The King and Queen of Spain arrived in Cuba yesterday in the midst of the political uncertainty that the country is experiencing after the result of the general elections. The visit, the first State trip of a Spanish monarch to Cuba in the whole history of the island, has been marked from the beginning by controversy.
According to PP sources to The Diplomat, Pablo Casado’s party did not like the trip of the King and Queen to Cuba at all, considering that the conditions for this visit are not met and that it is not very opportune that Felipe VI is outside Spain only one or two days after the elections are held.
In this regard, the acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell – the only member of the Government accompanying the King and Queen – declared last week that he saw “no problem” on the trip because “the King has no specific mission to exercise the day after the elections”.
The main reason for the King and Queen’s trip is the commemoration of the 5th Centenary of the foundation of the city of Havana. In addition, government sources have assured that the main objective of this visit is to normalize bilateral relations and put an end to an “anomaly” of the Crown in comparison with the rest of the countries of the Ibero-American community. “Everyone has passed through Cuba: two or three Popes, a president of the United States, the president of the French republic, the Dukes of Edinburgh, heirs of the British crown”, Borrell recalled.
The same sources assured that the decision to participate in the commemorative events in Havana a few days before the official celebrations (which will take place on 16 November) is not due to the attempt not to coincide with leaders such as Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela or Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, but to the desire to give the King’s State visit an “individuality” and a protagonism of its own that it would not have had otherwise.
The King and Queen arrived in Cuba last night, but the reception with honors and the first official activities will take place today, with the floral offering before the José Martí Memorial and the subsequent meeting with President Miguel Díaz-Canel. No meetings with other Cuban political personalities, not even the former president and current leader of the Communist Party, Raúl Castro, are foreseen.
The King will meet the Spanish community tomorrow at the Gran Teatro and will have lunch with Spanish businessmen. The visit will conclude on Thursday in Santiago de Cuba, where tribute will be paid to the Spanish soldiers and sailors who participated and died in the last two battles of the war against the United States in 1898.