Cuba clashes with EU at Guadalajara summit

Campaign News | Saturday, 29 May 2004

Europeans cannot stomach the word torture

Havana, May 28 (Prensa Latina) Cuba rejected on Friday the servile positions adopted by the European Union at the 3rd Latin American, Caribbean and European Union (EU-LAC) Summit in Guadalajara, Mexico.

A statement from the Cuban Government issued Friday in Havana explains that Latin America and the Caribbean proposed that the final summit declaration include a condemnation of all forms of abuse, torture and other cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners of war and other detainees.

However, for its part, the European Union opposed mentioning the topic in the Final Declaration. That stance led to a heated and controversial debate between the president of the EU and Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, second ranking official in the island?s delegation.

While during the debates the 25-nation EU was obliged to give ground, it steadfastly refused mentioning the world "torture" preferring the weaker "mistreatment."

The Cuban government statement adds that the EU also refused reference to the recent documented cases of torture used on Iraqi prisoners, preferring a watered-down non-specific censure of those acts, avoiding mention of those responsible.

The text calls that fact that the subject was breached at the summit a big moral victory, noting that many elements of the original paragraph will remain in the final declaration.

Cuba recalled that the Europeans are representatives of countries that witnessed the Nazi concentration camps where millions of people died, but today, their leaders yield to the neo-Nazi dangers flaunted by the Bush administration.

The second significant battle of the day took place between Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque and the European Union leader when Cuba brought up the issue of the Helms Burton Act and other new sanctions against the island announced by the US government.

The Cuban proposal for the final declaration rejects the application of unilateral and extraterritorial laws and sanctions that violate international law, market freedom, navigation and world trade, affirms Friday?s statement.

It underlines that in the final declaration text, the Helms Burton Act is mentioned and Washington is exhorted to rescind it because it puts the State?s sovereignty at risk and violates United Nations (UN) principles.

After another intense debate, the EU representatives were left demoralized and proposed a new wording, said the Cuban government?s statement.

This time they eliminated direct reference to the Helms Burton Act. The statement notes the energetic opposition presented by Cuba in the face of a package of new interventionist and genocidal measures announced by President George W. Bush on May 6.

It comments that the Europeans accepted mentioning the resolution presented by Cuba at the UN General Assembly titled, "Need to put an end to the Economic, Commercial and Financial Blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba."

Besides, the statement says, Cuba was presented with an EU ultimatum to accept the wording or it would not admit the paragraph.

Perez Roque did not accept the ultimatum and said that if in the Guadalajara Declaration there is no firm condemnation; Cuba would prefer the topic be eliminated and that the responsibility for its absence would rest fully on the EU.

Friday?s statement also notes that the European Union also rejected that the principles of International Law contained in the UN Charter be included in the final declaration, despite the point being previously agreed upon at the two previous summits.

Another moral victory occurred on Friday when the European Union tried to get Cuba to renounce mention of the principles of non-intervention in exchange for other matters of interest to the island, including Helms Burton.

The document highlights that, demoralized, after two hours of debate on the paragraph referring to the Helms Burton Act; the EU representatives suddenly withdrew their opposition to those principles.

According to the text, several delegations agreed that this was the most important battle of the summit.

Likewise, it calls both indignant and shameful the role played by the EU in seconding the slander against Cuba and justifying the US blockade and its plans to destroy the Revolution.

It further notes that the EU is very divided, making possible its submission to the United States.

The document of the revolutionary government concludes by affirming that Cuba and the Third World countries are determined to defend their sovereignty, and assures that the future will have the last word.


Fidel refuses to attend LA-EU summit in Mexico but ties are mended

Ambassadors to return

May 27: Cuba and Mexico are to return their respective ambassadors to try to mend relations strained earlier this month.

However, Fidel Castro is not to attend the forthcoming EU-Latin American summit in Guadalajara. He sent an open letter to the Mexican people explaining why he has declined to attend.

