July 31, 2019

Canadian Network on Cuba’s campaign to reopen IRCC office in Havana well underway

Special to RY

Coming out of its last biennial Convention held this past June in Toronto, the Canadian Network on Cuba resolved to continue a major campaign to reopen Canada’s Visa office in Havana.

For this purpose, activists in solidarity with Cuba have begun gathering signatures for a petition addressed to the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed D. Hussen, and Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign affairs. It states that “on May 8th, 2019, the Government of Canada made the abrupt decision to shut down the section of its Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship (IRCC) Office in Havana.”

As a result, Cuban citizens “will now have to travel to a third country (…) in order to submit their applications to the Government of Canada with no guarantee of approval.” This measure heavily impacts Cubans wanting to travel to Canada for different purposes including studies, family visits, work, etc. Indeed, it adds major obstacles for Cubans to complete their application which, before this decision was taken, was fully processed in Havana. In addition to the costs associated with a trip to Mexico, the Dominican Republic or any other nearby country that provides IRCC services, most Cubans need visas and other types of administrative documents to travel to these countries. Family members, friends, but also organisations providing curriculum for Cubans have complained about this decision, some going as far as claiming that Canada’s government is separating families.

The petition also notes that this happens right after Canada reduces its Embassy personnel by 50%, a move justified by the alleged sonic attacks suffered by Canadian and US diplomats stationed in Havana. These “attacks”, according to scientists, would be nothing else than an episode of “mass psychogenic illness and mass suggestion”, something that is well-documented and occurs to a group of people submitted to stressful and confined environment (you can find out more by reading this People’s Voice article). Therefore, even if the symptoms are real, the fact that Canada fell for the US anti-Cuban and anti-communist propaganda and instrumentalized this story to undermine long standing respectful Canadian – Cuban bilateral relations is a real concern.

This is why the petition calls “on the Government of Canada to fully reopen the IRCC Office and all visa services offered to Cubans in Havana.”

So far, the petition has gathered over 1000 signatures online. In addition, July 17th has seen dozens of organisations promoting this campaign online and in the streets; and for months, Cuban-Canadians and friends of Cuba took to the streets, wrote letters, and phoned Canadian authorities and politicians to demand the reopening of the IRCC Office.

This mobilisation seems to have paid off since recently, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada announced that some services would be available again starting on August 1st. Among the services that will remain unavailable, applications for permanent residency will still be treated in Mexico, forcing Cuban applicants to travel there for their interviews and examinations.

This is an overall positive sign for those who took part in the mobilisation, but it also shows that this campaign needs to continue gaining strength.

As a publication that has always sided with socialist Cuba, we call on our readers to sign the petition, diffuse it, and actively support this campaign. Fighting for the reopening of the IRCC Office in Havana is not just about Cuba – Canada relations. It is about Canada moving dangerously towards an increased pro-US and pro-NATO foreign policy. Indeed, Canada – Cuba relations have been one of the few areas where Canada challenged the US foreign policy by not taking part in the criminal blockade, but the latest developments, just like Justin Trudeau’s final decision not to attend Fidel’s funeral, lead to the conclusion that unless we mobilise consequently, setbacks are to be expected. It is not random that this decision was taken while the US are applying Chapter 3 of the Helms-Burton Act that shamefully allows US citizens to sue any business that invests in Cuba’s enterprises controlled by the socialist state.

We should not forget that this is happening in a context of increased aggressiveness of imperialism, especially US – NATO – EU imperialism which, targets Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba, John Bolton’s “Troika of Tyranny”. We should also remember that in that context, which could easily lead to a regional war, Canada, instead of taking the path of peace and respect of state sovereignty, is becoming increasingly active in supporting the US – NATO – EU imperialist offensive and anti-communist crusades.

Therefore, our commitment for international solidarity, our support for socialist Cuba, Bolivarian Venezuela, and all peoples oppressed by imperialism is part of our internationalist duty and part of the youth’s historic inclination to fight for peace.

To sign the petition and share it online, click here.

You can also download a paper version of it to use on your workplace, campus or in your neighbourhood. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular stories