On Thursday, Spanish Prime Minister (PM) Pedro Sanchez, along with Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, agreed to strengthen bilateral political ties, during the first official visit by a Spanish leader to the Caribbean island in over three decades.
Sanchez on 1st Official Trip By Spanish PM to Cuba in 32 Years
The governments of Spain and Cuba signed off two unprecedented agreements. The first is a memorandum of political consultations that will facilitate annual high-level bilateral meetings, through which both countries will establish "frank dialogue" in the field of human rights.
This agreement is the first of its kind signed by a European state with Cuba, El Confidencial reported. Relations between Cuba and the European Union have steadily improved since 2016, after two decades on the outs.
The last occasion a Spanish prime minister visited Cuba was in 1986 when social democrat ex-leader Felipe Gonzalez met then-President Fidel Castro. At that time, the economic bilateral relationship was strong with more than 20 percent of Spanish exports to Latin America being Cuba.
"In the meeting with @DiazCanelB we have established a consultation mechanism between our countries that will promote the debate on political issues such as human rights. There are many ties that bind us to #Cuba. Spain wants to contribute actively in its reform process."
Spain is now Cuba's third largest trade partner and both maintain strong cultural ties. Spanish-Cuban annual bilateral commerce is already around $1.3 billion, according to data from Cuba. The tourism sector is dominated by alliances between Spanish hotel chains and Cuban companies.
Sanchez and Diaz-Canel also agreed to increase cultural cooperation after holding talks in Havana's Revolution Palace. The prime minister is expected to inaugurate "Archi Paper," an exhibition on Spanish drawing and architecture, in a gallery in Havanna.
According to El Español, the Spanish PM will, on Friday, launch the Spain-Cuba Business Forum, where a meeting with more than 200 businessmen from the Asociación de Empresarios de España en Cuba (AECC).