SAN SALVADOR – El Salvador’s leftist president-elect said on Wednesday that his administration will restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, suspended in 1959 after the revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power.
Mauricio Funes made the announcement at a press conference hours before he was due to meet in San Salvador with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Shannon.
“We would be, at present, the only country in Latin America that doesn’t have diplomatic relations with Cuba,” Funes said shortly after the decision to re-establish links with the communist-ruled island was announced after nearly five decades.
Funes was elected on Sunday and his inauguration, scheduled for June 1, will put an end to 20 years of government by the right-wing ARENA party.
The future president said that the date on which relations with Cuba will be re-established remained up to his “discretion.”
El Salvador broke diplomatic ties with Havana in 1959, after Castro came to power, and incumbent Salvadoran President Tony Saca has repeated during his five years in office that he would not authorize relations with the Cuban government because of its communist ideology.
Funes added that he is interested in strengthening commercial relations with China, but he said that the type of links his government can establish will depend on the dialogue with authorities in the Asian giant and with those in Taiwan, with which El Salvador maintains diplomatic relations.
“It’s an issue I will deal with very soon,” he said, adding that he has an interest in “tightening trade relations with China, one of the countries that has experiences one of the most rapid growth (rates) in recent years.”
China refuses to have diplomatic ties with nations that recognize Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a renegade province.
Last year, Costa Rica established diplomatic relations with China and broke off ties with Taiwan.
Central America has been a bulwark of support for Taiwan and Costa Rica’s decision to break off relations prompted fears that more nations in that region could follow suit.
Taiwan currently has diplomatic ties with 23 countries, 12 of which are in the Americas. EFE