Spanish President to Visit Cuba in November

The president of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sanchez, will pay an official visit to Cuba on November 22 and 23, local media reported.

Sanchez's trip was agreed upon at the meeting he held with Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in New York on September 25, during their participation in the United Nations General Assembly, EFE news agency reported.

It will be the first official visit to Cuba by a Spanish president since 1986, when his fellow social democrat Felipe Gonzalez visited the Caribbean island, according to the newspaper El Pais.

'That a Spanish president has not visited Cuba in 30 years where our companies are shows that politics lags behind reality,' Sanchez said at a forum held on September 27, during his visit to New York.

'What we will do with this official visit is to normalize those relations that we traditionally had in several sectors,' he added before expressing excitement over the trip, which will allegedly 'normalize' traditional ties between Spain and Cuba in the economic, social and cultural fields, he noted at the time.

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XV Solidarity Meeting with Cuba to Be Held in Spain in 2019

The unconditional and permanent support of the Spanish people to Cuba was recognized this Sunday during the presentation of the XV State Meeting of Solidarity with the Island, to be held in this capital in June of next year.

The meeting, scheduled from June 7 to 9, 2019, will coincide with the 60th anniversary of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution and the 30th anniversary of the construction in Spain of the unitary movement of solidarity with the Caribbean country.

The permanence of the triumphant Revolution in January 1959, its values, its anti-imperialist and internationalist firmness and its achievements in all fields of human development, make it an exceptional event, he noted.

On the content of the fifteenth edition of the event, Hernandez announced that it will be dedicated to discussing, deepening and projecting essential aspects of this trajectory into the future.

Both the ambassador and the representative in Spain of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples, Raimundo Pino, expressed their gratitude to the Spanish movement of solidarity with Cuba, one of the oldest in Europe and the world.

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Spain's PM Sanchez to visit Cuba

Spain’s Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has accepted an invitation from the Cuban president Miguel Diaz-Canel to visit the country, a spokeswoman for the Spanish government said on Tuesday.

It would mark the first official visit to Cuba for a Spanish Prime Minister in over 30 years.

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Immediate Reaction: Real Madrid 3 - 1 AC Milan, Trofeo Santiago Bernabéu

Real Madrid beat AC Milan 3-1 to win the Trofeo Santiago Bernabéu in what was their last tune-up game before the start of the 2018/19 season. Below are some thoughts on what transpired:

  • -Despite some positional rotations between Casemiro and Kroos, it was the latter that mainly played as the DM in possession. Casemiro generally operated as the RCM and was largely uninvolved in proceedings. He mainly looked to regain match fitness as Kroos dictated play through the left and dominated the ball. On defense, Casemiro looked to take Kroos’ place in order to make a couple of nice interventions before coming off at the half. It will be interesting to see how Lopetegui uses the Brazilian going forward, as the Spaniard seems intrigued by the idea of Kroos in the single-pivot defensive midfield position. Additionally, I find it hard to believe that Casemiro will simply be cast aside given the positive relationship he had with Julen at FC Porto. Watch this space.
  • -As mentioned above, Real Madrid’s possession play mainly flowed through the left, something that was likely influenced by the presence of Isco, Asensio, and Marcelo on that flank and Kroos’ affinity for controlling things from the left half space. While AC Milan mostly dealt with Real’s attacks from that wing, they were unable to handle accurate switches of play that shifted the Italian defense from side-to-side. Having said that, Real’s flow in possession still seemed a bit sluggish.
  • -Los Blancos’ front three was very fluid. Bale and Asensio constantly switched flanks while sometimes filling in up front went Benzema spread wide to receive the ball.
  • -Madrid’s pressing regressed following some impressive performances on that front in the United States. The commitment to marking AC Milan’s build-up triangle was lackluster and questions over Casemiro’s position seemed to create enough momentary confusion for Milan to periodically break into Real’s defensive third.
  • -Real also looked vulnerable on the counter-attack, something that was probably related to their fluidity on offense and the slow way in which Madrid tried to regain their shape.
  • Bale continues to show flashes of quality and looks like he’s raring to go as soon as the real season begins.
  • -Keylor Navas put in a magnificent performance, something that was likely motivated by the signing of Thibaut Courtois.
  • -The Bernabéu clearly has big expectations for Vinícius, given that they chanted the youngster’s name when he came on in the second half.
  • -Real Madrid’s tactical system is still very much a work in progress and will require the fans to be extra patient early on.
  • Higuaín’s goal was nice.
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Spain can't absorb 'millions of Africans,' new opposition leader tells government

