Diaz-Canel’s Eurasian Tour

By Ángel Guerra Cabrera on November 22, 2018

Cuban President Diaz Canel with Chinese President Xi Jinping

China welcomed Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel with open arms. In Shanghai he began his visit with a tour of the International Exports Fair. The results of his stay in the Asian country by any standard were positive and fruitful.

It is enough to review the signed agreements and the fraternal meetings held between the leaders. As for the agreements, what stands out was the transcendent incorporation of Cuba to the Economic Strip of the Silk Road and the Maritime Silk Road of the 21st Century. The impressive list of prioritized projects aimed to increase productive capacity and investment in Cuba included agreement of economic and technical cooperation between the two governments, credit lines for the acquisition of construction equipment in the renewable energy sector, equipment to increase the production of various crops in Guantánamo and the fruit and vegetable canning factory project in Ciego de Ávila, all of which will have a significant influence on the economic and social development of the island.

No less important is the strengthening of political relations between the two governments and communist parties. It is an eloquent twist that happened in Beijing. The head of the state of Cuba, who without mentioning the United States, compares its closed attitude with the opening of China. Diaz Canel’s unforgettable meeting with President Xi Jinping, who Fidel called a firm and capable revolutionary, was a balance between tradition and projection into the future. China is opening its doors where others erect walls. At the same time, the Chinese leader considered the traditional Havana-Beijing fraternity relevant, and advocated strengthening bilateral ties in multiple fields and appreciated Cuba’s role in promoting his country’s relations with Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Vietnamese part of the tour was inspired by historical and supportive bilateral ties that have carried on since the resistance war, which culminated in the embarrassing defeat of the United States by the Vietnamese. Consistent with Fidel’s and Raul’s very friendly gestures to the Asian nation over the years, Diaz-Canel took time to visit the extensive guerrilla tunnels of Cu Chi in Ho Chi Minh City, vital to the operations of the patriotic forces during the conflict.

The Vietnamese government and business community maintain an important presence in the revitalization of the island’s economy and its updating process. Determined to elevate their economic relations to the level of politics, both parties proposed to more than double their trade in the short term, which amounts to 240 million dollars a year in both directions, with a view to reaffirming Vietnam as Cuba’s second most important partner in Asia. It is worth recalling the visit to the island in March by Díaz-Canel’s counterpart, Nguyen Phu Trong, also secretary general of the Communist Party of Vietnam, when nine agreements were signed to promote bilateral cooperation. One of them referred to the conclusion of a trade agreement between the two countries, concluded during this visit in the presence of the two presidents. In the conversations both emphasized the high level of commonality of the two states in the main topics of the international agenda.

As in all countries, Diaz-Canel met with Cuban personnel working in Vietnam, which gave rise to this note from a colleague: “Quickly in a Cuban way, the president did not leave anyone out and spoke with a student, with a doctor, with a specialist in roads – then with the people of the embassy, with the children of diplomats and even with the journalists of Prensa Latina, without warning us that it was off the record or anything like that!”

From Vietnam, the island’s president headed to Vientiane, the capital of Laos, marking the first visit to the country of a Cuban president, although Raúl and Díaz-Canel had stayed there before becoming president. The friendship with Laos dates back half a century, when its liberation army was founded and Cuban doctors went there as internationalist aid workers. An intense program reaffirmed Cuba’s close relations with that nation, once very poor and devastated by U.S. bombs, which now grows at rates of 6 percent catapulted by the plentiful and agricultural rich Mekong and the industriousness of its people.

Diaz-Canel had already shown his skill in foreign policy, particularly in his intense visit to New York during the UN General Assembly and this tour confirmed it. The silence or minimization of media reports of his tour is no coincidence. The facts speak and they speak for themselves!


Source: La Jornada, translation Resumen Latinoamericano, North America bureau