To explain the meeting between Philip VI of Spain and Raúl Castro, First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell spoke of "a gesture of friendship and deference."
In 2010, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain, and also of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), went to Cuba to negotiate, and met with Raúl Castro. They watched a Spain vs. Germany soccer game, and Moratinos returned to Madrid talking about how friendly and deferential his host, a follower of Spain's national team, had been.
If Raúl Castro were a right-wing dictator, Moratinos and Borrell would not have spoken of friendship or deference, but rather only of the strictest diplomacy. This time, however, Borrell went even further, even adopting Castroism’s typically disingenuous official language, observing that Cuba "is not the only country in the world with a single party," and using the term "blockade" to refer to what had been, in the political terms of the various Spanish governments, the US "embargo" on Cuba.
"We’re going to call a spade a spade," Borrell said, employing the term "blockade" and stating that Spain would fight the Helms-Burton Act as "an abuse of power."
Several Spanish businessmen on the island are threatened with the application of the Helms-Burton Act, and, at the same time, suffering from debts owed by their Cuban partner: Raúl Castro's regime. These figures are also complicit with the regime in imposing abusive labor and salary conditions on their Cuban employees. As Borrell stated that he would, let us speak frankly too: Spain is not there to celebrate Havana’s 500th anniversary, nor to support the Cuban people, these being mere diplomatic pretexts. Rather, Philip VI's visit to Cuba has had as its main objective preventing the Cuban regime from mistreating these Spanish businessmen as severely as it treats its workforce in Cuba.
"The Spanish discussion of opportunities on the Island does not include any improvements for Cubans working for Spanish companies. And it is even worse for all those Cubans who want democracy for their country." We have seen how, in order to buoy Spanish businesses on the island, the Spanish Foreign Minister is capable of praising friendship with a dictator, and downplaying the lack of democracy in Cuba, with the justification that other countries also have single-party regimes.
The key element in Philip VI's visit to Havana has not been his language in favor of democracy, but rather the lack of scruples found in Josep Borrell's. This is how low Spain will stoop in order to ensure that its businesspeople in Cuba collect what they are owed.