Telmary Regrets Canada’s Closing of Consular Services (+ Video)

Cuban rapper Telmary Díaz raises her voice next to other Cuban and Canadian residents who were mobilized this Sunday in the cities of Toronto and Montreal against the decision of Justin Trudeau’s government of terminating the visa procedures at the embassy of this country in Havana.

For whom Cuba is its best source of inspiration and has lived for several years, for working matters, between Canada and this wonderful island, the closing of the Canadian immigration services in Cuba has seemed absurd.

As a journalist asked her why she was there, she said: «I am representing the Cuban people that live here, in Toronto, and right now these measures affect us all, both the Cuban artists and the families who live here that are part of Toronto’s community. It’s unfair that the Canadian consulate is closed. Imagine a grandpa traveling to a third country to look for a visa to visit his relatives. It’s really a harsh measure, but, it’s also outraging, when Cuba is one of the countries that welcomes 1.5 millions of Canadians a year, as well as one of the safest places for them we are certain of that, because we have had the opportunity to share with them. It bothers me that it’s not reciprocal. That’s why we are here and I know that the number of people will increase; there are people who are writing to us and signatures are being gathered. The Canadian and the Cuban people will get united and everybody else who is trying to turn this situation around. Here we are raising the voice representing Cuba».

There are not doubts that Telmary has also become a cultural ambassador for Cuba to the world. For her: «Cubans have an incredible strength. I believe there isn’t anything better in the world than to be Cuban. That’s why I defend my roots. I travel the world trying to show people what it really means to be Cuban», she said a few years ago in Toronto, where she stayed for a musical contract.

For Julio Fonseca, chairman at the Association of Cuban Residents in Toronto Juan Gualberto Gómez, group that organized the manifestation that took place outside the offices of the chancellor of Canada, Chrystia Freeland, is «a sad measure; such position won't help the relationship between both countries and peoples, and it will undoubtedly affect the cultural, economic, political, academic and sport exchanges, just to mention some sectors», as reported Prensa Latina.

On the other hand, the Cuban ambassador in Canada, Josefina Vidal, made public several days ago the official complain of the island to the authorities of that country for the closing of the Canadian immigration services in Cuba.

Back then, Vidal had declared that the alleged reason of the measure was the mysterious illnesses suffered by several Canadian diplomats working in Cuba since 2017 and that were initially attributed to «acoustic attacks».

On the consequences of these closings in the embassy, the diplomat highlighted that Cubans have to travel twice, at a high cost, to a Canadian embassy in another country, Mexico, for example, to obtain a Canadian visa. This measure affects hundreds of people including the Canadians with their children who have a Cuban relative in the family.

As proven, it’s regrettably that Canada imitates the North American pattern in which the current president, Donald Trump, forces Cubans who want a visa to the U.S. to visit their embassy in a third country, for example, Colombia.

Also, the Cuban chancellor, Bruno Rodríguez, carried out this Friday a work visit to Canada to meet his counterpart, Chrystia Freeland.

In the talks, Rodríguez expressed the concern for the termination of the grant of visas to Cuban citizens in Havana, which—he said to Prensa Latina—is already affecting the exchanges in different fields of the bilateral relationship, and it particularly damages the Cuban, Canadian and mixed families.

With information from Prensa Latina

  • Published in Now

CONCACAF Gold Cup 2019: Group A Preview

The 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup kicks off with two North American and two Caribbean teams in Group A. Mexico is the clear favorite, but the other three teams should not be overlooked. Will Cuba and Martinique break through to the quarterfinal or will Canada finally deliver on their long-promised resurgence?

SCHEDULE

Saturday, June 15

Canada vs Martinique, 7:30 PM ET

Mexico vs Cuba, 10:00 PM ET

Wednesday, June 19

Cuba vs Martinique, 8:00 PM ET

Mexico vs Canada, 10:30 PM ET

Sunday, June 23

Canada vs Cuba, 6:00 PM ET

Martinique vs Mexico, 8:30 PM ET

Cuba

FIFA Rank/Elo Rating: 174/129

Odds of winning: Dark Horse

Cuba has enjoyed relative success at the Gold Cup, reaching the quarterfinal round three times (2003, 2013, and 2015). After not qualifying in 2017, the Leones del Caribe finished in sixth place in CONCACAF Nations League qualifying with impressive wins over the Dominican Republic and Grenada.

