Parliamentary question by Marco Cappato (TDI) to the Council and answer

Parliamentary questions
by Marco Cappato (TDI) to the Council
(20 September 2000)

Subject: Cuban authorities' attempts to keep an Italo-Cuban couple apart and prevent them from emigrating

In 1999, an Italian national, Enrico Orlandini, married a Cuban national, Yaima Prado Gattorno. When the latter applied to the Cuban authorities for a passport with a view to emigrating with her husband, the authorities decided to enforce a sentence for "association with a foreigner", which had previously been passed but had until then been suspended. Meanwhile, the husband has been refused all contact with his wife under the threat of a still harsher punishment should he attempt to contact her.

Will the Council intervene in this specific case and, more generally, will it raise the question of abolishing the offence of "association with a foreigner" in the context of its relations with the Cuban Government?

(30 November 2000)

The Council is keeping a careful watch on the human rights situations in Cuba. However, the specific case referred to by the Honourable Member has not been referred to the Council or discussed by it as such.

As the Honourable Member will be aware, the European Union has always taken a clear stand on human rights, whether through public pronouncements or representations to the Cuban authorities. Moreover, the EU Havana Human Rights Working Group maintains a useful dialogue with dissident groups and all those with a role in Cuban society.

The EU objective towards Cuba, as stated in the Common Position on Cuba adopted by the Council on 2 December 1996, remains to encourage a process of peaceful transition to pluralist democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as sustainable economic recovery and improved living standards for the Cuban people. Urging the Cuban regime to make Cuban legislation and the enforcement thereof fully compatible and consonant with accepted international standards also comes within that objective.

When carrying out its seventh evaluation of the Common Position in June 2000, the Council noted that although there continued to be mixed signals, there had not been any fundamental change of policy on the part of the Cuban government either towards the accomplishment of the aims of the Common Position or in the opposite direction.

The Council felt that despite the fact that the Cuban authorities had cancelled the EU Troika visit to Havana scheduled for the end of April and withdrawn their application for Cuban accession to the Cotonou Agreement, it was essential that the EU should deploy further efforts to engage the Cuban authorities in a constructive and frank dialogue on a variety of issues of common interest that might actually produce tangible results, particularly in the political, economic and civil rights spheres.