In an Op-Ed in Canada’s Observer, Geoff Dale discusses the decades-old love affair Canadians have with Cuba’s vile and repressive Castro dictatorship. Of course, Dale chooses to describe this romance differently, as if it were between the Canadian people and the Cuban people. But everyone knows — Dale included — that this affair is strictly between Canadians and the apartheid regime of the Castro family. That is why he does not make one single mention, even in passing, of the Castro dictatorship’s atrocious human rights record in Cuba that has resulted in thousands executed and hundreds of thousands imprisoned.
They say love is blind; I guess this is an extreme version of that concept.
Canada’s romance with Cuba has endured a Cold War, economic meltdown and tricky trade currents that still swirl
Stroll the white sands of the Blau Varadero beach, catch a glimpse of the rich coral reef off Maria la Gorda or sip mojitos at the Floridita, one of Ernest Hemmingway’s favourite Havana watering holes.
While these are slices of a forbidden fruit for Americans, Canadian tourists show no stopping their love affair with Cuba, flocking each year to the Communist island, where sugar once paid the bills, in numbers hovering around one million.
Maybe, it’s because we’ve been there so long.
After all, it’s been almost 40 years since then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau stepped out of the Cold War strait-jacket by bear-hugging Fidel Castro, a bold statement by the first NATO leader to embrace Cuba on a visit.
Castro repaid the gesture by attending Trudeau’s funeral in Montreal in 2000.
Maybe, it’s because we’re not shy about doing business with Cuba — even when it’s meant risking U.S. anger.
Plenty of companies have found they can work with the new old-line Communist regime, especially in the past generation since the Russians cut their old Soviet purse strings to Havana and left it to discover joint ventures with capitalists.
That’s despite the fact the U.S. passed a punitive trade law in 1996, the Helms-Burton Act, aimed at companies with so-called “pink” operations dealing with Cuba.
You can’t tell, but chances are good you’ve got some loonies in your change made with nickel mined in Cuba by one such Canadian company.
Whatever the explanation, and despite a rocky global economy since the 2008 meltdown, Canada tops Cuban tourism, accounting for 40% of the total.
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