Spanish aid to Cuba doubles in two years


Havana: Spanish aid to Cuba has climbed from 17 million euros ($25.36 million) in 2007 to 34 million euros ($50.7 million) this year, an official said.

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These figures are to be touted during the upcoming visit to the island by Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos as a key aspect of the growing cooperation between the two nations.

Both countries have said they are satisfied with the increase in aid, which the coordinator of Spanish cooperation in Havana, Juan Diego Ruiz, told EFE. It has primarily funded food security, services such as education and health, potable water projects and the protection of cultural heritage.

The Spanish government resumed aid flows to Cuba after bilateral relations were normalised during Moratinos’ previous visit to the island in April 2007. Cooperation had been suspended for four years after Cuba jailed 75 dissidents for allegedly conspiring with the US to undermine the communist system.

However, despite the lack of direct cooperation between the central governments from 2003 to 2007, aid has never stopped flowing to Cuba from Spain’s autonomous communities, provinces and municipalities.

In 2010, the total amount of Spanish cooperation with Cuba is expected to be equivalent to that of 2009 due to the impact of the global financial crisis, “but it won’t fall either”, Ruiz said.

Spain’s different administrations at the national, regional and local levels spend some 5.3 billion euros ($7.9 billion) annually on international development cooperation.

Aid to Cuba over the past 12 months has included funding to rebuild and repair schools, hospitals and homes battered by three hurricanes in 2008, as well as an initial 36 tons of emergency relief supplies.

Around 40 percent of Spanish aid to Cuba is included as part of multilateral cooperation plans coordinated by UN agencies.

Another 35 percent is sent via 100 Spanish non-governmental organisations and the remaining 25 percent is channelled through direct government-to-government initiatives.

Moratinos is scheduled to visit Cuba Oct 18 and 19.