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Cuba opposition veteran slams EU accord plan

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Veteran Cuban dissident Elizardo Sanchez urged the European Union on Tuesday not to sign a new bilateral agreement with his country's leaders, saying their recent reforms were "cosmetic" amid persistent human rights abuses.

"I have a mandate to express my concern over the possibility of the Cuban government getting its way and managing to sign a preferential bilateral agreement with the European Union when it does not merit it," he said in Madrid.

EU foreign ministers in November called for negotiations to normalise relations with the government of President Raul Castro.

The current EU position on Cuba demands democratic and rights reforms before normalising ties with the island.

The president has introduced some reforms since taking over from his brother Fidel in 2008, releasing political prisoners and allowing dissidents to travel abroad.

Sanchez, leader of the Cuban Human Rights Commission, a campaign group, said that softening the EU position would be "an economic victory for the regime which would enable the government to have more resources to further repress the people".

He lamented the human rights situation in Cuba.

"The totalitarian regime violates and continues to violate these rights, while giving out false signs of change to deceive the international community," he said.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130423/cuba-opposition-veteran-slams-eu-accord-plan