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Canada-Cuba relations

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Bilateral relations

Canada-Cuba relations can be traced back to the 18th century, when vessels from the Atlantic provinces of Canada traded codfish and beer for rum and sugar. Canada’s first diplomatic mission in the Caribbean was established in Cuba in 1945. In 1959, Canada recognized the government of Cuba. 2022 marked the 77th anniversary of Canada-Cuba diplomatic relations.

Canada and Mexico were the only two countries in the hemisphere not to break relations with Cuba in the years that followed the Cuban revolution in 1959.

Cuba is represented in Canada by an embassy in Ottawa and also has consulates in Montréal and Toronto.

Political relations

Canada’s relationship with Cuba is based on a commitment to open dialogue, cooperation, and the advancement of trade and investment. Canada strongly advocates for freedom of expression, freedom of movement, and the right to peaceful assembly free from intimidation, throughout the world, including in Cuba. Canada’s approach is to engage with all elements of Cuban society - government, the business sector, non-governmental organizations and civil society at large.

Canada is committed to strengthening democracy in Cuba and will continue to work with likeminded partners to ensure our respective and collective responses to the situation in Cuba support the rights and legitimate democratic aspirations of the Cuban people. Canada supports a future for Cuba that fully embraces the fundamental values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Canada has consistently recognized Cuba’s strong commitment to economic and social rights, with its particularly important achievements in the areas of education and health. At the same time, Canada has stressed the importance of basic civil and political rights, such as freedom of speech, association and the press.

Trade relations

Canada and Cuba have a well-established and significant commercial and investment relationship. Over 1 million Canadians visited the island every year before the pandemic. Cuba is Canada’s top market in the Caribbean/Central American sub-region and is Canada’s largest merchandise export market in that region. Canada is Cuba’s second-largest source of direct investment with significant Canadian investment in mining, power, oil and gas, and some investments in renewable energy, agriculture/heavy equipment and tourism. Canada has measures in place to protect Canadian investors doing legitimate business in Cuba through the enactment of the Foreign Extraterritorial Measures Act (1985) and subsequent orders.

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Development cooperation is an integral part of Canada’s relationship with Cuba, advancing shared priorities such as food and nutrition security, resilience to climate change and green growth. Current areas of cooperation include sustainable agriculture and renewable energy, both with a focus on women’s participation and leadership. Canada has also provided targeted support to Cuban institutions and organizations such as the Auditor General and the Cuban Women’s Federation.  All cooperation programming is governed by Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy. Please consult the Project Browser for more details on initiatives funded by Global Affairs Canada.

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Partnerships and organizations

While the Canadian Embassy in Havana does not directly fund or facilitate cultural or interpersonal exchanges, cultural and interpersonal ties contribute to strengthening people-to-people relations between Canadians and Cubans.

Cuba is the third most popular overseas destination for Canadians (after the United States and Mexico) and Canada is Cuba’s largest source of tourists.

To develop effective responses to today’s most pressing global challenges, Canada and Cuba work closely in multilateral fora, such as:

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