Some 7,000 kilometres from the Costa del Sol, in what feels like a world away, surrounded by dreamy landscapes and white sandy beaches, lies one of Benalmádena's twin towns, Nuevitas in the Camagüey province of Cuba. A union which little is known about, but stills draws attention nonetheless. Why is this Malaga town twinned with a Cuban one?
In order to answer this, it is necessary to go back 30 years. After the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, and the breaking up of the Soviet Union, which Cuba had close commercial relations with, the country found itself in a complicated situation. The economic crisis worsened, especially with the sanctions placed on the country by the United States.
At that time, the Cuba did everything possible to slow down the mass migration of its citizens, and tried to forge relations with like-minded foreign nations for potential financial investment.
It was in the mid-nineties when, in the middle of a Benalmédena town, the Political party United Left (Izquierda Unida), made a request to be twinned with a Cuban city. A spokesperson from the political group, Enrique Nicora explains the story. «It was a time when, after the fall of the wall, socialist governments needed to rebuild themselves. As the USSR started to deteriorate, Cuba faced a brutal blockade and a way to overcome this was to search for cities in Spain and other countries to twin with. We made a proposal through the United Left».
The proposal was accepted, and for this union, a city which had similarities with Benalmádena, for example being a coastal area, and having a large tourist population was sought after. Although if anything characterises Nuevitas other than its paradisiacal beaches, it is its industrial area. In fact, this city on Cuba's North coast with just over 60,000 inhabitants, is one of the best known in the country for activity in its industrial port.
Benalmádena's union project, headed by the local mayor Enrique Bolín, was approved, and in 1996, he left for Nuevitas, where they warmly welcomed him with their best tourist attractions, institutional ceremonies with the local mayor Fidel Ramos, events in schools and visits to different facilities, which was reciprocated a year later in Benalmádena, when a plaque dedicated to Nuevitas Camagüey in Arroyo de la Miel was revealed for their Cuban visitors.
The truth is that over the years, the relation between the two cities has fallen short of the original care and affection that each place showed toward the other at the beginning of the partnership. Benalmádena sent a few shipments of clothes, mattresses and medicine among other things to Nuevitas, but as time has passed, not much more than the memory of their alliance lives on.
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