The Spaniards are coming
It’s the first official visit by a senior Spanish minister to the island in about 10 years.
In other words, it's a big deal for both Spain and Cuba.So, to put the trip in perspective, here are some pertinent economic figures, courtesy of the Spanish daily El Mundo:
1. Spain is now Cuba’s third largest foreign investor, behind Venezuela and China.
2. Trade between Spanish firms and the Castro brothers is worth currently about USD1.2 billion a year.
3. Trade between the two countries increased by a staggering 23 per cent in 2005-2006.
4. About a third of all joint ventures in Cuba involve Spanish firms, predominantly in the supposedly highly-profitable tourism and tobacco sectors.
5. The Castros owe Spanish firms about USD1.4 billion in outstanding debts, which the Cuban government has no intention of repaying in a hurry. If at all.
All this may or may not explain why while Moratinos will meet Raul Castro and most other senior representatives of the Castro regime, it is still not clear whether he will have the time to meet dissidents during his visit.
But don’t hold your breath.