OTTAWA -- (AFP) -- Cuba's sentencing of four dissidents to long prison
has prompted Canada to review all its ties with Havana, a Foreign Ministry
spokesman said Friday.
Some bilateral projects have been delayed indefinitely, he said.
Canada intends to maintain ``constructive dialogue'' with Cuba but wants
to send a
clear message that it disapproves of President Fidel Castro's apparent
unwillingness to accept dissidence in Cuban politics, spokesman Christian
Canada is Cuba's leading economic partner with bilateral trade reaching
estimated $485 million in 1998.
The Foreign Ministry spokesman said an accord signed in 1997 with Cuba
currently under review.
Meanwhile, spokeswoman Cynthia Morel of the Canadian International
Development Agency said most bilateral development projects with Cuba that are
in the planning stages have also been postponed.
The March 16 sentencing to prison of four Cuban dissidents has drawn strong
criticism from Ottawa, even throwing into question Canada's support for restoring
Cuban participation in the Organization of American States.
``We've indicated that if you're going to be a member of the hemispheric
community, then you have to play by those rules,'' Foreign Minister Lloyd
Axworthy said in March, just after the dissidents were sentenced.
``The willingness to accept some form of political dissent or difference
of opinion is
one of those rules,'' he said. ``We'll be reviewing some of the discussions we
started last January about the hemispheric integration.''
Canadian officials have admitted privately to being embarrassed by the
trial of the