HAVANA – Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes said Monday that his visit to Cuba is intended to repair the “historic sin” of earlier administrations of his country and he said he supported building a relationship of mutual benefit with the communist island from a “pragmatic and realistic” position.
“This visit is the redress of an historic sin committed by earlier administrations that defined their foreign policy from the standpoint of ideological lines and not on the basis of the interests of the nation,” Funes, the first leader of El Salvador to visit Cuba in half a century, told reporters after his arrival in Havana.
“The Cuban and Salvadoran people have always been united and it’s one of the things I’m coming to thank President Raul Castro and his government for: the solidarity that Cuba has always had with the Salvadoran people, despite not having an easy government to government relationship,” Funes said.
He recalled that he had reestablished diplomatic relations with Cuba a year ago, on the same day he assumed the Salvadoran presidency, and he added that he was coming to Havana to “honor” the commitment he had announced as his first change in the country’s foreign policy.
The international economic crisis, he said, has shown that “only joined together can (our) countries move forward and our visit is in response to that integrationist and Latin Americanist vocation.”
Last year’s election of Funes, whose FMLN party arose from the Marxist guerrillas who battled the U.S.-backed Salvadoran military from 1980-1992, ended two decades of rule by the rightist ARENA.
Regarding the expectations surrounding his visit, Funes said that he was “very hopeful” about opening business opportunities with Cuba.
He emphasized that the members of the delegation of more than 50 businessmen accompanying him are representatives of different economic sectors, including the pharmaceutical industry, hotel services, tourism, aeronautics and maritime activities.
Funes also said that his government was maintaining a “firm” position against the economic embargo imposed by the United States on Cuba, a policy that he said is “anachronistic” because it does not aid in the countries’ development. EFE