Haroldo Dilla Alfonso
HAVANA TIMES — The recent statement by a senior official of the European Union indicating that “a step forward” was being made in the review relations with Cuba (i.e. implying that the “Common Position*” would in some way be revised) in light of the positive changes that have occurred on the island under the leadership of Raul Castro, is an example of policy inconsistency.
This also shows how dangerous it is to pull out a gun, if you will, in the middle of a fight if you’re not determined to use it.
Personally I’m against the Common Position and not because it has been particularly burdensome on the island. It’s more like a diplomatic pas de deux with which the Europeans — terrified over boatloads of African immigrants and their recurring financial crises — decided to placate the pressures coming from Spain’s governing Partido Popular and scold Cuba.
But nor am I against it because it suffers from that disease called nationalism. It has been a while since I made the decision that my country was going to be the place my laptop. Yet I’m against any policy of exclusion against the Cuban state, especially if it is adopted with the usual unequal measures of North Atlantic politics.
In the first sense, what life teaches us is that the Cuban political elite know how to throw into people’s faces any of the negative effects of sanctions and exclusions, and then make everyone mourn about the effects of imperialist deceit.
What’s more, any political solution that is baked up on top of extraterritorial pressure ends up hiding frustrations and resentments, which — like everything — erupt as highly destructive emotionally repressed political responses. This is just what we don’t need in Cuba.
But also, here too is a note of treacherous inequity when they penalize the weak for the same sin that is ignored when committed by the strong.
The European Union — like the United States — has allies and half-friends with whom I’d avoid sharing a coffee. This is because they either have oil (the Saudi case), or because they are key geopolitical pieces (the Israeli case), or simply because they’re creditors (the in the case of China; which has no embargo or Common Position, not even the slightest bit of displeasure is shown).
Because of all of this, I’m against the Common Position, but I think that to say at this point that you’re going make changes after having welcomed the positive steps by the Cuban government, I find to be a fable suitable for the friends of Bambi.
This is because the changes in Cuba are so slow, erratic and marginal that I don’t think they deserve applause. Plus, the country remains prostrated economically; it is a society that continues to disenfranchise people of their most basic civil and political rights and policy, and its policies are controlled by military elites, ossified bureaucrats and “bourgeoisfied” technocrats that no one has ever elected and are never accountable.
Cubans immigrants are deprived of their civil rights and are forced to ask permission to visit the land of their birth that to some extent they sustain with their remittances and consular payments.
Again, if the EU would have apologized for having drawn a gun it didn’t know how to use, or if they had explained that all of this was to protect Carromero’s hide, we would have understood even the most onerous representative of Spanish law sent to us. Indeed, I would have personally applauded such as display of sincerity.
But to say that things are moving forward is, in the best case, this type of ignorance that doesn’t relieve it of its responsibilities.
* The Common Position demands Cuba make progress on democracy and human rights before any normalization of ties with the EU.