King Philip VI Praises Democracy; Diaz-Canel Prefers Sovereignty

The King of Spain said in his speech before Díaz-Canel that “change will not bring consensus and well-being if it does not represent the will of the citizenry.” (Casa Real)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio/EFE, Havana, 14 November 2019 — “Changes in a country cannot be imposed,” said the King of Spain, Felipe VI, before the Cuban president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, in a speech in which he defended democracy, human rights and citizen sovereignty.

The King’s words found an answer from the Cuban president, who vindicated the Cuban model, insisting that it is aimed at achieving the greatest well-being for citizens and whose path, he claimed, Cubans have chosen “of their own accord.”

The differences were clear in the two speeches that took place in the cordial atmosphere of a dinner that the monarch and the queen offered to Díaz-Canel and his wife Lis Cuesta.

Felipe VI stressed that the existence of institutions that represent all citizens is necessary and that they can express their preferences for themselves and find in them “adequate respect for the integrity of their rights, including the ability to freely express their ideas, freedom of association or assembly.”

In this vein, he stressed that a certain lesson that is drawn from history is that evolution, adaptation and change are inevitable. “Nothing is frozen in time, and whoever resists in its path loses the opportunity to collaborate in the design of that future that is already being born or, even more so, that it is already here,” he added.

It was then that he defended the future of the Cuban people that they must elucidate by themselves.

“The changes,” he said, “cannot be imposed, they have to be born from internal dynamics. But in the same way that a change that does not emanate from within the social and political forces of a country cannot succeed, it is equally true that the change will not bring consensus and welfare if it does not represent the will of the citizenry.”

Felipe VI offered Díaz-Canel the Spanish experience for the process of change in which his country is immersed and highlighted what its current 1978 Constitution meant for Spain, based on agreement, negotiation, consensus and reconciliation.

From that Constitution and their own history, he affirmed the Spanish have learned that it is in democracy that human rights, freedom, the dignity of people and the interests of citizens are best represented and defended.

“And that the strength that democracy gives to its institutions,” he added, “is what allows the progress and well-being of the people and their facing the risks and challenges that will inevitably arise along the way.”

The King also stressed that at present no country can afford to live in isolation and it is up to the authorities to give citizens the opportunity to travel and receive people from other countries.

In the same way, he believes that citizens should have access to new technologies and have norms that allow the full development of creativity in all areas, from cultural creation to the generation of business initiatives.

The King said that Spain wants to continue being part of Cuba’s economic growth and help to generate opportunities, at which time he highlighted the work that Spanish businessmen have been engaged in on the Island despite having to overcome “enormous difficulties.”

The King repeatedly referred to the ties of all kinds that unite Spain and Cuba and recalled that his country brought institutions, ideas and values to the Island, including the foundations of International Law and the conception of universal human rights.

The King’s words had a special section to remember the 500 years that are now commemorating the foundation of Havana and cite some of the milestones in the Hispanic-Cuban relationship as the independence of this country.

“The link between Spain and Cuba is deep, it is not superficial, it is timeless, not temporary,” said the King, who expressed his satisfaction for having starred in the first state visit of a Spanish king to the Island.

It was later when Miguel Díaz-Canel took the floor, whose speech was not initially planned, although it was not improvised, since it was known before the start of dinner. The Cuban president stressed that his country’s society is renewed, evolving and advancing while preserving its traditions and values and defending its rights.

“We are guided by clear principles of independence and sovereignty with the certainty that it is a path directed towards greater well-being for our people,” he added.

It is, he said, a path that Cubans have chosen “of their own free will.”

At the same time, he said that, in order to understand Cuba, its dreams and what they do is necessary to understand everything that the “unjust” US blockade condemns.

It was then that he showed Cuba’s appreciation of the “clear and public support of Spain against the unjust sanctions and unilateral extraterritorial coercive measures imposed on Cuba by the United States Government and how much damage,” he said, ” they cause to the economy and commerce.”

Díaz-Canel also praised that Spain has assumed constructive positions that have favored Cuba’s relationship with the European Union and that it is the main community partner of the Island and its most relevant investor.

In the same way, he recognized and thanked the task of Spanish businesspeople, their commitment and fidelity and their intention to continue strengthening their presence in the various branches of the Cuban economy.

Díaz-Canel thanked Felipe VI as the first king of Spain to make a state visit to Cuba and described it as “historical” and of special significance at a time like the present.

In particular, he said, due to its concurrence with the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the founding of Havana, a city that he said treasures a “multifaceted presence of Spain,” the heritage of its regions and the indelible mark of its cultures.

Díaz-Canel closed his speech with a toast in which he looks forward to the peace and prosperity of both peoples, as well as the strengthening of their ties.


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