EU foreign policy chief says 'blockade' of Cuba not solution

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

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HAVANA, Cuba (AFP) — Blockading Cuba is not the solution, the European Union's foreign policy chief said Wednesday on a trip aimed at strengthening ties with Havana, after Washington tightened restrictions on the island.

Much of the half-century-old US economic embargo against Cuba remains entrenched in law, but under former president Barack Obama federal authorities began to loosen some rules -- something his successor Donald Trump vowed to reverse.

"The blockade (of Cuba) is not the solution. The Europeans have told our American friends many times; we have affirmed it in the United Nations," Federica Mogherini said during a presentation to students and teachers in Havana.

"We know well that the sole effect of the blockade is to worsen the quality of life of women, men and children," she said.

"The blockade is obsolete, it is illegal," Mogherini said.

Mogherini's remarks came on the first of a two-day visit to Cuba that will include meetings with officials with the aim of a "swift joint implementation of the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (PDCA) between the EU and Cuba," according to an EU statement.

The agreement covers dialogue and cooperation on issues such as human rights, migration and drugs and governance, and commercial exchanges.

US-Cuba ties began to warm when Obama was in office, with the countries exchanging ambassadors in 2015 for the first time since 1961, but Trump has taken a different approach.

In June Trump appeared in Miami before a cheering crowd of Cuban-Americans, including veterans of the failed CIA-backed Bay of Pigs invasion, to vow to reverse Obama's measures.

In November, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin laid out a series of revived rules.

Under the directives, Americans will be forbidden from doing business with entities on a State Department list headed by the Cuban defense and interior ministries.

Also on the list are five major holding companies with ties to Raul Castro's government or military, and which between them control much of the organized tourism sector.

The list goes on to list dozens of major hotels in Havana and several resorts, along with five Caribbean marinas, ten stores in touristy Old Havana and industries serving the military.




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