The last two Cuban Gold Cup squads were solely comprised of domestic players, making this year’s team a bit of an outlier; eight of the 23 players are on the rosters of clubs in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Panama. Cuba is led by young attacker Luis Paradela (Universidad SC) who has five goals in six international appearances, while maintaining a similar strike rate at the club level in Guatemala’s Liga Nacional. Sandy Sánchez (Don Bosco-Jarabacoa) will be the likely number one at goalkeeper, having earned 13 caps. Thirty-one-year-old midfielder-defender Yasmany López (Ciego de Ávila) provides a veteran presence on the squad with 29 caps.

Cuba plays Mexico in its first match, which gets the hardest test out of the way early. The defense has struggled to prevent dynamic dribblers from slaloming through their compact final third (particularly against Haiti), but most teams would find it difficult to stop El Tri’s attackers. Manager Raúl Mederos’ side will head into the second match confidently in control of their own destiny or harshly subdued on the heels of a demoralizing loss.

Martinique

FIFA Rank/Elo Rating: Ineligible (Not a member of FIFA)/89

Odds of winning: Dark Horse

Les Matinino earned a spot in the Gold Cup by finishing CONCACAF Nations League qualifying in third place. The country’s best finish in six competition appearances is a 2002 quarterfinal showing. Martinique is not eligible to qualify for the World Cup, as they are not a member of FIFA, so the Gold Cup is essentially their biggest competition.

The bulk of the roster is comprised of players from the two dominant sides in the Martinique Championnat National (top division), Club Franciscain and Golden Lion FC, with an infusion of talent playing abroad. Defenders Jordy Delem (Seattle Sounders), Jean-Sylvain Babin (Sporting Gijón), and Samuel Camille (Tenerife) comprise a very serviceable defensive line. Domestic striker Kévin Parsemain has 34 goals in 51 caps, and will be expected to be the attacking linchpin; he finished as one of co-leading goal scorers at the 2017 Gold Cup with three tallies. There’s also the trio of players based in France – Wesley Jobello (Gazélec Ajaccio), Joris Marveaux (Gazélec Ajaccio), and Kévin Fortuné (Troyes) – who are still integrating into the squad, but could make an impact.

Martinique’s mission is to advance out of the group, which will likely require at least four points. If they’re able to secure a draw against Canada in the tournament’s opening match, it would set the tone for a brutal fight for second place.

Mexico

FIFA Rank/Elo Rating: 18/17

Odds of winning: Favorite

Mexico enters the tournament as the top seed, under the leadership of newly hired manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino. El Tri has won a record seven Gold Cup competitions, most recently triumphing in 2015, and routinely enjoys strong fan support with a decided home field advantage. The program – having once again failed to advance past the Round of 16 at the World Cup – is in a state of flux, caught between relying on the serviceable old guard and integrating young talent. This isn’t the strongest Mexican side, but the expectations have been and will always be winning the Gold Cup.

As one would expect, the roster is comprised of talented players from Liga MX and abroad. Experienced mainstay veterans will carry the side through the group stage; physical striker Raúl Jiménez (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Jonathan dos Santos (LA Galaxy), captain Andrés Guardado (Real Betis), and Héctor Moreno (Real Sociedad) are included in the 23-player roster. However, Mexico was hit with the injury bug and will be without the services of dynamic attacker Hirving “Chucky” Lozano (PSV Eindhoven) and midfielder Marco Fabián (Philadelphia Union). Additionally, Carlos Vela (Los Angeles FC), Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez (West Ham), and Jesus Corona (Porto) are also skipping the tournament for various reasons. Martino is unperturbed,telling ESPN, “The important absences that we have... opened the door to see some young players that we wanted to see.”

Despite worries about the tenacity and fluidity of the attack, Mexico looks primed and ready for the Gold Cup. They defeated Venezuela, 3-1, and Ecuador, 3-2, in pre-tournament friendlies, with Rodolfo Pizarro (Monterrey), Carlos Rodriguez (Monterrey), and Roberto Alvarado (Cruz Azul) looking ready to be serious contributors.

Canada

FIFA Rank/Elo Rating: 78/66

Odds of winning: In the Running

John Herdman’s squad stormed through Nations League qualifying with a 4-0 record, easily reaching the Gold Cup. Canada remains the only nation other than Mexico or the United States to capture the tournament, triumphing in 2000. While this is probably not their year to return to the winner’s circle, don’t be surprised if Les Rouges make a push for the semi-finals and springboard into a strong showing in World Cup qualifying.

