Ottawa, January 18, 2018.- Outgoing Ambassador of Cuba to Canada, Julio Garmendia Peña, addressed the most important issues in the relations between the two countries in an interview given to The Hill Times, published yesterday.
Garmendia Peña assessed a broad range of issues on the bilateral agenda during his almost five-year tenure in Canada, including Canada´s position on the health concerns reported by some US and Canadian diplomats in Cuba ̶ a topic of great interest to the Canadian public opinion ̶ as well as Canada´s traditional support to Cuba against US blockade policy towards the Island.
“Despite differences, we’ve been able to have the wisdom [towards] with these differences in a very civilized way,” said Cuban Ambassador. “We’ve always found a common language...and we’ve been on the same page and this is an example of how neighbours from the same continent can work together and develop its relationships and also share common values.”
Garmendía described as ʹrespectfulʹ Canada´s approach to the health concerns reported by a small number of Canadian diplomats in Havana since the middle of last year. “Canada is not drawing any conclusions or politicized conclusions and, in our opinion, this is the right decision,” he said while highlighting the cooperation between Cuban and Canadian authorities to find the cause of the symptoms.
Cuban Ambassador also expressed his country´s desire to seeing more Canadian investments and said that "Cuba would like to see Canada as part of its long-term development plans."
The newspaper article also claims that Canadian foreign ministry considers Cuba its top market in the Caribbean/Central America sub-region and that merchandise trade between the two countries amounts to over a billion dollars per year. The newspaper article argues that Canadian investments in Cuba include mining, energy, oil and gas, agri-food and tourism and that the Caribbean island nation features as the third most popular holiday destination for Canadians, after the U.S. and Mexico, according to the information provided by the Canadian government.
Julio Garmendía took his position as Ambassador to Canada in March 2013, together with his wife, first secretary Miraly González. They will both complete their tours of duty in late January. The newspaper article also informs that Garmendia Peña will be replaced by Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, who has been the Head of the US Division at the Cuban Foreign Ministry for more than ten years and who has played a key role in the process of rapprochement between the United States and Cuba, started by former President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro.