Hollande's historic trip to Cuba

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French President François Hollande on Monday became the first French head of state to make an official visit to Cuba, and the first in Europe to make the trip since the rapprochement announced last December between Washington and Havana. The one-day visit – Hollande will leave for Haiti on Tuesday, ending a six-island tour of the Caribbean – is another important step for Cuba’s new-found normalisation on the international stage, but also a key event in France’s efforts to strengthen its presence in Latin America. Lénaïg Bredoux analyses what is at stake and reports on the buildup to the thaw in relations with a regime French foreign minister Laurent Fabius once described as a "loathsome" dictatorship.

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When US President Barack Obama shook hands with Cuban leader Raúl Castro at a Summit of the Americas meeting in April this year, following the announcement last December that their two countries were to normalise relations, there was no doubt the moment was, as Obama described it, “historic”.