Vladimiro Roca -- recently released from five years in prison and the spokesman for an opposition group called "All United" -- said the EU measures "will put matters in perspective for Cuba, where the government justifies its actions in the name of a bilateral conflict with the United States." Tensions between Washington and Havana have soared since Cuba's recent jailing of the 75 political activists and executions.
In May US officials expelled 14 Cuban diplomats on espionage charges and is reportedly considering other measures. Washington has had a full sanctions regime imposed on Cuba, the only one-party communist country in the Americas, for more than four decades.***
"That is the problem," the official added. The Bush administration, he said, "has a very strong position, so there really is some difficulty in dealing with the issue of Cuba only in relation to human rights."
But the negative vote also appeared to reflect widespread doubts about the qualifications of the American candidate, Rafael E. Martinez. Born in Cuba, Mr. Martinez is an Orlando, Fla., lawyer best known for his expertise in medical malpractice and health law. He is a brother of Melquiades R. Martinez, the secretary of housing and urban development and a leading fund-raiser for the presidential campaign of George W. Bush among Cuban-Americans in Florida. ***