Justin Trudeau heads to Cuba, decades after his father’s history-making trip

In Jan 1976, then prime apportion Pierre Elliott Trudeau rankled many when he became a initial NATO leader — in fact, the first Western personality — to revisit Fidel Castro’s Cuba. The dual got on famously, building a close bond that would final for decades after that encounter.

Now, his son, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, is streamer to a Caribbean nation Tuesday to try and rekindle a special bond as partial of a three-country debate that will also take him to Argentina and Peru, where an APEC summit is being held.

The stream primary apportion faces a most opposite Cuba than his father, who descended on a fledgling Communist nation during a moving time, while a Cold War was raging. 

Now, underneath President Barack Obama, Cuba and a U.S. have fake closer ties, ending a decades-old trade embargo, lifting mercantile sanctions and restoring tactful relations.

“Canadians suppose a special kind of relationship, because it’s not one a Americans had, and it all harkens behind to that Trudeau visit. We have been dining out on that thought in Cuba ever since,” Richard Wright, a author of Three Nights in Havana, the decisive comment of a trip, pronounced in an talk with CBC News.

The historian pronounced Canada has in new years been comparatively “nonchalant” about progressing ties with Cuba. “I would brave contend that a thought that Canadians had a special place in Cuba is substantially disintegrating unequivocally fast … since Americans are giveaway to go to a island.”

3 Nights in Havana

More than 250,000 people incited out on a streets of Havana to acquire Pierre Trudeau, Wright said, interpreting his revisit as a accessible gesticulate amid tellurian tumult.

But a revisit wasn’t utterly as well-received in Canada, where critics pronounced a primary apportion was lending legitimacy to an peremptory regime corroborated by a large guns in Moscow.


Thousands of Cuban people line a streets in Havana, Cuba, to hail Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau has he drives by a city in 1976. Fidel Castro is also along with him in a open car. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

Trudeau made a revisit to damp down tensions, and to “see a amiability of a enemy,” Wright said.

“Trudeau went awaiting not to change Fidel’s mind, or have his possess mind changed, though rather to be means to lay down and pronounce respectfully with someone whose ideas he didn’t share.”

“These dual rather aloof, cerebral, contained, emotionally haughty guys strike it off. Fidel was soft by him.”

Trudeau was equally taken by a insubordinate incited dictator, provocatively shouting “Long live Prime Minister Fidel Castro!” in his residence to a Cuban people.

Castro, who was 7 years younger than Trudeau, came to see a Canadian personality as a mentor, someone he trusted, Wright said, and a personality with whom he frequently consulted. 

It was some-more than accessible family among universe leaders, it was, as Alexandre Trudeau would write in a intense reverence to a Cuban personality in a 2006 journal op-ed, “extra-political.”

“Indeed, like my father, in private, Fidel is not a politician. He is some-more in a capillary of a good adventurer or a good systematic mind. Fidel doesn’t unequivocally do politics. He is a revolutionary.”

Castro was quite lustful of Michel, Justin’s late brother, who accompanied his father and mother, Margaret, on that 1976 trip.

“He was descending all over a baby, cooing for a cameras,” Wright said.


Cuban President Fidel Castro binds baby Michel as Pierre and Margaret Trudeau demeanour on during their state revisit to Cuba in Jan., 1976 photo. (Canadian Press Archives)

Castro after welcomed Michel to a island for special visits for many years after that initial confront — including one in early 1990s, when Justin tagged along.

Castro, Wright said, was devastated by Michel’s death in an avalanche in 1998, and was equally distraught when Pierre Trudeau died. He made the outing to Montreal for Trudeau’s state funeral, where he was seen hugging a teary Justin.


Justin Trudeau talks to Cuban President Fidel Castro, centre, outward Notre-Dame Basillica during a commencement of a state wake for his father, former primary apportion Pierre Elliott Trudeau in Montreal. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

​The awaiting of a current prime apportion replicating that arrange of close, long-standing personal attribute with Raul Castro, Fidel’s hermit and successor, is unlikely, Wright said, in partial since of a large age opening between a two. (Raul is 85.)

The revisit is also for roughly 24 hours, and won’t embody a good understanding of personal time to forge closer ties.

“If ‘Viva Raul’ is spoken by a primary minister, I’d be unequivocally surprised,” Wright said.

He also doesn’t design Trudeau to push too hard on a country’s determined problems with tellurian rights, observant Trudeau will expected follow a identical tact to a one he took during a new revisit to China.

“It not expected that he will go to Havana with any kind of complicated handed bulletin on domestic reforms. He has to travel that knife’s edge.”

But a outing to Havana won’t be complete, Wright said, but profitable a revisit to his father’s aged chum.

“Presuming that Fidel is good enough, and wholesome enough, to see him. I’d be unequivocally astounded if that wasn’t on a agenda, even if briefly.”

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