Skip to comments.Cuba Says Carter Visit Shows Will of U.S. People
Posted on 04/13/2002 1:32:20 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
HAVANA (Reuters) - The imminent visit of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter to Cuba underlines the growing desire of the American people for a normalization of ties with Havana, President Fidel Castro's government said on Thursday.
Carter will travel to Cuba for several days in May, the highest-profile U.S. visitor to the communist-run island since its 1959 revolution and the most symbolic visit from abroad since Pope John Paul II in 1998.
"We are very happy that he has accepted President Fidel Castro's invitation to visit our country," Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque told a news conference.
"We believe his visit is testimony to the new era of growing sentiment within U.S. society and among the U.S. people in favor of a normalization of relations with Cuba," Perez added, saying that was the will of all but a powerful minority of anti-Castro Cuban Americans and ultra-right politicians.
Although Carter did not dismantle the U.S. embargo on Cuba during his 1977-1981 presidency, he briefly lifted restrictions on American travel to Cuba and also established lower-tier diplomatic missions called Interests Sections in Havana and Washington. Cuba and the United States broke formal ties a few years after Castro and his bearded rebels won the revolution.
While the White House is urging Carter to press Castro on human rights and democracy issues, including the cases of some jailed dissidents, he is a critic of the U.S. sanctions and his visit will bolster the internal American anti-embargo lobby.
No other former or sitting U.S. president has visited Cuba under Castro.
"We consider him an honorable and serious man, an exponent of the sentiments of the best aspects of the U.S. people," Perez added. "We respect him, we do not blame him for the aggressions our nation has suffered" from the United States.
CARTER BOUND TO MEET CASTRO
When he comes to Havana, Carter is sure to meet Castro, who enjoys hosting high-profile guests for lengthy chats into the early hours over rum and cigars at his Revolution Palace.
The former U.S. leader, known for his international missions to monitor elections and push humanitarian causes, will also likely receive a tour of some of Cuba's top health and education establishments to show off the social achievements for which the Castro government is often praised internationally.
Local dissidents, however, who are pressing for reform to Castro's one-party system, which they call "tropical Stalinism," have said they expect to meet Carter too to explain their alternative, non-official view of Cuban society.
They particularly hope Carter will press the case of certain jailed dissidents including Vladimiro Roca and Oscar Elias Biscet, both in jail for anti-government activities.
Cuba calls dissidents U.S. pawns.
Perez said the dates of Carter's visit had not been fixed yet, but Cuban officials were working closely with his staff to prepare the program.
"We want him to have the chance to see our reality and to enter into contact with a country which, even though he didn't visit, neither did he make the focus of hostility," he said.
"Even though he did not change the fundamental elements of the blockade, of the policy he inherited, we viewed him as a serious man, a man with moral values that we respect."
Carter needed a license from the U.S. Treasury Department to visit Cuba because of a U.S. trade embargo that bans normal travel there by Americans.
"We hope his visit is a success and that President Carter returns to the United States with a memory of the sympathy, friendship and hospitality of the Cubans, as well as their sense of independence and dignity," Perez said.
Orlando Sentinel Capitalism's on the sly in Cuba--[Excerpt] By way of explanation for his illicit trade, he holds up his right hand and says, "Look at this." His thumb and two adjacent fingers are missing. Six years ago, Miguel caught his wrist in the bakery mixer, badly mangling it. A month later, his fingers were amputated because he could not afford the three pills needed daily to induce circulation. They cost $1 apiece, and, at the time, he was paid in bread -- six loaves a day. [End Excerpt]
Then Venezuelan President-elect Hugo Chavez, left, listens to former President Jimmy Carter during their meeting in Caracas, Venezuela, in this Dec. 7, 1998 file photo. Chavez, the former army paratrooper who polarized Venezuela with his strongarm rule and whose friendship with Cuba and Iraq irritated the United States, resigned under military pressure Friday, April 12, 2002 after a massive opposition demonstration ended in a bloodbath. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)
In Taiwan, an angry mob of thousands of students went so far as to attack a U.S. motorcade, slightly injuring Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher, head of the U.S. mission. While at the U.S. Embassy in Taipei, Ambassador Leonard Unger stood silently as the flags of both nations were simultaneously lowered and ties severed. There hasn't been a U.S. ambassador in Taipei since, and if one should decide to go back anytime soon, he had better first find a place to live.
We read in the Taipei Update that the former U.S. ambassador's residence has now been designated a "historical landmark," reopening this summer as the "Taipei House," a space for public exhibitions. The building came under the custody of the Taipei city government in 1997 when it became clear the U.S. wasn't coming back. John Tkacik, the Heritage Foundation's Chinese authority, told us Friday that he hasn't heard from Mr. Unger since running into him about a year ago. Mr. Tkacik recalls the termination of ties with Taiwan - when Mr. Unger walked away from the embassy "with the flag under his arm," so to speak - as "a period of intense uncertainty and low morale" among the U.S. Embassy staff.****
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.****
So long as Cuba's dictator maintains his stranglehold on every aspect of Cuban life, ending the embargo would be counterproductive. It would do nothing to end the far more restrictive embargo that Castro imposes on the Cuban nation. It would give him the propaganda victory and the US dollars he craves, but it would do little to bring liberty or hope to ordinary Cuban citizens.
Every president since JFK has extended the Cuban embargo; to lift it in exchange for nothing - no free elections, no civil liberties - would be a betrayal of the very people we want to help. ''Tiende tu mano a Cuba,'' says Paya when I ask what he thinks of American policy, ''pero primero pide que le desaten las manos a los cubanos.'' Extend your hands to Cuba - but first unshackle ours.[End Excerpt]
Who should go first Clinton or Carter?
Remember Bill's bible, always positioned for the church leaving
photo-op before his return to the Oval office and MOnica?
What a bunch of religious hypocrites these men are.
Castro Watch: for Castro Watch articles.
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And don't forget this:
He's RED through and through.
Pahleeeeese!!!!! most americans have all but forgotton about Cuba, it might as well be 9000 miles off the coast... Mr. peanut man should move down and build something for a few years.....
Are you kidding? I'm a carpenter by trade, and I've watched some of the news video of Jimma' working at Habitat. Believe me when I tell you he's as bad a nail banger as he was a president. Pitiful, actually.
And you know the logistics and organization needed to put a house together are beyond the pious little twirp.
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