The Cuban Presdient gave as his reasons the attitude adopted by EU and latin American countries at the Human Rights Commission in April where they sided with the US against Cuba.

The whole of Fidel's letter is reproduced below.

A day after the letter was puiblished it was announced that relations between mexico and Cuba are on the mend after one the worst diplomatic spats between the two allies in many years.

Mexico, once Cuba's strongest ally in Latin America, accused Havana of interfering in its affairs and pulled out its envoy on 2 May.

Cuba responded by doing the same with its ambassador in Mexico City.

Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque and his Mexican counterpart, Luis Ernesto Derbez, said they had agreed to normalise ties.

The agreement came during talks on the sidelines of a European-Latin American summit being held in the Mexican city of Guadalajara.

"The objective is to normalize our relations as they were before 2 May," Mr Ernesto Derbez said.

"I believe there will be a solution but I don't know when. I think it will take some time."

"The atmosphere and discussion [at the meeting] point to a solution to the diplomatic crisis we have lived through," said Mr Perez Roque.

Mr Perez Roque did not give a date for the ambassadors' return.

Fidel's message to the Mexican people

I ask to you excuse my absence at the convened 3rd Latin American, Caribbean and European Union Heads of State and Government Summit.

For several days, I contemplated the advisability of attending.

I finally decided not to for several reasons. The fundamental ones are:

First: European Union complicity in the crimes and aggression of the United States against Cuba in the context of its despicable and hypocritical conduct in Geneva and its shameful understanding over and connivance with the Helms-Burton Act, of an unacceptable and ignominious extraterritorial nature, makes it unworthy of being taken seriously by our people.

They did not dare to say a single word in Geneva concerning the concentration camp on the illegal naval base in Guantánamo.

There is no way that during that conference, the European Union will accept any exposé of the murder, abuse and humiliation being committed against countless numbers of people from Mexico, the Caribbean and Latin America in general who attempt to escape from the underdevelopment and poverty imposed by the international, plundering and genocidal economic order prevailing in the world today, and from which it also benefits.

According to all reports received, this is a conference lacking in any content whatsoever, of a purely ceremonial nature, in which the European Union will not commit itself to anything at all, not even the most basic respect for the principle of non-intervention.

Second: The shameful consensus and betrayal of Cuba by several Latin American governments in their shameless submission to the orders of the United States, deeply wound our people, and it is not possible to concede the most minimum seriousness or respect to their judgements and decisions.

Third: Everything has been organized in such a way that there cannot be any truly free, open and public discussion on the vital issues that concern the destinies of our hemisphere and the world.

Fourth: Our ambassador was unjustly expelled from Mexico some days ago, and their are serious pending and unresolved issues related to the false and dishonest charge that our country has interfered in Mexico’s internal affairs.

Fifth: Setting aside the bitter experience of what occurred in Monterrey, in our opinion, the minimum conditions do not exist for a visit by me to that beloved sister country on the occasion of the aforementioned meeting to result in anything constructive.

I would like it to be noted how much it distresses me to lose the opportunity of greeting brothers such as Chávez, Kirchner, Lula, Patterson and other brilliant fighters for a better future for our peoples of the Americas. They will do what they can, and they are capable of doing a lot, during the five minutes that they are granted in that meeting, where, it is affirmed, the media will not be present.

Perhaps during the opening ceremonial banquet, with its speakers carefully selected beforehand, among the exquisite dishes, champagne and wine that have nothing to do with the billions of people in the world suffering from hunger and poverty, the echo of some genuinely dissident voices might be heard.

Cuba feels itself extremely honorably and ideally represented by its young, brilliant foreign minister, who in the few seconds that he is granted in a corner of that meeting, will be capable of expressing essential truths.

I continue to firmly believe that a better world is possible.


S/Fidel Castro Ruz

President of the Council of State of Cuba

May 26, 2004

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