Galicia makes Cuba number-one aid priority

10th December 2007, Comments 0 comments

Galicia announces increase in development aid to Cuba.

10 December 2007

HAVANA - The high point of the head of the Galician regional government's two-day visit to Cuba may have been Saturday's celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Galician national anthem-which was first played in Havana - but Emilio Pérez Touriño was really in the Caribbean island to sign a series of cooperation deals, as well as establish an annual meeting with the Cuban leadership.

Over the last three years, Galicia has funded health, education and housing projects worth around EUR 1 million. Over the next two years, says Galician premier Touriño, that figure will grow by more than 50 percent. The Galician met Cuban Vice President Carlos Lage and Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque, among other officials. In the future "intergovernmental commissions" will meet regularly to discuss longer-term plans and projects.

Besides financial aid, Touriño said his region's closer cooperation with Cuba would also mean "investment in human capital," with more exchanges at academic levels, as well as joint research projects through closer ties between universities.

The Galician premier is also hoping that his visit will encourage Galicia's business community to invest in the island. But he also called on them to "respect" the way that events are unfolding there. "We should take advantage of this decisive moment to accompany the Cuban people into the future based on feelings of loyalty," Touriño said.

"Galicia no longer exports manual labour, it exports entrepreneurs," said Victor Moro, head of the association of Spanish enterprises on the island. Some 7,000 of the Galician electorate live in Cuba, and the region has strong ties dating back to the 19th century. The current initiative by Galicia's Socialist and BNG nationalist-run administration builds on more than 15 years of cooperation with Cuba initiated under the former head of the regional government, Manuel Fraga, of the Popular Party. The new initiative comes after Cuba and Spain's rapprochement in September, when the two signed a broad agreement to re-establish cooperation halted in 2003 after Havana jailed 75 dissidents.

[Copyright EL PAÍS, SL./ MAURICIO VICENT 2007]

Subject: Spanish news

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