Thursday, July 31, 2008

Regarding EU Should Recognize Significance of Reforms under Raúl Castro and Inefficiency of Sanctions

On June 16, 2008 The Guardian published an article entitled "EU postpones decision on Cuba sanctions" which discussed the European Union’s debate regarding its diplomatic sanctions against Cuba. COHA Research Associate Michelle Quiles wrote the following letter to the editor in response.

It seems that the some countries do not fully appreciate the significance of Cuba’s most recent reforms (“EU postpones decision on Cuba sanctions,” June 16, 2008). Although Cuba is still far from being a liberal democracy, it is narrow-minded for countries like Sweden, the Czech Republic and the US to label the reforms being implemented by Raúl Castro as inconsequential. Exercising greater tolerance for opposition groups and homosexuals, signing two human rights treaties, and establishing greater property rights are unprecedented changes for the island. In addition, four political prisoners have been released, 30 death sentences have been commuted, and capital punishment has been unofficially abolished. Alone, these events might seem minor but taken together, they provide genuine hope for the creation of a new Cuba.

Now is the perfect time for the EU to exercise its creative leverage over Raúl Castro and help him consolidate the island’s transition to an open and democratic society. The existing EU sanctions against Havana are not being enforced, so maintaining them signifies nothing. Officially eliminating them, however, would signify an enormous act of good faith that has the potential to restore the Cuban government’s connection to the international community.

Michelle Quiles
Research Associate, Council on Hemispheric Affairs

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