Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland announced this Wednesday that she will visit Cuba on Thursday to meet with her Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez and discuss the consequences of the U.S. Helms-Burton Act and the situation in Venezuela.
Freeland said in a statement that it is critically important that the two countries come together to discuss the economic, political and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela and what they can do together to address it.
The Canadian minister added that she also hopes to discuss how they can work together to defend Canadians who carry out legitimate trade and investment in Cuba following the end of the suspension of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act in the United States.
The announcement of the trip to Cuba came just minutes after Freeland ended a meeting in Washington with the chief U.S. trade negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, and other U.S. politicians to discuss trade relations between the two countries.
On May 3, Canada reiterated that it will not “recognize or apply” any sentence issued under Title III of the Helms-Burton Act for economic activities in Cuba shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump activated the controversial section of that act.
The Canadian government also said that it was working with the European Union and other “international partners” to defend the economic activities of Canadians in Cuba.
In 1996, Canada passed the Foreign Extraterritorial Measures Act (FEMA), which protects the interests of Canadians and prevents the recognition or enforcement of judicial decisions in Canada as a result of the Helms-Burton Act.
With respect to Venezuela, Ottawa and Havana maintain opposite positions.
Cuba is one of the main international supporters of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, while Canada has led diplomatic initiatives to isolate his government and has recognized the president of the Venezuelan Parliament and opposition leader Juan Guaidó as interim president of the country after he proclaimed himself as such last January.
Precisely this Tuesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Guaidó held a telephone conversation in which they discussed the latest events of the Venezuelan crisis.
During the conversation, Trudeau “reiterated Canada’s condemnation of the Maduro regime’s illegitimate withdrawal of the parliamentary immunity of the elected members of the National Assembly.”
Trudeau and Guaidó agreed on the “need for the international community to align itself for a peaceful transition in Venezuela.”