Spain is the new centre of Europe's migrant crisis - and Conservative Popular Party leader Pablo Casado has blamed the socialist government after they accepted migrant rescue boat the Aquarius, which Italy had turned away.

The rescue boat, which carried 630 migrants, has been operated since February 2016 by SOS Méditerranée and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Italy and Malta rejected the rescue boat in June, sparking a bitter row within the European Union with the two countries demanding another member of the bloc take in the migrants on board. The ship ended up docking in Valencia; a move that Casado warned may be seen as a welcome sign for more arrivals.

Now, the freshly minted Conservative Popular Party leader, who replaced Mariano Rajoy only a fortnight ago, has hit out at the current Spanish government who are seen to have brought a soft touch on migration. Casado stated that Spain can't "absorb millions of Africans who want to come to Europe", according to the Times, adding that "it is not possible that there are papers for all" who came to Spain on board the rescue boat.

 
African migrants in this still image from video climb the border from Morocco to Spain's North African enclave of Ceuta, Spain, July 26, 2018

The Spanish Government hit back at Casado's words, with a government a spokeswoman saying that Casado's suggestion that taking in the Aquarius means arrivals will increase is "false". She added: "When Italy closed its ports and the route to Greece was harder, this made more migrants head to Spain. It needs a European response."

Spain's newly in office Socialist prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, has said following the acceptance of the Aquarius and her migrant passengers that it is Spain's "obligation to help avoid a humanitarian disaster by offering a safe harbor to these people."

The Red Cross has confirmed that the influx of migrants is exhausting humanitarian resources in Spain. Red Cross migrant and refugee department head in the southern coastal port city of Málaga David Ortiz told Politico that the charity is "seeing double the numbers arriving compared to the same period last year". While Ortiz said the Red Cross can manage the high number of migrants, when "300 people arrive on the same day, it gets difficult," he admitted.

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Spain Declines Extradition of Ex-Catalan leader from Germany

Spain's Supreme Court said on Thursday it had decided to decline the extradition of former Catalan regional leader Carles Puigdemont from Germany on the charge of misuse of public funds linked to his organization of a banned referendum on independence.

A German court ruled one week ago that Puigdemont could be extradited for alleged misuse of public funds but it rejected a request to send him back to answer a more serious charge of rebellion.

Former Catalan minister Clara Ponsati's lawyer welcomed a Spanish court's decision to withdraw European Arrest Warrants against Catalan politicians, but said it was unclear whether they would be allowed back.

Spain's Supreme Court has also said that it had withdrawn European Arrest Warrants for politicians linked to the organization of a Catalan independence referendum last October.

Former education minister Ponsati, 61, a professor at Scotland's University of St Andrews, is one of several leaders of Catalonia's regional government being sought by Spain. "It's excellent news, with regards to my client Clara Ponsati, and obviously for Puigdemont... but we tread cautiously," Aamer Anwar told Reuters by phone.

"The question that arises is whether the Spanish government are willing to allow Mr Puigdemont to simply return back to Catalonia and declare independence... I suspect not."

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The government takes a turn in its foreign policy in favor of dialogue with Venezuela and Cuba

The Government of Pedro Sánchez has embarked on a new stage in its relationship with Venezuela and Cuba different from that of its predecessor. The hard line, penalties, lack of contacts at highest level and even statements of respective ambassadors as non-grates have been relegated to a new climate of "dialogue". This has been expressed this week by foreigner, Josep Borrell, his Venezuelan counterpart, Jorge Arreaza, and same did a high position of Ministry to Cuban chancellor, Abelardo Moreno.

