Cuba-US diplomatic relations: The Canadian connection

One of the salient features of the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the U.S. is the fact that problems were sorted out through dialogue at the highest level. On the eve of the announcement culminating two years of talks, U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro had a 45-minute telephone call to sort out final implementation. According to the announcements made by both Presidents, Pope Francis played a role as did Canada, which is reported to have facilitated the talks. The fact that current changes to U.S. policy were arrived at through high level talks is a vindication of the demand of Cuba and all countries in the world that stand for the basic principles governing international relations that all nations, big or small, are equal and that their right to sovereignty must be provided with a guarantee. The Cuban people will continue to fight for the change in U.S. policy to mean a categorical rejection of big power interference in the internal affairs of sovereign nations and the practice of conducting dirty wars in lieu of dialogue and negotiations.

Problems must be sorted out through dialogue and negotiations, not through the use of force, let alone acts of state terrorism that include drone warfare and targeted assassinations, so-called coloured revolutions and sabotage and the use of foreign mercenaries to achieve regime change, accompanied by torture, sanctions and impositions or all kinds.

News agency reports indicate that about seven confidential meetings between the U.S. and Cuba involving dialogue at the highest level, took place in Canada. “We facilitated places where the two countries could have a dialogue and explore ways of normalizing the relationship,” Harper said in a year-end interview with CBC News chief correspondent Peter Mansbridge on December 17.

“That’s what we did, and we think it’s a good development and probably an overdue development,” Harper said. “I personally believe changes are coming in Cuba and this will facilitate those,” he added.

The fact is that it is not what the U.S. and Canada think should happen in Cuba that has determined the outcome in the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba, but the fact that the Cubans and the Cuban state have not renounced a single one of their principles in bringing this result about. It was President Obama who admitted that attempts to isolate Cuba through economic sanctions and blockade have failed. Obama began his December 17 speech: “In the most significant changes in our policy in more than fifty years, we will end an outdated approach that, for decades, has failed to advance our interests, and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries.”

A White House press statement added, “decades of U.S. isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish our enduring objective,” and “at times, longstanding U.S. policy towards Cuba has isolated the United States from regional and international partners” and “we cannot keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.”

As reported by Vox, meetings between the two countries took place in 2013-2014 in Ottawa and Toronto. The reports indicate that the talks were held secretly in order to avoid political backlash in the U.S., which could have hampered further negotiations and brought all efforts to naught.

It is reported that Pope Francis, sent a personal letter to U.S. and Cuban leaders, constantly discussed the issue with U.S. President Barack Obama and, finally, hosted the last round of talks in the Vatican.

Both President Obama and Cuban President Castro expressed appreciation for the efforts of Pope Francis and Canada, recognizing the significant diplomatic role played by both parties in the process of reconciliation.

Senator Pierrette Ringuette’s statement on 
normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations

Today, Senator Pierrette Ringuette, co-chair of the Canada-Cuba Interparliamentary Group, issued the following statement:

“As co-chair of the Canada-Cuba Interparliamentary Group, I am pleased with the announcement today of the start of a process of normalization of relations between the United States Government and the Cuban Government after 50 years of the U.S. embargo of Cuba.

“I congratulate President Obama and President Castro in doing the right thing for both countries, their citizens, and the rest of the continent. A united continent will be better able to meet social and economic challenges in the future. Next year will mark 70 years of diplomatic relations between Canada and Cuba and we are happy to have the United States join us by ending the outdated approach of isolation and bringing in a new chapter of cooperation among the nations of the Americas. While it is important to note that this is not a complete opening of relations, the embargo still stands, it is an important step. Dialogue is always more productive than isolation. The U.S. and Cuba will still have economic and political disagreements, but the door is open to discussion and finally the possibility of mutually beneficial resolution instead of constant confrontation. Today is a great day, an historic day, as 315 million Americans and 11 million Cubans extended a hand of friendship for a brighter and more prosperous future for all.”


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