Canadian foreign minister to visit Cuba

OTTAWA, May 15 (Xinhua) — Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland announced Wednesday that she will have a working visit to Cuba on Thursday.

Freeland will meet with her Cuban counterpart Bruno Eduardo Rodriguez Parrilla to discuss the deteriorating situation in Venezuela and the U.S. decision to activate Title III of the Helms-Burton Act to reinforce sanctions on Cuba.

“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,” she said.

“I also look forward to discussing how we can work together to defend Canadians conducting legitimate trade and investment in Cuba in light of the United States ending the suspension of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act,” said the Canadian minister.

U.S. President Donald Trump has signaled he will enforce a long-dormant part of the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, known as Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, which is considered to seriously threaten foreign investment by Canadian and European companies in Cuba.

Canada is member of the Lima Group of countries that opposes Maduro’s presidency and has recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s legitimate leader.

By enforcing Title III of the embargo, Cuban Americans and other U.S. citizens will be able to file lawsuits in U.S. federal court against businesses that operate on property the Cuban government appropriated after the 1959 revolution. Title III has never been fully enforced since the law was passed in 1996.

The move could spell trouble for major Canadian companies that operate in Cuba, including the Montreal-based National Bank of Canada, which operates a branch in Havana focused on trade financing, and Toronto-based resource company Sherritt International, according to CBC.

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