Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cuba welcomes end of EU sanctions

June 24, 2008

HAVANA (AFP) — Cuba welcomed on Tuesday the European Union's lifting of sanctions against the communist-rule island, saying "truth" and "reason" had defeated the punitive measures.

"We never surrendered in this confrontation, because we were convinced that reason would prevail," Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque said during an official visit in Angola, according to the state-run agency Prensa Latina.

The EU "had no other choice but to abandon its strongarm policy," Perez Roque said. "The truth opened the way in the recent decision of the EU to lift its sanctions."

It was the first reaction of Raul Castro's regime since the EU officially lifted its sanctions on Cuba Monday in the hope of encouraging democracy on the island in the post-Fidel Castro era.

The move was decried by Washington and Cuban dissidents.

The measure was a largely symbolic political step as the EU sanctions have been suspended since 2005. It was championed by Spain, which normalized relations with Cuba last year.

Last weekend, Fidel Castro, 81, who officially handed power to his brother Raul in February due to an illness, described the EU's decision to end the sanctions "enormous hypocricy."

Castro criticized the EU for demanding that human rights be respected in Cuba, while it approved a "brutal" immigration law and kept quiet about abuses committed by US President George W. Bush's administration.

Cuban dissidents had said that Fidel Castro's decision to voice his criticism of the EU while the government remained silent hinted at a disagreement between the Castro brothers and within the Communist Party.

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JG: As long as other countries respect Cuba's national sovereignty and independence, Cuba could and should have friendly relations with any country based on policies of mutual respect. What I am sure Cuba will always reject is those misguided and imperialistic countries who try to impose ill advised dictates on its government and its people. Live and let live.

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