• Spain's news in English

Spain hails news stage in US–Cuba relations

AFP/The Local · 18 Dec 2014, 08:59

Published: 18 Dec 2014 08:59 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

"I want to welcome a new stage which puts an end to a disagreement that has lasted for 50 years," José Manuel García-Margallo said during a brief appearance before the media at the foreign ministry in Madrid.

"This future can only be built on the basis of respect for democracy and human rights," he added.

The Spanish foreign minister urged Havana to step up its reforms and called on Cuba, its former colony to sign international human rights agreements.

"The agreement that has been reached is of great significance. After 50 years both nations reestablish diplomatic relations and part of the embargo will be softened," the minister said.

In coordinated statements issued in Washington and Havana on Wednesday, Castro and Obama announced that diplomatic relations between the two countries were to be restored after having been cut over half a century before.

The statements thanked Pope Francis for what was described as "his crucial role" in the process.García-Margallo, who visited Cuba last month, refused to say if Madrid also played a role in the rapprochement, saying only that in diplomacy "discretion is the norm".

The announcement of the restoration of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the US came on the same day that the two countries pushed through a prisoner swap deal which saw the release of US citizen Alan Gross after five years in a Cuban prison in exchange for the release of three Cubans held in the US on suspicion of spying.

The imprisonment of Gross, accused of subversion was considered a major roadblock in the establishment of normal diplomatic relations between the two countries.

At the time of the Spanish foreign minister's visit to Cuba in November, diplomatic sources told Spain's El País newspaper that García-Margallo might be charged with delivering a message from Obama to Cuban authorities.

Those sources speculated García-Margallo might, on behalf of the US, ask Cuba to release Gross — a sign of good faith that could allow Obama and Castro to be seen together at April's Summit of the Americas in Panama City.      

Story continues below…

Spain mediated historic talks between Cuba's communist government and the Roman Catholic Church that freed 75 political opponents in 2010 and 2011. They had been sentenced to terms ranging from six to 28 years.

Cuba granted exile to 63 on the condition they be barred from returning, and most went to Spain. Twelve others who refused to leave jail under those conditions were released on parole and prohibited from leaving Cuba.

Spain is Cuba's third largest trading partner and the largest European investor in the country.

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.es)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Spain's 'Napflix' aims to bore viewers to sleep
Photo: Screengrab/ Napflix

A Spanish video platform called Napflix, designed to put people to sleep with dull content, was launched this week and its founders are on the lookout for more "monotony and repetition."

Recipe: How to make fabada - traditional Asturian bean stew
Photo: Flavio Lorenzo Sánchez/Flickr

The hearty Asturian dish is a perfect lunch on a cold day... and don't forget the crusty bread and cider!

Brit 'paedo' held on Costa del Sol after Most Wanted appeal

One of Britain's most wanted fugitives was arrested on the Costa Del Sol following a tip-off from an expat just hours after his face appeared on a public appeal.

Spain's parliament approves deficit reduction measures
Photo: Images Money/Flickr

Spanish lawmakers approved on Thursday measures to reduce the public deficit and keep it under the target agreed with the European Union.

'Cubism and War' show opens at Barcelona Picasso Museum
Pablo Picasso Harlequin and Woman with a Necklace. Photo: MP

Barcelona's Picasso Museum unveiled an exhibition on "Cubism and War" on Thursday depicting how one of the most influential artistic styles of the 20th century survived the First World War.

Why this bionic limb pioneer doesn't believe in disability
Hugh Herr has been award Spain's top science prize. Photo: FPA

The Local speaks to Hugh Herr on winning Spain's top science prize and how being an amputee doesn't make him disabled.

Dine in the buff at Spain's first nudist restaurant
A buffet of organic food will be served on "human tables". Photo: Innato / Facebook

Spain's first naked dining experience is to arrive on the island of Tenerife following the success of a similar venture in London.

Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Photo: AFP

Spain's Constitutional Court on Thursday cancelled a bullfighting ban in Catalonia in what is likely to exacerbate tensions between Madrid and the separatist region, and between animal activists and fans of the tradition.

Out of the dark: Five years on from Eta ceasefire
Eta members made a ceasefire declaration in January, 2011. Photo: Gara / AFP

Five years after armed separatist group Eta declared a permanent ceasefire, Basque journalist Alberto Letona is still wondering when the dialogue will begin.

Hunt for ten most wanted Brit fugitives hiding out in Spain
Call Crimestoppers if you recognize these faces.

These fugitives from British justice are thought to be hiding out in Spain. Do you recognize anyone?

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
Bison found decapitated on Valencia nature reserve
Forgotten Voices: What Brits in Spain think about Brexit
One dead and 14 injured in blast at Spanish resort
Game of Thrones want extras 'with muscles' to film in Spain
Thousands march in Madrid to push for bullfighting ban
jobs available