Freeland to visit Cuba amid mystery illness worries
In this Sept. 25, 2018 file photo, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland participates in a discussion at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Published Wednesday, May 15, 2019 3:15PM EDT
Canada’s foreign affairs minister will travel to Cuba this week to discuss issues regarding the U.S. and Venezuela.
Global Affairs Canada announced Wednesday that Chrystia Freeland will make a one-day working visit to Havana on Thursday.
She is scheduled to meet with her Cuban counterpart to discuss the American decision to reinstate a law allowing U.S. citizens to sue companies deemed to be trafficking in property confiscated by Cuba’s government, as well as what a Global Affairs spokesperson described as “the deteriorating situation in Venezuela.”
Freeland had lobbied the U.S. not to resurrect the controversial section of the Helms-Burton Act. Canada has also been attempting to shore up international support for Juan Guaido, the Venezuelan opposition leader recognized as the country’s legitimate president by both Canada and the U.S., while the Cuban economy has been hurt by a loss of foreign aid from Venezuela due to the ongoing turmoil in that countries.
“It is of critical importance that our two countries meet to discuss the economic, political and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, and the work we can undertake together to address it,” Freeland said in a statement.
“I also look forward to discussing how we can work together to defend Canadians conducting legitimate trade and investment in Cuba.”
Freeland is also expected to visit diplomats at the Canadian Embassy in Havana. A number of embassy services have been suspended in recent weeks due to staff reductions brought on by a mysterious condition known as Havana Syndrome.
At least 14 staff members at the embassy have reported strange symptoms ranging from fatigue and dizziness to middle-of-the-night nosebleeds.
No explanation has been offered for the illnesses, which have also affected 26 workers at the American Embassy.