The second edition of Summit of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of European Union and Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), held on Monday and Tuesday in Brussels, served as perfect scenario to materialize a relevant change of Criterion in international policy of Spanish executive. The meeting was attended by 33 states representing some 600 million people. At margins of meeting, in private offices, Minister Borrell took time to meet for half an hour with Arreaza. And on or hand, so did Secretary of State for Latin America, Juan Pablo de la Iglesia, at request of his Cuban counterpart, in what was first meeting of new executive with an authority of island.

The symbolic significance of Monday's talk with Borrell remarked subsequent reaction of Arreaza himself, who published on Twitter this optimistic message with several photos of meeting: "held a cordial and productive meeting. Both governments are committed to dialogue with mutual respect and comprehensive cooperation.

the government takes a turn in its foreign policy in favor of dialogue with venezuela and cuba

"Last January, Spain and Venezuela came to withdraw ir respective ambassadors for a new political crisis between two countries. The Caribbean authorities assured that Mariano Rajoy and his foreign minister, Alfonso Dastis, were leading in European Union a tough strategy of sanctions against Venezuelan leaders. At end of May, Dastis still held in public and before EU need for an "increase of pressure" towards Venezuelan government with sanctions to more people, "unilateral and restrictive" to convince regime of Nicolas Maduro that it was to seek "a way out Auntically Democratic "for your country.

Waiting to concrete trip to island

With regard to first meeting of Government with a Cuban authority, exteriors found will to "deepen and broaden valuable and constructive bilateral relationship that unites both countries" after overcoming previous common position of blockade of EU. Spain now trusts that new Cuban Government "can successfully address important challenges before it and undertake pending reforms" and is offered to "help and accompany in its transformation process". Cuban official sources valued "The good sign" of this "gesture" and wait to concretize from September a state trip "to maximum level" to island, but already in 2019.

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Russia 4-3 Spain (pens) - Heroic hosts snatch improbable shootout victory to stun Spain in Moscow

Russia pulled off a spectacular and improbable victory to stun Spain after extra time and penalties at Luzhniki Stadium to keep their home World Cup hopes alive and send one of the pre-tournament favorites packing.

In the end, it was a dramatic 4-3 penalty shootout that decided the game, scoring the winner after a Sergei Ignashevich goal and Artem Dzyuba penalty in normal time meant the two sides could not be separated after 120 minutes of football.

With the result, Russia booked a quarterfinal date in Sochi on July 7 against either Croatia or Denmark in the day’s other last 16 tie.

Much of the talk before the game was about the importance of Russia’s ‘12th man’ in their raucous Luzhniki Stadium supporters. The sound of the national anthem bellowing from the 78,000 supporters in the stands ensured that man was the first to make itself counted.

When the action got underway, Spain showed some of the football they are famous for, although their ‘tiki taka’ passing tactics were receive with boos from the crowd. Spain captain and talisman Sergio Ramos is perhaps the most vilified and sometimes reviled man in football, but every play and attack was built from the Spanish captain in defense.

One of those attacks resulted in Yuri Zhirkov bringing down Nacho on the right flank. The resulting free kick found a dueling Ramos and veteran Russian counterpart Sergei Ignashevich. As the two tussled and tumbled to the floor, the ball came off the heel of Ignashevich and curled into the net past a rooted Akinfeev.

After the goal Russia did have their moments, from a set piece and balls into the area for Dzyuba to nod down, whose 6ft 4in frame is always going to cause panic for opposition defenders.

Golovin went close with 10 minutes of the first half remaining, beginning the attack for Dzyuba to head down. The ball found its way to Zobnin, who brought it forward and laid it off for Golovin to curl a shot on his weaker right foot just past the far post of David De Gea’s goal.

Russia did get their breakthrough when one of their attacks forward resulted in a corner. A Dzyuba header hit the arm of Pique, Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers belatedly pointed to the spot without confronting VAR and booked the Spain defender.

