Sunday

23rd Feb 2020

Castro rails at EU for granting prize to Cuban women

Cuban president Fidel Castro has rebuffed the European Parliament's decision to grant its top human rights prize to female relatives of Cuban political prisoners, with measures taken to prevent EU embassies from inviting the laureates to official receptions.

The Cuban leader accused European nations of being "corrupt, immoral, exploitative hypocrites", suggesting they created colonialism and unfair trade, which they "keep in place even today", according to AFP.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

"They are as low, as they always have been", Mr Castro said at a teachers' graduation ceremony.

He comments on Friday (28 October) came in reaction to the European Parliament's Sakharov prize for freedom of thought award to Damas de Blanco, meaning "Ladies in White".

The group of wives, mothers and sisters of the imprisoned political opponents of the communist leader shared the 2005 prize with a Nigerian human rights lawyer and a French organisation dedicated to defending journalists.

The official Sahkarov prize ceremony is scheduled for 16 December, and the Cuban women will need government approval to leave the island in order to attend.

No change after sanctions lifted

It is the second time within three years that MEPs have granted the prize to Cuban activists, after the opposition leader Oswaldo Paya received the award in December 2002.

A few months after Mr Paya appeared in the European Parliament's seat in Strasbourg, the Cuban authorities jailed 75 of his colleagues in the opposition movement.

The EU reacted with a series of diplomatic sanctions in June 2003, which were only lifted earlier this year in a bid to promote dialogue with the communist government.

With several member states opposing the move to lift the sanctions in January, the bloc agreed its diplomats would keep communicating with the Cuban opposition.

However, the country's regime has recently banned a reception organised by the Czech embassy in a Havana-based hotel, on the grounds that Damas de Blanco's scheduled attendance gave the event a "counter-revolutionary character", Czech media reported.

Of the 75 political prisoners, just 14 have been released so far, mostly due to health problems.

Nobel nominee dispels ‘Island of Freedom’ myth

In an interview with the EUobserver at his home in Havana, last year’s winner of the Sakharov prize, Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, explains why he is not able to travel to Europe, the state of political prisoners and the myth surrounding Cuban communism. This year's short-list for the Sakharov prize will be published by the European Parliament today.

German ex-commissioner Oettinger lands Orban job

Hungary's PM Viktor Orban appointed controversial former commissioner Guenther Oettinger to a government council in a way that might break EU rules. Oettinger claims he did not know about the appointment.

EU leaders face major clash on rule of law budget link

One major issue dividing member states in the ongoing budget negotiations is inserting a direct link between EU subsidies and the rule of law. While the biggest battle will be over figures, the rule of law conditionality also creates tension.

Analysis

Is Belgium heading for new elections?

Belgian coalition talks have hit a wall nine months after elections, posing the possibility of a new vote, which risks making the country even harder to govern.

Central Europe mayors join in direct EU funds plea

They call themselves the "Pact of Free Cities". The mayors of Budapest, Bratislava, Prague and Warsaw want EU funds to bypass their governments, in order to fight climate change and populism.

Analysis

German domestic turmoil prolongs EU leadership gap

A leadership contest is back on in German chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling CDU party - which could decide not only the centre-right's future but also Germany's European policy. Berlin has been absent from the EU and will likely remain so.

News in Brief

  1. Bulgarian PM investigated over 'money laundering'
  2. Greenpeace breaks into French nuclear plant
  3. Germany increases police presence after shootings
  4. NGO: US and EU 'watering-down' tax reform prior to G20
  5. Iran: parliamentary elections, conservatives likely to win
  6. Belgian CEOs raise alarm on political crisis
  7. Germans voice anger on rise of far-right terrorism
  8. EU leaders' budget summit drags on overnight

Five new post-Brexit MEPs to watch

Five MEPs to keep an eye on from the 27 new members who are joining the European Parliament this week, following the UK's departure from the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  2. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December

Latest News

  1. No breakthrough at EU budget summit
  2. EU leaders struggling to break budget deadlock
  3. German ex-commissioner Oettinger lands Orban job
  4. How big is Germany's far-right problem?
  5. Plastic and carbon proposals to help plug Brexit budget gap
  6. Sassoli repeats EU budget rejection warning
  7. Why Miroslav Lajčák is the wrong choice for EU envoy
  8. Unhappy EU leaders begin budget haggle

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us