Photos Show Canadian Navy Member Leading Conga Lines During Visit to Cuba

Photos Show Canadian Navy Member Leading Conga Lines During Visit to Cuba
People watch Canadian navy patrol boat HMCS Margaret Brooke passing by Russian nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine Kazan as it enters Havana Harbor, Cuba, on June 14, 2024. (Reuters/Stringer)
Matthew Horwood
Updated:
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A Royal Canadian Navy band member was photographed leading conga lines in Cuba at the behest of the Canadian Embassy in Havana, just days after Defence Minister Bill Blair defended the deployment to the Russian ally as a strategic visit to provide deterrence in the region.

Musicians from the Royal Canadian Navy’s Naden Band played music for a crowd in front of the Museum of the City of Havana, according to the X account for the Canadian Embassy in Cuba.
The embassy also posted a photo on June 18 showing a member playing a trumpet while leading a conga line.

The embassy said the event occurred after nine weeks of the HMCS Margaret Brooke working with “various regional partners” toward regional security in the Caribbean before sailing back to Canada.

In a statement to The Epoch Times, the Department of Defence said ship personnel had engaged in “cultural exchanges in the Havana area,” which included the conga event that was planned by the Canadian Embassy in Havana. It said four sailors from the crew of 85 participated in the “side engagement” in addition to the “military purpose of the visit.”

“This port visit’s principal purpose was a military one, and the request for authorization came from Canadian Joint Operations Command and the Royal Canadian Navy,” the spokespersons added. “Canada is committed to maintaining a military presence in the sea and air around our continent, and foreign actors coming into our neighbourhood can expect to see our Armed Forces fulfilling their mission to protect Canada.”

Conservative MP Michael Barrett called the conga line photos “humiliating” in a June 20 X post, and questioned how the incident would deter Russia.
The Canadian government was recently criticized by the Conservatives for the three-day stop in Cuba. The country has long been allied with Russia and has been strengthening its ties with China in recent years. The visit by the Canadian ship came at the same time American and Canadian warships were tracking four Russian vessels conducting military exercises off the coast of Florida.

The Russian fleet presents “no immediate threat to Canada,” Defence Minister Bill Blair said during a June 17 press conference, but added it has deployed a number of vessels to track them. He said on the advice of the Canadian Armed Forces, he also authorized the HMCS Margaret Brooke to visit Havana to “demonstrate Canada’s presence, naval capability and commitment to safe and open waters in the Americans.”

“The port visit was carefully planned at Canada’s request and it was announced by the military in advance,” Mr. Blair told reporters. “The deployment of these ships and aircraft sends a very clear message that Canada has a capable and deployable military, and we will not hesitate to do what is required to protect our national interests.”

Mr. Blair also said the Royal Canadian Navy was “aware” that Russians would be in Cuba at the same time, and that the commander of the Joint Operations Command and the Royal Canadian Navy had advised him to send ships to the country.

Canada has maintained warmer relations with Cuba than the United States has. Following the Cuban revolution of 1959, Canada and Mexico were the only two countries to not break relations with the country. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau travelled to Cuba in 2016 to strengthen bilateral relations, in his first official visit.