Pedro Sánchez, President of the Spanish Government arrived in an official two-days´ visit to Cuba in November 22 scheduled to meet with authorities of the Island and accompanied by Josep Borrell and Reyes Maroto, respective Foreign and Industry Ministers.
For the first time in the last three decades, a Spanish President visits Cuba.
During the friendly meeting with Cuban President, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, they shared the warm bilateral state of present relations based in deep historical ties binding both countries and peoples, concurring in their interest to strengthen them in economic, commercial, cultural, scientific, academic, and cooperation areas.
As part of the official program, the Spanish president visited the José Martí – most universal of all Cubans – Memorial, one of Havana´s emblematic spaces and a mandatory visit for those coming to the Island. The agenda included the signing of two memorandums of understanding between both governments.
One of them aiming to establish bilateral consults, widen ties and foster issues of interest; the other focused on advancing cooperation and exchange in the cultural area based on a greater Cuban cultural presence in Spain and vice versa.
As part of a very special moment, the Spanish president Pedro Sánchez handed over the chair belonging to Antonio Maceo, beloved general of Cuba´s Independence Wars in an act he considered as a “symbol of history and re-encounter” between both countries; adding, “today ends a 20 years´ long legal and administrative process and as a result, the return of Maceo´s chair to the City Museum in Havana as a temporary and renewable loan”. Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez also attended the ceremony. This chair without doubt has a great symbolic value for Cubans considering this temporary cession as a gesture of friendship and brotherhood on behalf of the Spanish people, and as such, stated in the closing words of his president: “today I want it to be a symbol of shared tribute between our two people, Spanish and Cuban, bonded in a common memory of transcendent episodes for the future of our shared history”.
Auspiciously, the chair of General Maceo (1845-1896) was placed since November 23, 2018 in one of the halls of the City Museum – former Spanish Governors´ Palace – 121 years after its retention as war trophy by the Spanish general Valeriano Weyler. According to the story, the piece was cut and shaped on a Cuban palm tree trunk, wherein Maceo, named by Cubans “Titán de Bronce” (Bronze Titan) used to work and rest; his initials (A.M.) are inscribed in the chair with a very symbolic star in its center. Eusebio Leal, City Historian on receiving the chair said that “it reached one of the most sensible fibers of the Cuban people” adding, “it is a symbol of friendship and to understand Cuba one has to understand we were once part of Spain and the descendants of immigrants not conquerors”.
From the City Museum, both presidents accompanied by the City Historian toured Havana´s Historical Center during 25 minutes, followed by an approaching multitude that greeted the visitors, who enjoyed the architectural and patrimonial beauty of the surroundings.
This visit is an important step for both nations sharing ongoing diplomatic relations since 1902, influenced by existing historical, cultural and commercial ties.
By: Dianik Flores Martínez