Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Human rights in Cuba

Delivered in Plenary - April 10th 2003

Mr President,

Castro's Cuba has tried to present itself to the world as a model of anti-colonialism and social justice. In reality hundreds of people died in Cuban prisons in the early years of the revolution, and many more have been imprisoned or had their lives ruined for daring to speak the truth. Certainly the revolution has had achievements, but the economic, as well as the political, costs have been very high. The Cuban economy is bankrupt, not because of American sanctions, but because of communism. What is the advantage of good doctors if there are inadequate medical facilities and resources?

Fidel Castro has failed to understand that the world has changed, and few of us were prepared for the recent crackdown on 33 dissidents, the rushed secret trials and the outrageous call for the death penalty for a Christian Democratic leader.

This is a dramatic step which reduces the chances of Cuba becoming part of Cotonou. Fidel Castro must learn to respect human rights and introduce democracy. There is no room for tyrants in Latin America any more.