Formally, the journey that Josep Borrell begins in Cuba this Thursday responds to a routine bilateral appointment. However like all go to by a politician to Havana, the one which the EU’s Excessive Consultant for International Coverage begins on the Caribbean island has little of the unusual and far of the symbolic. Particularly at a time when Europe needs to reap the benefits of the approaching Spanish rotating presidency to relaunch relations with Latin America. And Cuba, a rustic with little financial weight however an ideal political cost, in addition to a historic relationship with Russia, can nonetheless open doorways. Or shut them.
“You can not have a relationship with Latin America, far more with the Ibero-American neighborhood, with out Cuba being there,” Spanish diplomatic sources stress. Particularly at a time when at the very least two of the important thing international locations for Brussels within the area, Brazil and Mexico, have governments which are very delicate to the remedy given to the Caribbean island. Because of this, the Authorities of Pedro Sanchez welcomes this go to, which precedes the EU-Celac (Group of Latin American and Caribbean States) summit to be held in Brussels in July, because the beginning sign for a lift to ties of Europe with a key area, not solely by way of political alliances, but additionally financial and uncooked supplies now that relations with Russia and China have turn out to be exponentially difficult.
However each Madrid and Brussels are conscious that, in the case of Cuba, you’re strolling a really fantastic path and that many suspicious eyes -especially in issues of human rights, by which the island’s authorities has a protracted black document — will comply with Borrell’s each step in Havana. The notices haven’t stopped arriving because the journey of the senior neighborhood official was introduced every week in the past.
Moscow was, since its Soviet instances, a key ally of the then authorities of Fidel Castro and has remained so to today: it has been Russia, recollects the political scientist Arturo Lopez-Levy, which “has come to the rescue” of Cuba within the umpteenth deep financial disaster that the nation is experiencing because the covid pandemic devastated tourism and has even compelled the island to cancel its symbolic Could Day parade this 12 months. However this doesn’t imply that Havana solely listens to the Kremlin, provides the Cuba specialist, who presently works as a visiting professor on the Middle for Worldwide Relations of the Autonomous College of Madrid.
“One factor that has been missing in Europe is knowing the distinction between what unconditional help for Russia means and what Cuban multilateral diplomacy has really promoted, a type of pro-Russian neutrality,” says Lopez-Levy. On this context, Cuba’s abstentions within the United Nations votes condemning Russia for the invasion of Ukraine are important, completely different from Nicaragua’s reiterated help for Moscow.
Because of this, “if Borrell performs the suitable keys on the piano,” he considers, Cuba can turn out to be an attention-grabbing associate for Europe, particularly at the moment when “the EU is dedicated to multilateralism” and Havana workouts the rotating presidency of the group of 134 growing international locations that make up the G-77+China.
“Cuba can cooperate with Borrell’s agenda in order that Latin America is a associate of a strategically extra autonomous Europe”, as Brussels seeks, particularly because the struggle in Ukraine highlighted its harmful overseas dependencies, provides the political scientist. For its half, Cuba wants Europe insofar as it may be a lever to advance two of its recurring calls for earlier than the US: the condemnation of the sanctions that Joe Biden has not completed reversing after the period of Donald Trump, which undid good a part of the thaw coverage undertaken earlier by Barack Obama, and in addition leaving Washington’s listing of nations sponsoring terrorism, to which the island returned by resolution of the Republican president in 2021. The EU can be the principle business, investor and cooperation associate on the island, recollects Brussels.
A clearer human rights agenda
“I encourage the excessive consultant to satisfy with representatives of the opposition, family of political prisoners and free civil society organizations, and never solely with these orchestrated by the regime,” he mentioned in a press release.
“Borrell’s go to to Cuba can be vital for Cuban society if the EU can stress the federal government of that nation to place human rights on the middle of the dialogue,” agrees Erik Jennische, director for Latin America at Civil Rights Defenders. On the eve of the journey of the top of European diplomacy to Havana, this Swedish NGO signed a press release with seven different organizations, together with Amnesty Worldwide and Human Rights Watch, claiming that, in his conferences with the island’s authorities, Borrell “insisted the Cuban authorities to instantly and unconditionally launch all of the folks detained solely for exercising their human rights.”
“The settlement that Cuba has signed with the EU says that the events are going to respect human rights and democracy and, evidently, that nation will not be doing it,” Jennische maintains, and warns: “Cuba will not be going to maneuver in direction of democracy and respect for human rights if the voices of that civil society are usually not heard and if there is no such thing as a actual worldwide stress for the Authorities to cease its practices of violation of human rights”.