Spanish politician refused entry to Cuba

Jorge Moragas, Internacional Relations spokesman of Spain’s Popular Party, was refused entry into Cuba this weekend, and Saturday’s incident remains one of the main headlines here 2 days later.

Moragas arrived in Cuba together with 2 members of the ruling Dutch Christian Democratic Party, intending to meet with some of Cuba’s most popular opposers to Fidel Castro’s regime. According to Moragas, the three politicians intended to draw attention to the situation in Cuba and demand respect for human rights. However the three men were not even allowed out of the airport, and returned to Europe on the same plane which had flown them to Cuba two hours ealier.

Moragas and his colleagues were even refused assistance from their respective diplomatic staff. Although the Spanish PP politician managed to talk over the phone to the Spanish Ambassador in Cuba, Spanish embassy staff who went to the airport to intervene were refused permission to see Moragas on the grounds that having been denied permission to enter the country, he was not officially in Cuba, and so had no reason to meet with Spain’s embassy staff there.

A document released by the Cuban authorities called the visit a “political provocation” and they even referred to ex Spanish president Jose Maria Aznar in the release, calling him a “frustrated and pathetic” man (when he was President Aznar cut off all relations with Cuba and the Cuban government called him “a little fuhrer” .

Meanwhile the Popular Party are apparantly furious with the Spanish Socialist government for its handling of the affair. This morning during a radio interview, Moragas said that the Ambassador had not fulfilled his role properly by not appearing at the airport, and he said he owed the Cuban dissidents an apology. He said that if the Ambassador did not apologise, the Popular Party would ask for his resignation.

“If I have caused a political circus, there is no doubt in my mind that they (the Socialists) are the clowns” said Moragas.

Other PP spokesmen have criticised the reaction of the Spanish government, accusing it of having a weak reaction to a serious international incident. They have accused Zapatero’s government of “confusing” European Union member states with this supposedly “weak” reaction. Recently Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said that EU policy towards Cuba was ineffective and the Socialists are trying to restore some sort of dialogue with the Cuban government.

Spain’s Foreign Minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos, told reporters that the incident made it much more difficult to maintain some sort of dialogue with Cuba, but that the Spanish government’s priority was to work in favour of Cuban people by establishing dialogue withe Cuban authorities.

Moratinos said this morning on Spanish radio that he would be happy to receive Cuban dissident groups and to discuss with them the situation in Cuba. The Spanish government has also called its Ambassador back to Spain so that he can explain the whole affair properly, and has asked Cuban authorities for an apology.