Amid the struggles faced by the people of Cuba, many Canadians are questioning why the Liberal Federal Government has not offered aid.
In Edmonton, people are protesting the violence; on Tuesday, dozens gathered in the streets with signs reading “Freedom for Cuba.” One protester told CTV News, “They are protesting the lack of freedoms, fundamental freedoms, so we’re here to support them, to make aware the people of Canada what the people of Cuba [are] going through. We had a pandemic, and the government’s response has been terrible. People are fed up.”
Cuba is home to 11 million. With the pandemic restricting the majority of the essential tourism economy in Cuba, the country’s economic situation has become dire, with shortages of everything from food and clothing to medicine and healthcare. Former U.S. President Trump’s, and now Joe Biden’s, policy against trade with Cuba has not helped.
The typically tightly controlled streets were the site of protests on Sunday. Security forces, however, quickly put an end to demonstrations. On Monday, the Southern Havana suburb of Guinera saw more demonstrations, with one man being killed and several others hospitalized with injuries. Protests were amid the Cuban government’s lockdown on public access to social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.
From our privileged position in the north, it is easy to understand the nationwide frustration, but not so easy to extend a hand.
The Canadian government is in a unique position to offer aid to Cubans. Justin Trudeau has the opportunity to provide support to the people of Cuba without supporting or criticizing the Cuban regime. While the government must walk the fine line between backing a rebellion and offering support to suffering people, it’s an effort to which we should feel morally obliged.
Canada has a long history of friendly relations with the island nation. The Liberal government has the option to offer food, vaccines, medical care, and emergency services to people in need. In fact, the Trudeau family holds close ties with the Castro regime: Fidel Castro was a pallbearer at the funeral of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Many believe that maintaining positive relations with the island’s general population will ensure that legacy stays intact.