Monday, April 2, 2012

Summit of the Americas: Canadian Minister of State of Foreign Affairs

The Canadian Network on Cuba is outraged by the statement from the office of Diane Ablonczy, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs), which declares that Canada - in lock step with the United States - opposes Cuba's participation in the upcoming Summit of the Americas to be held April 14-15, 2012 in Cartagena, Colombia. This arrogant statement flies in the face of the overwhelming consensus of the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean. Their expressed desire is that no Summit of the Americas can truly be legitimate if Cuba is excluded.
Moreover, this assertion from the Minister's office runs counter to the sentiment of the vast majority of the people of Canada. Canadians irrespective of their political or ideological positions, stand in favour of building relations with Cuba based on mutual respect and equality, relations which uphold Cuba's right to self-determination and sovereignty. Having traveled to Cuba in the hundreds of thousands and having witnessed Cuban reality for themselves, Canadians have come away with a profound respect and admiration for the Cuban people and their efforts to build and defend a society centered on independence, justice and human dignity.
The declaration from the Minister's office that Cuba" doesn't comply with democratic conditions" is not only a slander against Cuba, but reeks of the discredited colonialist mentality and practice of foisting on independent countries imperial arrangements that they do not want or accept. The statement is an intolerable interference in the sovereign affairs of Cuba and violation of its right to self-determination.  The statement harkens back to a bygone era where great powers acted with impunity against and with utter disregard towards the nations of the Americas. The peoples of the Americas have time and time again resoundingly rejected this method and mode of thinking. The great anti-colonial and anti-imperialist struggles of the 19th and 20th centuries bear witness to this. The statement deliberately parrots the disinformation of the United States State Department about Cuba. This open alignment with U.S. policy is deeply disturbing and alarming, and we call on Canadians to repudiate it with the contempt it deserves.
It bears reflection that it was only as recently as December 2-3rd, 2011 in Caracas, Venezuela, when representatives and heads of state from 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries founded the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). With the founding of CELAC, the peoples of the Americas and the Caribbean created an organization to defend and preserve their political, economic and cultural sovereignty, a bulwark against foreign interference in their affairs.  For this reason the United States and Canada were excluded from this historic gathering.
It is important to note that the exclusion of Canada and the United States from CELAC was the collective unanimous will of the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean, whereas Cuba's exclusion from the Summit of the Americas is the utterly unprincipled, unilateral diktat of one superpower. Washington's warped logic, which Ottawa apparently endorses, is that any sovereign state in the Americas can be excluded by its fiat, and its fiat alone. Thus, in reality the United States does not recognize the sovereignty of any other country that has been invited. That the Canadian government does not protest the arbitrary treatment of Cuba is not only shameful but also further erodes and weakens Canada's sovereignty.
If the Canadian government wants to stand with the peoples of the Americas and not defy the winds of progressive change blowing though the Americas, it must abandon colonialist and imperialist mindsets and policies. 
A potentially historic moment is upon us in which a most regrettable page in the relations amongst the nations of the Americas can finally be turned. The Canadian Network on Cuba calls on the government of Canada to engage in the enlightened statecraft that the times require. If the government is truly interested in the cause of democracy then it should stand with the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean, and insist that Cuba is included in this and future Summits of the Americas.

Isaac Saney
Co-chair & National Spokesperson,
Canadian Network on Cuba

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