Final Report on FOCAL Consultation on the Special Summit of the Americas
In the lead up to the Special Summit of the Americas FOCAL undertook to collect the views and opinions of a broad range of civil society actors in Canada and Latin America regarding the three areas of focus of the Summit: Economic Growth with Equity, Social Development, and Democratic Governance. Based on the responses collected, we produced reports summarizing the priorities in each thematic area, highlighting potential execution strategies and "best practices" that may be used by national governments and multilateral organizations to guide implementation efforts. The final report was submitted in oral and written form to the Government of Canada at consultations that took place in December, 2003. Key points were also presented to the National Coordinators of the Summit process at the Summit Implementation Review Group meeting at the OAS the same month. Preliminary Report and Overview of Findings
FOCAL: An International Observer at the Guatemalan Elections
FOCAL was among the 165 international observers monitoring the Guatemalan general elections that took place Nov. 9, 2003. In these elections the presidency and the vice-presidency were contested as well as 158 deputies for Congress, 40 deputies for the Central American Parliament (PARLACEN) and 331 municipal councils. Overall, the elections were a democratic triumph and though no candidate received the majority of the total votes (50 percent plus one), Guatemalans demonstrated their commitment to democracy by exercising their right to vote. A second round has been scheduled for Dec. 28 to elect a president and vice-president, which FOCAL will also monitor. On election day, as part of the OAS Electoral Observation Mission, John W. Graham (Chair of FOCAL) and Claudia Paguaga (Central America Analyst) were deployed in the departments of San Marcos and Chiquimula respectively.
The European Union Perception of Cuba: From Frustration to Irritation
FOCAL Background Briefing
Fidel Castro dramatically selected the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of his failed attack against the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba on July 26, 1953, for his rejection of any kind of humanitarian assistance, economic cooperation, and political dialogue with the European Union (EU) and its member states, signalling one of the lowest points in European- Cuban relations. Just days before the anniversary of what later history would recognize as the prelude of the Cuban Revolution, the European Union’s Foreign Relations Council issued a harsh criticism of the regime’s latest policies and personal insults against some European leaders (notably, Spain’s José María Aznar), in essence freezing all prospects of closer relations. The overall context was, of course, the global uncertainty of the U.S. occupation of Iraq in the aftermath of the post-September 11 tension. Having survived the end of the Cold War and the perennial U.S. harassment, the Castro regime seemed to have lost its most precious alternative source of international cooperation, if not economic support.
Canada's Policy of Constructive Engagement with Cuba: Past, Present and Future
FOCAL Background Briefing
In June 1994, the Liberal government of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien introduced its policy of constructive engagement with Cuba. The policy was designed to support movement in the direction of peaceful transition, with full respect for human rights, genuinely representative government institutions, an open economy, and eventual reintegration into the hemisphere. Canada did not break political and economic relations with Cuba following the revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power in 1959. Building on a number of modest linkages in the areas of tourism, humanitarian aid and trade and investment, constructive engagement deepened the ties between Canada and Cuba far beyond under any previous government. No other government so deeply opposed by the United States has been so closely and warmly embraced by Ottawa. Nor has a country with such negligible economic importance to Canada attracted so much attention from Ottawa’s foreign policy establishment. This paper reviews the Canadian foreign policy context of constructive engagement and identifies the key factors that led to its emergence and traces the evolution of the policy through its various phases. It looks at the current drivers underpinning constructive engagement and concludes with a number of recommendations for future Canadian policy toward Cuba.