Chikungunya in Cuba

Puerto Rico plans commercial office in Cuba to promote trade

Puerto Rico plans commercial office in Cuba to promote trade
HAVANA | BY MARC FRANK

Puerto Rico has taken the first steps toward opening a commercial office
in Cuba, Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla said on Saturday, on the
sidelines of a Caribbean summit in Havana.

Garcia Padilla is the first sitting Puerto Rican governor in history to
visit Cuba, a “privilege” he said, telling journalist that local
officials and the public had treated him warmly.

Garcia Padilla arrived in Havana on Thursday to attend as an observer
Saturday’s summit of the Association of Caribbean States, which includes
as members and associate members virtually all Caribbean Basin nations,
as well as a number of islands that are not independent.

“We have had meetings with various ministers, and last night I had the
opportunity to share some words with President Raul Castro,” Garcia
Padilla said.

“We had on the agenda and achieved taking the first steps to open an
office of Puerto Rico in Havana. What these offices do is promote trade
and cultural exchanges,” he said.

Puerto Rico has experienced a decline in tourism due to the Zika
epidemic. It is expected to suffer further when U.S. tourism opens up
with Cuba.

Garcia Padilla said while Zika was a threat to pregnant women and those
planning to become pregnant, it otherwise represented no danger for
visitors,

Public health, and in particular efforts in both countries to stem the
spread of the Zika virus, was nevertheless on the governor’s agenda.

“We had some initial discussions about how we can help each other … as
we always do with Caribbean countries to deal with natural disasters,”
Garcia Padilla said.

Although a number of U.S. governors have visited Cuba since the two
countries announced détente in December 2014, restored diplomatic
relations six months later and began talks on a multiple of issues,
Puerto Rico has a special significance for both countries.

The two Caribbean islands were Spanish colonies until the
Spanish-American war of 1898, when they passed over to the United
States. Cuba was quickly granted independence, while Puerto Rico
remained an unincorporated territory and in 1952 became a commonwealth
of the United States.

Since the 1959 Revolution, Cuba has made support for Puerto Rican
independence a key part of its foreign policy despite repeated votes in
Puerto Rico to maintain its status.

“The future of Puerto Rico depends on Puerto Ricans, just like Cuba’s
future depends on what the Cubans decide,” said Garcia Padilla, who does
not favor independence.

(Reporting by Marc Frank; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Source: Puerto Rico plans commercial office in Cuba to promote trade |
Reuters – www.reuters.com/article/us-cuba-usa-idUSKCN0YQ0UR

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