Press Release from the Canadian Network on Cuba (CNC)
On July 17, 2019, people across Canada will take part in a day of action demanding that the government of Canada fully reopen the IRCC Office and all visa services offered to Cubans in Havana, Cuba. This campaign, initiated by the Canadian Network on Cuba (CNC), will include calls and emails to elected officials and will use the hashtags #CdnVisas4Cuba #UnblockCuba and #NoMasBloqueo on social media. The campaign also coincides with the launching of a new national petition with the same demand, directed towards Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland; and Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen.
On May 8, 2019 the Government of Canada made the abrupt decision to shut down the section of its Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) Office in Havana through which visas were processed for Cuban citizens wishing to visit Canada. This includes Cubans traveling for family visits, and those seeking work or study permits. This decision has introduced unreasonable delays and significant financial obstacles, as well as personal and emotional distress for those Cubans seeking to travel to Canada, and will cause (and has caused), among other things, significant damage to family unification, business, cultural, scientific, and sports relations.
Each year over a million Canadians travel to Cuba. A Cuban grandmother, Odalys Rivero? n Martinez, now denied the ability to meet her baby grandson in Canada, was quoted by the CBC saying, “How is it possible that Canada closes the doors to this country who receives them?"
The Canadian Network on Cuba (CNC), represented across Canada by 20 member groups, promotes social, cultural, political, and economic relations between Canada and Cuba. Canada and Cuba have a long history of uninterrupted diplomatic relations since 1945. The CNC views this recent government of Canada decision as a serious departure from these friendly relations, a relationship which benefits Cubans and Canadians alike.
CNC VISA CAMPAIGN UPDATE!
After weeks of social media campaigning, protests, and petitioning - on July 29, 2019 the government of Canada announced that they would reinstate “a number of visa and biometrics services that were originally offered at the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) visa office in Havana, Cuba.” This is a positive step, however does not mean that the IRCC office has reopened, or that the full demands of the CNC visa campaign have been met. The government of Canada still does not have any IRCC staff in Cuba, Visa applications must be made online (not in person, as was standard prior to the recent hostile diplomatic measures taken by Canada) and any applicants that require medical exams or interviews still will have to travel to another third-party country. The campaign to reinstate all IRCC services in Havana, Cuba continues!
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