Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has refused to condemn Cuba's communist regime amid anti-authoritarian protests on the island.
Thousands of Cubans took to the streets in recent days to protest the island's oppressive communist regime. "Communist repression squads" presumably heading to break up the demonstrations were reported, with corporate media relatively hush on the developments Monday.
"We are not going to hand over the sovereignty or the independence of the people," said Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in an address to his citizens. "There are many revolutionaries in this country who are willing to give our lives, we are willing to do anything, and we will be in the streets fighting."
Trudeau said Tuesday: "We've always stood in friendship with the Cuban people."
He added that the Trudeau government has called for greater freedoms and greater attention to human rights in Cuba. In November 2016, Trudeau issued the following statement on the death of former Cuban President Fidel Castro:
“Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation.
"While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro's supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for 'el Comandante.'
"I know my father was very proud to call him a friend, and I had the opportunity to meet Fidel when my father passed away. It was also a real honour to meet his three sons and his brother President Raúl Castro during my recent visit to Cuba.
"On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and many, many supporters of Mr. Castro. We join the people of Cuba today in mourning the loss of this remarkable leader."
Opposition leader Erin O'Toole also stood in solidarity with the Cuban protesters, who he emphasized are "peacefully assembling to advocate for democratic freedoms, and basic necessities like food, water, and medicine."
However, unlike Trudeau, the Conservative Party leader condemned the "ruthless dictators" who ruled the country and who "curtailed the rights and freedoms of its people. O'Toole also condemned the regime for its "terrible acts of oppression, murder, and tyranny." He concluded that Canada could not afford Trudeau's "glowing admiration for dictatorships" and said only the Conservative Party of Canada could be trusted to defend human rights globally.
Conservative jobs and industry critic Pierre Poilievre also took Trudeau to task over his past comments, stating that Trudeau has said he admired China's "basic dictatorship" and called Fidel Castro a "legendary revolutionary."
"He still believes those things," tweeted Poilievre. "That is why he won't condemn the socialist crackdown on the Cuban people."
Activists in Cuba say that more than 100 people have been arrested or are missing on the island following the widespread protests, CTV News reported.
The Movimiento San Isidro, which advocates for greater artistic expression in Cuba, published a list of individuals believed to have been detained by authorities. Among the detainees is journalist Camila Acosta, according to Spain's Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares, who called for the reporter's release.
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