Canada says Cuba will have a role to play in Venezuela’s return to democracy

Cuba will have a role to play in Venezuela’s return to democracy, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Friday, even though Ottawa and Havana disagree on whether President Nicolas Maduro should stay in office.

Freeland made her remarks in a televised Toronto news conference after meeting Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez. Cuba is a strong ally of Maduro, whom most western nations want to step down in favour of opposition leader Juan Guaido.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence last week called on Canada to do more to engage directly with Cuba over what Pence called its “malign influence” on the Venezuelan crisis.

“I think we are seeing an international convergence around the need for a peaceful transition in Venezuela resulting in free and fair elections and the return to democracy. Cuba will have a role to play in this,” Freeland said.

When pressed to be more specific about what Cuba could do, she declined to answer.

Freeland’s meeting with Rodriguez was the second in less than a month. The two ministers met in Havana on May 16 for talks that centred on Venezuela.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Sandra Maler)