Canada can rely on a few different players to score goals and won’t be locked into any specific playing style. Lucas Cavallini (Puebla), Junior Hoilett (Cardiff City), Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich), and 19-year-old talent Jonathan David (Gent) can keep pace with dynamic CONCACAF attacks, whether through possession or Route 1 counter attacking; if caught on the right day, Beşiktaş striker Cyle Larin can add target man abilities off the bench. The defensive group is less reliable and relatively inexperienced, with MLS defenders Doneil Henry and Mark-Anthony Kaye playing key roles. Goalkeeper is a mild question mark, with Waking the Red noting that number one Milan Borjan (Red Star Belgrade) will likely split time with the rapidly improving Max Crépeau (Vancouver Whitecaps).

This is a team that absolutely should advance, but Canada has a history of failing to meet expectations in a most dismal fashion. They have the benefit of playing Cuba in their third group play match, which could require three points. Avoiding Mexico in what could possibly be a must-win scenario is in every CONCACAF team’s best interest, so look for this side to pull off four-to-six points and advance from the group.

  • Published in Sports

Canada must resume visa processing in Cuba

The Communist Party of Canada denounces the decision of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to cease the issuance of visas to Cubans to visit Canada from its embassy in Havana.

We consider this a hostile act which will seriously curtail people-to-people exchange between Cuba and Canada, and constitutes a major setback to the long-time friendly, economic, social, and diplomatic relations between our two countries. We therefore demand that this decision of the government of Canada be rescinded immediately.


  • Published in Cuba

Cuban Caricaturist Wins Award in Canada

Cuban cartoonist Alfredo Martirena said that ''a good journalist prefers to save his news better than his own life'' so does he with his work, and won the Award to Excellency at the Caricature Contest on Freedom of the Press in Canada.

The winning cartoon work by Martirena at the 19th edition of the Cartoon Contest on Freedom of Press, describes a reporter at a trench while protecting his own laptop computer machine with his own body, in a profesional gesture, preserving his professional work, before preserving his life.

'The cartoon is a tribute to the hundreds of journalists who are killed every year in different parts of the world, acting as reporters, photographers or cameramen, with the healthy purpose of reporting acts of corruption or maltreatment of citizens,' he said.

This event was organized this year by the Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom and the central topic was 'Open Season for Journalists', with 370 entries from 29 countries.

Martirena, a cartoonist for Cuban weekly Melaito, in the Cuban province of Villa Clara, won this contest five years ago and has also won the Eduardo Abela Grand Prize twice, at the International Biennial of Graphic Humorism, Cuba, 2011 and 2017.

In addition to Alfredo Martirena, cartoonists Musa Gumus, Hicabi Demirci and Kaan Saatci from Turkey, Sergii Riabokon from Ukraine, James Silk and Chip Bok from the United States, Dario Castillejos from Mexico, Niels Bo Bojesen from Denmark and Marco De Angelis from Italy, also received the Excellence Award.

  • Published in Culture

Venezuela Rejects 'Illegal' Sanctions by Canada

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza rejected the "illegal application" of new sanctions against Venezuela. 

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Venezuela Jorge Arreaza firmly condemned Canada's illegal decision to impose sanctions against 43 individuals of Venezuela and highlighted that those economic measures were contrary to international law.

RELATED: Venezuela Foreign Minister Accuses US of Open Coup Attempt

"The government of Canada has taken off the mask through the application of four rounds of sanctions against Venezuela in less than two years," Arreaza said in a statement Monday. 

Canada decided to expand sanctions against the Venezuelan government on Monday, according to a statement from Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, targeting an additional 43 people close to President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro. 

"During the Lima group meeting in Ottawa on February 4, 2019, we called the international community to take action against Maduro regime. Today, Canada is acting by adding [to the sanctions list] another 43 people who are responsible for the deterioration of the situation in Venezuela," said Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.

Canada already sanctioned 70 other Venezuelans, including the President of Venezuela. 

Recently, the U.N expert Alfred de Zayas compared the situation in Venezuela with Chile’s Salvador Allende. An economic war was waged against Allende for three years. When the economic war was not successful in ousting Allende, a coup d’état by General Augusto Pinochet toppled Allende’s regime unleashing 17 years of one of Latin America's most brutal dictatorships. 

  • Published in World

Cuba To Welcome 5 Million Visitors In 2019

This year could be a banner year for Cuban tourism.

As the Caribbean island continues to court foreign vacationers, the tourism ministry announced that they expect over five million visitors in 2019.

If the island hits their goal, it will be the 12th consecutive year of growth in tourism numbers for the Pearl of the Antilles, with 7.4% growth between 2018 and 2019, said the ministry. Tourism incomes are estimated to exceed 3 billion dollars in Cuba in 2019 , according to the ministry.

Experts say that the expansion of accommodation choices – including five-star hotels in Havana – as well as the increase in competitively priced hotels and casa particulares has resulted in more interest for vacationers. Additionally, in November, Havana will celebrate its 500th year anniversary.

