HAVANA.- Visits during 2015 of more than a dozen Heads of State, either on official visits or as part of regional tours, reaffirmed Cuba’s position in the Latin American economical and political landscape.
The visit by Pope Francis from 19 to 22 September incorporated three Cuban cities where the pontiff celebrated masses attended by hundreds of thousands of believers and non believers alike.
In his first public address at Havana’s international airport, the Pope defined Cuba’s status in the world, highlighting that the archipelago was akin to a link between the North, South, East and West and -- in keeping with the dreams of Jose Marti -- had shown extraordinary courage in its exploration of every avenue in search of the point at which all people might be united in friendship.
In what is considered to have been a historic event in March 2015, Francois Hollande became the first French president to visit Cuba. He was welcomed by his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro and by the leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro.
The Head of State called in a lecture at the University of Havana’s Aula Magna, for the lifting of the U.S blockade of Cuba, stating that he would do everything in his power to ensure the annulment of the measure.
He said that “to come to Cuba is to come to a country that represents a form of Latin American expression and validation of dignity and independence. This is why it has played such an important role in negotiations and promotes peace”.
During a three day visit to Cuba in September, Panamanian president Juan Carlos Varela, in addition to visiting the Latin American School of Medicine and the “Solidaridad con Panamá” special needs school, was officially received by and held talks with the Cuban president.
The business delegation that accompanied him held meetings and signed a range of cooperation agreements in various sectors of mutual interest.
The president of Serbia, Tomislav Nikolić, became the first leader since the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia from that European nation to visit Cuba.
During his stay, the dignitary bestowed the Order of Serbia on Fidel Castro for his historic contribution to the development of bilateral ties of friendship and cooperation.
Amongst others of the highest ranking visitors to Cuba, that by Choummaly Sayasone, the president of the Peoples Democratic Republic of Lao last October, during which he received the highest award by the Council of State, the Order of Jose Marti, stands out.
This same honor was also conferred on the president of Vietnam, Truong Tan Sang, who considered the decoration important because it bears the name of the “Apostle” of the Cuban homeland and as such honored the Communist Party of Cuba, the workers and all the people of Cuba.
Prior to the award ceremony in the Revolution Palace, an official signing of legal instruments that, according to both sides, contributed to the deepening of bilateral relations notable for their historic warmth, was held.
For the past three years Cuba has been host nation and a guarantor to peace talks between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-Peoples Army (FARC-EP from the Spanish initials) and that countries government.
The president of Colombia came to Cuba in September for the signing of an agreement by both sides on the establishment of a Special Peace Jurisdiction, at which he was joined by President Raul Castro.
The Namibian Head of State, Hage Gottfried Geingob, undertook an official visit – his first since his election as president -- to Cuba, where his arrival highlighted the friendly the ties that unite both nations.
In a similar vein, during a visit in October, Italian premier Matteo Renzi, called on the business community in his country to identify opportunities and invest in the tourist, real-estate, agri-industrial, renewable energy and any other sectors that would strengthen ties between the two nations.
International Workers Day celebrations in Cuba were not only marked by the massive traditional march, but also by the presence of the Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro.
Bolivian president, Evo Morales, visited revolutionary leader Fidel Castro for his birthday on August 13.
As 2015 drew to a close, Cuba’s regional importance was brought into focus by visits by President Jorge Carlos Fonseca of Cape Verde and that of Costa Rica, both of whom were received by the Head of State and engaged in official talks.
President Luis Guillermo Solís of Costa Rica led a large delegation of politicians and business people, in order to forge closer links with Cuba.
His visit brought the process of the normalization of ties that commenced in the 1990’s to close and promoted technical and other collaborations with Cuba.Share on FB Share on TT