Here we go again ...
Bless those persistent Western Europeans.
For decades now, they have been “engaging” with the Castro regime, working on the assumption that if you are civil to the boys in Havana you will be able to somehow convince them to hold free and fair multi-party elections, stop jailing dissidents and become true democrats.
The problem with this scenario is that the Castro brothers are not and have never been interested in reforming the political system they’ve created. Why? For the simple reason that any such reforms will inevitably involve the disappearance of the regime itself – and the personal power and perks that come with it.
But it seems nothing will deter the European Union (EU) from continuing to be polite and co-operative with Havana, although to be fair, some member countries, in particular those that used to be Soviet satellites, have expressed serious reservations and managed to extract some minor concessions.
Still, the latest instalment in this embarrassing charade has involved talks in Paris between senior EU representatives and the Cuban Minister for Foreign Affairs, the truly odious Felipe Perez Roque (above).
The talks have resulted in the Europeans agreeing to provide Havana with possible new lines of credit (again!), further co-operation on a range of issues such as the environment, and additional immediate assistance to help repair some of the damage caused recently by hurricanes Gustav and Ike.
There are strings attached, of course: the EU says it will closely monitor human right reforms on the island, which is more or less what they have been saying for ... well, for nearly five decades.
As for the Cubans, they know they are on a winner, once again running circles around the well-meaning but seemingly oblivious Europeans, occasionally even publicly mocking their hosts for their all-too-obvious lack of cojones.
In fact, Perez Roque was so cocky that when asked about human and political rights on the island, he replied that this would not be a problem for Cuba at all since the “revolution” had never jailed anyone for “thinking differently”.