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An Open Letter to Party Leaders in the 2019 Federal Election of Canada Print E-mail

Re: Canada-Cuba Relations

I am writing to you on behalf of the Canadian Network On Cuba (CNC), which represents Canada-Cuba friendship and solidarity organizations across Canada, ranging from Vancouver to Halifax and with over 50,000 in membership. One of the CNC’s principal objectives is advocating that Canadian foreign policy regarding Cuba remains based on equality and respect for sovereignty and the right of selfdetermination. Consequently, the CNC is deeply concerned by recent decisions and actions of the Government of Canada. Canadians are very worried that recent developments in Ottawa-Havana relations could lead to the mirroring of the policy of the United States.

The abrupt decision earlier this year to shut down the section of its Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) Office in Embassy of Canada in Havana that processed visas and study permits is particularly perturbing. While some services have been restored, the continued reduction in embassy staffing has resulted - and continues to result – in unreasonable delays and significant financial obstacles for those Cubans seeking to travel to Canada, and will, amongst other things, cause significant damage to people-to-people contacts, business, cultural, academic, scientific and sporting relations.

Therefore, we wish to inquire whether you and your party will support the Government of Canada fully reopening the IRCC Office and all visa services offered to Cubans in Havana, Cuba, so that visa processing may proceed in a reasonable manner?

In 2014, the world rejoiced to see the restoration of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba in a signed agreement between then Presidents Raúl Castro Barrack Obama. The world held out great hopes that relations between the two countries would be normalized. Canada helped by providing a venue for the talks which led to the improvement of those relations. However, under the administration of Donald Trump, we have witnessed a return to the policy of overt and ever escalating hostility and aggression against Cuba. The United States continues to zealously pursue and implement the extensive series of economic sanctions arrayed against the island nation, including the activation of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, which allows U.S. companies and citizens to sue in U.S. courts not only Cuban companies but also Canadian and other international companies engaged in business and other economic activity in Cuba.

In short, Washington is waging an economic war – more than an embargo - against Cuba, with the objective of negating and extinguishing Cuba’s right to selfdetermination, sovereignty and independence. This effort to asphyxiate Cuba is the principal obstacle to this proud island nation’s social and economic development, costing the people of Cuba in excess of $100 billion. In short, the economic blockade is an egregious violation of the human rights of the people of Cuba.

For 27-consecutive years, the General Assembly of the United Nations has rejected and condemned these economic sanctions – an economic blockade- imposed on Cuba by United States. Washington’s policy, with its extra-territorial character, is a flagrant violation of the UN Charter and customary international law. In 2018, as in previous years, the global community overwhelmingly stood with Cuba, voting 189- 2 against Washington. Canada was once again counted in the vast ranks of the world’s nations resoundingly rejecting the coercive, unilateral and extra-territorial U.S. policy. Within this context, the Canadian Network On Cuba wishes to inquire what are the stances of you and your party on the following very important and salient questions:

How do you and your party intend to respond to and counter the escalation of Washington’s hostility towards Cuba by the administration of Donald Trump?

What further steps will you and your party take to oppose the economic sanctions of the United States against Cuba condemned by the United Nations and several other international organizations?

What concrete measures will you and your party implement to oppose the extraterritorial application of U.S. sanctions against Cuba, especially as they pertain to Canadian businesses and Canadian citizens? Especially regarding the enforcement of the Foreign Extraterritorial Measures Act?

The CNC resolutely reaffirms the inalienable right of the people of Cuba - and all other peoples - to determine their future and their political, economic and social system without external interference: a right enshrined in the United Nations Charter, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Co-Operation Among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. Will you and your party support the right of Cuba to the return of the illegally occupied territory of the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo Bay?

Do you and your party support Cuba’s right to self-determination and sovereignty, free of any external interference in the island's domestic affairs (i.e. affirming the right of the people of Cuba to determine their own political, economic and social arrangements without foreign diktat)?

Millions of Canadians have travelled to Cuba and having witnessed Cuban reality for themselves have come away with a profound respect and admiration for the people of Cuba and their efforts to build a society centered on independence, justice and human dignity. Irrespective of their political or ideological positions, Canadians stand for the building of genuine friendship with the island nation: relations based on mutual respect, equality and recognition of Cuba’s right to self-determination and sovereignty. Consequently, Canada's relations with Cuba should be based on mutual respect and equality, not on outmoded colonialist ideas and practices.

In closing, we wish to thank you in advance for your consideration of the issues raised and answering the questions posed by the CNC. Please find enclosed, the recently published book, Cuba Solidarity in Canada: Five Decades of People to People Foreign Relations.

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Isaac Saney,
Co-Chair and National Spokesperson
Canadian Network On Cuba

Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Tel.: 902-449-4967

Mailing address:
Canadian Network On Cuba
209 Oakwood Avenue
Toronto, ON M6E 2V3
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