OTTAWA - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says there's a long way to go before democracy and freedom come to Cuba or Venezuela.
Baird tells The Canadian Press he is pushing democratic reform in visits with his government counterparts and opposition figures in the two countries.
Both countries have aging and ailing iron-fisted leadership, but Baird says he is pushing for deeper economic and commercial engagement with Canada because that can fuel change.
Baird says he sees potential for Canadian companies in the financial services, energy and mining sectors.
In communist Cuba, Raul Castro, 81, succeeded his brother Fidel, 86, five years ago, and has begun instituting modest economic reforms.
Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez remains in a Cuban hospital recovering from cancer, where he has been for the last two months.