By Ken Richards
ST JOHN’S, Antigua (WINN) -- If successful, proposed negotiations between the European Union and Cuba could see the full restoration of bilateral relations between the two. The EU wants to see these talks get underway by next month. Officials in Havana have said they are considering the EU request.
The Europeans say they hope the talks will yield positive results that include increased trade and investment and a dialogue on human rights.
Former Antigua and Barbuda prime minister Lester Bird
Former Antiguan prime minister, Lester Bird, said Cuba should pay attention to the human rights aspect of the talks.
“I think we might have to, under CARICOM, influence Cuba to the reality. There is some human rights consideration, many people apparently are locked up in jail and not given the right to be heard about their positions,” Bird told WINN FM’s The Bigger Picture.
He said freedom of speech “is not exactly something that is very, very prevalent (in Cuba)”.
Bird said he wants to see Cuba brought in from the cold, but feels that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) needs to help nudge the Communist-run country towards ensuring that human rights in the country are respected.
Reminded that Cuba is very sensitive about allegations of human rights abuse by the state, the former Antiguan leader said Havana could not expect a hands-off attitude on that matter.
Since 1996, the EU has restricted its ties with Cuba to encourage multi-party democracy and progress on human rights.