Politics interferes with chess for Cuban chess players

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  • Nigel Hanrahan
    Mysterious ‘Havana Syndrome’ suffered by diplomats caused by Zika fumigation, study suggests...

    I'm sure the GoC will apologize if this turns out to be true.

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  • Serge Archambault
    Last edited by Serge Archambault; Wednesday, 4th September, 2019, 08:54 AM.

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  • Hugh Brodie
    Several Cubans took part in the recent Quebec Open. I don't know if they had any visa problems.

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  • Nigel Hanrahan
    Protests work!

    As noted by a prominent Canadian Peace Alliance, " The Canadian Government has reinstated some Visa Services at its Embassy in Havana following widespread protests. This is a partial but significant victory. " Hell, yeah!

    Government reinstating some visa services at embassy in Cuba

    Immigration processing in Havana was suspended after unexplained health problems

    Elise von Scheel
    Jul 29, 2019

    The Canadian Embassy in Havana is reinstating some visa and biometric services after months of pushback from Canadians and Cubans.

    Starting Aug. 1, Cuban residents will again be able to get the fingerprints and photos needed for applications done at the embassy, as well as drop off passports and pick up visas at the building.

    Early this summer, the government announced it was suspending services like visa and permanent residency processing in Havana due to unexplained illnesses among Canadian and U.S. diplomats dating back to the spring of 2017.

    Staffing at the embassy has been skeletal since January, after headaches, dizziness and nausea plagued over a dozen Canadians in Havana. The cause of the mysterious health incidents is still unknown.

    This new announcement doesn't restore the full list of curtailed services, but Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada says it will make the process quicker, easier and less costly for applicants.

    Throughout the year, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen has said several times his office is working on a solution to the embassy issues.

    "This decision wasn't taken lightly," a June statement from the his office read, adding the workers need to be protected.

    Families, businesses in limbo
    Meanwhile, frustrated Cuban-Canadian families have been stuck in limbo for months, separated from their loved ones, waiting for answers.

    "You're separating couples. You're separating families by doing this," Jacqueline Stein, who is sponsoring her Cuban husband to come to Canada, said to CBC News.

    Businesses have also been affected, as Cubans who want work or study permits to Canada face added roadblocks and costs.

    Lawrence Levin runs a technology training company that includes curriculum for Cuban students. Since the cutbacks, his customers and employees are struggling to get to Canada — forcing the company to move the course and its staff from Ontario to Mexico for the time being.

    "The pain and suffering they are exacting on Cubans is ridiculous," he said.

    Dozens are upset with the government, but the official response from Cuba was blistering.

    That January week that Canada halved embassy staff, the Cuban ambassador — who very rarely wades into these issues — said Canada's decision was "incomprehensible.”

    While Canada, the U.S. and Cuba investigate the cause of the illnesses, the curtailment at the embassy threatens diplomatic relations.

    Ambassador Josefina Vidal added that the downsize won't "help find answers to the health symptoms reported by Canadian diplomats, and which will have an impact on the relations."

    The issue resurfaced in June, when Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland met with Cuban officials.

    She said the embassy issues were an ongoing topic between the countries and at those meetings.

    "I really want to reiterate that the measures that have been taken in our embassy in Cuba are in no way a political decision," she said.

    "I have real sympathy for the Canadians and the Cubans who are facing some real difficulties as a result of this situation."

    Some services still on hold
    Despite the update, some will still face uncertainty.

    The embassy still isn't accepting paper applications for permits or visas. The government is encouraging people to apply online.

    Diplomats sue Ottawa for $28M over health ailments during Cuba postings
    Because of meagre staffing, all active applications have been moved from Havana to Mexico City for processing. Permanent resident applicants will still have to travel outside Cuba for any required medical exams or interviews.

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  • Vlad Drkulec
    From Wikipedia

    Impact on Canadian Diplomats
    In March of 2018, MRI scans and other tests taken by a chief neurologist in Pittsburgh, on an unspecified number of Canadian diplomats showed evidence of brain damage that mirrored the injuries some of their United States counterparts had faced. In spring of 2018, Global Affairs Canada ended family postings to Cuba and withdrew all staff with families. Several of the Canadians who were impacted in 2017 were reported to still be unable to resume their work due to the severity of their ailments. The fact that there is presently no knowledge of the cause of the “havana syndrome” has made it challenging for RCMP to investigate. [26]

    In 2019, the government of Canada announced that it was reducing its embassy staff in Havana after a 14th Canadian diplomat reported symptoms of Havana syndrome in late December 2018.[27] On February 6th, 2019 the federal government of Canada was served with a $28 million dollar lawsuit by five diplomats, on the alleged basis that Ottawa did not promptly address the serious health concerns the Canadian diplomats and their families had faced in Havana over two years ago. The origin of these health concerns are unknown but these ailments manifest as symptoms that are similar to that of a concussion. Presently, none of these allegations have been proven in court. [28]





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  • Vlad Drkulec
    Originally posted by Nigel Hanrahan View Post
    It's disappointing to read such blithe indifference to fair play in sport from the CFC President based on lurid, unproven tales of sonic weapons and such. The whole thing is far more likely some sort of covert US gov operation the purpose of which is to create yet more problems for the heroic people of Cuba by spiteful actions against those who want to visit Canada - for chess or any other purpose.
    People have gone deaf as a result of these situations. It is not a small thing to go deaf and the Canadian government should protect its employees until it establishes exactly what is going on. Presumably, there is a mechanism in place to allow Cuban players to continue to come to Canada. Dealing with governments is always a pain when it comes to individuals who do not come from approved countries being invited to tournaments. I recall that I had to send a photocopy of my birth certificate to allow a Russian GM to attend the Canadian Open in 2016. That same GM had to attend two sessions at a distant Canadian embassy or consulate in a subsequent year for another Canadian Open.

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  • Nigel Hanrahan
    It's disappointing to read such blithe indifference to fair play in sport from the CFC President based on lurid, unproven tales of sonic weapons and such. The whole thing is far more likely some sort of covert US gov operation the purpose of which is to create yet more problems for the heroic people of Cuba by spiteful actions against those who want to visit Canada - for chess or any other purpose.

    Leave a comment:

  • Vlad Drkulec
    These phenomena have severe impacts on the embassy staff. Whether they are a sonic attack or mutant crickets it is prudent to reduce exposure of staff to possible permanent and irreversible disabilities which have occurred in some people. I find it implausible that cricket noises could lead to the observed symptoms.

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  • Nigel Hanrahan
    started a topic Politics interferes with chess for Cuban chess players

    Politics interferes with chess for Cuban chess players

    This one is somewhat chess-related: the Government of Canada, among other things, has eliminated visa processing at the Canadian Embassy in Havana. So Cubans now have to fly to another country to get a visa to come to Canada - say, to play in a chess tournament.

    There has been a systematic reduction of Canadian (and US) staff at the embassies in Havana over the last year or so. The reason? A mysterious illness - which, at one point, was identified as caused by ... the noise of crickets! - and Canada and the US have used this as an excuse to reduce staff and services.

    It seems very much as if cause and effect have been reversed; first cut the staff and services, then find a reason to justify the actions.

    I guess that is effectively saying goodbye to all Cuban chess-players in Canadian tournaments - who can afford to travel to another country in the hope that a visa might be granted ?

    ugh. Not very friendly by Canada I would say.

    See Canada Reduces Services for Cubans at its Embassy in Havana


    Last edited by Nigel Hanrahan; Wednesday, 15th May, 2019, 12:08 AM. Reason: link re crickets