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Friday, December 9, 2022

Castro visit brings Mexico, Cuba closer

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At Parque Mejorada in Mérida, Cuban President Raul Castro on Friday leaves a ceremonial wreath at the monument to the Niños Heroes, six teenage soldiers who died during the Mexican-American war. AP Photo
At Parque Mejorada in Mérida, Cuban President Raúl Castro on Friday leaves a ceremonial wreath at the monument to the Niños Heroes, six teenage soldiers who died during the Mexican-American war. AP Photo

Mérida, Yucatán —Feted with a toast during an official banquet at a famous villa on the Paseo de Montejo, where 84-year-old Raúl Castro invoked his plans to return to Yucatán’s capital after he retires in 2018.

“I won’t be a great-great-grandfather… because Cubans will get bored of me,” quipped Castro, adding that he would like to return to Mérida because it was the first place he visited in Mexico 60 years ago.

Signaling closer political ties, the presidents of Mexico and Cuba met Friday, stressing the two countries’ mutual interests and admiration.

People look on from the edges of Parque de La Mejorada, where Cuban President Raul Castro was visiting to lay a ceremonial wreath. AP photo
People look on from the edges of Parque de La Mejorada, where Cuban President Raul Castro was visiting to lay a ceremonial wreath. AP photo

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced agreements to fight human trafficking and to work together on tourism, education and business investments. The two governments signed five cooperation agreements in migration, education, diplomacy, fishing and tourism.

Members of a Mexican honor guard stand in Parque de la Mejorada in Mérida as they await the arrival of Cuban President Raul Castro on Friday. AP photo
Members of a Mexican honor guard stand in Parque de la Mejorada in Mérida as they await the arrival of Cuban President Raul Castro on Friday. AP photo

“We also welcome the interest of Mexican companies to do business and invest in Cuba, particularly in the special development zone of Mariel and in sectors such as agriculture and tourism,” Raúl Castro said. Mexico has several investment projects in Cuba’s Mariel megaport.

The President of Cuba, Raúl Castro (left.), and that of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, at the Quinta Montes Molina in Mérida. Photo: Handout
The President of Cuba, Raúl Castro (left.), and that of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, at the Quinta Montes Molina in Mérida. Photo: Handout

“Long live the indestructible brotherhood between the people of Cuba and Mexico,” Castro said as he delivered a speech alongside Peña Nieto.

Later, in a brief ceremony at Mejorada Park, Castro laid a wreath at the base of the Niños Heroes monument, which was erected in honor of the six teenager soldiers who died defending Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City from invading U.S. forces during the Mexican-American war in 1847.

A red carpet was unfurled for the Cuban leader — he has been given the red-carpet treatment throughout his visit to Yucatán — and an honor guard fired a 27-gun salute after both country’s national anthem was played. Under the gaze of high security, some 200 onlookers watched from the other side of a temporary fence at the park’s perimeter.

Castro made no statement at the park.

That evening, in a private ceremony at the Wyndham Hotel on Avenida Colon, state Gov. Rolando Zapata Bello awarded Castro the General Salvador Alvarado medal. The medal is named for a former governor who is considered a revolutionary hero and statesman. Members of the news media were not invited to the event.

Since 1928, the two countries have signed agreements of various kinds after more than a century of diplomatic relations, but ties between Cuba and Yucatán are older, dating back to the time when the latter was a Spanish colony.

Castro’s first official visit to Mexico since taking power in 2006 concludes today.

Sources: Yahoo News, Diario de Yucatán, Associated Press, Notimex

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