The Italy – Cuba Relationship
Cuba’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, has just concluded a three day official visit to Italy. He met in Rome with Italy’s Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister, Angelino Alfano.
On the agenda were discussions concerning the further expansion of economic-commercial and diplomatic relations. The Ministers expressed satisfaction with the developing dialogue between the EU and Cuba, human rights, bilateral relations, regional issues such as U.S.-Cuba relations, the situation in Venezuela, European – EU-Cuba relations) and the universal moratorium on the death penalty.
Rodriguez described the Cuban-Italian relationship as having a special significance, one founded on deep historical and cultural ties, and expressed ‘great affection for Italy and for Italians.’
Together, the ministers Alfano and Rodriguez held a press conference at the Farnesina Palace in Rome on 21 June 2017.
The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation released the following statement of the visit:
“I wish to express my satisfaction for the excellent bilateral political dialogue. Italy follows with great interest the ‘updating’ process of the national economic system which Cuba initiated six years ago and then ratified last year, on the occasion of the 7th PCC Congress. The process is offering more opportunities to family-run micro-enterprises and cooperative companies which operate in agriculture as well as in other fields. It also promotes foreign investments, and supports a greater diversification of international partners. We are very interested in strengthening our economic relations with Cuba, especially in sectors such as agribusiness, infrastructure, transportation, tourism and energy,”
Italy is a major European trade partner of Cuba in the tourism, agriculture, biotechnology and renewable energy sectors.
Over the last several years, Cuban government officials have met with their Italian counterparts and Italy has led business forums to Havana.
In June of 2014, the Italian government met with Rodriguez and President Raul Castro in an effort to build on cooperation with Cuba. At that time, he also reiterated the Italian governments continued desire to assist in the recovery and restoration of heritage projects in Havana and Santiago de Cuba. In Havana, Cuban students and Italian art experts have been working together to assist with the restoration of the Capitolio building. The two statues at the entrance to the Capitolio were designed by the Italian sculptor, Angelo Zanelli.
Italian Vice Minister Calenda has described the value of Italy-Cuba relationship as one of immense potential, and that Cuba “is a very important country, logistically speaking. Much depends on how the country will speed up privatization. Whatever happens, we intend to be there.”
In May of last year, an Italian business forum traveled to Havana. At that time, the office of the Italian Institute for Foreign Trade (I.C.E) opened its doors in Havana.
Italian tourists represent the forth highest number of visitors to Cuba after Canadian, German and British tourists. Helping Italians to fly there are Italy’s Air Alitalia and Blue Panorama, two companies offering flights from Milan, Naples and Rome.
According to the Cuban press there are joint ventures in progress in the industry sectors of agriculture and food (pasta production) and insurance. Cuba is also seeking to diversify existing rum exports to Cuba.