Trudeau departs for Cuba in first PM visit in nearly two decades.

By Maureen McEwan with Maggie Parkhill.


Prime Minister Trudeau (right) walks with Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau (left) to the plane bound for Cuba Tuesday afternoon. | Photo – Shauna McGinn.

Prime Minister Trudeau travels to Cuba this afternoon, marking the first, official prime ministerial trip since Jean Chrétien’s visit in 1998.

The visit commences a week-long trip and Liberal effort to enhance trade relations between Canada and the Central and South American economies. The first stop in Cuba is regarded as an important symbolic gesture as the Caribbean country is a political leader in the region.

The Trudeau connection to Cuba is historical: Pierre Trudeau met with Fidel Castro in 1976 in a momentous three-day trip. Pierre Trudeau was the first NATO leader to visit the island country during the Cold War. As a result, Trudeau and Castro formed a political bond and friendship.

Forty years later, the Trudeau government hopes to reinforce ties. The prime minister has no meeting planned with Fidel Castro, currently, but officials say it is being discussed. Trudeau will be meeting with Cuba’s president, Fidel’s brother Raul Castro, to discuss trade and investment opportunity and policy.



In the wake of Trump’s election, the status of North American trade atmosphere is uncertain. President Obama’s administration moved to restore U.S-Cuba relations through increased diplomacy and economic sanction adjustment. Trump’s signals have been unclear: He could stay the course or maintain the embargo and stifle diplomatic efforts. Trump has stated this week that he will maintain the embargo unless certain American demands are met.

Trudeau is faced with the challenge of navigating the shifting economic environment in the Americas. After Cuba, he will travel on to visit Argentina and Peru to attend the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting.

Author: Maureen McEwan

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