Skip to comments.Carter, Castro to meet in Cuba: Visit scheduled for next month
Posted on 04/10/2002 1:10:19 AM PDT by JohnHuang2
Former President Jimmy Carter is preparing to meet with President Fidel Castro of Cuba next month in what both supporters and opponents of current U.S. policy toward Cuba hope will ultimately open the way for changes in the two countries' relationship.
Carter will be the first former president to travel to Havana since Castro took control in 1959.
''President Carter looks forward to the opportunity to meet with Cubans from all walks of life and to talk with President Castro,'' said Deanna Congileo, a Carter spokeswoman.
Permission for the trip was granted last week when the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control decided Carter's request was legitimate under the license category of ``activities of private foundations or research or educational institutions.''
That license is issued to people traveling on behalf of institutions ''that have an established interest in international relations to collect information related to Cuba for noncommercial purposes,'' said Tasia Scolinos, a Treasury Department spokeswoman.
The visit, scheduled for the middle of next month, has energized members in both camps of the Cuba issue -- those who support a hard-line approach and those who believe engagement is the better tool to bring about democratic changes on the communist-ruled island.
Carter has strongly opposed the embargo on Cuba and backs an end to travel restrictions. But he also has been a vocal champion of human rights.
''This is an important, historical visit,'' said Jaime Suchlicki, director of the Institute for Cuba and Cuban American Studies at the University of Miami. ``It could be very productive if Carter emphasizes the issue of human rights. He will raise his moral stature if he puts in context support for lifting in the embargo in exchange for respect for human rights.''
While those opposed to the embargo are hopeful Carter will return from Havana with a message of engagement, those opposed to taking a softer stance say the trip provides an opportunity to shine an international spotlight on human rights abuses and lack of freedom under the Castro regime.
''It's exciting news,'' said Sally Grooms Cowal, president of the Cuba Policy Foundation in Washington. ``It sends a signal to the Cuban people that America is willing to engage. It initiates at least the beginning of a dialague.''
Joe Garcia, executive director of the Miami-based Cuban American National Foundation, said the visit provides an opportunity to force Castro's hand.
''Carter's greatest legacy is his belief of mixing human rights with U.S. foreign policy,'' Garcia said. ``Hopefully, Mr. Carter will stay focused on what he's good at.''
Cubans on the island recently interviewed about the prospects of a visit by Carter said it would be a welcomed gesture.
''That would be marvelous,'' said Alexis Capote, 32, who works at an ice cream stand along the Malecón. ``Anything to help better relations between Cuba and the United States.''
The Carter Center at Emory University in Atlanta expects to release details on the proposed trip in about a week.
Carter, a Democrat who held the White House from 1977-81, is credited with opening communication between Havana and Washington after nearly two decades of hostility and virtually no contact.
Though the United States and Cuba do not maintain full diplomatic ties, a U.S. interests section was opened in Havana during Carter's administration. Cuba also has an interests section in Washington and the offices serve as diplomatic liaisons between both nations.
Castro, who extended the invitation to Carter in January, has publicly stated that the former president is free to ``make all the criticisms he wants to.''
In preparation for the trip, Washington is sending a State Department official to the Carter Center to give a briefing on Cuba.
''Now that he is going, we hope that he will take a message supporting democracy, human rights and freedom,'' said a White House official. ``President Bush hopes that message will be taken directly to Fidel Castro.''
President Bush, meanwhile, is expected to unveil the administration's revised policy on Cuba later this month. Plans also are under way for Bush to visit Miami in May to commemorate Cuba's independence from Spain.
At a similar celebration in the White House last year, Bush said he would stand firm behind the embargo as a ``moral statement.''
Maria Recio, a staff writer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, contributed to this report from Havana.
The French government also reported earlier this month that Cuba was behind on repaying government trade credits issued in 1999, 2000 and 2001, but did not reveal the amount of the arrears. Vice President Carlos Lage told an audience in Germany last week that the Cuban economy would begin to recover this year, with tourism and remittances turning up as post-Sept. 11 travel security concerns ease. But experts said that a long-term recovery is unlikely unless Cuba changes its cumbersome communist economy. ''Centrally planned systems are extraordinarily rigid, not only extraordinarily inefficient, and cannot react in time to outside changes,'' said Jorge.****
Paul Greenberg: Fidel and friends**** The problem is that, like any other economy that's been run into the ground by some Communist caudillo, F. Castro and brutal company are a little short of cash just now and always. Cuba is already some $11 billion in debt, it defaulted on its international loans years ago, and so it can't get any more money from the World Bank. Or any other lending agency that has this thing about being repaid. In short, Fidel's is a typical Communist economy, that is, bankrupt -- and not just morally. That's where American banks and credit and you, the American taxpayer, come in. Because all the loans and grants that Cuba's sordid little dictatorship would need to buy our rice and shore up its own power would have to be backed some way by the U.S. government. That's the dirty little secret none of those pushing for an end to this embargo emphasize. They see trade with Cuba as still another farm subsidy.****
What change? That the United States become more like Cuba under Fidel, as it actually is, albeit slowly?
LOL!! So true.
"President Carter looks forward to the opportunity to meet with Cubans from all walks of life and to talk with President Castro," said Deanna Congileo, a Carter spokeswoman.
You believe that? LOL! If that was the case he couldn't "make all the criticisms he wants to'' as Castro has stated.
By Don Feder
Wednesday, April 3, 2002
The Boston Herald
Abril 4, 2002
Jimmy Carter, who has nothing better to do with his time, aims to be the first ex-president to visit Cuba, where he will urge Americans to throw a lifeline to the decrepit dictatorship. The trip is awaiting State Department approval, a pro forma matter.
