I write after coming back from Latin America, for a three-fold visit to Cuba, Mexico and Colombia.
My first stop was in Cuba, on the occasion of the “EU-Cuba Joint Council” – that is, our annual opportunity for discussion with Cuban authorities, which we created with the historic 2016 deal between the European Union and Cuba. My visit started with a meeting with Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, before the Joint Council: we discussed how to accompany the modernisation of the Cuban economy, human rights, multilateralism and climate change, but also how to protect our firms investing in Cuba from the impact of American sanctions. Here are my remarks at the Joint Council, here is the press conference. Then I met with President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, and later with representatives of civil society and of European businesses working in Cuba. Finally, I visited the Santa Clara Convent and the Institute of Arts – two important places for the Cuban culture and economy, which will be renewed thanks to the European Union’s support.
From Havana to Mexico City, for my second visit since the beginning of my mandate – the first since the new government was sworn in. In my meeting with Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard we discussed our common commitment to promoting a multilateral and cooperative global governance, but also how to conclude negotiations on a new agreement between the EU and Mexico. It is not “just” a free trade agreement, but a deal of a new generation that protects our workers and the environment, and strengthens our political cooperation. I also talked about multilateralism and cooperation with Mexico in a meeting with students at the main university in Mexico City – here is my speech and some of my answers to students’ questions on multilateralism and the EU-Mexico agreement – and later with a group of think-tankers at the Consejo Mexicano de Asuntos Internacionales (Comexi). In Mexico I also met with Interior Minister Olga Sanchez Cordero, with the President of the Senate Mónica Fernández Balboa and a group of senators dealing with foreign policy, and with a group of civil society representatives to discuss human rights – particularly for women and children. Here is an op-ed I wrote for “El Universal” at the beginning of my trip.
Finally Colombia, in a very delicate moment for the peace process in the country – I wrote about it in this comment for “El Espectador” published on my arrival to Bogota. I confirmed to President Ivan Duque the European Union’s complete support to the full implementation of the peace agreement. The people of Colombia are also showing great generosity in welcoming those who flee from Venezuela: for this reason I announced an extra 30 million euros in European support, on top of over 120 million that we have already invested. Here is the press conference with President Duque. In Bogota I also met with a group of civil society representatives and with the top officials in the transitional justice system, who are working on reconciliation and are spreading light on the crimes committed during the war. The path towards peace is never easy, but I saw once again that the people of Colombia don’t want to go back to darker times in their history – and keep looking to the future with hope.
Over the week, the names and portfolios of the new European Commissioners were also announced: they will now have to seek the European Parliament’s support. I am glad that Italy has chosen Paolo Gentiloni, who will tackle a difficult task with professionalism and determination.