Spain resumes aid to Cuba for human rights deal

4th April 2007, Comments 0 comments

4 April 2007, HAVANA - Spain has promised to resume development aid to Cuba in return for Havana's pledge to open dialogue on human rights.

4 April 2007

HAVANA - Spain has promised to resume development aid to Cuba in return for Havana's pledge to open dialogue on human rights.

Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos held talks with Cuba's acting president, Raul Castro late on Tuesday.

It was the first visit by a European Union minister since 2003.

The visit "continues developing the fixed objectives," said Moratinos, referring to the resumption of aid.

Moratinos added: "That is the great news. (Aid) had been suspended for many years and we're going to resume cooperating with the Cuban goverment."

Havana stopped accepting development assistance from EU member-states in the summer of 2003 during the diplomatic crisis between Cuba and Brussels sparked by the Castro government's execution of three ferry hijackers and imprisonment of 75 peaceful dissidents.

The Spanish government, headed at the time by conservative Premier Jose Maria Aznar, led the push for EU sanctions against Cuba.

Moratinos did not say if in his talks with Cuban officials they had negotiated on the possible return of the Spanish Cultural Center to Havana, a venue that has been managed by Cuban authorities since the 2003 crisis.

Spain invested USD 3.9 million in the restoration and running of the centre.

Moratinos also did not mention the possible areas of dialogue that could be pursued with the Cuban government regarding human rights, one of the most sensitive issues for the Havana regime.

But he did say that "logically" the matter had been part of the visit's agenda.

Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque said on Monday Havana was ready to begin a dialogue with Spain on the matter and set up a formal mechanism for the talks.

"Cuba is willing to do so (talk with Spain about human rights) at this time. With the European Union, there would have to be conditions like the full elimination of the sanctions against Cuba, the elimination of the common position," he said.

At their meeting, Moratinos handed Raul Castro a letter written by Spain's King Juan Carlos to Fidel Castro, who has been convalescing since late July from a serious illness.

The two-paragraph letter was written out longhand by the king as he was flying over Cuba returning to Madrid last Friday after his visit to Guatemala, it was reported.

"I send you my warmest greetings, with my best wishes for you to continue your progress of recovery and my thanks for the gift you sent me in Colombia via Eusebio Leal (the historian of the City of Havana)," read the letter.

"I take advantage of this opportunity to express sincere wishes for prosperity for the beloved people of Cuba," the letter concludes.

Castro, who in August turned 81, underwent emergency abdominal surgery in late July - the precise nature of which has remained a "state secret" - and temporarily handed over power to his younger brother Raul.

In November 1999, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia made their first and only visit Havana to preside at the Ibero-American Summit, one of the many at which both Juan Carlos and Castro have been present.

Officials with the Spanish delegation did not say anything about a possible meeting with Cuban dissidents, something that does not appear on the Spanish minister's official agenda.

In recent days, members of the internal opposition have expressed their desire to have contact with the minister and have asked him to intercede with the regime to free the dissidents currently being held in prison.

The Ladies in White, a group made up of the wives and other relatives of the 75 Cuban dissidents arrested and sentenced in 2003 to lengthy prison terms for allegedly subversive activities, called on Moratinos in a video released in Havana on Monday to ask the Castro regime to release jailed opponents.

The Cuban government has roughly 300 political prisoners in its jails.

Moratinos also met briefly with Cuba's Catholic primate, Cardinal Jaime Ortega.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

 

4 April 2007

HAVANA - Spain has promised to resume development aid to Cuba in return for Havana's pledge to open dialogue on human rights.

Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos held talks with Cuba's acting president, Raul Castro late on Tuesday.

It was the first visit by a European Union minister since 2003.

The visit "continues developing the fixed objectives," said Moratinos, referring to the resumption of aid.

Moratinos added: "That is the great news. (Aid) had been suspended for many years and we're going to resume cooperating with the Cuban goverment."

Havana stopped accepting development assistance from EU member-states in the summer of 2003 during the diplomatic crisis between Cuba and Brussels sparked by the Castro government's execution of three ferry hijackers and imprisonment of 75 peaceful dissidents.

The Spanish government, headed at the time by conservative Premier Jose Maria Aznar, led the push for EU sanctions against Cuba.

Moratinos did not say if in his talks with Cuban officials they had negotiated on the possible return of the Spanish Cultural Center to Havana, a venue that has been managed by Cuban authorities since the 2003 crisis.

Spain invested USD 3.9 million in the restoration and running of the centre.

Moratinos also did not mention the possible areas of dialogue that could be pursued with the Cuban government regarding human rights, one of the most sensitive issues for the Havana regime.

But he did say that "logically" the matter had been part of the visit's agenda.

Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque said on Monday Havana was ready to begin a dialogue with Spain on the matter and set up a formal mechanism for the talks.

"Cuba is willing to do so (talk with Spain about human rights) at this time. With the European Union, there would have to be conditions like the full elimination of the sanctions against Cuba, the elimination of the common position," he said.

At their meeting, Moratinos handed Raul Castro a letter written by Spain's King Juan Carlos to Fidel Castro, who has been convalescing since late July from a serious illness.

The two-paragraph letter was written out longhand by the king as he was flying over Cuba returning to Madrid last Friday after his visit to Guatemala, it was reported.

"I send you my warmest greetings, with my best wishes for you to continue your progress of recovery and my thanks for the gift you sent me in Colombia via Eusebio Leal (the historian of the City of Havana)," read the letter.

"I take advantage of this opportunity to express sincere wishes for prosperity for the beloved people of Cuba," the letter concludes.

Castro, who in August turned 81, underwent emergency abdominal surgery in late July - the precise nature of which has remained a "state secret" - and temporarily handed over power to his younger brother Raul.

In November 1999, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia made their first and only visit Havana to preside at the Ibero-American Summit, one of the many at which both Juan Carlos and Castro have been present.

Officials with the Spanish delegation did not say anything about a possible meeting with Cuban dissidents, something that does not appear on the Spanish minister's official agenda.

In recent days, members of the internal opposition have expressed their desire to have contact with the minister and have asked him to intercede with the regime to free the dissidents currently being held in prison.

The Ladies in White, a group made up of the wives and other relatives of the 75 Cuban dissidents arrested and sentenced in 2003 to lengthy prison terms for allegedly subversive activities, called on Moratinos in a video released in Havana on Monday to ask the Castro regime to release jailed opponents.

The Cuban government has roughly 300 political prisoners in its jails.

Moratinos also met briefly with Cuba's Catholic primate, Cardinal Jaime Ortega.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

 

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