UPDATE 1-Mexico targets business boom in Cuba as Castro visits

viernes 6 de noviembre de 2015 17:15 GYT

(Adds quotes from Castro, Pena Nieto, details of meeting)

By Dave Graham

MERIDA, Mexico Nov 6 (Reuters) - After standing by Communist Cuba in its years of international isolation, Mexico welcomed Cuban President Raul Castro on Friday as it seeks to turn Havana's thawing relations with the United States into a major business opportunity on the island.

For the first time since Washington and Havana announced an historic rapprochement last December, Castro visited Mexico, where he met President Enrique Pena Nieto in the picturesque colonial-era city of Merida on the Yucatan peninsula.

Mexico is eager to stake its claim as Cuba's principal bridge to Latin America and the leaders signed accords on tourism, agriculture, education and migration before scheduled talks with a delegation of Mexican businessmen.

"Both governments have agreed to set about creating conditions for more Mexican companies to invest in Cuba," Pena Nieto said inside a 19th century palace where the two men, dressed in white guayabera shirts, spoke to reporters.

Following Pena Nieto's words closely, Castro praised Mexico for its solidarity during the Cold War, and looked forward to still closer ties, saying: "I'm also pleased about the interest among Mexican companies to do business and invest in Cuba."

Pena Nieto noted that the two nations had vowed to bring order to migrant flows after a recent jump in Cubans reaching Mexico, but he did not provide details of the accord.

The traffic is a nuisance to Cuba, going in the opposite direction from the route Raul, Fidel Castro and Ernesto "Che" Guevara took 59 years ago when they and their band of revolutionaries left the Mexican port of Tuxpan to oust Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista.   Continuación...