The ties between Cuba and Canada evolved from former exchange of rum or sugar in the 19th century to becoming a multifaceted link with 75 years of uninterrupted bilateral relation.
Canadian ambassador to Cuba Perry John Calderwood highlighted Canada was among the first to recognize the 1959 revolutionary government.
In the Western Hemisphere, just Ottawa and Mexico kept continuous ties with Cuba in the Cold War context and under harsh pressures from the United States.
“1976 was a historic year, because Canada´s Prime Minister at that time Pierre Trudeau arrived in Cuba and became the first Western leader to visit the Caribbean nation after the beginning of the Revolution,” the diplomat stated.
Official sources, in fact, assured that the exchange between both nations fostered a friendship between Pierre Trudeau and the historical Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who traveled to Canada in 2000 for Pierre Trudeau´s funeral.
According to Calderwood, high-level political visits in successive decades strengthened relationships to achieve links in trade, investment, tourism, education, culture, among others.
Canada “allocates as many as CAD$5 million each year for its cooperation development program” in Cuba, goal-oriented mainly to food safety and environment.
According to the Canadian ambassador, the International Development Research Center -based in Canada- has been financing research activities in Cuba since 1974, including health, agriculture, water management and climate change.
In addition, “there are nine Canadian Studies Departments in Cuban universities that promote academic collaboration.”
The diplomat stressed that Canada is the second-largest foreign investor in Cuba and mentioned the Blue Diamonds Resorts hotel chain manages 21 hotels on the island, as well as 45 years of relations with the National Bank of Canada.
“200 companies, mainly small- and medium-sized ones, are based and active in Cuba, most of them remain committed to and trust in long-term opportunities,” he said.
He specified that his country adopted the Foreign Extraterritorial Measure Act to protect its companies against the application of some US hostile measures such as Helms-Burton Act and other ones which part and parcel of the US blockade imposed on Cuba.
In addition, he added that “Canada does not see Cuba as a state sponsoring terrorism, and we have cooperated for years on security issues.”
Given the current epidemiological situation, the diplomat congratulated the Cuban government and people “for their great efforts to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, as they have managed to keep the infection rate at low levels compared to many others countries “.
“Cuba has sent medical brigades to many nations to help fight this virus, while Canada has allocated funds to strengthen the capacity of the Caribbean and other regions to respond to the crisis,” he stressed.