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José Daniel Ferrer, the leader of la Unión Patriótica de Cuba, was arrested on the 1st of October at his home in Santiago de Cuba, and has been detained since. He has received limited visits from his family who have reported that his health is fragile.
We have raised the case of Jose Daniel Ferrer, as well as other cases, with the Cuban authorities both in Brussels and in Havana; most recently at the level of our Head of Delegation, who conducted an outreach on the issue to the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the 6th of November. The day after our intervention, his family - including his three children - was able to visit him.
Let me stress very clearly once again what we have declared many times, that we expect Cuba to respect every citizens’ fundamental freedoms and human dignity, including the right to a fair trial.
In these years, we have never refrained from raising cases such as the one of Mr Ferrer, together with our Member States, in a coordinated and very proactive manner.
Our engagement with Cuba on human rights is open and frank: we have no taboos. We address this issue at all levels, including at mine, every time that we see the need to do that - and that is, unfortunately, quite often. We have chosen to engage with Cuba not because we see eye-to-eye on all issues, but precisely because we do not. Let me say very clearly that I am proud that we have opened a new phase in our relations with Cuba during my mandate – let me stress this – with the full support of all of our Member States, no one excluded, no matter the political orientation of the government in place.
I am proud that our political dialogue and cooperation agreement is in place, also because Human Rights are an essential part of it. I am proud of our critical engagement with Cuban leadership, which gives us the opportunity to strengthen our cooperation but also to openly address our disagreements and to do something about them.
The first formal dialogue we have launched with Cuba under the new Agreement was precisely on Human Rights, because respect for fundamental freedoms and for civil society are essential for us, and are essential to us, because it can only be with the full respect of the space for civil society and Human Rights that economic development can be sustainable.
Only through such critical engagement that we have opened with Cuba can we accompany the country in its modernization. This is one of the goals of our Agreement: accompanying the country as it reforms its political and economic model, building its economy on more solid foundations, helping Cubans build a country where everyone enjoys the same freedoms and the same rights.
Link to the video : https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-180936