Commentary: Keep pressure on Cuba over prisoners of conscience

Europe's ambivalence toward Cuba was on display again this week when foreign ministers from a few countries tried and failed to ease the European Union's sanctions against the Castro regime. If these friends of Cuba don't know what's wrong with the island's 51-year-old dictatorship, maybe they should just ask the European Parliament.

Last week, the European Union's legislative arm awarded the prestigious Sakharov Prize to Cuban dissident Guillermo Fariñas, whose 140-day hunger strike forced the Cuban government to release political prisoners, thus avoiding the embarrassment of having yet another political prisoner die in protest against the dictatorship.

The award to Mr. Fariñas marks the third time in a decade that the E.U. prize has gone to a Cuban -- Oswaldo Payá received it in 2002 and the Ladies in White in 2005. That should make it clear to all but those who are deliberately blind to the facts that Cuba's human rights situation is scandalous and that the government is a repeat offender when it comes to crimes against human liberty -- and has no intention of changing its ways.

That didn't stop Spain and a few other benighted countries with false notions of how the regime treats dissidents to try to put aside the ``Common Position'' that has governed the E.U.'s policy toward Cuba since 1996. The policy ties improvement in Europe's relations with Cuba to progress on human rights.

Spain reportedly led the charge in trying to do away with the Common Position, with Italy, France and Ireland among those in agreement. Sadly, and somewhat surprisingly, the effort came just a few days after Spain's new foreign minister, Trinidad Jiménez, came on board.

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