Canada Hosts Secret Talks That Help US And Cuba Make Up

Cuba. Image: Eirik
Cuba. Image: Eirik

The United States and Cuba seem to be on speaking terms again.

For more than 50 years, the two countries have quietly been unfriendly towards each other.

People in the United States were forbidden to go to Cuba. The United States also didn’t buy from or sell to Cuba and vice-versa. It has been illegal for American countries to do business with Cuba. Cubans have many of the same laws against the United States.

The hostility began around 1959, when there was a political revolution in Cuba that changed many things about the way it governed itself. There are many reasons why the two countries have not liked each other for more than half a century. Each has a very different way of running its country. The United States is a democracy and Cuba has a communist political system.

On Dec. 17, the United States announced that it will re-open its embassy in Havana, Cuba’s capital city. U. S. President Barack Obama said he wants to start buying and selling with Cuba again and he will try to get his country’s politicians to agree.

It is a very big change for both countries and for the world, and Canada helped get the talks started. For more than 18 months, secret meetings to discuss the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba, were held in Toronto and Ottawa.

Representatives from the U.S. and from Cuba met in secret, seven times, in Canada in 2013 and 2014. Canadians did not take part in the discussions but they helped to arrange the meetings.

The president of Cuba is Raul Castro. He said he would like to start trading with the United States again.

The change will affect Canada. More than 1.4 million Canadians visit Cuba every year on holidays. There will now be more holiday-goers in Cuba–and more competition for Canadian companies doing business with Cuba.

There are many political hurdles that face the U.S. and Cuba before they will be friendly again, but the frosty relationship appears to be thawing.

By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
There are many details about what caused the relationship between the United States and Cuba to break down. Many of those details could not be told in this brief article. What questions do you have about the relationship between Cuba and the United States? How could you find answers to your questions?

Reading Prompt: Demonstrating Understanding
One of the main reasons why Cuba and the United States did not get along is stated in the following two sentences: “Each has a very different way of running its country. The United States is a democracy and Cuba has a communist political system.” What does this mean? What is a democracy and what is communism? How are these political structures different?

Demonstrate understanding of a variety of texts by summarizing important ideas and citing supporting details (OME, Reading: 1.4).

Demonstrate understanding of increasingly complex texts by summarizing important ideas and citing a variety of details that support the main idea (OME, Reading: 1.4).

Language Feature: Metaphor
A metaphor is a word or a phrase that compares two things, people or places. For example, the association between the United States and Cuba is described as a “frosty relationship [that] appears to be thawing.”

Why is this a metaphor? Why do you think the journalist chose to use this metaphor in the article? How does it help you to better understand the relationship between these two countries?