What Does Fidel Castro’s Death Mean for Canada

Fidel Castro, one of the 20th century’s most influential and divisive figures, passed away today. At 90 years old, the passionate left-wing revolutionary stood in defiance of what he viewed as American imperialism. His iron grip on the island nation ensured his government’s survival decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union. While his legacy will continue to be a matter of debate for years to come, his death may have very real implications for Canadian-Cuban economic and political relations.

Trudeaus and Castros
Castro’s death occurred less than two weeks after Justin Trudeau concluded a historic visit to Cuba. Justin can be seen as following in the footsteps of his father, Pierre, who bravely visited and maintained relations with the Caribbean nation during the height of the cold war. The two leaders continued to maintain a close political and personal relationship for decades. A relationship that often included Castro seeking Pierre Trudeau’s council on political issues. When the elder Trudeau passed in September of 2000, the aging Castro made a rare international trip to Canada to honour his friend. A young Justin Trudeau is famously photographed at the event, being embraced by the leader of the Cuban revolution.

The Future of Canada – Cuba Relations
Canada has maintained an economic niche in Cuba, taking advantage of the United States’ willing absence from the Cuban market. The re-establishment of American-Cuban relations (resurrected in July 2015 after decades of American embargoes) threatens to undercut Canada’s unique presence in the Cuban market. It remains unclear whether Prime Minister Trudeau will be able to maintain Canadian supremacy on the Caribbean island, especially with a mercantilist American administration set to take office in January.





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