Tue Apr 10, 2012 8:28pm EDT * Calderon making first official trip to Cuba* Not known if he will meet with Fidel Castro* Talks expected on oil, debtBy Jeff FranksHAVANA, April 10 (Reuters) – Mexican President FelipeCalderon will visit Cuba on Wednesday for a quick trip to patchup bruised relations with the communist island and discusspossible business ventures, including oil deals.With just seven months remaining in his six-year term, itwill be Calderon’s first trip to Cuba after he angrily canceleda planned 2009 visit when the Cuban government suspended flightsbetween the countries at the height of the swine flu scare.He is scheduled to meet Cuban President Raul Castro and,according to press reports, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, the leader ofCuba’s Roman Catholic Church. It is not known if he will seeformer Cuban ruler Fidel Castro, who retired in 2008 but stillmeets with visiting leaders.Calderon will arrive at midday on Wednesday and leaveThursday morning on his way to Haiti and then attend the Summitof the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia.Cuba and Mexico enjoyed friendly relations until theadministration of Vicente Fox, who in 2000 broke the center-leftInstitutional Revolutionary Party’s 71-year grip on power inMexico by winning the presidency.In 2002, his government angered Fidel Castro by supporting aUnited Nations resolution condemning Cuba’s human rights record.That same year Fox, like Calderon a member of theconservative National Action Party, had a falling out with FidelCastro. The Cuban leader recorded Fox telling him in a phonecall he was invited to have lunch at a Mexico-hosted summit, buthad to leave before then U.S. President George W. Bush arrived.The taped conversation was made public, which provoked afirestorm of criticism of Fox in Mexico, where Castro is widelyrespected for having stood up to the United States for half acentury.THUMBING NOSE AT UNITED STATESThe two countries briefly closed their embassies in 2004,but maintained official diplomatic relations.For Mexico, sustaining Cuban ties is a measure ofindependence from the United States, which has been at odds withCuba since the 1959 revolution that brought the Castro brothersto power.Cuba’s nose-thumbing at American pressure resonates withMexicans, said Arturo Levy-Lopez, a Cuba expert at theUniversity of Denver.”Cuba is a symbolic issue. The Cuban revolution as ahistoric event, and opposition to American hegemony in LatinAmerica possesses important political capital in Mexico,” hesaid.Calderon wants to shore up relations with Cuba beforeMexico’s presidential election in July to help out the PANcandidate, who is trailing in the polls, Levy-Lopez said.Under Mexican law, he cannot seek another term in office.”By traveling to Cuba, Calderon, who is a man of his party,affirms the credibility of the PAN against accusations ofsubordination to the U.S. government,” said Levy-Lopez.Calderon’s office said in a statement the visit would serveto strengthen “fraternity” between the two countries and createa “new agenda” to take advantage of the business opportunitiesopened up by economic changes made by Cuba’s government.According to Mexican news reports, these could include workon oil projects in the Gulf of Mexico.Daily newspaper La Jornada said Mexico may be consideringleasing exploration blocks in Cuba’s part of the gulf, whichabuts that of Mexico and the United States.A consortium led by Spanish oil company Repsol YPF is drilling the first of a possible series of wells in Cuba’soffshore, which the island says may hold 20 billion barrels ofoil.Mexican officials downplayed the possibility of any dramaticoil agreements coming from the visit, but said there might be anaccord on “technical cooperation.”Calderon, whose country has been wracked by drug violenceduring his administration, is not believed to plan any meetingswith government opponents in Cuba. Nor is he likely to talkpublicly about human rights.Mexican media said the government might restructure Cuba’s$413 million debt or strike a deal to lower it in exchange formore Mexican investment in Cuba. Trade between the two countriestotaled about $450 million in 2010, Mexican sources said.