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Spain-Cuba row

January 5, 2010

Madrid and Havana are at odds over Cuba's decision not to let a Spanish politician enter the country. The dispute comes as Spain calls for better relations between the island and the EU.

An EU flag next to a Cuban flag
Spain has said that it wants EU relations with Cuba to improve

Spain is demanding answers from Cuba over the country's decision to refuse entry to a European parliamentarian who flew there on holiday.

The dispute comes days after Spain took over presidency of the European Union with a controversial promise that it would try to improve relations with the Caribbean state.

Cuban authorities denied entry to Luis Yanez, a European parliamentarian for Spain's ruling Socialist Party, when he arrived by air in Havana on Monday. He and his wife Carmen Hermosin, a national parliamentarian for the same party, had travel visas to enter the country.

Although Hermosin was granted permission to enter the country, she returned with her husband to Spain.

No explanation given

A Spanish diplomatic source said Cuba offered "no explanation" for the decision. Yanez had no official agenda in the country, according to the Spanish government.

Spain's Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos speaking at a podium with flags in the background
Spain's foreign minister said the refusal was unjustifiedImage: dpa

Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos described the refusal as "unjustified."

Spain's secretary of state for Latin America, Juan Pablo de Laiglesia, has asked the Cuban embassy in Madrid to explain the decision.

Moratinos has said that Spain, which has held the rotating presidency of the European Union since Friday, will try to normalize relations between the EU and Cuba.

Better relations sought

Madrid is seeking a new bilateral agreement on EU-Cuba ties, despite objections from Sweden and the Czech Republic as well as human rights groups from the former Spanish colony.

Yanez is the president for European delegations dealing with the Latin American trade group Mercosur and a member of Europe's parliamentary assembly for European and Latin American relations.

Despite improved relations between Brussels and Havana, the EU remains concerned about the communist government's treatment of political opponents. In August last year, Cuba summoned ambassadors from five EU countries to complain about a visit by their diplomats to prominent Cuban dissident Darsi Ferrer.

Editor: Nancy Isenson