President López Obrador will host Cuban president Miguel Díaz-Canel in Campeche this weekend.
“We will be in Campeche this weekend to meet with dear President López Obrador and continue to strengthen relations between Cuba and Mexico, which are more than endearing,” President Miguel Díaz-Canel confirmed through his social media on Thursday.
During the visit, the Mexican and Cuban governments will formalize the import of ballast stone from Cuba, to be used in the construction of the Maya Train, one of President López Obrador’s key infrastructure projects.
Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard stated that the leaders will make multiple stops in the state on Saturday and Sunday, including a visit to a section of the Maya Train. In January 2022, Cuba made its first shipment of ballast to Mexico, exporting 20,000 tons.
Last month, the director of Cuba’s port services company, César Rosell León, told the Cuban News Agency that they are preparing two more ships to bring the stone to Mexico from the port of Cienfuegos in Cuba. One will contain 25,000 tons of ballast rock and the other 18,000 tons.
The rock comes from the Cuban city of Palmira, which is recognized for its high-quality ballast. The Cuban Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca, claimed that the country is also considering supplying other materials for the Maya Train’s construction.
On Saturday, both leaders will meet with staff from Mexico’s social security institute (IMSS), a symbol of collaboration in the healthcare sector between the two countries. In May of last year, President López Obrador hired 500 Cuban doctors, a move criticized by the Mexican medical community. Another 600 Cuban medical professionals arrived in recent months.
The Mexican government also purchased Cuba’s Abdala vaccine against COVID-19.
This is the fourth time President Lopez Obrador has hosted the Cuban president. The first time was on Dec. 1, 2018, during President López Obrador’s inauguration. A year later, President Díaz-Canel returned a second time for an official visit in which both leaders promised to strengthen the relationship between the two countries. The Cuban president then attended the Mexican Independence Day celebration in 2021.
President López Obrador traveled to Cuba for an official visit in April 2022. The meeting was controversial, with the Mexican president condemning the US embargo and defending the Cuban government. He also refused to attend the Summit of the Americas, hosted in Los Angeles, California by President Joe Biden, to protest that Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela were not invited.
President López Obrador has enjoyed a warm relationship with the Cuban president throughout his term. During a phone call on Dec. 28, President Díaz-Canel highlighted the “excellent state” of bilateral relations between the two countries, also reiterating “the deep gratitude to the people and government of Mexico for the generous and supportive help provided to Cuba.”
President López Obrador’s support of the Cuban government, as well as those of Nicaragua and Venezuela, has been criticized by opposition politicians.