Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2003-04-10-Speech-4-131"

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"Fidel Castro is evidently afraid of nothing so much as his own people. Which is why he is scared to death of democratic reforms and is eliminating opponents. In the shadow of Iraq, Fidel now sees his opportunity to put more than 75 dissidents and independent journalists behind bars for a villainously long time. Their only crime is that they disagree with the regime, are open about it and are possibly supported by the Americans. On my visit to Cuba in December it became clear to me that Cuba wants better relations with the European Union and is keen to accede to the Cotonou Agreement. To this end the Commission office was recently opened in Havana. Four days later came the arrests. What a slap in the face of the European Union! If the political detainees are not released, the question arises as to what the point is of a political dialogue and of a European Union office. Nor do any negotiations need to be conducted with regard to the Cotonou Agreement. I would like to hear what Commissioner Bolkestein has to say on the subject. As human rights rapporteur I have spoken to many Cuban authorities, including the Vice President and the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Unfortunately, I have to say now that they wrong-footed me with their evasive answers. Political processes behind closed doors are old Soviet practices for which there is no longer a place in a civilised world. The American boycott is ill-advised. Cuba is crazy about dollars. That is why a new invasion is needed. Not of soldiers but of peaceful visitors from America and Cuba. Democrats of the world unite ... in Cuba and give Castro a fright, by opening not only your wallet but also your mouth."@en1

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