Updated 04:05 PM EST, Wed, Mar 03, 2021

Cuban President Raúl Castro Visits Mexico to Rekindle Economic Ties

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Cuban President Raúl Castro is paying Mexico a visit to mend severed economies ties between the two countries.

Castro's state visit is his first time to set foot in Mexico after acquiring Cuba's presidency, Yahoo! News reported. On Friday, Castro will meet with his Mexican counterpart, Enrique Peña Nieto.

"We are very happy that this is his first visit to our country (as president) amid these renewed, revitalized relations," said Mexican Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu, as quoted by the news outlet.

The two nation leaders will discuss regional and bilateral issues, such as the recent flow of Cuban migrants entering Mexico as they travel to the United States, Yahoo! News further reported. According to The Washington Post, agreements will also be made regarding tourism and education.

Castro's visit comes after Cuba's renewal of diplomatic relations with the U.S. after having been severed from each other in 1961. Castro took over Cuba's presidency from his brother, Fidel Castro, in 2006.

Cold relations between Mexico and Cuba erupted under the former's previous two conservative governments. In 2000, Peña Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) lost its 71-year presidential rule to then-Mexican President Vicente Fox's conservative National Action Party (PAN), Yahoo! News added. The PRI made Mexico the only Latin American nation to resist America's persuasion to sever ties with communist Cuba during the Cold War.

Mexico's peaceful relations with Cuba back then was interrupted by Fox's 2000-2006 rule. Fox voted to condemn Cuba at the UN Human Rights Council in 2002, which the older Castro attended and served as his last visit to Mexico, according to Yahoo! News.

At the time, Fidel Castro claimed that Fox told him to leave the country early to avoid awkward encounters with then-U.S. President George W. Bush. Castro released a phone recording of a conversation he had with Fox in which the latter told him to "eat and leave," Yahoo! News took note.

In 2004, Fox recalled Mexico's ambassador to Havana and ejected Cuba's envoy to Mexico City, the news outlet added. Tensions between the two countries alleviated a bit under Fox's successor, Felipe Calderon, but relations weren't as good as the time under PRI's leadership.

Peña Nieto has been taking steps to mend broken ties with Cuba since he was sworn to office in December 2012. In 2010, Raúl Castro headed to Mexico to attend a Latin America summit in the Mexican resort city of Cancun. Peña Nieto also visited Cuba in January 2014 for a Latin American and Caribbean nations summit, Yahoo! News reported. In 2013, the Mexican government absolved 70 percent of Cuba's $487 million debt and gave the island 10 years to repay the remaining sum.

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