Cuba’s new president, Miguel Diaz-Canel (R), speaks with his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro at the Palace of the Revolution in Havana, Cuba, April 21, 2018. EPA-EFE/Ernesto Mastrascusa
Havana, Apr 21 (efe-epa).- Cuba’s new president, Miguel Diaz-Canel, met with his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro on Saturday at Havana’s Palace of the Revolution, representing the first official visit of a head of state to the island since former-President Raul Castro handed over power on Thursday.
Maduro, who landed in Havana on Friday night, is visiting Cuba to congratulate the new president, to ratify their two countries’ close relationship and to meet with Raul Castro, who will continue to be the head of Cuba’s ruling Communist Party until 2021.
Maduro was accompanied by Venezuela’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Arreaza and by the country’s Education Minister Elias Jaua.
Speaking to the press before meeting with the Cuban president, Maduro said that Cuba and Venezuela «have all the potential to continue collaborating and cooperating on numerous issues to help develop Latin American and Caribbean nations.»
This was Diaz-Canel’s first official event as president, two days after being sworn-in.
It comes as no surprise that Maduro was the first head of state to meet with Diaz-Canel, as Venezuela is Cuba’s main political ally and an important trading partner.
Cuba is particularly reliant on Venezuelan oil, which the island buys at a preferential price in exchange for services provided by Cuban professionals in Venezuela, especially in the health and education sectors.