Wednesday, April 30, 2014

EU, Cuba in talks years after human rights row

EU, Cuba in talks years after human rights row

HAVANA, Cuba – Cuba and the European Union sat down at the negotiating
table Tuesday aiming at deals on political dialogue and economic

The Americas' only one-party, communist-ruled state is the lone country
in Latin America that has no political dialogue with the EU. It was
suspended in 2003 after Havana rounded up and jailed 75 dissidents.

The Cuban side, led by Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno, was
meeting in Havana with Christian Leffler, the top EU diplomat for the

Reaching a deal that leads to Havana getting any EU financial help would
be rare good news for Cuba: Its Soviet-style, top-down government-run
economy is in constant crisis and does not have access to traditional
sources of funding.

Cuba's top economic partner is its political ally Venezuela, which
provides it billions of dollars every year, in great measure keeping the
regime afloat.

But Cuba remains cash-strapped and purchases much of what it needs in
hard currency on international markets. It has been unable to produce
food efficiently, for example, for its 11 million people.

Since the end of the Cold War, Cuba has faced one economic challenge
after another but has refused to open its markets to the world. It
considers western capitalism abusive and detrimental to socialist society.

Havana does allow limited foreign investment when the government remains
in control and Cuba can certify that its socialist policies and
centralized management are not undermined.

One key example — tourism, where some Spanish companies invest in hotels
and resorts in partnerships with state and military partners.

Cuba also has refused to allow a multi-party political system and all
media are government-run. President Raúl Castro's government is
routinely criticized by international rights groups for not allowing
free assembly, free expression and other basic human rights.

Source: EU, Cuba in talks years after human rights row — The Tico Times

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