Prime Minister of Canada
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
November 14, 2016
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 and solidarity organizations 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 the island's sovereignty and right of self-determination.
Prime Minister Trudeau, we welcome your November 15-16, 2016 visit to Cuba, which occurs at an opportune moment given recent political developments in the United States. You have the opportunity to clearly and unequivocally call on the incoming U.S. president to respect Cuba’s right to independence and self-determination, and not to return to the previous policy of open hostility.
Canadians welcomed and celebrated the change in U.S-Cuba relations initiated on December 17, 2014. Nevertheless, while Canada, the Americas and the world were encouraged by Washington’s departure from previous flagrant bellicose acts, the new policy and the reopening of embassies do not equate to 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.
On October 26, 2016 for the twenty-fifth successive time, the General Assembly of the United Nations voted overwhelming and unanimously by a vote of 191 to 0 (with 2 abstentions, the United States and Israel) to condemn Washington's more than five decade long economic war against Cuba. Representing the largest rebuff by the international community of Washington's efforts to asphyxiate the heroic people of Cuba, the United Nations October 26 vote not only demonstrates the unflinching opposition of the world to the criminal U.S. policy, but also the depth of global support and respect for Cuba.
We are pleased that Canada was once again counted in the ranks of the world’s nations resoundingly rejecting the coercive, unilateral and extra-territorial U.S. policy.
Such is the isolation of the United States in the world that it was forced to acknowledge and accede to this reality by abstaining. However, while the abstention is a positive development, the principal architecture of the economic blockade remains intact. Washington still continues to zealously pursue and implement the extensive series of economic sanctions arrayed against the island nation, with the objective of negating and extinguishing Cuba’s right to self-determination and independence.
Prime Minister, with the conclusion of the U.S. Presidential elections and as you set foot on Cuban soil, you have the historic opportunity to insist that this most regrettable page in the relations amongst the nations of the Americas can finally and permanently be turned by asserting that Washington’s relations with Cuba should be based on mutual respect and equality, not on outmoded colonialist ideas and practices. This necessitates ending the economic blockade, ceasing subversive acts against the Cuban government and returning the Guantanamo base to Cuba.
In closing, I wish to note that Canadians have traveled to Cuba in vast numbers (more than 1.4 million in 2015) and witnessed Cuban reality for themselves; they have come away with a profound respect and admiration for the Cuban people and their efforts to build a society centred 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.
We wish you a productive and successful visit to Cuba.
If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Co-Chair and National Spokesperson
Canadian Network on Cuba