CubaBrief: U.S. Senators send bipartisan letter to Lithuanian Ambassador urging Lithuania’s parliament reject the PDCA treaty between the EU and the Castro regime

Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Rick Scott, and Senator Robert Menendez sent a letter to the Lithuanian Ambassador to the United States on March 3, 2020 “urging the Lithuanian parliament to reject the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (PDCA) treaty between the European Union (EU) and Cuba. The EU finalized this agreement in November 2016 despite concern by some EU member states as well as human rights and democracy activists around the world.”

Why are Republican and Democrat Senators making this request to the Lithuanian Ambassador and Parliament in a bipartisan letter?

The Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement, PDCA, between the European Union and Cuba as being provisionally applied has not promoted human rights in Cuba, but legitimized a 61 year old totalitarian dictatorship with the EU’s European External Action Service (EEAS) calling the Castro regime a “one party democracy.” 

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

The PDCA states that “[r]espect for and the promotion of democratic principles, respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms as laid  down in  the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the core international human-rights instruments and their optional protocols which are applicable to the Parties, and respect for the rule of law constitute an essential element of this Agreement.” The PDCA also states that “essential” elements of the Agreement that are violated are grounds for ending it. 

This is how it was supposed to work in theory, but in practice it has proven far different.

The regime in Cuba continues to systematically violate human rights, and recently disregarded the request by the Delegation of the European Union to attend the trial of Cuban dissident, José Daniel Ferrer, in February 2020. Cuba remains the only country in the Americas that does not allow Amnesty International, or other independent human rights monitors entering to ascertain the human rights situation.

In 2019, Amnesty International identified six new prisoners of conscience in Cuba. The sixth being independent journalist and attorney, Roberto de Jesús Quiñones Haces, who began serving a one year prison sentence on September 11, 2019 for covering a political trial in April of the same year.

Under the 1996 EU Common Agreement on Cuba, that was ended to make way for the PDCA, the EU and European states used to meet with dissidents in an official capacity. Those days ended in 2016.

In addition, the European Union and its member states have poured tens of millions of euros into the coffers of the Castro dictatorship, even though the regime has been failing to meet its debt obligations to the Paris Club, while Havana sends soldiers and secret police to engage in repression in Venezuela. Is it possible that EU funds are already going to Cuba, and in turn propping up the Maduro dictatorship in Venezuela?

The Center for a Free Cuba believes that human rights must be an essential feature of any relationship with Cuba, and one not subject to the vetoes of the Castro dictatorship, and that providing hard currency to the regime only serves to prop up its most repressive elements in Cuba and in Venezuela.

The full text of the letter is below followed by an embedded image of the signed letter.

Senator Bob Menendez, Senator Marco Rubio, and Senator Rick Scott sent a letter to Lithuania's US Ambassador

Senator Bob Menendez, Senator Marco Rubio, and Senator Rick Scott sent a letter to Lithuania’s US Ambassador

We write in regards to the upcoming vote in Lithuania’s Parliament on the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (PDCA) between the European Union (EU) and Cuba. The United States and Lithuania share a vision and set of values that have served as a foundation of the relationship between our nations for decades. Both of our countries understand the human cost of communism and must continue to work together to promote human rights and democratic values. Therefore, we urge the Lithuanian Parliament to oppose any agreement that would provide economic assistance to the brutal communist regime in Cuba.
 
It is our understanding that the PDCA was adopted in principle by the EU in 2017 and Lithuania is one of the last countries that has yet to ratify it. The Cuban regime remains an unfortunate remnant of the same communism that severely oppressed Lithuanians, and millions of others in the region, and continues to do so today in Venezuela and throughout Latin America.
 
The Cuban regime’s violation of democratic norms and human rights have continued to worsen over the years, even as it increases its engagement with the rest of the world. Expanding political and economic benefits to an unreformed, intransigent regime in no way benefits the Cuban people, but instead serves to empower their oppressors.
 
As the United States and Lithuania share a commitment to freedom around the world, including in Cuba, we urge the Lithuanian Parliament to reject this agreement and stand in solidarity with the Cuban people.
 
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
 
Sincerely,

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