EU lifts Cuba sanctions

Diplomats say symbolic move intended to promote reforms and moves to democracy.

    EU diplomats say the symbolic move is to encourage democracy and reform in Cuba [AFP]

    "There will be very clear language also on what the Cubans still have to do... releasing prisoners, really working on human rights questions," Ferrer-Waldner told reporters at an EU summit in Brussels.

    "There will be a sort of review to see whether indeed something will have happened."

    Spain, which restored diplomatic relations with Havana last year, had championed the move to get the sanctions lifted.

    'Cosmetic' changes

    The US has imposed strict economic and political sanctions on Cuba for 50 years and the EU moves is unlikely to affect Washington's position.

    Tom Casey, spokesman for the US state department, said the US opposed moves in favour of Cuba, which he said remains an authoritarian regime, despite recent reforms.

    Speaking to reporters Casey said that while there had been "some very minor cosmetic changes" brought in since Raul Castro too power, there was no indication of a fundamental break with communism as practiced by his predecessor, Fidel Castro.

    The EU sanctions were introduced after Cuba's government rounded up 75 dissidents in 2003.

    Sixteen of those arrested have been released on medical parole and another four were freed last month into forced exile in Spain.

    The remaining 55 are are still serving long prison sentences.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    How the art world's hunger for ancient artefacts is destroying a centuries-old culture. A journey across the Himalayas.