EU – Cuba Agreement: As if you Could Trust Raúl Castro

On September 22 the new Political Dialogue and Cooperation agreement between the EU and Cuba was finally made public by the EU Commission and transferred to the EU Council. The agreement text was signed at a ceremony in Havana in March, but the EU Commission has refused to make public the agreement before its formal adoption.

The new agreement is broad and lies the ground for wide multilateral cooperation on various issues such as tax collection, environmental issus, tourism and national statistics. Hence, it should be an agreement between parties sharing core values such as respect for democracy and human rights.

Civil Rights Defenders along with several Cuban human rights organisations have followed the agreement negotiation process since the beginning to ensure that Cuban and European citizens gain insight into the process and that the EU clearly calls for change in Cuba. The demands from the organisations to the EU have been spelled out in a letter to the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini, who heads the EEAS. The EEAS reply stated that the agreement would “include respect of human rights and promotion of democracy as central elements.”

 The agreement text contains several passages highlighting the importance of democracy and human rights. By signing the agreement Cuba will publically state a commitment to respect fundamental human rights. But since the oppression and disrespect of human rights in Cuba are enshrined in the constitution, even the best agreement text will not alter the status quo of oppression by the Cuban authorities.