EU recalls envoy to Cuba over US sanctions comments

File photo. Several vehicles wait to refuel at a gas station in Havana, Cuba, 11 February 2020. The Trump administration imposed sanctions on shipments of Venezuelan oil to the island. [Yander Zamora/EPA/EFE]

The European Union has recalled its ambassador in Havana after he signed an open letter calling on US President Joe Biden to lift sanctions against Cuba, a spokesman said on Saturday (27 February).

Spanish diplomat Alberto Navarro will be asked why he took the initiative.

“We have asked the ambassador to come to Brussels to provide explanations” to Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, a spokesman for his office told AFP.

A group of 16 European deputies has already called for Navarro to be replaced, said the spokesman.

“We consider the ambassador is unworthy of the high office he occupies and which has been entrusted to him and we ask you to proceed with his immediate replacement,” said a letter to Borrell from a cross-party group of MEPs.

The signatories came from the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), the centrist Renew Europe group and the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR).

Cuba’s economy, which remains largely in state hands, has stagnated for years. It contracted by 11% last year as a tough US sanctions, together with a deep pandemic-sparked tourism slump, compounded local inefficiencies.

EU stresses support for Cuba even as US hikes sanctions

The European Union is committed to helping Cuba develop its economy, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Monday (10 September), during a three-day trip to Havana, even as the United States hikes sanctions on the Communist-run island.

Donald Trump clamped down on Cuba after taking office in 2017, tightening restrictions on US travel and remittances to Cuba, and imposing sanctions on shipments of Venezuelan oil to the island.

President Joe Biden will review US policy on Cuba, the White House said after the new administration took office in January.


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