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“Five million is realistic,” said John McAuliff, executive director of Fund for Reconciliation and Development, in an email. “Americans are slowly waking up to the reality that they are still free to travel independently under the Support for the Cuban People license.”

Continuing, he said that “the number could go even higher if Congress ends all restrictions on travel by Americans. Under Democratic control, the House could match bipartisan support in the Senate to allow normal travel and agricultural sales.”

The top two tourism markets remain Canada and the United States, although Americans are still prohibited from visiting Cuba for tourism explicitly. (Americans can still travel to Cuba legally under one of these 12 permitted categories.)

Cuba has also launched promotional campaigns recently to attract more travelers from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain as well as emerging markets like China, Vietnam and South Africa.

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Although regulations dictate that Americans are not allowed to go on a ‘typical’ beach vacation while exploring the country, Steve Powers, owner of Hidden Treasure Tours in Long Beach, New York, said during last month's New York Times Travel Show that traveling to Cuba legally remains a great deal as compared to the rest of the Caribbean, thanks to cheap, commercial flights from the US.

In 2018, the island welcomed 4.78 million visitors with less than one million of those travelers arriving by cruise ship.

  • Published in Cuba

Cuban Foreign Minister Calls Canada's Move to Send Diplomats Home Disappointing

Cuba's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez called Canada's decision to reduce the number of diplomats working in the island nation, due to alleged health conditions experienced by the staff, "disappointing and incomprehensible," suggesting no evidence had been provided about the alleged sickness suffered by the Canadian nationals.

"Cuba is a safe country where 115 embassies and 6 international agencies offices are accredited. Canada's decision to downscale diplomatic staff in #Havana is both disappointing and incomprehensible. There isn't the slightest evidence about the alleged health injuries," Rodriguez wrote on Twitter on Friday.

Global Affairs Canada said on Wednesday that Ottawa had decided to reduce the number of its diplomatic staff in Havana by half after another person became ill since the last confirmed case in November.

According to Ottawa, the case brought the total number of affected Canadian employees, spouses and dependants in Cuba to 14. The Canadian government continued to investigate the potential causes of the unusual health symptoms these individuals have experienced; however, so far there had been no cause identified, the foreign office said.

Notably, in 2017, the US authorities said that some of the diplomats working at the US embassy in Cuba had been affected by an audio device and showed strange symptoms similar to the ones displayed by the Canadian embassy staff.

  • Published in Cuba

Canada Labour Congress with 3M Members, Denounces Trudeau's Support for Intervention in Venezuela

“The CLC vehemently rejects a militarized solution to this crisis; the people of Latin America have not forgotten the brutal history of military rule in the region.”

As Canada joins efforts by the Venezuelan right-wing opposition, the United States, and right-wing governments in Latin America to oust democratically elected President Nicolas Maduro, Canada’s Labour Congress, representing over three million Canadian workers, issued a statement Wednesday calling on the Justin Trudeau government to promote dialogue instead of intervention and a military coup.

IN DEPTH: Venezuela Confronts US-backed Right-wing Coup

“Venezuelans need to resolve their differences through constructive dialogue and democratic processes without resorting to violence,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff.

Canada is among several countries, including the U.S. and Brazil, that endorsed opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido as “interim President” of Venezuela, after he self-proclaimed himself as such on Jan. 23 in violation of the Venezuelan constitution.

“The CLC is alarmed at the escalation of international interference in the democratic process of a sovereign nation, including the possibility of military intervention,” the press release by the massive worker organization warned. “The CLC vehemently rejects a militarized solution to this crisis; the people of Latin America have not forgotten the brutal history of military rule in the region.”

The statement went on to urge the Canadian government not to promote or support regime change policy that is being sought by the government of the United States and its allies adding that “Canada’s role on the world stage is better suited to promote stability through constructive dialogue with the international community."

The United States and its right-wing allies recognized opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido as the country's "interim president" after he self-proclaimed himself as such on Jan. 23, an illegal and unconstitutional move and a rejection of the second term of the Nicolas Maduro in office which he won after last year's May elections.

Guaido, the United States and right-wing governments in the region have been calling on the Venezuelan military to oust Maduro. However, the country's defense minister and top military brass have come out in support of Maduro and his government.

There have been whispers in Washington that the Donald Trump administration is “seriously considering” a military intervention in Venezuela if Maduro does not step down or be ousted internally.

Since the beginning of the recent political crisis, president Maduro has repeatedly said he was open to dialogue with the opposition and its leader Guiado in order to seek a peaceful resolution to the current situation.

  • Published in World
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