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Letter to Prime Minister Trudeau Print E-mail

December 3rd, 2015

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

Re: Canada-Cuba Relations

I am writing to you on behalf of the Canadian Network On Cuba (CNC), which represents more than 20 Canada-Cuba friendship organizations, ranging from Vancouver to Halifax. 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 self-determination.  The recent October 19th, 2015 election occurred in a year that witnessed the historic re-establishment of formal diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States, with Canada playing an important role in facilitating Cuba-U.S contacts. Canada’s role was given greater poignancy as 2015 marked 70-years of uninterrupted diplomatic relations between Ottawa and Havana. 

Canadians welcomed and celebrated the change from Washington’s previous bellicose pronouncements. An historic opportunity exists in which a most regrettable page in the relations amongst the nations of the Americas can finally and permanently be turned. Nevertheless, while Canada, the Americas and the world welcomed Washington’s new policy and the re-opening of embassies, these developments do not equal the normalization of relations between the two countries. Washington’s illegal and immoral economic embargo – tantamount to a blockade - of Cuba continues, as does its ongoing campaign of subversion.  Moreover, the U.S naval base sits on the illegally occupied Cuban territory of Guantanamo Bay.

Despite the historic December 17th, 2014 joint announcements by Cuban President Raúl Castro and U.S. President Barack Obama, Washington continues to zealously pursue and implement the extensive series of economic sanctions arrayed against the island nation. The U.S. economic war against Cuba still continues, with the objective of negating and extinguishing Cuba’s right to self-determination and independence

On Tuesday, October 27th, 2015, for the twenty-fourth successive time, the General Assembly of the United Nations voted overwhelming - 191 to 2 - in support of the annual resolution condemning the economic sanctions 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. Moreover, it is the principal obstacle to Cuba’s social and economic development, costing the island nation in excess of  $100 billion. In short, the economic blockade is an egregious violation of the human rights of the people of Cuba.

We wish to acknowledge that 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 the Government of Canada on the following very important and salient questions:

What further steps will the Government of Canada take to oppose the internationally condemned economic sanctions of the United States against Cuba?

What concrete measures will the Government of Canada 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?

Does the Government of Canada support the right of Cuba to the return of the illegally occupied territory of the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo Bay?

Does the current Government of Canada 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)?

I wish to reiterate that 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.
Having traveled to Cuba in the hundreds of thousands and having witnessed Cuban reality for themselves, Canadians have come away with a profound respect and admiration for the Cuban people 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, I wish to thank you in advance for your consideration of the issues raised in this letter. Please find enclosed, the recently published book, Cuba Solidarity in Canada: Five Decades of People to People Foreign Relations, a copy of Information for Parliamentarians (a bulletin that was distributed on Parliament Hill in 2011) and the program of the recent symposium Africa’s Children Return: Cuba and African Liberation held in Toronto on November 13th and 14th, 2015.

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


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

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