To paraphrase the Beatles’ “Her Majesty,” The King of Spain visited Cuba, but he didn’t have a lot to say. I mean, he didn’t have a lot to say to the island’s dissidents, who kept calling for a meeting.
According to Juan Suarez, The King and Queen visited Cuba and said “nada” about the repression:
Spain’s King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia arrived in Cuba for an official visit on Nov. 11, just days before the 500th anniversary of the founding of Havana by Spanish representatives.
Before the royal visit it was announced that the Royal couple would not meet with dissidents.
Amnesty International sent King Felipe a letter, made public on Nov. 8, petitioning him to make four requests during his visit to Cuba: Release six Cuban prisoners of conscience, José Pilot Guide , Silverio Portal Contreras, Mitzael Díaz Paseiro, Eliecer Bandera Barrera, Edilberto Ronal Azuaga, and Roberto de Jesús Quiñones Haces and repeal their sentences; Inform José Daniel Ferrer García of the charges against him or release him. Meanwhile, ensure that he has access to his family, lawyer and medical care; End harassment of Cuban artists Luis Manuel Otero and Amaury Pacheco; Repeal Decree 349 that prohibits all artistic activity without prior approval from the regime.
Amnesty International’s letter gives the King the guidepost to sit down with the Cuban government. At the very least, he should have demanded the release of some of these prisoners on humanitarian grounds. The King should have called on Cuba to show that real change is happening by giving artists more freedom to do their thing.
So why didn’t the King do it? Well, I guess that the official position is that the King does not do politics.
Unfortunately, you can’t go to Cuba to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Havana, the city that served as the headquarters of Spain’s expansion to the New World, and avoid politics.