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Spanish politician refused entry into Cuba

Tue 5th Jan 2010

Spain has reported that it wants EU relations with Cuba to improve. Madrid and Havana are currently head to head over Cuba's decision to refuse a Spanish politician and European Parliamentarian entry into the country for a holiday. The dispute comes just days after Spain took over presidency of the European Union with a controversial promise that it would try to improve relations between the EU and with the Caribbean state.

Cuban authorities denied entry to Luis Yanez, a Politican representing Spain's ruling Socialist Party, when he arrived at Havana on Monday. He and his wife Carmen Hermosin, a national parliamentarian for the same party, had the appropriate travel visas to enter the country. Although she was granted permission to enter the country, his wife returned to Spain with him.

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

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

Madrid is seeking a new bilateral agreement on EU-Cuba relations, 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.

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