Cuban President Diaz-Canel Arrives in China to ‘Promote the Adaptation of Marxism to Our Time’

Díaz-Canel with his wife Liz Cuesta boarding the plane from Ankara to Beijing. (Cuba Presidency)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 24 November 2022 — Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel is heading to China now. It’s the last stop of a presidential tour aimed at courting some partners to whom, in return, little can be promised except influence on the American continent and agreements in countries where the Island still retains some prestige, such as in healthcare.

On the eve of this visit, the Chinese ambassador to Cuba, Ma Hui, offered an interview to the Xinhua state agency in which he made clear the idea: “We will work together to promote the great practice of adapting Marxism to our time and, together, undertake a new socialist construction with its own characteristics, for the benefit of the two countries and the two peoples, and make new and greater contributions to the bright future of humanity.”

Ma Hui stressed that both countries have had a high level of cooperation for 10 years, the greatest example of which has been the Chinese aid sent to Cuba during the pandemic and the three great tragedies that took place in 2022: the explosion of the Saratoga hotel in Havana, fire at the Matanzas Supertanker Base and the passage of Hurricane Ian.

According to the ambassador, the areas of collaboration will be extended from this visit to energy, agriculture, biomedicine, science and technology, education and culture. Few sectors are left out of this cooperation, since some agreements were not mentioned but are already known to exist in transport and industry. Those that were named involve exports from the Island that include the typical rum and tobacco, honey and other products that have disappeared from the life of Cubans, such as sea cucumber, eel and some fruits.

It’s important to take care of the relationship, then, since it affects almost everything. Good proof of this is that even the most unsuspected things have a Chinese hand behind them. “We have been able to secure the clothing that we already have available thanks to a donation from China,” revealed the Cuban Minister of Education, Ena Elsa Velázquez Cobiella, appearing Tuesday on State TV’s Roundtable program, referring to the school uniforms.

The official explained that the start of the 2022-2023 academic year will begin next Monday, November 28, after accumulated delays due to the pandemic, and China is providing the financing. Mirla Díaz Fonseca, President of the Business Group of Light Industry (GEMPIL), stated that the initial demand was for 2,153,310 garments, but the quantity had to be adjusted to 1,274,000 garments, of which 100% have been delivered to primary schools.

Uniforms are lacking, the officials said, basically because of the blackouts, and they have had to resort to techniques such as the blue-dyeing of the old mustard uniforms. “We have asked for help from the seamstresses in the sports industry, for example, and we are talking about using the GEMPIL carriers to distribute the fabric, pieces and buttons,” they added.

However, little would have been achieved without the aid from China, which, in addition, provided financing; however, no further details were given.

All this exchange, which has made China the second largest trading partner of the Island, provides the Asian giant with a gateway to Latin America, where it has been consolidating its influence over the years. This Thursday, the country’s state press pointed out that the volume of bilateral trade between China and Cuba increased by 7.2% in 2021. In addition, trade continued to grow in the first three quarters of this year, and China’s imports from Cuba even increased by 18.1%.

The improvement is reflected on the rest of the continent, since, according to a spokesperson of the Ministry of Commerce, 21 countries in the region have signed some type of collaboration with the New Silk Roads, also known as the Belt and Road Initiative. The Chinese plan to build roads, railways, ports, logistics platforms and other infrastructure in more than 60 countries.

“The Chinese and Latin American economies are highly complementary, and among them there is enormous potential for cooperation,” said the spokeswoman, adding that the volume of trade between the two regions “has fully recovered and already exceeds that existing before the COVID-19 pandemic.”

According to the Chinese ambassador to Havana, “China and Cuba are linked by common ideals and beliefs, and as traveling companions of socialism, they will take advantage of this visit as an opportunity to continue strengthening the relationship between the two parties and the two nations.”

Hardly any information has emerged about the official agenda, although it’s expected to develop in an “anti-covid bubble,” through which the entourage’s contact with the outside is avoided.

Carlos Miguel Pereira, Cuban Ambassador to China, just announced that Díaz-Canel “will honor Chinese heroes” and stressed that after 62 years of uninterrupted diplomatic relations, bilateral ties “have reached full maturity.”

Translated by Regina Anavy


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