14ymedio, Madrid, 21 April 2016 – The Spanish Navy training ship Juan Sebastian Elcano will dock in Havana on 11 May, arriving from Puerto Rico, according to Spain’s El Pais newspaper. It is not the first time the iconic Spanish ship has arrived on the island. On ten previous occasions the barquentine visited Havana.
However, according to journalist Miguel Gonzales, an expert in diplomacy, the arrival of the ship will in all likelihood coincide with the visit of the acting Foreign Minister, Jose Manual Garcia-Margallo, along with a business delegation, almost a metaphor for Spain’s landing on the island.
The Juan Sebastian Elcano, which visited Cuba for the first time in 1029, will continue its journey on the 16th, heading for Miami, which makes the visit exceptional. “Most veterans do not remember the last time a warship, even it if is a masted schooner, covered the 200 miles that separate Havana from the capital of the Cuban exile in the United States,” the paper reported.
The Spanish daily claims that Spain does not want to lose time and is seeking to strengthen its position in Cuba, hence the economic, diplomatic and symbolic deployment, which will be crowned with the imminent signing of the pact to 375 million dollars in Cuba, notwithstanding the existing 2.5 billion debt owed by Cuba to Spain.
However, this landing will not include a visit from a senior official, due to the political paralysis in Spain since last December’s elections. Uncertainty prevents the prime minister (as of now Maraino Rajoy, in an acting position) from visiting Cuba, nor will King Felipe VI come, as his visit would have to be supervised by a government that, to date, there is no sign of forming.
Between 19 and 20 May the chambers of commerce of the two countries will meet in Havana. Secretary of State for Trade, Jaime García-Legaz, will make his fourth trip to the island in the last year with a group of entrepreneurs who are looking to explore business opportunities in Cuba.