July 19, 2002

Europe excludes Cuba from aid funds for now

                 NADI, Fiji (AP) -- The European Union has excluded Cuba from a
                 multi-billion dollar pool of aid because of its poor human rights record and
                 lack of democracy, a spokesman for a group of former European colonies
                 said Friday.

                 Cuba is a new member of the African Caribbean Pacific group, or ACP, which is
                 holding a leaders' summit at a palm-fringed island resort near the Fijian town of
                 Nadi. The 63 national delegations are trying to forge a single negotiating position
                 ahead of trade talks with Brussels in September.

                 Central to the talks is a 25-year pact signed by the EU and ACP in 2000, known as
                 the Cotonou agreement, which promises $12.7 billion in aid to ACP states over the
                 next five years if they show efforts to improve human rights and root out

                 As a latecomer to the ACP, Cuba has not signed Cotonou.

                 EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy, who is attending the summit, on Friday
                 rejected overtures from ACP leaders to give Cuba quick access to the agreement,
                 said ACP spokesman Hegel Goutier.

                 The EU believes Cuba cannot satisfy basic principles of the agreement, especially
                 with respect to democracy and human rights, said Billie Miller, deputy prime
                 minister of Barbados, who heads the Caribbean grouping at the summit.

                 Miller said she had formally appealed on behalf of Caribbean nations to the EU to
                 fast track Cuba's inclusion.

                 The head of Cuba's delegation, Ricardo Cabrisas, called the EU decision "a
                 humiliation and slap in the face for Cuba," Goutier said.

                 Lamy told delegates that the EU wanted to see more political reform from Havana,
                 Goutier said.

                  Copyright 2002 The Associated Press.