Canada scuttles Cuban minister's trip

May 23, 2009 at 9:00 PM
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OTTAWA, May 23 (UPI) -- Canada delayed a visa for a high-level Cuban official, preventing him from attending the annual meeting of a company that has invested heavily in Cuba.

Rodrigo Malmierca, minister for trade and investment, got permission from the Canadian government Thursday to enter the country, The Globe and Mail in Toronto reported. Sherritt International's annual meeting was the same day.

Canada's action appeared to be payback. Previously this month, Cuba canceled a visit by Peter Kent, the Canadian minister of state for the Americas, who had suggested he planned to raise human rights issues during a meeting.

While U.S. President Barack Obama appears to be pushing for a thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations, Canada is moving in the opposite direction, The Globe and Mail said. In April, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, in his regular newspaper commentary, accused Prime Minister Stephen Harper of bad manners for his description of himself as an "anti-Communist Conservative" during an interview at the Summit of the Americas.

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