Carter was invited down by Fidel Castro, who turned in a bravura performance at the recent U.N. Development Conference in Mexico with his usual claptrap about Third World poverty as a capitalist conspiracy. (Which raises the intriguing question: How did Cuba get so destitute after 43 years of supercharged socialism?) In setting forth his rationale for trade and tourism with the stagnant utopia, Carter demonstrates the endearing naivete for which he is famous.
``I think the best way to bring about democratic changes in Cuba is obviously to have maximum commerce and trade and visitation by Americans . . . and let the Cuban people know the advantages of freedom,'' the former president urged. Carter sees millions of Americans flocking to the island, instilling a yearning for representative government and civil liberties in the Cuban people. Thus inspired, they will do what - support Castro's opponent in the next election? Oops, I forgot, there are no elections.
The Cuban people don't have to be convinced that it would be great to get Castro's boot off their backs. In March, dissidents submitted a petition with 10,000 signatures to the National Assembly calling for democratic reforms.
If the people didn't want change, Castro's goons wouldn't have to brutalize them every other day. Everyone from Amnesty International to the U.N. Human Rights Commission has condemned Castro's tyranny. What Cubans want is irrelevant; what Castro desires is paramount. He's had total power for more than four decades - since Ike was in the White House. He is president of the Council of Ministers, chairman of the Council of State, commander in chief of the armed forces and first secretary of the Communist Party. His power over 11 million Cubans is as absolute as any tyrant in history.
And he has said that as long as there's breath in his septuagenarian body, Cuba will remain a Stalinist state. Tourism isn't a source of change but an engine for maintaining the status quo. Last year, it generated an estimated $2 billion. Along with charity from Cuban exiles, tourist dollars represent over half of all foreign revenue. Tourists stay in segregated hotels, forbidden to Cubans who aren't cleaning toilets or scrubbing floors. They eat at segregated restaurants, soak up rays on segregated beaches and shop in special dollar stores. Medical tourists are even treated in segregated hospitals. (Ordinary Cubans have to bring their own bedding to the hospitals reserved for them.)
You have a better chance of associating with an average Cuban in Miami than Havana.
Trade would allow American companies to join their European and Canadian counterparts in exploiting the Cuban people. Foreign mining firms pay the regime $9,500 a year for contract laborers. Of that amount, the state keeps 98 percent and turns over the balance to the worker. There's a name for this - slavery.
The commie caudillo wants capitalist dupes to subsidize his tyranny. In 1986, Cuba stopped making payments on its long-term foreign debt (at least $11 billion - $1,000, or four years wages, for every Cuban).
In February, Cuba's Ministry of Foreign Trade asked a consortium of creditors to restructure its short- and medium-term debt.
After 43 years of scientific socialism (the ultimate oxymoron), Cuba is a beggar caging spare change on international lenders' street.
The U.S. embargo is a misnomer. Havana is free (no pun intended) to buy food and medicine here - if it pays cash. But Castro wants credit sales, backed by government loan guarantees. If we're dumb enough to give it to him, American taxpayers will end up subsidizing the world's longest-running anti-American regime.
Jimmy Carter is a nice but totally clueless fellow. Speaking of trade, perhaps we can trade him to Castro for a dozen dissidents to be named later. Then he could devote himself full-time to explaining the benefits of freedom to the Cuban people - for all the good it will do.
Castro only invites "useful idiots" and Carter happily obliges.
July 1, 2000 Lott vows to fight Cuba trade legislation---"I oppose both, and if I can find a way to kill them, I will," Lott said. The legislation is "not just about Cuba" but also about getting food and medicine to Libya, Iran and other countries "that are tyrannical, do horrible things to their people and in some cases are even a threat to world peace," he said.
Cuba's Last Gamble? - Debt defaults**** As Cuba's economy weakens further and its foreign debt soars, U.S. industries increase the push for trade and the extension of credit to the island. After years of steady -- if slow -- recovery from its collapse in the early 1990s, Cuba's economy is now stalled amid a fall in tourism, a post-Sept. 11 drop in remittances, hurricane damages and low export prices. Last year, Cuba devalued its currency by 18 percent, defaulted on some $500 million in loans and reportedly closed 12,000 hotel rooms. Last month it restricted the ability of some foreign investors to pocket their profits.****
So true, Victoria.
And you'll notice that, from the very opening line in this contemptuous piece of biased tripe, we're told the problem in Cuba isn't the lack of free elections, the lack of human rights, the brutal, totalitarian repression, the killing and torturing of political prisoners, the murder, misery and utter corruption of the squalid Castro regime....oh, no, the problem is (Drum roll, please?) -- the United States "embargo"!
Yep, that's the ticket. Not lack of human liberty, but lack of trade, don'tcha know?
Never mind that Cuba trades freely with every other nation in the world -- yet Cuba remains mired in grinding poverty, a veritable economic basket case.
And never mind that lifting all U.S. trade restrictions with Cuba NOW would constitute, for Castro, a 'moral triump' of colossal dimensions, a belated "yankee" vindication of his brutal and corrupt dictatorship.
But that's exactly what liberals have in mind: Legitimizing this savage, murderous, brutal, ruthless, barbaric and hateful regime.
But the clock is ticking on the bearded-one, this vampire who's sucked the blood of the Cuban people for 43 miserable, despotic years and counting. His time will come, rest assured.
For liberals, who idolize this beast, this ghoulish cutthroat, this bloodthirsty tyrant and terrorist -- while hypocritically preaching "democracy" to other nations (South Africa during Apartheid springs to mind), shame on all of them.
The blood of the Cuban people are them, too, as Castro's accomplices.
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