While the Canadian government has been rightfully outspoken in denouncing the human rights atrocities taking place in Venezuela, for decades it has been silent on the human rights abuses of Cuba’s Castro dictatorship. But now that the Cuban regime’s prominent role in installing and maintaining Venezuela’s dictatorship becomes clearer each day, the Canadian government’s duplicitous human rights activism has been exposed.
Not only has Canada been silent about human rights violations in Cuba, it is a close friend and staunch defender of the Cuban regime. With billions invested on the island, Canada has put itself in a position where its economic success depends on the survival of the Castro dictatorship.
But now, with the increasing difficulty in keeping the atrocities happening in Venezuela separate from Cuba, Canada finds itself in a very precarious position.
Cuba’s deep involvement in Venezuela is causing new tensions in the historically close relationship between Canada and Cuba, with Nicolas Maduro increasingly leaning on the Cubans to keep him in power as Venezuelans turn against him.
So far, Canada has been reluctant to call out a government that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called an “ally” during a 2016 visit to Havana. But Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says Cuba’s role is “concerning.”
There have been repeated warnings by OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, Inter-American ex-presidents’ group IDEA and Colombia’s former president Andres Pastrana, as well as the most recent CASLA Institute report not only denouncing the presence of thousands of Cuban agents, “but also the fact that they direct centres of torture in Venezuela,” she says.
“It’s contradictory that a country like Canada, so vocal in defence of human rights, and having sources on the ground in Venezuela, doesn’t have more to say on this.”
Michael Lima Cuadra is a Cuban-Canadian historian and democracy activist who says the Maduro government partly has Cuba to thank for its continued survival despite deep unpopularity.
“As long as the Castro regime is not held accountable internationally for its intervention in Venezuela, it’s going to continue sending a private army of almost 15,000 intelligence operators, which are the ones responsible for Maduro holding on to power.
“As a historian, I’ve never seen a Latin American dictatorship resist so much pressure from so many people. So the know-how of repression that’s being exported by the Castro regime has to be confronted by Canada and the Lima Group. As long as that doesn’t happen, Venezuelans are going to face two dictatorships in one.”