Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice condemned Spain’s recent opening to Cuba as she talked with reporters accompanying her May 29 to Germany, Austria and Spain for talks. “I don’t see how [democracy] is advanced by simply dealing with the current regime, a regime that seems to be setting itself up for a non-democratic succession.”

Rice criticized Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos for not meeting with “very nascent and fragile democratic” opposition groups during his April visit to Cuba.

During Rice’s six-hour visit, Moratinos said Spain has indeed kept up communication with so-called dissidents in Cuba. “What Spain is not prepared to do is be absent from Cuba,” he said.

At a joint press conference, the Spanish foreign minister expressed anticipation that eventually Rice would agree with Spain’s approach. That elicited a disapproving facial gesture from the secretary of state, who whispered to U.S. reporters, “Don’t hold your breath.”

Marchers in Madrid greeted Rice with hundreds of placards and banners protesting her “interventionist declarations,” along with the U.S. blockade of Cuba, its treatment of the Cuban Five and the 2003 killing by U.S. troops in Iraq of Spanish news photographer José Couso.