BRUSSELS – Human Rights Watch on Monday asked the European Union to apply a strategy of multilateral pressure in its relations with Cuba, instead of specific sanctions or political declarations.
“A policy of multilateral pressure on behalf of change” in communist Cuba could make “an enormous difference,” HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth said while presenting in Brussels the New York-based group’s annual report.
Specific acts of pressure, such as Washington’s 48-year-old economic embargo on the island, have proven to be “very counterproductive,” since they have served as an excuse for the Cuban regime to blame the United States for their country’s economic problems, Roth said.
In that regard, the U.S. government has taken a step forward by easing restrictions on travel and sending remittances from the United States to Cuba, he said.
Roth also hailed the “determination” of the Spanish government to achieve the release of Cuba’s political prisoners, though he said that the number of prisoners set free up to now “is just the tip of the iceberg.”
Dozens of freed Cuban political prisoners have been welcomed by Spain since last summer as the result of Madrid-backed talks between the Raul Castro government and the island’s Catholic hierarchy.
Instead of “political resolutions and declarations,” the European Union and other powers such as the United States should apply “wide-ranging multilateral pressure, a strategy that favors change, and to continue demanding the freeing of political prisoners and the acknowledgment of civil rights,” Roth said. EFE