February 11, 2009

Chilean President in Cuba


Chilean President Michelle Bachelet Jeria arrived Tuesday evening in Havana on a flight from Honduras. She was greeted by First Vice President José Ramón Machado Ventura on the tarmac of José Martí International Airport.

The aircraft that delivered Bachelet to the island touched down a little after 9:17 p.m. beginning the official visit of the South American President to the Caribbean nation. Her visit will last until February 13, fulfilling an invitation by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, president of the Council of State and Ministers.

The Chilean head of state, who spoke briefly with reporters, said she was accompanied by a large delegation of more than 100 people, including Cabinet ministers, parliament members, entrepreneurs, and important cultural figures, among others, with the aim of fostering regional integration and political dialogue, she said.

In addition, she highlighted her presence at the inauguration of the 18th International Book Fair, dedicated this year to Chile, and said that she felt very pleased "because after so many years (37) it is the first time that a Chilean President arrives in Cuba."

Bachelet begins her activities in Havana by placing a wreath at the base of the José Martí Monument in the Plaza of the Revolucion. Her busy agenda includes official talks with Raúl and tours of economic, cultural, historic, and scientific institutions, such as the Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Center and the International Neurology Restoration Center.