Fidel Castro accuses Prime Minister Stephen Harper of suffering from illusions and says Canada should take a stand in the Falkland Islands dispute in a rambling new essay that lashes out against Cuba’s exclusion from a coming Organization of American States summit.
Mr. Castro, who was forced by ill health to turn the presidency of Cuba over to his brother, Raul, in 2008, also attacks Canadian mining firms in the latest of his “Reflections” – a series of articles that provide his take on world events.
In a piece titled “Stephen Harper’s Illusions” which was dated Sunday, Mr. Castro refers to a statement last week by a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird in which he says the minister “does not dare to say whether or not he supports Argentina in the thorny issue of the Malvinas [Falkland]Islands.”
Instead, he writes, Canada has expressed only “beatific wishes for peace” to prevail between Britain and Argentina – the two countries that lay claim to the islands.
“We should ask [U.S. President Barak]Obama and Harper what stand they will take in the face of the fairest claim by Argentina to be given back the sovereignty over the islands so that it is no longer deprived of the energy and fishing resources it so much needs to develop the country,” writes Mr. Castro.
In fact, Canada has been a supporter of Britain in the Falklands dispute and has never made much pretense about being neutral.
It is difficult to determine the exact statement to which Mr. Castro was referring. Mr. Baird’s office would not confirm Monday that there had been any such statement and a spokesman for Mr. Harper would not comment on the Castro essay.
The former Cuban president is sporadic in his writing but, since Christmas, has been rather prolific, taking on subjects like capitalism, Libya and the environment.
In his latest missive, Mr. Castro points out that the Queen is the head of state in Canada, that Britain has its biggest external military base in the Falklands, and that there has been no apology for the 1982 sinking by the British navy of an Argentine warship that went down at a cost of 323 lives.
All of this, he raises in the context of the next meeting of the OAS, which will take place later this month in Cartagena, Colombia. Cuba has not been invited to the meeting.
Mr. Castro praises Canada’s early policy toward Cuba, which he says was respectful and did not interfere in Cuban affairs. He says former prime minister Pierre Trudeau was a “brilliant and courageous politician.”
But the OAS, he says, is an institution with a shameful history that did away with what little was left from the dreams of the liberators of the Americas. And he accuses Canadian industry of exploiting the resources of North and South America with little regard to the environmental consequences.
The Canadian oil sands, he says, are causing an irreparable damage to the environment of “that beautiful and extensive country.” And in other American nations, Mr. Castro says Canadian-financed mining companies are working where “tax revenues are minimal and there are very few environmental and social commitments.”
All of which takes him back to the fact that Cuba will not be a participant at the meeting of the OAS. Mr. Obama will be wearing a shirt called guayabera at that summit.
“The Caribbean shirt was first made by the banks of the Yayabo River in Cuba; that is why they were originally called yayaberas,” writes Mr. Castro. “The curious thing about this, dear readers, is that Cuba has been forbidden to attend that meeting, but not the guayaberas. Who could hold back from laughing? We must hurry up and tell Harper.”