MÉRIDA, Mexico: Cuban leader Raul Castro received a warm welcome in Mexico on Friday as President Enrique Pena Nieto sought to end a diplomatic chill and boost business opportunities on the island.
With the colonial Caribbean city of Merida serving as the backdrop, Castro was given red carpet treatment at the Yucatan state government palace for his first official visit to Mexico since taking power in 2006.
“Long live the indestructible brotherhood between the people of Cuba and Mexico,” Castro said as he delivered a speech alongside Pena Nieto following a private meeting.
For his part, Peña Nieto greeted Castro with an embrace and told him that “Mexico welcomes you with open arms.”
The two governments signed five cooperation agreements in migration, education, diplomacy, fishing and tourism.
Both leaders made clear that the improved relations could lead to more investment opportunities for Mexican companies as the communist nation implements economic reforms.
“We committed both our governments to creating the conditions for Mexican businessmen and investors to invest in Cuba,” Pena Nieto said.
Cuban migration surge
The diplomatic reconciliation between the United States and Cuba has raised the prospect of new business opportunities on the island, though the US embargo remains in place.
In May 2014, Mexico sent a business delegation to Havana representing 48 companies. It also opened a trade promotion office in Havana.
Mexico has several investment projects in Cuba’s Mariel megaport.
“We are pleased by the interest that Mexican companies have in doing business and investing in Cuba, especially at the special development zone of Mariel and in sectors like agriculture and tourism,” said Castro, who returns to Havana on Saturday.