space of Dialogar, dialogar: “What changes are there of the current policy of the United States towards Cuba? It would be worthwhile to ask two questions” What is the current policy of the United States towards Cuba? Is the convergence of the U.S. and its transatlantic allies maintained?

Regarding these questions first we must note that to date the Common Position imposed from the White House to the E.U. is still in force and continues to be the main obstacle for a normal relations, mutually respectful.

Cuba is the only country in Latin America and the Caribbean – one of the few in the world – not linked to the E.U. by an agreement; the only country in the region that is the focus of the Common Position that establishes conditions for future advances of cooperation in contrast to the cooperation relations the E.U. maintains with countries in which democracy and human rights are clearly deplorable.

These elements continue to demonstrate the double standard and discriminatory character of the community.
Nevertheless, the conjugation of a group of variables has contributed to a reorientation of the community policy towards Cuba and a new attitude in 2008 is observed in relations. An important role is played by the rise to power of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) in 2004 whose projection towards Cuba both in a bilateral order as in the communitarian sphere that constituted a rupture with the unconditional servility shown by Aznar towards the U.S.

In the concept of Rodríguez Zapatero his projection towards Cuba does not necessarily imply a weakening of its strategic alliance with the U.S. The goal was aimed at approaching Cuba to be in a better condition to do business of its own interests. In face of the unilateral position imposed by the Government of George W. Bush by the E.U. the PSOE proposed a new policy towards the Island opening up space for those favoring a dialogue. This position also recognized the tacit failure of confrontation led by Aznar and international strength demonstrated by Cuba.

The gradual erosion of the Bush administration, its international discredit and perspective of a change of government in Washington also created a favorable scenario so that the Council of Ministers of the E.U. in 2008, although maintaining its interference content introduced the elimination of sanctions to the offer of beginning a political dialogue with Cuba, Havana assumed this proposal for a dialogue on reciprocal basis, without conditions, not discriminatory, with full respect to the sovereign equality of the States and legal framework and institutional order of the parts such as the total attachment to the principle of non intervention in internal affairs of the States.

Since 2008 to date there have been 5 meetings of political dialogues at ministerial level. On the table are diverse subjects such as the environment and climate change, cooperation and human rights. It proves that Cuba, in equality of conditions and on the basis of mutual respect has no problem to exchange opinions on human rights even if the E.U. member states are not precisely an example in the subject [13].

This has been the proper context to renew bilateral cooperation with different member States. To the never broken relations with Belgium other countries have joined such as Spain, Austria, Cyprus, Italy, Portugal with possibility of adding more States. This tendency of bilateral affairs clearly demonstrates the erosion of the Common Position and its difficulty in practical terms.

Official cooperation with the European Commission has flowed since 2008 after the signing of a Joint Declaration that includes respect of interests, priority and the counterparts decided by the Cuban government. It has developed as such although with modest resources, cooperation in basic sectors of food security, agriculture, environment and heritage.

In November of 2012 the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the E.U. approved a mandate to begin a project for visas in an eventual negotiation of agreement with Cuba. This fact, in itself is an important step towards normalizing relations with Cuba. However, a long and hard process is foreseen and not without attempts to block it by those actors who have a more negative position towards Cuba. History has demonstrated that the enemies of normalizing relations have used the Cuban internal policy as an alibi to subvert favorable tendencies so repeated that it does not seem casual.

However, the internal Cuban dynamism today functions as a catalyst of approximation of the European community whose presence in the Islands is perceived from the west as a more effective means to influence the changes they are interested in stimulating in Cuba [14]. In this sense, the process of updating the Cuban economic model and the application of a new migratory policy has had an important impact. For the future, the adjustments being introduced in the Law of Foreign Investment in Cuba, the putting in force the decree law about the Special Zone of Development of Mariel and the policies that have been approved in different economic sectors can also constitute an incentive for different economic actors in the E.U.

The non existence, since 2009, of declarations with negative allusions regarding Cuba in the Annual Transatlantic Summits, far from unexpected evidences there is a certain agreement between the White House and the current posture of the E.U. regarding Cuba. Although not exempt from divergence, the deepening and conversion in the international contact of the E.U. with the U.S. has been historically a constant that foresees with more or less nuances the means to achieve it; there is a coincidence of the ends of the respective policies of both actors. [15]

Recent events illustrate the permanence of the double standard in the community States in relation to Cuba and the intent of developing a policy of double track that increases relations and political and diplomatic, cultural and economic contacts bilaterally while at the same time it maintains actions to legitimize intervention and subversion in Cuba. A projection that has qualitative differences regarding U.S. interest but undoubtedly has important points of contact with the methods of “soft and smart power” promoted by Obama.

