We cannot call dictators our friends, as Federica Mogherini does. We must recognize the existence of the Cuban opposition

The bad situation regarding respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Cuba was addressed by MEPs during their November plenary session. The result of the debate and vote is a resolution that emphasizes the respect for human rights as a fundamental precondition for the development of the relationship between the EU and Cuba. „We cannot call Cuban dictators our friends. We must recognize the existence of the Cuban opposition,“ one of the main authors of the adopted text, Pavel Telička, said.

The situation in Cuba is still problematic. Independent journalists, peaceful dissidents, human rights defenders and members of the democratic opposition are arbitrarily detained. Everyone who criticizes the government is persecuted, intimidated and held in jail. „This resolution is in fact in support of the Cuban dissidents who are continuously harassed. This is in support of those who, although they are laureats of Sakharov Prize, are not invited to EU events. This is in support of the Cuban opposition, which should be recognized not only by the Cuban regime but also by the EU,“ Telička emphasized.

„The Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement with Cuba has been in force more than a year. Sadly, this new chapter in EU-Cuba relations has not improved the situation in the country,“ Telička said, „on the contrary, human rights have deteriorated exemplified by an increasing number of arbitrary detentions, persecutions, acts of harassment and attacks against peaceful dissidents.“

On February 2019, the constitutional referendum will take place in Cuba. Since there are no free and democratic elections, there are strong doubts about the legitimacy of the results of this important referendum, which will decide on controversial and significant changes to the Cuban constitution. Based on them, the Communist Party will become the only legal political force on the island. „Unfortunately, these constitutional changes lack the provisions on tolerance and respect for basic civil and political rights that could guarantee a democratic process in the country,“ the Vice-President of the European Parliament regrets.

We, therefore, call on the Cuban authorities to fulfil and facilitate the basic right to an open and democratic vote, so that the binding popular consultation is free and credible.“ Telička said, „at the same time, the EU must use the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement with Cuba to address human rights issues by setting clear red lines and making sure this deal is fully respected and implemented. Havana must deliver when it comes to fundamental rights and this should not be negotiable.“

Pavel Telička has been dealing with the situation in Cuba for a long time, long before becoming a Member of the European Parliament. He regularly meets representatives of the Cuban opposition and human rights activists. „I have been organizing, co-organizing and taking part in events focusing on this issue,“ Telička added, „unfortunately, I must say that the results are still the same and the situation in Cuba is not improving. On the contrary. That is why I welcome today’s debate and the adoption of the resolution.“

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