HAVANA – Chilean President Michelle Bachelet began on Sunday a two-day visit to Cuba, her second-to-last foreign trip as head of state and on which she is accompanied by a business delegation seeking new trade and investment opportunities on the communist island.
Bachelet arrived on Sunday morning at Havana’s Jose Marti airport and was welcomed by Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Rogelio Sierra.
The Chilean leader began her official agenda on Sunday afternoon by attending an exchange with Cuban intellectuals and artists at the main office of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC), where she met in private with the organization’s president, author Miguel Barnet, and famous actor Jorge Perugorria.
Later, at the Villa Manuela Gallery at the site, Bachelet attended the signing of an agreement between the state-run Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry and the Chilean Culture Ministry.
On Monday, the president will begin her day with the inauguration of a bilateral forum in the emblematic Hotel Nacional de Cuba.
The meeting is designed to identify new business opportunities to increase Chilean investments on the island, which currently amount to some $52 million.
Also on the official agenda is for Bachelet to visit a teacher training school bearing the name of former Chilean President Salvador Allende, where she is scheduled to sign a cooperation agreement between hospitals in the two nations.
Later, she will meet with her Cuban counterpart, Raul Castro, who will welcome her at the Palace of the Revolution, the Cuban seat of government.
Bachelet will hand over the presidency in March to conservative President-elect Sebastian Piñera, who won the recent election, defeating the government-supported center-left candidate.
Castro, too, is in the final stretch of his mandate and is scheduled to hand over power to his designated successor in April.
Cuba and Chile maintain good relations with one another, with their mutual history dating back to the 1960s, when the Caribbean country sent doctors to help the victims of the tsunami and earthquakes in the town of Valdivia.
Cuban emergency medical brigades also traveled to Chile after the February 2010 and April 2017 earthquakes in Rancagua and Valparaiso, respectively.
During the 1970s, then-Cuban President Fidel Castro visited Santiago and Allende visited Havana.