The projection of several States of the E.U. in the Periodic Universal Evaluation of the council of Human rights in the UN held in June of 2013 demonstrated the persistence to legitimize the counter revolution intending to present them as true agents of a foreign power. as defenders of Human Rights in Cuba.

They again reproduced their democratic canons as recipes that Cuba should assume and intending to place the Cuban Government in the defendants chair that evidently failed. [16]

The reception of the European Parliament and several European States in 2013, of representatives of the alleged dissidents illustrates the same guiding line. These meetingshave been opportune scenarios for the leaders of Parliament and other political figures making a show of their lack of respect for the Cuban people and repeat their old purpose of promoting a transition in Cuba. Undoubtedly these positions find a fertile reception of its strategic partner: the U.S. [17]

Referring to the positions of Cuba and based on coherent principles defended by the foreign policy, the total normalization of relations with the E.U. must necessarily occur with the end of the Common Positions and establishment of an agreement with an arrangement of mutual interests of the parts. Undoubtedly a dangerous road. [19]

On the other hand, although in the framework of a new context of E.U.-Cuban relations and with the use of differentiated instruments the convergence between the purposes of the U.S. and E.U. regarding Cuba are still evident and more visible for their shared methods in the political and ideological scenario than the economic. In this respect Obama has increased regulations of the blockade and increased sanctions against those companies and banks to evade the siege against Cuba, the member states of the E.U. are still an important economic partner for Cuba concentrating about 25% of trade, almost 50% of foreign investment plus 40% in tourism.

From Cuba there are also clear messages: positions of force like the Helms-Burton Law and Common Position are illegal, illegitimate and haven’t the slighted possibility of destroying the sovereignty of the Cuban people

Intending to isolate the Cuban government is a utopia in the current international context. Cuba has achieved its regional and world insertion without making concessions of its economic and political principles. Although in may be inadmissible for the enemies of the Revolution today the isolation of policies like the HBL and PC are more visible.

Cuba has advance considerably in its relations with trade blocks such as CARICOM and MERCOSUR; it was incorporated as full member in the Latin American Association of Integration (ALADI). It is a founder of the Association of Caribbean States, ALBA and CELAC where it occupied the pro tempore presidency in the latter association. It performs a noteworthy role in the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) that groups 18 countries of the South.

Since 1991 to date the General Assembly of the UN unequivocally condemns with a resounding majority the economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba. The blockade against Cuba also has little support of the U.S. public opinion demonstrated in several surveys: CNN, Gallup Poll, Orbitz Worldwide (second Travel Agency on the Internet), BBC/Harris Interactive and others.

Cuba is the only country in Latin America and the Caribbean recognized by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) that has eliminated infant malnutrition. Cuba has achieved a low infant mortality and high life expectancy, attention to the handicapped and levels of education only comparable and, at times higher, than countries of the first world that denies the campaign that powers conduce to legitimize interference positions.

Despite shortages and difficulties the Cuban people have shared, with no ulterior motive, what it has with other nations, contributing in solidarity with the realization of human rights of other peoples of the world.

Inside Cuba – without foreign interference and pressures – political and mass organizations are involved in perfecting its socialist model.

Aware of the need to change what should be changed but also decided to safeguard is sovereignty and social conquests. Undoubtedly the Cuban people have won and deserve the respect of the international community and even among the adversaries of the Revolution who should acknowledge the right of self determination of its political, economic and social system that is best for its people.

It should be noted by those who like to foresee the future, among the variables that today condition the U.S. and E.U. projection as well as convergences and divergences regarding Cuba more than ever supports the social, political and economic position of the Island. From the depth and success of our process of updating and strengthening the international position of Cuba also depends on future instruments executed by the western powers. Regarding policies of confrontation today carried out by the U.S. and E.U. against Cuba there is nothing more to say: history has demonstrated its failure.

Translation by the Network in Defense of Humanity

Alan Gross’ Fasting Folly

April 24, 2014


By Max S. Cruz

Alan Gross’ fasting folly

healthshakeTwo weeks ago, Alan Gross, a USAID subcontractor arrested in Cuba in 2009 for activities aimed at overthrowing the Cuban government, desperately announced that he was beginning a fast in an attempt to get the attention of US President Obama, who has basically abandoned Mr. Gross:

“I am fasting to object to mistruths, deceptions, and inaction by both governments, not only regarding their shared responsibility for my arbitrary detention, but also because of the lack of any reasonable or valid effort to resolve this shameful ordeal.”

All major news sources rushed to tell the world that a man had gone on hunger strike.

“Fast” and “hunger strike” are not interchangeable terms.

A fast implies a stopping point and allows for some nourishment of your choosing. One can go on a juice fast, for example, usually for a week or two. A…

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