Opposition urge Zapatero to get tough with Cuba

7th March 2006, Comments 0 comments

7 March 2006, MADRID — Spain's conservative opposition introduced a motion in parliament calling on the Socialist government to condemn the upsurge in repression in Cuba.

7 March 2006

MADRID — Spain's conservative opposition introduced a motion in parliament calling on the Socialist government to condemn the upsurge in repression in Cuba.

The "proposition," which is not draft legislation, urges Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's government to demand that Cuban authorities release political prisoners and stop harassing the opposition.

The centre-right Popular Party, or PP, said Cuba's Communist dictatorship violated human rights, "including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights".

The PP said the island imprisoned, in conditions that were "subhuman, dozens of independent journalists, peaceful dissidents, human rights activists" and members of the democratic opposition.

Cuban authorities also prevent citizens from leaving the country, as was the case with the Women in White - relatives of jailed dissidents - who were prevented from travelling to Strasbourg, France, in December to accept the Sakharov Prize from the European Parliament, the PP said.

The PP added that Zapatero's government changed policy toward Cuba, "both in Spain and in the EU Council," and "the change has not produced any results".

Nearly two years ago, Spain pushed for a rapprochement with the Castro regime that included lifting of some diplomatic sanctions previously imposed by the European Union.

The PP also called on the Spanish government to work toward winning permission from Cuba for the Women in White to be allowed to go to the European Parliament.

Last month, a Cuban human rights group said the island's 47-year-old Communist regime had begun a particularly violent offensive against peaceful dissidents and advocates of democracy.

The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation said acts of repression have occurred in eight of Cuba's 14 provinces.

The commission, considered an illegal group by the Cuban government, denounced physical aggression carried out against dissidents by organized pro-government mobs, as well as searches of homes and seizures of books and personal items.

In the spring of 2003, Cuban authorities arrested and sentenced 75 dissidents to prison terms averaging 20 years.

The prisoners - mostly democracy advocates and independent journalists and librarians - were convicted of "undermining the revolution".

International human rights groups deemed the subversion charges to be trumped up by Fidel Castro's government.

Havana has released 14 of the imprisoned dissidents and independent journalists for health reasons.

The European Parliament said in resolution last month that the European Union's political dialogue with Cuba has not led to greater freedom on the island or improved bilateral relations.

European legislators condemned "the worsening repression" in Cuba, as well as the increase in the number of political prisoners and the travel ban on the Women in White.

During 2005, Cuba did not set any political prisoners free, and the number of prisoners has grown from 294 in 2004 to 333 at present, according to the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation.

The mild diplomatic sanctions imposed by the EU on Cuba in 2003 included restricting official visits to the island and inviting dissidents to embassy receptions. The decision to keep inviting dissidents or not was left to each member state.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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