The Spanish Secretary of State for International Cooperation and for Ibero-America, Fernando García, has said that Madrid regards Cuba as a strategic partner in the hemisphere.
Speaking to Cuban journalists in Havana at the end of recently concluded biannual summit of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) he said: “We have seen that the commerce of the island is growing. In this context, we are going to renew the framework of cooperation for the next four years in the autumn and to continue the flow of high-level visits”.
He also noted the centrality of Cuba’s role in Latin America, reportedly saying that Cuba’s policy and its support to other countries (in the region) deserves a lot of respect and praise. “It is a reference (point) within the Latin American region,” Prensa Latina reported him as saying.
During his visit he met with Cuba’s Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodríguez; Vice President, Ricardo Cabrisas, the Minister of Economy and Planning; and the Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca.
Discussions in part centred on a four-year bilateral country partnership agreement expected to be concluded later this year, and the forthcoming EU-Cuba Council meeting due to take place in Brussels on May 15.
While in Havana, Garcia told the news agency EFE that Madrid hoped that Cuba would be represented “at the highest level” at the XXVI Ibero-American Summit to be held in Antigua, Guatemala, this November. Cuba has attended every Ibero-American summit since they began in 1991, but in recent years has been represented at the level of Foreign Minister.
“Cuba is a faithful Ibero-American partner… and we have said that the Guatemala Summit is an important forum for dialogue for the region because it deals with the 2030 Agenda and we would like them to be represented at the highest level they decide”, EFE quoted Garcia as saying.
In other comments, the Spanish minister said that Madrid hoped it would be possible to institutionalise periodic bilateral consultations with the Cuban government; that it wishes to solicit development requests from the Cuban authorities in areas that will support Cuba’s social and economic reform process; and that Spain had not ruled out the possibility of developing triangular cooperation programmes with Cuba in third countries, possibly in the Caribbean.
Spain is Cuba’s third-largest trading partner after China and Venezuela, has development programmes in Cuba mainly in rural development and education worth €25m, and has some 200,000 people of Cuban origin or descent living in Spain under special legal provisions.
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Photo Credit: ‘Fernando García Casas, Secretary of State for International Cooperation and for Ibero-America, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Spain’, Raul Mee (EU2017EE), Wikimedia Commons