14ymedio, Havana, 16 October 2018 – The President of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, will visit Cuba November 22 and 23, the first visit by a Spanish president to the island in 32 years. The trip, according to the newspaper El País, citing diplomatic sources, was agreed to during a meeting with President Miguel Díaz-Canel when the UN General Assembly was in session.
“Since then, the staffs of both leaders have been working to finalize their respective agendas,” reads the note. At first it was suggested that Pedro Sánchez visit Havana as part of his trip to Guatemala, where he will participate in the Ibero-American Summit, but this was not possible.
El País calculates that, given the revised schedule, the Spanish president will have to cross the Atlantic three times in little more than two weeks. First to travel to Guatemala between November 15 and 16, then to go to Cuba on the 22nd and 23rd and, finally, between November 30 and December 1 to attend the G20 summit in Buenos Aires.
The sources consulted pointed out that the surprising thing is not that a Spanish president will visit Cuba, but that none has done so in more than three decades,” according to the note. The last time a head of government of that European country visited Havana was the socialist Felipe González in November 1986. Later, in 1999, the then president José María Aznar visited the island with King Juan Carlos to attend the Ibero-American Summit but it was not an official visit.
Now, the objective of the visit of the Spanish President aims to normalize relations with the island, which with the arrival last April of Diaz-Canel to the presidency isn’t governed by the Castro brothers after the triumph of the Revolution in 1959.
Predictably, Pedro Sánchez will not only meet with the Cuban president, but also with members of the Spanish community who have settled in Cuba and with representatives of the more than 200 companies operating in the country. It is not known if he will hold meetings with the opposition or independent civil society groups.
“A visit (to Cuba) from the King is pending which, if it were to take place, would be the first in history by a Spanish monarch.” If Sanchez’s visit is successful, Felipe VI could travel in 2019, coinciding with the 500th anniversary of the founding of Havana”, the El País note speculates.
Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria
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