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Margallo leaves Cuba with a wish for faster reforms

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo

Havana, Nov 26 (EFE).- Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo culiminated his first official visit toCubawithout meeting President Raul Castro but with a message about the need for speedier economic reforms and the situation of political prisoners in the country.

Although not on the official agenda, it was assumed that Castro would receive the Spanish minister who in the end had to settle for a meeting with the first vice-president of the country, Miguel Diaz-Canel.

In recent months, Castro has received foreign ministers of countries such as Mexico and Panama. In 2010, he also met Margallo’s predecessor, Miguel Angel Moratinos.

Margallo concluded his trip toCubawith a press statement expressing Spain’s desire for the economic reforms launched by Castro’s government to occur “at a faster pace” in order to allow more scope for private enterprise and foreign investment.

Garcia Margallo referred to the need to “decentralize decision-making” in the country’s new economic context, something that “would result in a higher economic growth, which in turn would translate into greater prosperity for the Cuban people.”

The minister also asked Cuba to let the former political prisoners now living in Spain travel home, adding that there was also interest in “the situation of 12 Cubans, currently out of prison on the island on parole, so that they may be authorized to travel outside ofCuba.”

He said that in his meetings with Cuban authorities he also addressed issues of “regional and global mutual interest” such as the Ibero-American Summit, to be held in Veracruz, Mexico, on Dec. 8 and 9, in which he considered the presence of Castro “important”.

“Cubaplays an essential role in the Ibero-American Community of Nations so its presence at the highest level with President Raul Castro is important,” said Margallo, without revealing what answer he had received fromCubain this regard.

In recent years,Cubahas sent low-ranking delegations to the summit which has never been attended by Raul Castro since he took over the country’s presidency in 2006 in place of his brother Fidel who was the last Cuban president to attend that forum in 2000. EFE