Canadian Network on Cuba
Letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau
I am writing to you on behalf of the Canadian Network On Cuba (CNC), which represents Canada-Cuba friendship and solidarity organizations from Vancouver to Halifax, with a membership of more than 50,000. Two of the CNC’s principal objectives are bringing an end to U.S. economic sanctions against Cuba and ensuring that Canada’s relations with Cuba are based on equality and respect for the island nation’s independence, sovereignty, and the right of self-determination.
We, in the CNC, are concerned about the extreme and humiliating pressure that the government of the United States is exerting on third countries to support a Joint Statement — it has written — unjustly condemning Cuba.
We call on the Government of Canada not to join this unprecedented, unjustified, and malicious attack on Cuba.
Not only is this so-called Joint Statement and demand a malignant distortion of what has happened in Cuba on July 11, but it reeks of hypocrisy and double standards.
No such statement was issued, for instance, when Colombian police forces killed at least 34 people during the recent protests in that country. Or in the case of Chile in 2019 when hundreds were blinded by the security forces. Many other examples can be provided.
If Washington is truly interested in the human rights of the people of Cuba, then it should unequivocally and unambiguously end the U.S. economic war and other aggressions against Cuba.
It bears underscoring that on June 23rd, for the 29th consecutive time, the global community overwhelmingly stood with Cuba, voting 184 to 2 in the United Nations General Assembly, resoundingly repudiating the U.S. economic war against Cuba as a flagrant violation of international law. 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.
Since the early 1960s, the Government of the United States has imposed on Cuba the longest lasting regime of sanctions in history. It would not be an exaggeration to describe Washington’s policy as an economic war against the people of Cuba. U.S. economic sanctions — an economic blockade — constitute the principal obstacle to Cuba’s social and economic development; the cost to the heroic island nation has been and is immense: more than $130 billion.
Under U.S. President Donald Trump, the economic war against Cuba reached unprecedented levels with 243 distinct and vindictive measures targeted against the island nation. The administration of President Joseph Biden has continued this unrelenting economic war against Cuba.
In pursuit of its criminal and immoral policy, the Government of the United States pressures and coerces other countries to participate in its regime of economic sanctions against Cuba.
Canada has not been immune from these pressures. For example, in 2017 the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Treasury Department fined the American Honda Finance Corporation (AHFC) $87,255 for approving and financing between February 2011 and March 2014 the leasing by Honda Canada Finance Inc. of 13 cars to the Embassy of Cuba in Canada.
Also, in 2020 Western Union Financial Services (Canada), Inc. decided to end the transfer of funds from Canada to Cuba. In a statement to the CBC, the company declared that the decision was “due to the unique challenges of operating remittance services from countries outside of the United States to Cuba.” This decision not only caused — and is causing — significant damage to people-to-people contacts and Canada-Cuba relations but is also a violation of the sovereignty of Canada by raising U.S. law above that of Canadian law.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and in the face of international condemnation of its war on Cuba, Washington has not only maintained the cruel and vindictive economic, financial and commercial blockade of Cuba but has also imposed fifty additional punitive measures, severely limiting the island nation’s access to equipment and other necessary items required to preserve the health of Cubans. Despite these daunting challenges, Cuba has one of the lowest COVID-19 fatality rates – 0.68% – in the world.
Yet, during this aggression and extremely challenging economic situation, the Government of Cuba continues not only to protect and preserve the health of its citizens with the development of its own vaccines and treatment regimens but also to lead the global fight against the coronavirus. Almost 4,000 Cuban medical personnel in at least 39 countries and territories have participated and are participating in the front-lines of the fight against COVID-19 in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.
Washington’s failure to isolate Cuba in international relations and public opinion is poignantly illustrated by the numerous nominations of Cuba’s internationalist medical contingent — the Henry Reeve Brigade — for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.
Cuba is under siege. The goal is to starve the Cuban people into submission. This was unambiguously articulated by Lester D. Mallory, Vice Secretary of State, and an architect of U.S. Cuba policy. He wrote in a now-declassified U.S. State Department April 6, 1960, memo: “The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship…every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba…denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.”
This effort to asphyxiate Cuba is an egregious violation of the human rights of the Cuban people and an intolerable violation of the right to self-determination.
Washington’s ultimate objective is the negation and extinguishment of Cuba’s right to self-determination, sovereignty, and independence. It is also coupled with a campaign of subversion, The U.S. government has openly funnelled millions upon millions of dollars to so-called opposition figures with the sole aim of destabilizing and undermining Cuban society and institutions.
The CNC re-affirms the inalienable, inviolable, and inextinguishable right of the people of Cuba — and all other peoples — to determine their future and their political, economic, and social system on their own terms without external interference from any source: a right enshrined in the United Nations Charter and numerous other international treaties, covenants, and legal instruments.
Moreover, 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. This is reflected in the more than 2,500 Canadians — especially, since the events of July 11 — who have signed and supported the parliamentary petition condemning Washington’s economic sanctions against Cuba.
In closing, I wish to thank you in advance for your consideration of these issues. If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Co-Chair and National Spokesperson, Canadian Network on Cuba