Russia intensified its bilateral relations in the political and economic areas on Saturday with the official visit to Havana of President Vladimir Putin, who ratified the “strategic” importance of the island in Moscow’s foreign policy.
Cuba, Russia’s oldest ally in Latin America, was chosen by Putin to make the first stop of his tour of the area, which will continue in Argentina and conclude in Brazil , as part of his interest in approaching this region that he considers ” key”.
In less than twenty-four hours, the head of the Kremlin concentrated an agenda that included meetings with his counterpart Raul Castro, also with his brother Fidel, leader of the Cuban revolution, witnessed the signing of ten agreements, and paid tribute to the Soviet internationalist soldier and National hero of the island, José Martí.
Putin and Fidel Castro -released from power by a disease since 2006- had a “cordial and friendly” meeting in which they recalled the “historical ties” of both countries and the growing bilateral economic-trade ties, and also exchanged views on the situation international.
Fidel Castro explained to Putin the studies he is doing on the production of food in tropical and subtropical areas that he considers to be the only efficient formula to face the threats of climate change and inequalities.
The meeting took place at the Havana address of Fidel Castro, judging by several photographs published by the official website Cubadebate , in which the old leader of the Cuban revolution is seen with good looks and the usual sports clothing that he has worn since he retired.
Raúl Castro recalled that without the help of the Soviet bloc the Cuban revolution could not have survived
The Russian leader arrived in Havana shortly after signing a law that has condoned 90% of the debt of 31,700 million dollars contracted by Cuba with the former Soviet Union.
On that decision, the president of Russia stressed that they are creating “new conditions” to develop relations between his country and Cuba, a stage that, he explained, aims to strengthen economic and trade cooperation, and noted that bilateral work It is “constant” .
The gesture of the Government of Moscow to forgive the debt of the island was grateful for Raul Castro as “another example and again a great palpable generosity of the Russian people towards Cuba.”
The Cuban leader took the opportunity to remember that without the help of the Soviet bloc the Cuban revolution could not have survived, and also to express his support for Putin’s current international policy, which he described as “intelligent” and praised for its “firmness”. “
Castro was also “very satisfied” with the current state of relations between Cuba and Russia after the new stage that began in 2000, when Putin made his first trip to the island.
At the end of the official talks, Castro and Putin attended the signing of a package of ten agreements and memoranda to expand bilateral cooperation in areas such as oil exploitation, agreed between the Russian company Rosneft and the company Unión Cuba-Petróleo .
Representatives of both governments also signed a joint declaration on “the first non-installation of weapons in the cosmic space “, an agreement “in the guarantee of international information security”, and formalized a program of cultural collaboration.
You have to change the protocol, I recommend not wearing a tie, but a guayabera, a hat, shorts and sandals
In addition, they adopted six memoranda of understanding covering the sectors of health, industry, disaster care, the construction of electricity generation units, the production of luminaries and the creation of a regional center for training of rescue and Cuban-Russian firefighters .
Among other projects, Putin said that both parties are working on a program of economic-commercial-scientific-technical development until 2020 and they keep their “business councils” active.
The good humor of Raúl Castro during the visit was made clear to the journalists when accompanying his Russian counterpart to the Mausoleum to the Soviet Internationalist Soldier , at which point, in a humorous tone, he proposed to change the rules of official protocol of the island due to the high summer temperatures.
“We must change the protocol of Bruno (Rodríguez, the Cuban chancellor),” Castro said, and recommended “not to wear a tie” in Cuba, but “guayabera (national garment) and a hat, shorts and sandals. “
Even joked to suggest that “this country is not to work, much less to war, this country is to rest .”
The intense program of Putin in Havana, almost all the time accompanied by his counterpart Raul Castro, concluded with the farewell at the José Martí International Airport , from where the Russian president flew to Nicaragua, a visit that had not been previously announced.
- Fidel Castro and Vladimir Putin
Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro greets Russian President Vladimir Putin on his visit to Havana. (EFE)
“> Fidel Castro and Vladimir Putin