IMPORTANT: Pérez Roque: 'A new page' opens in Havana-Mad rid relations
- PROGRESO WEEKLY
May 17, 2007
Pérez Roque: A new page opens in Havana-Madrid relations
The following interview with Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez
Roque was published on May 15 by the Spanish daily El Mundo, under
the headline Pérez Roque: Zapatero has distanced himself from
Aznar's hypocritical attitude toward Cuba. The interviewer was
Mercedes Ibaibarriaga; the translation is by Progreso Weekly.
QUESTION: How do you describe the visit of Spanish [Foreign] Minister
Miguel Angel Moratinos to Cuba?
ANSWER: It was successful and positive. We talked in order to promote
economic cooperation and the interests of Spanish and Cuban
entrepreneurs. We talked about strengthening the political exchange
between the Foreign Relations ministries. A new page has opened in
the history of [Spanish-Cuban] relations.
Q.: But that page does not have any dialogue about political
A.: There is no topic that we shall refuse to discuss, provided there
is respect for the sovereign equality of the states. We do not feel
like a defendant who accounts for himself before a tribunal, and we
also have an opinion to give about the reality in Europe. We want to
move ahead with an exchange, not with a punitive or penalizing focus.
The dialogue includes a segment about human rights and begins in Cuba
in June. It is a test of trust.
Q.: So, will there be a dialogue about political prisoners?
A.: I deny that Cuba holds political prisoners, in the sense that
they're imprisoned for their ideas, for thinking the opposite. What
we have in Cuba are mercenaries, persons who receive money from the
government of the United States to facilitate the blockade, even
against Spanish enterprises.
They are informers for the U.S. Interests Section in Havana. They
send reports to the radio stations that broadcast propaganda to Cuba.
I am not making this up; this is information from the U.S. Congress
Accounting Office, which audits the money the government allots, for
example, to democracy in Cuba.
In any country, whoever allies himself to a foreign government to
subvert the constitutional regime commits a crime. There are also
people who were imprisoned for delinquency, for placing bombs in
hotels or participating in sabotage plots. Having said this, the
issue [of prisoners] is not the agenda for discussion. For Cuba, it
is not the heart of the dialogue, but we'll talk about any topic.
Q.: And what is the center of interest for Cuba?
A.: The need for the European Union to base its policy toward Cuba on
the interests of Europe. That implies that the E.U. should withdraw
from the so-called "common stance" and abandon the so-called
"sanctions" against Cuba, contained in a document that [former
Spanish Prime Minister José María] Aznar negotiated with the Bush
government. On this, Cuba agrees to cooperate, provided there is
respect for its sovereignty and a recognition that [Cuba] is a
country that has been hounded by the United States for five decades
and has the right to defend itself.
Q.: Is Spain the chess piece that will break the European common
A.: Spain is a very important country in the European Union and plays
an essential role in [the Union's] policy toward Cuba. By imposing
U.S. interests on the European Union, Aznar tied his own hands, lost
his interlocution with Cuba and took [Spanish-Cuban] relations to the
edge of rupture. But the current government has rescued them.
Today, Spain is a privileged interlocutor for Cuba, and that permits
it to play an important role in the European Union. Europe needs a
policy that abandons hypocrisy toward Cuba and recognizes [Cuba] as a
[Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez] Zapatero is taking steps in this
direction. We look upon Zapatero with respect, because he has
distanced himself from Aznar's hypocritical attitude toward Cuba. We
have different points of view, but we discuss them with respect.
What's new is that Zapatero approaches Cuba from the point of view of
dialogue and the interests of Spain. This is legitimate, and has
boosted his moral authority.
When we sat down with the PP [Popular Party], it was like sitting
down with the representatives of the U.S. government. Zapatero does
not take an imitative position, like a stablehand of U.S. policy, and
that's why we agreed to meet -- something we would never have done
with a PP government.
Because Aznar, while he tore his garments saying that he was
concerned about the situation of human rights in Cuba, was Bush's
accomplice when it came to torturing prisoners in the Guantanamo
Base. The Spanish government that claimed it worked for democracy in
Cuba became an accomplice in the Azores for the [United States]
illegal aggression against Iraq.
Q.: In a post-Fidel Cuba, will the army be the bastion?
A.: No. The bastion and the protagonists have always been the people.
The revolution is kept alive by the people's unity and support. In
reality, the army is the people in uniform. Not only the regular
troops but also the millions of people trained -- by a voluntary
decision to receive military instruction -- to defend our motherland.
Q.: Is there any concern in the army over the attempted escape of two
A.: Not the slightest disquiet. Rather, there is great serenity,
firmness, cohesion and a great combative willingness. Operation
Caguairán, which began when Fidel fell ill, increased the number of
women and men that were mobilized and trained, as a defensive
The case of those recruits is an isolated case, but it does reveal
the effect of the stimulus given by the United States to illegal
immigration. It gives immediate residence to any Cuban who arrives
illegally, but it mistreats Mexicans, repatriates them or murders
them on the border.
Q.: Would the [Castro] regime have survived without the help of Hugo
A.: Yes. The revolution survived by itself from 1990 (when the Soviet
Union disintegrated with the fall of the Berlin Wall) to 2000. The
first Cuba-Venezuela accord was signed in 2000, after a decade of
But the accords with Chávez have helped Cuba. We were guaranteed a
stable supply of energy, with financial terms of up to 25 percent on
oil invoices and credit payable long-term and at a low rate of
interest. That cooperation allows us to confront the blockade and the
international situation with greater fortitude.
Cuba has sent to Venezuela 30,000 health-care workers and doctors
that provide service free of charge; also teachers to eradicate
illiteracy. We are bound to Chávez by a very close alliance, based on
common values, very close objectives and similar visions regarding
foreign policy. But the relationship is not based on quotas of
influence or Chávez's attitude of power. He respects us, and vice
Q.: How do you interpret the decision of a U.S. tribunal in Miami
[sic] to release terrorist Luis Posada Carriles? (*)
A.: We condemn that ruling and accuse the government of the United
States of that infamy. Posada Carriles is free because the White
House fears the revelations that he might make about the years when
he worked for the CIA.
They trained him, and during the most intense period of his terrorist
career -- the years 1976 and 1977, when bombs exploded in Cuban
embassies and trade offices, when they blew up a Cuban plane over
Barbados -- he was a principal agent in the terrorism that the CIA,
then directed by Bush Sr., orchestrated against Cuba.
Therefore, George Bush Jr. fears that Posada Carriles will reveal
what he knows and has outlined a plan to not brand him as a
terrorist, despite the great amount of evidence. He should extradite
him to Venezuela, as that country requested, because [Posada] is a
fugitive of Venezuelan justice. Or else, he could try him in the
Cuba and Venezuela have turned to the Counter-Terrorism Committee of
the United Nations Security Council, and we shall raise our
denunciation in all possible forums.
(*) Editor's Note: Posada Carriles was released by a federal judge in
El Paso, Texas.