HAVANA – With cries of “Viva Felipe!” and “Viva Espana!” Cubans greeted King Felipe in Previous Havana, the primary state go to ever by a Spanish monarch to Cuba, Spain’s former colony turned Communist-run nation.
Earlier within the day, Felipe and his spouse Letizia laid flowers on the monument in Havana to Jose Marti, a logo of Cuba’s battle for independence from Spain, earlier than assembly with President Miguel Diaz-Canel within the Palace of the Revolution.
The king then held closed-door conversations with Diaz-Canel throughout which they agreed to additional develop optimistic bilateral political and financial relations, in response to Cuban state-run media. Spain is Cuba’s third-largest buying and selling accomplice and one in every of its prime traders.
The go to illustrates the normalization of Europe’s relations with Cuba whilst america doubles down on a decades-old coverage of searching for to power the federal government to reform by tightening its crippling commerce embargo.
Some Spanish politicians and Cuban dissidents have criticized the journey, saying it legitimizes Cuba’s one-party system at a time of elevated repression.
But many locals are grateful for what they see as an indication of help for the Cuban individuals, combating a disaster within the inefficient state-run economic system within the wake of a decline of help from ally Venezuela and elevated U.S. sanctions.
“Spain remains our parent nation and we identify a lot with it, so their visit is very important to us,” stated Havana resident Maria Pazos, whose paternal great-grandparents got here from Catalonia. “It’s also a reaffirmation that we are not alone, that we have support.”
Historic and household bonds have lengthy underpinned Cuban-Spanish relations, generally whatever the political taste of the second. Revolutionary chief Fidel Castro, for instance, whose father was a Spanish immigrant, had surprisingly good relations with former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco.
The royal go to was timed so the couple might participate within the celebrations of the 500th anniversary of the founding of the Cuban capital by a Spanish conquistador. Havana was as soon as one of the crucial essential cities within the Spanish empire, offering a port for its treasure fleet.
Diaz-Canel’s spouse Lis Cuesta took Letizia on a tour of Previous Havana that has acquired a facelift for the reason that 1990s and is taken into account an architectural jewel attributable to its mixture of colonial, Artwork Deco and neoclassical types.
Felipe later joined Letizia on the cathedral, which beforehand housed the stays of explorer Christopher Columbus, whose encounter with Cuba within the service of the Spanish crown led to it being colonized by the Spaniards. The stays of Columbus had been moved to Spain after Cuba turned unbiased of that nation within the 1890s.