Actions in Canada

Solidarity Activists Hold Discussion with Cuban Ambassador in Ottawa

Ottawa-Cuba Connections held its annual general meeting on November 20, where it reviewed the various events it has organized in the past year to express friendship with Cuba. An ongoing activity is the pickets held in front of the U.S. embassy on the 17th of every month to express support for Cuba and to denounce the inhuman blockade by the U.S. against the Cuban people.

In this respect, Ottawa-Cuba Connections was honoured to have the Cuban Ambassador to Canada, H.E. Josefina Vidal, come to speak at its general meeting. Ambassador Vidal addressed what was on everyone's mind, that is, the new difficult situation the Cuban people face with the abrupt end of the normalization of the relations initiated by the Obama administration, the destruction of the progress that had been made and the announcement on an almost weekly basis of measures, unprecedented both in scope and aggressiveness, that make life harder for the Cuban people. She explained that the U.S. was attacking sectors of the economy which are important for Cuba in terms of generating revenue, for example, the tourism industry. This involves the cancelling of U.S.-based cruises, the banning of licences that permit people-to-people activities, and the cancellation of direct flights from the U.S. to nine destinations in Cuba, with the exception of Havana. 

The recent activation of Title 3 of the Helms-Burton Act is particularly aimed at stopping companies from doing business with more than 220 Cuban entities, many of them hotels. In September, the U.S. blocked oil shipments to Cuba, leaving it with only 60 per cent of the fuel it needed for the economy. The Cuban government took measures to overcome this problem and minimize its impact on the population. It was overcome, in part, by reducing urban and inter-provincial transportation for a period of time. Normal conditions are being re-established.

The ambassador explained that the U.S. is resorting to tactics adopted in 1962 by the Kennedy administration when the blockade began, with the aim of making life so unbearable for the people that they would revolt and bring about regime change. She said that Cuba has always been its own model and has learned to deal with the most difficult situations, such as the Special Period in the 1990s when 75 per cent of Cuba's trade collapsed with the demise of the Soviet Union. She said the U.S. cannot accept countries which are sovereign and independent, but the resilience of the Cuban people is such that the attempts of the U.S. will not succeed and the Cuban people will prevail.

When asked what countries can do beyond the massive UN resolutions whereby the vast majority of the world's countries reject the blockade as being an attack on the human rights of the Cuban people, she said that countries must stand up to the U.S. and not accept the extraterritoriality of their laws. She gave the examples of the Caribbean nations of Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago, which in 1972, not long after achieving their independence, established diplomatic relations with Cuba, a courageous break from U.S. dictate. Even though these countries are small, this did not stop them from taking this important stand, she pointed out.

The ambassador also said that Canada and Mexico have stated that they will defend their interests in Cuba against Title 3 of the Helms-Burton Act. She also pointed out that dialogue with the Canadian government had resolved certain problems and has led, for example, to the partial reopening of the Canadian visa service in Havana. In this respect, she said that as the year was coming to an end, the situation with the Canadian government in diplomatic terms was good.

The discussion also touched upon the situation in Latin America and South America and the struggles of the people and how events -- such as the struggle of the people against the coup in Bolivia and that of the Chilean people -- are important to Cuba, as the struggle is one and the same.

(Photos: TML, Cuban Embassy)

This article was published in

Volume 49 Number 29 - November 30, 2019

Article Link:
Actions In Canada: Solidarity Activists Hold Discussion with Cuban Ambassador in Ottawa


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