Dzyuba the stepped up to fire the ball into the right hand side and send De Gea the wrong way to net his third in four World Cup games. The 12th man reacted with seismic cheers; the nation was level again and it was now all to play for in the Russian capital.

Golovin battling hard in midfield, Russia still with their tactics of long ball up to Dzyuba.

Diego Costa laid off to Isco, who went desperately close in an effort that was sure to have the collective heart in the mouths of every Russian fan inside the stadium.

Russia’s tactics changed when Fedor Smolov, the forgotten golden boy of Russian football, came on to replace Dzyuba, who stopped and said a few words to Cherchesov, neither of the two men looked too pleased and have a difficult history together.

Russia continued to press, and had a half-hearted penalty appeal when Golovin went down under a challenge of Ramos. Kuipers gave nothing as replays showed Ramos simply got himself in-between the onrushing midfielder and the ball.

For the Spaniards, the introduction of iconic midfielder Andres Iniesta meant that Spain reverted to their more famously fluid football, formulating attacks with a string of passes, but none could find their way through up until the 80th minute. 

In the final 10 minutes, Iniesta uncharacteristically miskicked from a corner but Russia managed to get it away, Koke’s dangerous ball into the area moments later was headed away by Mario Fernandes.

With a little over five minutes of normal time left, Iniesta made his first meaningful contribution to the game when he brought a save low down to Akinfeev’s right from 20 yards, the ball cannoned out to Aspas, but his effort was turned away with cat-like reflexes by the veteran stopper.

A hat-trick of corners in the final couple of minutes all resulted in nothing, the final of those seeing Ramos head over. Fernandes headed the ball clear from yet another Spain ball into the area with the last real attack of the 90 minutes and with that extra time was needed to separate the two sides.

The first half of extra time saw the action go much the way of the last 20 minutes of normal time, with Russia hemmed in under wave after wave of Spanish attack. Marco Asensio forced a save from Akinfeev from 20 yards, Ignashevich also showed enough defensive nous to keep a livewire Aspas at bay.

Aleksandr Golovin gave away a free-kick, replays showed he won the ball cleanly, but the free-kick only brought a tame goalward header from Gerard Pique that was comfortably caught by Akinfeev, the last action of the first half of extra time.

Tired legs traipsed off the pitch but Spain looked spritely as they began the second half, but they could still find no way past the Russia defense. Hearts reached mouths again when substitute Rodrigo wrong-footed substitute Vladimir Granat and powered into the area with a strong run, his cross-shot was equalled by Akinfeev and Dani Carvajal’s follow-up was blocked, the Russian defense proving water-tight once again.

Ignashevich gave away a silly foul halfway up his own half, the resulting inswinging free kick found its way past every player in the area but when Pique went down under a challenge from Ignashevich, the entire Spanish bench flew up and protested. Although it was enough to bring a VAR consultation no penalty was eventually given as there was no clear foul.

Russia won a corner, Golovin to take it but when the ball broke clear from a wayward header, Smolov could do nothing. The two sides battles out the remaining minutes of the match at Luzhniki as the rain fell on Russia’s sporting epicenter. A Rodrigo shot saved by Akinfeev restored some hope and as the last attack of the 120 minutes. Penalties ensued.

Ramos won the toss and elected to shoot towards the goal behind which Spanish fans had gathered, much to their delight at that end. Iniesta was first to take and score, sending Akinfeev the wrong way. An unsure Smolov alleviated fears by smashing cooly past De Gea. Pique stepped up and rifled in off the post, Ignashevich made a stuttering run-up and showed no nerves as he slotted in to make it 2-2.

Then the real drama came as Koke had his shot blocked by Akinfeev, straight at the keeper diving to his right. Golovin shot home to have Russia take the lead 3-2 on penalties, almost firing through De Gea in the goal.

Ramos, so often the villain, was the hero from the spot, calmly slotting away to level up again. Cheryshev netted his spot kick to make it four from four straight down the center of the goal. Aspas then missed his spot kick to send a rapturous Russia into the next round and keep the home dream alive.

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