How a Canadian Businessman Lost Everything in Cuba Reply

Sarkis Yacoubian

Sarkis Yacoubian

By Jeff Gray, The Globe and Mail [Canada]

Canadian businessman Sarkis Yacoubian only knew his Cuban interrogator – the Cubans call them “instructors” – as Major Carlito. When they first met in the dim basement of the Havana house where security agents had initially imprisoned Mr. Yacoubian in July, 2011, he says Major Carlito greeted him by grabbing his own crotch.

“If you are expecting that the Canadian embassy is going to come to your help, this is what they are going to get,” Mr. Yacoubian, 54, says his captor warned him. Then, he says, Major Carlito accused him of being a spy, an accusation that would eventually be abandoned before the Canadian was convicted by a Cuban court of corruption charges and expelled last year.

His story, and that of Toronto-area businessman Cy Tokmakjian, who was released from incarceration in Cuba last month after a similar corruption trial, are cautionary tales for would-be investors in Cuba.

However, some say the historic Dec. 17 announcement of Canada-brokered talks to normalize Cuba’s relations with the United States – plus recent moves by leader Raul Castro to liberalize the economy – still has Canadian investors and entrepreneurs interested in the Communist-ruled island.

Despite Major Carlito’s threat, the Canadian embassy did closely monitor’s Mr. Yacoubian’s status as he spent two years in jail before facing any formal charge. And the ambassador attended Mr. Yacoubian’s 2013 trial, which saw him sentenced to nine years in prison and fined $7-million for corruption, tax evasion and doing “economic damage” to Cuba.

Mr. Tokmakjian, 74, spent more than three years in prison. Two of his Canadian employees who had been blocked from leaving Cuba were also recently freed. His Concord, Ont.-based Tokmakjian Group reportedly had a $90-million-a-year business on the island importing vehicles and construction equipment. His assets in Cuba were seized. Mr. Yacoubian, a former employee of Mr. Tokmakjian’s who broke away from his boss to build what he said was a $20-million-a-year business in Cuba bringing in similar products, says all of his assets on the island were also seized.

Article continues here: Sarkis Yacoubian

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OPED: Propaganda Without Justice — The Toronto People’s Tribunal 1

One cannot help but laugh at the hypocrisy of the Canadian Comedy Club, also known as the “Peoples’ Tribunal & Assembly | Justice for the Five.”  The following extractfrom theirwebsite (http://canadiannetworkoncuba.ca/tribunal/index.html) demanded comment: 

“How will the Tribunal be run?

The tribunal will take place on September 22nd. During the proceedings lawyers from Canada, Cuba and the US will provide details of the areas where there was the greatest miscarriage of justice in the courts of south Florida. The Tribunal will hear from impact witnesses and also experts from Europe, Canada, the US and Cuba. The families of the Cuban Five will bear testimony to their hardships concerning the barriers to prisoner rights and denial of visits imposed on them.  [Emphasis added by Cuba Confidential]”

Webster’s dictionary defines tribunal as “a court or forum of justice.”  However, yesterday’s tribunal offered neither an open forum nor justice.  As noted above, the tribunal only heard evidence AGAINST the United States.  This unjust panel featured a de facto prosecuting team, but made no allowance for a defense team or even an unbiased fact-checker.  Based on the arbitrary and prejudicial standards emplaced, it is safe to say that this tribunal, given the chance, would have convicted a squirrel of stealing acorns.

The People’s Tribunal was not only blatantly biased, but it also made for very poor propaganda, as evidenced by the lack of media coverage.  But then again, perhaps that was the greatest justice of all……