In what can be seen as a strategic move, Cuba's ruler, Miguel Díaz-Canel, has embarked on a Middle Eastern tour, visiting the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Iran. The means of transportation for this expedition is notable: Plus Ultra, the Spanish airline controversially rescued by Pedro Sánchez's government in 2022.
Plus Ultra: A Controversial Lifeline
The choice of Plus Ultra is intriguing, given the airline's tumultuous history. Saved from financial ruin by the Spanish government, the company was mired in controversy due to its limited air connections and the suspected involvement of businessmen linked to the Venezuelan regime amongst its shareholders. Back in April 2021, Plus Ultra had just a single aircraft to its name, yet it was tasked with transporting Cuban medical personnel to Gabon.
A Luxury Ride
For this current journey, Díaz-Canel is using an Airbus A330, one of the most modern cargo planes available. The rental cost for such an aircraft can reach up to 11,000 euros per hour, suggesting that the tour's air travel expenses alone could exceed a million euros.
A Diplomatic Mission in the UAE
While in the United Arab Emirates, Díaz-Canel held official talks with President Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed. He reaffirmed Cuba's unwavering support for Palestine, a statement timed to coincide with the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Concurrently, Cuba assumed the pro tempore presidency of the Group of 77 and China in January, a group set to hold a climate change summit in the United Arab Emirates.
These developments highlight Cuba's active engagement in global affairs, particularly concerning climate change, while simultaneously illustrating the country's commitment to supporting global solidarity movements. However, the extravagant spending on air travel, particularly in the context of an economically struggling airline, raises questions about the allocation of resources amidst ongoing global crises.