Former American President Jimmy Carter, who is currently visiting Cuba, called upon the American government to lift the longstanding (43 years) economic sanctions against Cuba. Washington should normalize relations with Havana. Carter's address to the Cuban nation was broadcast live on Cuban television and radio. Carter became the first American politician to appear live on local media during the Castro regime.
Carter spoke in Spanish. He delivered his speech at the University of Havana. Of course, his speech was conspicuous for standard political statements that Western politicians usually use while talking about Cuba: "Cuba has adopted a socialist government where one political party dominates and people are not permitted to organize opposition movements. Your constitution recognizes freedom of speech and association, but other laws deny these freedoms to those who disagree with the government."
Carter also called upon the Cuban leader to allow Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, to visit Cuba, and he expressed his positive attitude about the so-called Varela Project (a campaign to introduce political and economic reforms to the socialist system).
However, the former American president called upon the USA to make concessions for Cuba. If the USA does not make any steps towards Cuba, then there is no point in asking Cuba to do so, since it has its own interests too.
As the BBC informed, Carter’s "peace plan" consists of three paragraphs. First of all, Washington must allow free travel between America and Cuba. Secondly, it is necessary to solve property disputes between the government of Cuba, on the one hand, and American firms and Cuban emigrants, on the other. Finally, Carter offered to use Cubans that live in the USA to establish contacts between the two countries.
Castro offered Carter to see for himself that Cubans are not producing biological weapons. The American ex-president visited the Cuban center for research in the field of genetic engineering and biological technologies. Carter concluded after that visit that there were no reasons to believe that Cuba was connected with international terrorism. Carter stated that Cuba is not producing biological weapons, although Undersecretary of State John Bolton and Colin Powell have in the past stated the opposite.
Carter’s visit to Cuba was of private character, as it was not authorized by the Bush administration. Moreover, American trips to Cuba are illegal, but Carter managed to obtain permission for his tour. Echo of Moscow radio station said that Carter and his wife received a hearty welcome in Havana when they landed at the airport. Carter was wearing a business suit, and the Cuban and American anthems were played. Every door on the island was open for Carter. As the Cuban leader said, he could criticize and meet with anyone.
At the end of the day, there was nothing left for American President George Bush to do but to declare that the ex-president’s visit to the country of “the axis of evil” did not at all complicate the foreign policy of the United States. Bush did not change his attitude to Castro’s regime of course. He still refers to Castro as “dictator” and “repressive.” Bush assured that Cubans would have free elections, free press, and a free market. There was a good example to illustrate that relations between Cuba and the USA are not in the cold war state: a baseball match took place in Cuba; Fidel Castro and Jimmy Carter took part in the game.
This was the first time in 50 years when an American ex-president visited Cuba. Carter’s visit to the Island of Freedom became a real political sensation. It is also evident that the former American leader raised his political rating in the world with the help of his public statements.
Sergey Stefanov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov