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CU Carter’s Visit

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1) Party Organ in Cuba Prints Speech - New York Times

2) Editorial: Mr. Carter goes to Cuba - Capital-Times Madison, Wisconsin

3) Leader: Why Carter is smarter: Bush's Cuba policy in disarray - The Guardian

4) Upstaged by Carter - Washington Post

5) Carter and Castro - Online NewsHour Focus

6) Carter talks of power of God to Cuban churchgoers - Atlanta Journal-Constitution

7) Journey to Havana - New York Times Editorial

8) Our Man in Havana - Wall Street Journal Editorial

9) Carter's Speech Surprises Cubans - Associated Press

10) Mixed Reviews for Carter's Speech - Associated Press

Text of Jimmy Carter's Speech

The following speech was made Tuesday at the University of Havana by former President Carter and broadcast on Cuban state TV and radio. The speech was given in Spanish and this translation of the prepared text was provided by The Carter Center:

       I appreciate President Castro's invitation for us to visit Cuba, and have been delighted with the hospitality we have received since arriving here. It is a great honor to address the Cuban people.
       After a long and agonizing struggle, Cuba achieved its independence a century ago, and a complex relationship soon developed between our two countries. The great powers in Europe and Asia viewed ``imperialism'' as the natural order of the time and they expected the United States to colonize Cuba as the Europeans had done in Africa. The United States chose instead to help Cuba become independent, but not completely. The Platt Amendment gave my country the right to intervene in Cuba's internal affairs until President Franklin Roosevelt had the wisdom to repeal this claim in May 1934.
       The dictator Fulgencio Batista was overthrown more than 43 years ago, and a few years later the Cuban revolution aligned with the Soviet Union in the Cold War. Since then, our nations have followed different philosophical and political paths.
       The hard truth is that neither the United States nor Cuba has managed to define a positive and beneficial relationship. Will this new century find our neighboring people living in harmony and friendship? I have come here in search of an answer to that question.
       There are some in Cuba who think the simple answer is for the United States to lift the embargo, and there are some in my country who believe the answer is for your president to step down from power and allow free elections. There is no doubt that the question deserves a more comprehensive assessment.
       I have restudied the complicated history (in preparation for my conversations with President Castro), and realize that there are no simple answers.
   I did not come here to interfere in Cuba's internal affairs, but to extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people and to offer a vision of the future for our two countries and for all the Americas.
       That vision includes a Cuba fully integrated into a democratic hemisphere, participating in a Free Trade Area of the Americas and with our citizens traveling without restraint to visit each other. I want a massive student exchange between our universities. I want the people of the United States and Cuba to share more than a love of baseball and wonderful music. I want us to be friends, and to respect each other.
       Our two nations have been trapped in a destructive state of belligerence for 42 years, and it is time for us to change our relationship and the way we think and talk about each other. Because the United States is the most powerful nation, we should take the first step.
       First, my hope is that the Congress will soon act to permit unrestricted travel between the United States and Cuba, establish open trading relationships, and repeal the embargo. I should add that these restraints are not the source of Cuba's economic problems. Cuba can trade with more than 100 countries, and buy medicines, for example, more cheaply in Mexico than in the United States. But the embargo freezes the existing impasse, induces anger and resentment, restricts the freedoms of US citizens, and makes it difficult for us to exchange ideas and respect.
       Second, I hope that Cuba and the United States can resolve the 40-year-old property disputes with some creativity. In many cases, we are debating ancient claims about decrepit sugar mills, an antique telephone company, and many other obsolete holdings. Most U.S. companies have already absorbed the losses, but some others want to be paid, and many Cubans who fled the revolution retain a sentimental attachment for their homes. We resolved similar problems when I normalized relations with China in 1979. I propose that our two countries establish a blue-ribbon commission to address the legitimate concerns of all sides in a positive and constructive manner.
       Third, some of those who left this beautiful island have demonstrated vividly that the key to a flourishing economy is to use individual entrepreneurial skills. But many Cubans in South Florida remain angry over their departure and their divided families. We need to define a future so they can serve as a bridge of reconciliation between Cuba and the United States.
       Are such normal relationships possible? I believe they are.
       Except for the stagnant relations between the United States and Cuba, the world has been changing greatly, and especially in Latin America and the Caribbean. As late as 1977, when I became President, there were only two democracies in South America, and one in Central America. Today, almost every country in the Americas is a democracy.
       I am not using a U.S. definition of ``democracy.'' The term is embedded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Cuba signed in 1948, and it was defined very precisely by all the other countries of the Americas in the Inter-American Democratic Charter last September. It is based on some simple premises: all citizens are born with the right to choose their own leaders, to define their own destiny, to speak freely, to organize political parties, trade unions and non-governmental groups, and to have fair and open trials.
       Only such governments can be members of the OAS, join a Free Trade Area of the Americas, or participate in the Summits of the Americas. Today, any regime that takes power by unconstitutional means will be ostracized, as was shown in the rejection of the Venezuelan coup last month.
       Democracy is a framework that permits a people to accommodate changing times and correct past mistakes. Since our independence, the United States has rid itself of slavery, granted women the right to vote, ended almost a century of legal racial discrimination, and just this year reformed its election laws to correct problems we faced in Florida eighteen months ago.
       Cuba has adopted a socialist government where one political party dominates, and people are not permitted to organize any opposition movements. Your constitution recognizes freedom of speech and association, but other laws deny these freedoms to those who disagree with the government.
       My nation is hardly perfect in human rights. A very large number of our citizens are incarcerated in prison, and there is little doubt that the death penalty is imposed most harshly on those who are poor, black, or mentally ill. For more than a quarter century, we have struggled unsuccessfully to guarantee the basic right of universal health care for our people. Still, guaranteed civil liberties offer every citizen an opportunity to change these laws.  That fundamental right is also guaranteed to Cubans. It is gratifying to note that Articles 63 and 88 of your constitution allows citizens to petition the National Assembly to permit a referendum to change laws if 10,000 or more citizens sign it. I am informed that such an effort, called the Varela Project, has gathered sufficient signatures and has presented such a petition to the National Assembly. When Cubans exercise this freedom to change laws peacefully by a direct vote, the world will see that Cubans, and not foreigners, will decide the future of this country.
       Cuba has superb systems of health care and universal education, but last month, most Latin American governments joined a majority in the United Nations Human Rights Commission in calling on Cuba to meet universally accepted standards in civil liberties. I would ask that you permit the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit prisons and that you would receive the U.N. Human Rights Commissioner to address such issues as prisoners of conscience and the treatment of inmates. These visits could help refute any unwarranted criticisms.
       Public opinion surveys show that a majority of people in the United States would like to see the economic embargo ended, normal travel between our two countries, friendship between our people, and Cuba to be welcomed into the community of democracies in the Americas. At the same time, most of my fellow citizens believe that the issues of economic and political freedom need to be addressed by the Cuban people.
       After 43 years of animosity, we hope that someday soon, you can reach across the great divide that separates our two countries and say, ``We are ready to join the community of democracies,'' and I hope that Americans will soon open our arms to you and say, ``We welcome you as our friends.''


                  05/14/02 20:11 EDT
 Copyright, 2002. The Associated Press. All rights reserved.




Party Organ in Cuba Prints Speech

HAVANA, May 16 - In a highly unusual gesture of openness, the official newspaper of the Communist Party today published the uncensored text of former President Jimmy Carter's speech Tuesday in which he bluntly criticized Cuba's government for denying basic freedoms and endorsed a referendum to improve rights. 


The referendum campaign, known as Project Varela, had been subjected to a news blackout in the state-run media, even after its supporters garnered more than 10,000 signatures on petitions, as required by the Cuban Constitution. 


Today the newspaper, Granma, devoted five of its eight pages to Mr. Carter's speech and to his detailed responses to audience members who had denounced the project as a foreign creation. 


Granma normally carries only speeches by President Fidel Castro and other officials and news stories the party deems suitable for coverage, including reports about problems in unfriendly countries, especially the United States. 


Granma did not act on Mr. Carter's suggestion that it also print the demands of the project: electoral law reform, amnesty for political prisoners, freedom of expression and the right to own small businesses. Nevertheless, the project's supporters were pleased that Cubans would be able to see Mr. Carter's reference to their effort in the party newspaper. 


``We think it is positive,'' said Oswaldo Paya, who led the petition effort. ``Now we need for the demands of Project Varela to be published so people will know what is being talked about.'' 


Mr. PayÀa was among 23 human rights advocates, dissidents, independent librarians and journalists who met with Mr. Carter today at the residence of a United Nations official. They thanked him for his visit and offered a sobering counterpoint to four days of government showcases in health and education. One of the participants gave Mr. Carter a list with the names of about 40 political prisoners. 


Because of splits among dissidents, Mr. Carter met separately with Project Varela's supporters and its opponents. Some people have rejected the project as playing into Mr. Castro's hands because it is being done within the framework of the Communist system, which they consider illegitimate. 


Mr. Carter urged unity among the island's various groups, participants in the meetings said. 


Julio Ruiz Pitaluga, who was freed from prison in 1988 after serving 23 years for demanding some of the same rights sought by Project Varela, said he hoped Mr. Carter's trip could help resolve differences among dissidents. ``Here it is not about left, center or right,'' he said. ``It is are you with Castro or not?''



Editorial: Mr. Carter goes to Cuba

Capital-Times Madison, Wisconsin - May 16, 2002

Former President Jimmy Carter would have made history simply by setting foot on Cuban soil. As the first current or former U.S. president to visit the Caribbean island since Fidel Castro came to power in 1959, Carter has broken through a wall of fear and ignorance that has warped the policies of the United States for decades.

What is truly historic, however, is the extent to which Carter's visit has allowed Castro to counter the lies of the extremist wing of the Cuban exile community in the United States and its allies at the U.S. State Department.

Shortly after Carter arrived in Havana, Castro announced that he would give the former president "free and complete access" to scientific research centers that State Department officials have tried to claim are being used to develop biological weapons. Castro even suggested that Carter bring along specialists of the American's own choosing to complete the review.

Carter, a nuclear physicist, made the visit to the biological laboratory in question, met with the scientists there and offered a revelation of his own. The former president told the Cubans that U.S. officials had admitted to him that they lacked any evidence for their claim that Cuba was developing and exporting technology or information to rogue states for use in developing biological weapons.

(Upon his return, Carter should be invited to testify before a congressional inquiry into State Department wrongdoing of a sort that, in any other Western nation, would result in an immediate shake-up of an over-politicized foreign service.)

A thornier issue for Castro and Carter involved human rights in Cuba. Both men knew that Carter, arguably the world's most prominent advocate for democracy, would have to address concerns about limits on dissent and political participation in Cuba. To his credit, Castro cleared the way for Carter by announcing that the former president was free to meet with whomever he liked during the visit, including dissidents.

Carter was also afforded an opportunity to deliver a televised address to the Cuban people, in which he spoke eloquently of democracy, castigated the Cuban government for restricting basic freedoms and encouraged broad reforms.

Even Americans who remain ill at ease with Castro's ideology or policies must recognize that his approach to Carter's visit is dramatically friendlier and more open than would have been the response of dozens of governments around the world - including top U.S. allies - to such a visit.

Fidel Castro has made plenty of mistakes and plenty of enemies over the years. But his facilitating of the historic visit by Jimmy Carter is another signal that he stands ready, willing and able to be a responsible player in the affairs of the Western Hemisphere.

The United States should follow the Carter visit to Cuba by making some more history. As Carter suggests, it is time to begin treating Cuba as a neighbor and potential friend to the United States.

Embargoes, sanctions and other limits on relations should be eliminated. And instead of tossing around unsubstantiated charges, the U.S. State Department should get serious about improving relations with Castro. Imperfect as he may be, the Cuban leader has proven himself - at numerous turns in recent years - to be far more in tune with American values than the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and a good many of our so-called "friends" around the world.




Leader: Why Carter is smarter

George Bush's Cuba policy is in disarray
The Guardian (London) - Wednesday May 15, 2002

Evidently undismayed by the Venezuela coup fiasco, the Bush administration is now making a fool of itself in another part of what was once called America's backyard. Jimmy Carter, the former US president, has given the lie to Washington's claims that Cuba has developed biological weapons and is trading them with "rogue states" such as Iran.

The admirable Mr Carter toured the research facility in question during his current ground-breaking visit to Havana. He received assurances that foreign germ warfare experts would also be free to inspect it. And he noted that before embarking, he had asked the US government whether it had any evidence of "possible terrorist activities supported by Cuba" or of Cuban dealings in weapons of mass destruction (WMD). "The answer from our experts was 'no'," Mr Carter said.

It was a surprise, therefore, when on the eve of Mr Carter's visit, John Bolton, one of the most senior (and most hawkish) state department officials, made an aggressive speech in which he added Cuba, Syria and Libya to President Bush's absurd and notorious Iran-Iraq-North Korea "axis of evil". "Here is what we know," Mr Bolton said. "Cuba has at least a limited offensive biological warfare research and development effort. Cuba has provided dual-use biotechnology to other rogue states." Cuba should understand, he said, that states that fail to renounce terror and WMD "can expect to become our targets".

This sudden threat of US military attack spurred a startled Fidel Castro into vehement denials. Also taken somewhat aback by Mr Bolton's claims, apparently, was his boss, Secretary of State Colin Powell. After letting a few days elapse, Mr Powell in effect disowned Mr Bolton yesterday, saying "we didn't actually say it [Cuba] had some weapons". He and the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, now agree there was "nothing new" in Mr Bolton's comments. Why then did he make the speech at all? All this raises far more questions about the Bush administration than it does about Cuba or other homes of wickedness. Firstly, who's actually in charge? Secondly, why is the "war on terror" being manipulated to suit a regressive conservative agenda? Thirdly, is presidential brother Jeb Bush's need of Cuban votes in his coming Florida gubernatorial re-election bid in any way connected? Finally, when is the US right going to stop persecuting Cuba and seek a partnership for peace?

Upstaged by Carter
Washington Post - May 16, 2002 - Mary Mcgrory

If George W. Bush succumbed to exasperation this week, he was entitled. There he was on Monday announcing a historic agreement with Russia to reciprocally reduce nuclear arsenals. And what was the lead on the evening news shows? It was Jimmy Carter in Havana wearing a white suit, smiling up at Fidel Castro, who was for once in mufti. And then there was Secretary of State Colin Powell, who could have been beating the drums for Bush's Cold War peacemaking and instead was taking Jimmy Carter's side in an argument about Cuba's germ warfare capacity that started in the State Department.

There was worse the next day: Carter made a televised speech in Spanish to a large assembly of Cuban students with Castro in their midst. He was doing the headiest thing in politics -- speaking truth to power. He told Castro his human rights record was bad and he ought to learn how to deal with dissenters and pay attention to the discomfort of his people. Carter also told his own countrymen they should grow up and stop punishing Cuba with a trade embargo and a travel ban.

The reaction from the White House was swift and strong. Bush will make the policy. He will tighten the screws on Castro and also on Americans who insist on traveling to Havana.

The Cuban Working Group in the House of Representatives, which claims 20 Democrats and 20 Republicans and tries to introduce a rational note into our relations with Cuba, had a meeting yesterday morning -- and sighed over the news of Bush's unreconstructed hard-nose approach.

"He is paying off a political debt to the Miami Cubans," said Rep. William Delahunt (D-Mass.) at the Working Group's meeting. "He owes them for what they did for him in 2000 and for what they will do for his brother Jeb, who's running for reelection in Florida. I don't think the Carter trip will have any influence in Washington, but it should help the dissidents in Havana -- they never expected the kind of exposure that Carter gave them. He has credibility, the kind that comes with moral clarity."

Carter is a problem for Bush in that he has become the most admired ex-president in history, right after John Quincy Adams, who left the White House to fight for freedom as a member of Congress. Carter, whose presidency was marked mainly by self-righteousness and bad luck, was born again as an elder statesman. Since he quit the Oval Office, he has devoted himself to good works. He has built houses for the poor with Habitat for Humanity. He has helped reduce river blindness and guinea worm disease in Africa; he has gone to a string of mean little countries to monitor elections.

Republicans don't trash him. Sen. Bob Smith of New Hampshire, the ultra-right-winger, who deplores Carter's travel itinerary, calls Carter "a great humanitarian." Warlords trying to go straight feel lucky if they snag Carter to certify their experiments in democracy.

Obviously Team Bush was nervous about his effect on Cuba. Apprehension was reflected in a jolting statement about Cuba's "limited offensive biological warfare" from John Bolton, who occupies the post of undersecretary of state for arms control and disarmament, two issues with which he has no visible connection. When he threw his biological grenade, Carter punched back. He has been briefed by Bush officials, including Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, who lectured Carter on his obligation to talk about human rights, a subject the Bush crowd softpedals in communication with China, a tyrannical government with which we have cordial relations.

Carter did as much for human rights as a previous illustrious visitor, Pope John Paul II, whose 1998 trip was somewhat diminished by the hurried pullout of television anchors urgently summoned to Washington to deal with the Monica Lewinsky crisis.

The most helpful thing Carter did may have been to meet with Cuban dissidents, a term that was up to now an oxymoron. Heretofore people pleading publicly for democracy and reform of Cuba's Soviet-style misrule would have been clapped in jail on the informing of the legion of spies and snitches that Castro has assembled to keep himself in power. But the members of the Varela Project proudly showed Carter a petition bearing 11,000 names of people who want a new day, and pointed out to him that the Cuban constitution allows citizens to petition the government if 10,000 signers can be found. Castro let it all happen.

In Congress, members of both parties vote in increasing numbers for a change every time the 42-year-old Cuba policy comes up. But George Bush would rather keep Cubans hungry than take any chances for himself and his brother with the folks who thought Elian Gonzalez would be better off dead than red.




Online NewsHour Focus - May 15, 2002

Former President Carter spoke to the Cuban people this week in an uncensored television address. He called on Fidel Castro to allow for political reforms and urged the U.S. to lift its trade embargo on the tiny island nation. Four regional experts assess Mr. Carter's speech and its likely impact in Cuba.

GWEN IFILL: For more on President Carter's trip to Cuba, we talk to four Cuba-watchers. Jorge Mas Santos, chairman of the Cuban American National Foundation. Alfredo Duran, former President of the Cuban Committee for democracy; Congressman Jerry Moran, a Republican from Kansas, and Congressman Robert Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey.

Mr. Duran, what do you think was accomplished by President Carter's trip to Cuba?

Carter's speech  
ALFREDO DURAN: I think that mere fact that President Carter was able to talk directly to the Cuban people in Spanish, to talk about freedom of expression, to talk about democracy, to talk about human rights, that in itself is one of the great accomplishments of this trip by President Carter. He spoke about normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba, but he also spoke about normalization between the Cuban government and its people. That is the importance of this trip, and that speech at the university.

GWEN IFILL: Mr. Mas Santos, speaking for Cuban Americans who may have a different point of view about what the United States engagement should be with Cuba, what did you think of the trip?

JORGE MAS SANTOS: I think the trip in the context speaking about human rights of supporting the project where 11,000 brave Cuban men and women put their signatures calling for referendum, calling for change, of President Carter talking about the values and basic values of freedom and democracy are something the Cuban people have never heard. And the Castro regime will not be able to erase those conversations with Cubans on the aisle they're going to have today, tomorrow and the weeks to come about the need for change. He also referenced the relationship with the United States, and I want to point out that there is really no problem between the people of the United States and the people of Cuba.

What keeps the United States from having normal relations with Cuba is Castro, who is the worst violator of human rights this hemisphere has ever seen from that happening, and I believe that when President Bush announces a U.S. policy towards Cuba this Monday, we're going to see a very harsh rebuke of the regime and potentially at the same time a bridge is extended to try to benefit the opposition and to give voice to those who cannot speak for themselves, the Cuban people directly.

GWEN IFILL: Mr. Mas Santos, were you surprised when Fidel Castro allowed Mr. Carter, President Carter to not only meet with dissidents while he was in Cuba but to tour a biotechnology center and also to give the speech unedited and speak of the Varella project, which you just referred to, which is the referendum?

JORGE MAS SANTOS: Yes, I was surprised. But I think Castro miscalculated what was going to occur during the trip. And I think that he wanted to somehow try to manipulate ex President Carter to bring up only about the subject of the lifting of the embargo. And I think it's had the opposite effect. It's had the framework of talking about the need for free elections that the Cuban people decide their own destinies, through the power of vote. And I think that's extremely important. In terms of the statements from the State Department and the head of the National Assembly, recently said he would allow a UN weapons inspectors in those labs, and I think that is something that the Castro regime should allow -- allow weapons inspectors to see if Cuba is a threat to the national security of the United States of America.

The embargo and human rights
GWEN IFILL: Mr. Duran, Mr. Mas Santos just said that he believes the United States government is going to stick with its basically pro embargo hard line view of what relationship should be between the U.S. and Cuba on Monday when the President speaks to this. Do you think if that happens that President Carter's visit had any, being other than symbolic, effect?

ALFREDO DURAN: I don't think so, because I think that even the people who are pro embargo realize that that policy has not worked in the past 42 years, is not working now and is not working in the future. Something needs to change. The problem with Cuba policy in the United States is that Cuba policy has nothing to do with foreign policy. It has to do more with local elections in the state of Florida, and with fund raising that is in the best interest of the United States. If anybody would run a corporation as U.S. policy towards Cuba is run, they would have been fired a long time ago. It's a policy that has not worked, it's a failed policy, and it needs to be changed.

GWEN IFILL: Congressman Menendez, let's talk about that policy, which Mr. Duran just see was a failed policy. Do you believe as a result of this trip that President Carter took that there's any greater chance now that the embargo will be lived as you would like to see happened than before, I'm sorry, you believe opposite of that, than it was before?

REP. ROBERT MENENDEZ: No, I don't think the president's trip will create the groundswell support for change in the embargo. There are efforts in the Congress as it relates to trade issues. But to unilaterally get rid of the embargo without any commensurate response by the Castro regime on the human rights that President Carter spoke about, on the questions of free press, on the questions of releasing political prisoners, on the fundamental question of having free elections, would be a unilateral action that would not elicit the response that we wanted. The embargo is in fact an opportunity at the right time for a calibration of responses to ensure that the Cuban people get what the United States freely enjoys and what most of the western world freely enjoys.

And the last point I would make is that the one positive thing about President Carter's visit is again the statement of the Varella Project, which is playing by the regime's own rules and using their constitution in a way in which the people and they're brave to sign onto a petition, 11,000 Cubans risking their liberty to sign a petition saying we want peaceful change in our country to multiple political parties, to a free press, to the release of prisoners and ultimately to free elections, and it's a shame, however, that took a former American President to go to Cuba to tell people inside of Cuba what is happening in their own country in terms of this grassroots efforts, because otherwise Cubans would not have known about the Varella project.

GWEN IFILL: Congressman Moran, let's stick with the embargo question. You are from a state that would benefit in hopefully in sales of wheat, for instance to Cuba. Do you think this trip brought you any closer to the goal of lifting that embargo?

REP. JERRY MORAN: Not particularly. I agree with the comments made earlier. I think the benefit that the president, the former president benefit to Cubans is historic, a story of the petition speaking about human rights and freedom. I think that if we had a program discussing Fidel Castro, it would be a very short program. We'd all be in agreement. I think the question here is how can we change the government of Cuba and some of us, many of us in Congress believe that we do have a failed policy that has not changed the Castro government. I actually started out with an interest in this issue because of where I come from, agricultural interest, one more market for Kansas farmers. But boy, I have come to the conclusion that it's a lot more than that. And our ability to change the relationship that our country has with Cuba has the ability to change the nature of Cubans and their relationship with their own government.

That we can bring personal freedom, that with additional economic and interactions between our two countries with trade and travel between the United States and Cuba, we have a much greater chance of improving the chances the Cuban people get freedom. So what started out for me as a very provincial Kansas issue has become one that has great moral overtones, human rights aspects, and it is important for us to pursue this. I'm not sure that the president's visit makes a significant difference in that regard. Already more than 300 members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats, have supported sanctions reform, greater opportunities to trade, to export, and a large majority of members of Congress, again Republicans and Democrats, support the idea that American citizens ought to be able to travel to Cuba.

Legitimizing Castro?
GWEN IFILL: Mr. Mas Santos, I wonder if you think there was any risk that President Carter ran in deciding to meet with Castro in giving him any legitimacy that he may not otherwise have had?

JORGE MAS SANTOS: There was a risk of that. But I think America's greatest export is not grain, it's freedom. And I think President Carter took a message of freedom of democracy, no one can lend legitimacy to Castro and his regime. And I think what President Carter has done is lend legitimacy to the opposition movement in Cuba, it's given them a voice, it's given them attention. And I think the greatest good that can be derived from this trip and the follow-up after ex President Carter leaves Cuba is for us to give the opposition movement in Cuba the tools that they need to continue to grow that movement nationally in Cuba. I think that the televised address that President Carter gave yesterday was the first step in that process.

GWEN IFILL: Mr. Duran, the same version of that question to you, which is who gained more legitimacy from this, was it the dissidents who met with Mr. Carter or was it perhaps Fidel Castro himself?

ALFREDO DURAN: No, I think President Carter is a man of conviction and principle, and in Cuba there are two things that are missing more than anything else and one is civil rights and the other one is hope. Carter talked about civil rights, and I think this trip is going to give the people of Cuba hope.

GWEN IFILL: Otto Wright, the Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America was quoted as saying, Mr. Duran, that, particularly about the embargo that we won't throw a life preserver to a regime sinking under the weight of its own historical failures. Do you have any optimism at all that there will be any change in U.S. policy as far as U.S. ranking officials believe this?

ALFREDO DURAN: People such as Otto Wright have been saying that for the past 42 years and we still have Fidel Castro there. I think that we need to take a different view as to what is going to move Cuba towards a process of transition towards democracy. I think that what we have been doing up until now obviously has not worked. I think we have to be creative and formulate a new policy towards Cuba.

GWEN IFILL: Mr. Mas Santos, what would constitute creativity in your opinion?

JORGE MAS SANTOS: I think, one, a program helping the opposition in Cuba; two, I think it's important to put the Castro regime and expose them for what they are, and on matters of trade, for example, Cuba does not have the resources to pay for trade and what they want in the regime wants is for the U.S. taxpayer to subsidize U.S. corporations in order then for him to utilize those resources to increase his repressive apparatus and that would make a mistake. Any step the United States could take to benefit directly the Cuban people would you benefiting the regime, I think is a step towards changing and make a more creative and a more pro-active policy. I don't think the status quo is acceptable.

 U.S.- Cuba relations  
 GWEN IFILL: Mr. Menendez, what is the prospect in your opinion of congressional action on any of this?

REP. ROBERT MENENDEZ: Well, there has been some action on trade issues. The House did pass a version of financing on this trade. I don't support that simply because I don't want to see us ultimately as the United States Government and taxpayers have anything to do with the lack of payment by the Castro regime to our farmers and then having our farmers come to us, or big agro-businesses coming to us and say bail us out. I think it would be wrong to be helping a dictatorship in that regard. But I really think the question is, what happens now after Carter leaves, as when the Pope left. What do we do now? And we're working with various organizations, nongovernmental organizations, to help create civil society in Cuba to prepare for a transition to democracy that we all supposedly want.

And, lastly, I hope that even those who are detractors of our policy would raise their voices on the questions of human rights and the political dissidents inside of Cuba who languish in anonymity. I wish our colleagues in the Congress, I wish those who disagree with us in our country, and those other countries in the world are silent on human rights inside of Cuba -- and that silence is deafening. Maybe President Carter's trip in that regard will begin to have the voices rise.

GWEN IFILL: Well, let's ask Mr. Moran about that question. Do you think there is something that congress can do or this trip has done to open up a debate about human right in Cuba that can be separated in any way from the economic issues or should be?

REP. JERRY MORAN: Absolutely. And I have sincerely come to the conclusion that freedom, those issues of dissidents, human rights, expression of personal freedoms in Cuba are so important to this issue. It is not just about trade. Our ability to influence the policies within Cuba, I think are determined by our ability to have contact with Cuban people in particular, and we really ought to try to remove the face of Fidel Castro and look at the Cuban people. That's what we ought to be looking for as to ways of who we care about, what our policies ought to be directed toward. And I think clearly President Carter's visit to Cuba does highlight those things, it creates greater awareness in our country, awareness with members of Congress about the importance of caring about human rights within Cuba. So I join Mr. Menendez in this idea that we're not here to any way endorse the government of Cuba. The question is how can we make changes that benefit the freedom of the people of Cuba? And that's where the disagreement lies. We have the opportunity in Congress now to continue the efforts with trade and that kind of connection, and with the exchanges of our people of tourism, and allowing Americans to have contact with Cuban people. I sincerely believe that the opportunities for personal freedom in Cuba, they really can fall into some of the economic reforms that we're looking at. So the goals are the same.

GWEN IFILL: Mr. Duran, do you think that when Fidel Castro or anyone speaks to Jimmy Carter or any one from the U.S. about democracy that they're talking about the same thing, that the definitions are even the same?

ALFREDO DURAN: No, I'm sure that they're not. In Cuba they talk about the Cuban type of democracy and they talk about the new Cuban socialism. But the fact remains that the basic fact of, which is civil rights, the right of people to congregate, the right of people to elect a government, the right of people to have political parties, the right to free speech, that doesn't exist in Cuba. And any type of democracy, no matter how you define it, those are basic requirements for a country to feel that they are indeed in a democratic process. And Cuba needs that. That transition needs to come and that transition needs to be helped along. My problem with present U.S. policy towards Cuba is that that is not helping that to happen. Quite the contrary, it's isolating Cuba, it's like a Berlin Wall around the island, keeping it from being contaminated by new political, social and economic ideas. And it's about time that we change that.

GWEN IFILL: Mr. Mas Santos, the question to you then, is isolating Cuba keeping it from becoming the country it could be, a democracy of any kind?

JORGE MAS SANTOS: I believe that unilaterally the United States will not change, but I want to make a point: Cuba is free to do business with every other country in the world, they're free to commerce and the Cuban people don't benefit. And I think President Carter yesterday in a speech told the Cuban people that their economic ills are not a cause - are not because of the embargo but rather because of the ill fated policies of the failed revolution of the Castro regime. So I do think that isolating the regime, but at the same time having a policy of trying to develop a civil society in Cuba, giving them the resources that they need to instigate change from within the island is the policy that the United States and the free world should follow.

GWEN IFILL: Mr. Moran, as long as President Bush remains in office, still feel strongly about the embargo staying in place, do you believe that this trip will have been for naught, no matter how important and historic it was?

REP. JERRY MORAN: I wouldn't say it's for naught. But I don't think we'll see a dramatic change in U.S. policy toward Cuba. I think the Bush administration has made clear on a number of occasions, and apparently intends to do so again next week, that they don't support liberalizing trade or travel to Cuba. And I think this change will occur incrementally over time. But I don't think with the current Administration, but let me say also, it's also true of past administrations. There was not support for this change under President Clinton. Republicans and Democrat leadership in Congress have -- both Republicans and Democrats have been in opposition to liberalization of contact travel and trade with Cuba. So it's not just the Bush Administration. There's a clear majority here, but the Bush Administration I don't think will allow this to happen in a dramatic way anytime soon.

GWEN IFILL: Okay, gentlemen, thank you all very much for joining us. 



Carter talks of power of God to Cuban churchgoers

Atlanta Journal-Constitution - 5/16/02 ]


Atlanta Journal-Constitution Staff Writer

HAVANA -- The congregation of Ebenezer Baptist Church belted out "We Shall Overcome," the sounds reverberating throughout Havana's Marinao neighborhood Wednesday afternoon.

Jimmy Carter, the Sunday school teacher from Plains, had come to preach.

Speaking once again in Spanish -- and this time, without a script -- Carter did not exactly sermonize. Nor was he political as he was Tuesday night in a nationally televised speech denouncing the lack of civil liberties on the Communist island.

Carter shed his presidential stature and morphed back into a simple Baptist man from South Georgia. He put trade embargoes and policy aside and spoke instead about love and compassion. And God.

"The most important thing in my life is my faith in Jesus Christ," Carter said, drawing applause and a host of "Amens" from the mostly Cuban crowd.

He told them he taught lessons at Maranatha Baptist Church and that he learned Spanish by reading a page from the Bible in that language for the last two decades.

The fans whirred in the non-air-conditioned sanctuary. Some women cooled themselves with colorful hand-held fans. Others wiped sweat off their foreheads. But no one seemed to mind the heat. They wanted the former president of the United States to keep speaking.

The four small electric candelabra were turned on despite the glaring midafternoon sun. Those who could not find room inside peered in through grilled windows with blue marbleized glass.

The Rev. Raul Suarez preached from the black-and-white marble stage and a youth choir in red polo shirts and black shirts sang devotional songs during the hourlong ecumenical service.

A poster of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. hung in his namesake center next door. The independent center houses a seminary and holds religious conferences and classes.

Joel Suarez, the MLK Memorial Center's coordinator, said he has an indirect working relationship with the MLK center in Atlanta and is looking forward to the day that Coretta Scott King, the slain civil rights leader's widow, might visit.

Since the pope's 1998 trip to Cuba, religion has become more visible in Cuba. Carter met with more than 40 clergymen from some of the 22 Protestant congregations that belong to the Cuban Council of Churches. Today he will meet with Catholic bishops after an afternoon session with some of Cuba's leading dissidents.

In the evening, Carter, his delegation and members of the Atlanta-based Friendship Force International attended a farewell dinner hosted by Cuban President Fidel Castro. He had scheduled Thursday afternoon meetings with dissidents.

Cuban newspapers on Wednesday underscored Carter's criticisms of Washington's policies toward Cuba in his Tuesday speech at the University of Havana, as well as his call for an end to the U.S. embargo of Cuba, but they did not mention Carter's references to a lack of liberties.

In Washington, White House advisers said President Bush would reject pleas by Carter, farm-state lawmakers and others to lift the trade embargo against Cuba and pledged an even tougher U.S. policy.

They said Bush would try to punish Castro's government while trying to ease hardships on the Cuban people. That appeared to echo the Clinton administration's "two-track" policy of aiding dissidents and independent Cuban groups while punishing its government, as well as efforts by earlier administrations dating back to the 1960s.

Earlier Wednesday, Carter and his delegation visited social service programs, including a family medical clinic where he was met with chants of "Carter! Carter!"

Esperanza Guilate was among hundreds of people lined up beneath cedar trees waiting for Carter to arrive Wednesday at the clinic. The 42-year-old television worker said the former president's address was "good, very good."

The top U.S. diplomat in Havana, Vicki Huddleston, praised Carter for his "courageous" talk about civil liberties in Cuba.

"It made me so proud to hear him address the internal situation in Cuba, which is not caused by the embargo, but by the government itself," said Huddleston, chief officer of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana.



Journey to Havana

New York Times Editorial - 05/16/2002


Considering how hard the United States and Cuba have worked to torment one another over the last four decades, it was startling the other day to see Jimmy Carter in short sleeves and a baseball cap tossing the ceremonial first pitch at a game in Havana. Mr. Carter's visit to Cuba this week doesn't mean relations with Havana are about to come out of the ice age, but his trip has shown why it makes far more sense to engage in an open dialogue with Mr. Castro and his nation than to shun them as ideological lepers. It is a shame that President Bush still seems to think that preventing American trade and ideas from crossing the Straits of Florida will loosen Mr. Castro's grip on power.

The centerpiece of Mr. Carter's visit was the polite but stern speech he delivered in Spanish on Tuesday night to a national television audience in Cuba. Mr. Carter lamented the lack of democracy in the Communist nation and, in a boost to Cuba's fragile human rights movement, mentioned the Varela Project, a courageous petition drive that seeks a referendum on expanding political rights.

In calling for an end to the American embargo of Cuba and more exchanges between Cubans and Americans, Mr. Carter advanced the common-sense idea that prying closed societies open to global commerce and democratic cultural influences - including outspoken tourists like himself - tends to undermine a totalitarian regime's power. Cuba's foremost dissident, Elizardo Sanchez, agrees with that assessment. All the embargo has done is give Mr. Castro something he can blame for his failures.

Unfortunately, Mr. Bush - trolling for Cuban-American votes in Florida for himself and his brother, Jeb, who is the state's governor - continues to exempt Cuban policy from America's approach to the rest of the world. Indeed, the White House next Monday is expected to announce a new initiative aimed at encouraging the democratization of Cuba that will include a tightening of the embargo and travel ban.

The heartening news is that even plenty of Republicans are tired of having American foreign policy hijacked by anti-Castro activists in a key electoral state. Congress has already loosened the embargo to allow Cuba to acquire American foodstuffs on a cash basis. A bipartisan Cuba Working Group in the House, which includes farm-state Republicans and thoughtful conservatives like Jeff Flake of Arizona, called yesterday for a further expansion of trade, and a lifting of the travel ban. The House voted by a wide margin last year to lift the ban. The measure has broad support in the Senate, too. One of these days, the Bush brothers will recognize that the isolation of Cuba serves neither American nor Cuban interests.

Our Man in Havana
Wall Street Journal Editorial - 05/16/2002

We don't mind having our editorial position endorsed by Jimmy Carter, even in Havana, on Cuban state television and before a beaming Fidel Castro. And that's just what Mr. Carter did Tuesday, when he urged Washington to lift the travel ban and embargo in a televised speech that also included a frank call for freedom and democracy.

Alas, that isn't all our ex-President did and said. At a time when his nation is at war and his government has named Cuba part of the expanded "axis of evil," Mr. Carter handed a propaganda gift to his dictator host by repudiating Bush Administration charges about Fidel's biological weapons research.

In a speech last week, the State Department's John Bolton said the U.S. believes Fidel has "a limited offensive biological warfare research and development effort" and has "provided dual-use biotechnology to other rogue states." But during a tour of a Cuban biotech facility Monday, Mr. Carter said that U.S. intelligence briefers assured him otherwise and complained that Mr. Bolton's remarks were designed to undercut his visit.

Mr. Carter is hardly qualified to ferret out bioweapons research, so a much publicized visit to a Cuban biotech lab serves little purpose except to give the benefit of the doubt to Fidel's government over his own. As for spoiling his visit, it's worth noting that Mr. Bolton's remarks about Cuba's biowarfare program were written by CIA analysts. The timing could hardly have been intended to ruin Mr. Carter's visit since Carl Ford, assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research, made precisely the same charge in precisely the same language during Congressional testimony two months ago.

For two centuries U.S. Presidents have recognized that whatever their private differences with their successors, for a former President to give vent to that criticism, especially abroad, only sows confusion about U.S. policy and gives comfort to American enemies.



Carter's Speech Surprises Cubans

Associated Press - By ANITA SNOW

HAVANA (AP) - Jimmy Carter's speech endorsing a homegrown reform movement captured the attention of Cuba's state-run media for the first time Wednesday as stunned - even confused - Cubans learned more about a campaign for more civil liberties in their communist country.

When the former American president spoke Tuesday night, live and uncensored on government TV and radio, it was the first time Cubans had ever heard anyone question their political system in such a bold and public manner.

Carter told citizens across the island of 11 million people that while their constitution recognizes freedom of speech and association, ``other laws deny these freedoms to those who disagree with the government.'' And he backed the reform effort, known as Project Varela, which he said would provide ``freedom to change laws peacefully by a direct vote.''

``Oh! My mother!'' said a 62-year-old retiree who gave her name as Magaly. ``I didn't think Carter would be so daring!''

Reflecting the discomfort many Cubans felt with such a public airing of views so different from Fidel Castro's government, Magaly declined to give her last name.

Others preferred not to talk about Project Varela or human rights. Instead many emphasized Carter's call for normalization between The United States and Cuba and end of the four-decade-old U.S. trade embargo.

Project Varela was mentioned by name once in the Communist Party daily Granma on Wednesday. The paper cited Jose Luis Toledo, dean of the University of Havana law school, who told Carter that Project Varela ``had its origins in those in the United States who (are) trying to subvert the internal order of Cuba.''

For Cubans, the address carried special weight because Carter delivered the message directly to them in their native Spanish as he stood before the man who had provided the rare public forum: Fidel Castro.

Carter also suggested that the International Red Cross and the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights be allowed to visit inmates in Cuban prisoners.

For many listeners, the biggest surprise was Carter's mention of Project Varela, which most Cuban had never heard of.

Project organizers on Friday delivered to the National Assembly more than 11,000 signatures of people requesting a referendum on such rights as free speech, and the opportunity to own a business.

``Most of us never knew about this project because they don't talk about it in the press,'' Magaly said.

Esperanza Guilate, among hundreds of people lined up beneath cedar trees waiting for Carter to arrive Wednesday at a family clinic, said the former president's address was ``good, very good.''

The 42-year-old television worker expressed hope Carter's words would improve relations between her country and the United States. When asked if she disagreed with anything he said, Guilate simply responded: ``Let's just say it was all good.''

``Car-TER! Car-TER!'' several dozen Cubans chanted in a rare spontaneous show of public support for someone besides Castro when the former American president arrived at the clinic. ``Fi-DEL! Fi-DEL!'' a smaller group chanted, even though Castro was not there.

``I don't think they expected to hear a speech by someone saying things that they are not allowed to say,'' said Vicki Huddleston, the top U.S. diplomat in Havana, who attended the speech and characterized Carter's comments on civil liberties as ``courageous.''

``I think they are confused,'' Huddleston said. ``First, they hear a former American president say this is a good thing. Then, they hear a university student leader say this is a bad thing.

``People may not be ready to talk about Project Varela,'' she added.

Cubans did seem happy to talk about Carter's hope for normalization between the two countries, something that they favor and that Castro's government says it wants, too




Mixed Reviews for Carter's Speech

Associated Press - By ADRIAN SAINZ

MIAMI (AP) - Sylvia Land, a Cuban-American, cheered former President Jimmy Carter's visit to her homeland and his call for the island nation to move toward democracy. But like many in this community, she thought his visit, though long overdue, would do little to change Cuba.

``We should have done this a long time ago,'' said Land, 47, an academic adviser at Florida International University. ``Carter seems like a person who gets people together and gets things done.''

But Land said she doubts such change is imminent. ``It's going to be a long time, maybe until after Castro's gone,'' she said.

Carter is the highest ranking American to visit the island since the 1959 revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power. The former president said Cuba and the United States should take steps to improve their relationship, including removing travel restrictions, opening trade ties and repealing the 43-year-old U.S. embargo.

In an unprecedented live, uncensored hour on Cuban television on Tuesday, Carter also said Cuba should adopt democratic principles such as freedoms of assembly and press, and improve human rights.

``His speech was beautiful and inspirational. But there is going to be no change,'' said Mariluz Marrero who came to Miami with her husband and two children in 1997 after winning a visa lottery.

She agreed with Land's assessment that Carter's visit to her communist homeland would not bring about change anytime soon but lauded Carter for having ``good intentions.''

Bob Munecas, who was sipping Cuban coffee with friends at a popular Cuban restaurant in west Miami-Dade County, took a more skeptical view of Carter's trip, saying he believed it was ``just for show.''

``I don't think he should have gone.'' Munecas said. ``All he was there for was to try to lift the embargo. Castro is using him as a puppet.''

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