14ymedio/EFE, Havana, 31 October 2019 — The Spanish royals will make a state visit to Cuba between November 12 and 14, according to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs published in Madrid on Thursday.
“This state trip is part of the commemorative events of the 500th Anniversary of the foundation of the city of Havana and will serve to reflect, at the highest level, the excellence and intensity of bilateral relations” between the two countries, the statement said.
“During their stay in Cuba, their Majesties will be accompanied by the acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, Josep Borrell,” who recently visited the Island for preparations for the royal trip.
In Cuba, the royals will hold a meeting with members of civil society not linked to the Cuban State, Spanish sources told the EFE agency, although the agenda does not include any meeting with representatives of the Cuban dissidence.
Diplomatic sources clarify that “the trip is not a manifestation of support for anything, but a normalization of relations with a member of the Ibero-American community with whom — they insist — an anomaly occurred.”
Felipe VI and Letizia will leave Madrid for Havana on November 11, one day after the Spanish general elections and begin their official visit the day after they arrive.
Most of the monarchs’ agenda will be held in Havana, which this November is commemorating the 500 years of its foundation, one of the reasons why the royals have decided to visit this year.
The central commemorations of the city’s half millennium are scheduled for November 16 and are expected to be attended by the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro and that of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega.
The date of the visit of the Spanish Royals to the Cuban capital was organized so that they would not have to meet Maduro or Ortega. Felipe VI and Letizia will hold a meeting with Miguel Díaz-Canel, and will engage in others of an economic and cultural nature as well as a reception for the Spanish community resident on the Island.
At the end of their stay, they will travel to Santiago de Cuba to participate on November 14 in two events at the Castillo del Morro and the Loma de San Juan where they will pay homage to the Spaniards who died there in 1898 in the war against the United States.
Cuba is the only Latin American country that has never had an official visit from the Spanish head of state despite the fact that the current King’s father, Juan Carlos, expressed his desire to visit on several occasions and was in Havana during the Latin American Summit of 1999.
Several organizations of the Cuban opposition have criticized the visit while the Cuba Alliance for Inclusion and the Cuban Women’s Network have asked Queen Letizia to support their cause.
“Your Majesty, as a trained journalist, you know deeply the importance of freedom of expression and opinion, without it the debate of ideas that enriches and promotes the progress of peoples is not possible. We are counting on your support and solidarity,” they requested in a letter addressed to the wife of the head of state.
The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by now becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.