Carter is the
only ex-president of the United States that I have had
the honor of meeting, other than Nixon who was not one yet.
I had visited Washington to take part in
a press conference that meant a tough challenge for me because of the questions
that the expert reporters would be asking.The president had suggested to Nixon that he invite me for a
conversation in his office.He was deceitful
and hypocritical.He left that office
with the idea of recommending the destruction of the Cuban Revolution.
advice, Eisenhower was the author of the first plans to eliminate me
physically, of the terror campaign against Cuba and the
mercenary Bay of Pigs invasion.
The year 1959
marked the beginning of the treacherous history that President Carter tried to
rectify 18 years later.
I knew, or
rather I guessed, that he was a man of a religious ethics, from a long
interview in which difficult subjects were broached and which he handled with
sincerity and modesty.In those days,
there were strong tensions between Panama and the United States.The leader of that country, Omar Torrijos, was an honest, nationalist and patriotic
soldier.He could be persuaded by Cuba to not adopt
extreme positions in his struggle for the return of the Canal territory which,
like a sharp knife, was splitting his country in two.Perhaps because of that, the small nation was
able to avoid a blood-bath although later on the country would be portrayed to the
people of the United States and to the
world as an aggressor.
without talking to anyone in the United States, I could
predict that maybe Carter was the only president of that country with whom it
would be possible to reach an honorable agreement without spilling one single
drop of blood.
Not much time
had passed before Washington would sign the
agreement between the United States and Panama in the presence
of other heads of state, excluding Cuba of course.
I mention this
because Omar Torrijos himself, on a visit he made to
our country, spoke about the efforts Cuba had made in
As president of
the United States, Carter agreed
with Cuba to create the
Interests Sections in Havana and Washington.With that move we saved a lot of diplomatic
procedures and paperwork that were driving the austere and meticulous Swiss
diplomats insane.Maintaining the
colossal building in the former United States Embassy in Havana was already in
itself quite a feat for Switzerland.
Another thing: Carter
discussed major issues with Cuba, such as the
limits of territorial waters and the rights of each, the use of energy
resources included in the jurisdictional waters of Mexico, Cuba and the United States as well as
fishery resources and other subjects of inescapable attention.Not all the agreements favored Cuba.Our fishing fleet had been catching in
international waters, as it was established, 12 miles off the coasts of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.However, in solidarity, Cuba was supporting Chile, Peru and other Latin
American countries in their right to exploit fishery resources on their
respective sea shelves.The final result
was that our modern expensive fishing boats finally ceased to work in those
waters, when such a battle was finally won.The requisites established by the U.S. authorities
were such on the rich shelves where our boats were fishing near the coast of
that country, and other limitations in the light of the new law, that they
priced themselves out of the market.
became president of his country, the aggressions, terrorism and blockade
against the people of Cuba had existed for
many years.Our solidarity with the
peoples of Africa and many other poor and
underdeveloped nations in the world could not be the object of negotiations
with the U.S.
government.Nor would we leave Angola, or suspend the
assistance already committed to the African countries.Carter never actually requested it but it is
clear that many in the United States were thinking
along those lines.
The defense of
our sovereignty not only unleashed deep contradictions with the U.S. but also
with the USSR, our ally, when as a result of the October [Missile] Crisis,
without consulting our country, the USSR negotiated a mutually convenient
agreement with the U.S. by which the blockade, terrorist actions and the Guantanamo Base remained intact in exchange for strategic
concessions by the two superpowers. We did not seek unilateral advantages.Revolutionaries who act that way do not
survive their mistakes.
the international standards would have never been an obstacle for Cuba and, as we have
often said, peace is also an unavoidable objective of the Cuban
Revolution.Many forms of cooperation are
possible between peoples with different political concepts.
One proof of
that is the war against drug trafficking, organized crime and the trafficking
of human beings; this can be extended to many forms of
cooperation in the fight against epidemics, natural catastrophes and other
The Revolution has
never used terrorism against the United States.
invented plane hijackings to strike against Cuba.That action, in a society with so many social
conflicts, became an epidemic.How could
they have resolved it without Cuba’s cooperation?We had adopted severe laws to punish the culprits,
but it was useless.Finally, we made the
decision to return them in the very same hijacked planes after warning them
about it earlier.
Thus, the first
plane we returned was the last one hijacked in the U.S.; this coincided
exactly with the Carter years.I have spoken
about this at greater length.I’m not saying
Reagan took the dirty war to Nicaragua, using drugs to
get around the laws of Congress and with the incomes supply weapons to the
counterrevolution, mining ports; his policy took thousands of Sandinista lives while
many were wounded and maimed.
carried out the horrible slaughter of El Chorrillo to
punish Panama and erase the
marks left by Carter’s gesture.
visited Cuba between May 12
and 17 of 2002, he knew that he would be welcomed here; I attended his lecture
at the University of Havana; I invited him
to an important baseball game played between the national Occidentales
and Orientales teams at the Latin American
Stadium.Both of us were there at the
opening pitch to which he was invited, with no bodyguards whatsoever,
surrounded by 50,000 people in the stands, perfect targets for any sharp-shooter
hired by the CIA.Bush Jr. was already
governing the U.S.I only wanted to show Carter the relationship
of the country’s leaders with the people.When we arrived at the stadium, he accepted with dignity my invitation
to persuade his chief of security to leave him on his own, and that’s what he
What I know
about forestry in the U.S. was explained
to me by Carter at the dinner we hosted for him on the last day: how the trees
are planted, what varieties, the time they need to grow, production per
hectares, and so on and so forth.
I observed his
faith in the capitalist system where he was raised and educated; I respect
When he was in
the government, times were difficult.He
had to carry the burden of the effects of an economic crisis, but he was
austere, he didn’t drown the future generations in debt.His successor, Ronald Reagan, would squander
all the savings Carter had made.He was
a movie actor and handled the teleprompter well, but he never asked himself
where the money was coming from.
President Jimmy Carter said to the Folha deSão Paulo newspaper: “’I would like (the embargo) to end today.There is no reason why the Cuban people
should continue to suffer’, stated the former president who heads a human
rights organization and this week was visiting Brazil
to meet with President LuizInácio Lula da Silva.
Carter, the initiatives adopted so far by Obama to ease
the restrictions dictated against the island were less daring than what would
“’I think that Obama’s initiatives were not as good as those of the two U.S.
Congress houses which today are one step ahead of the president with regards to
“’The next step
should be immediate removal of all travel restrictions to the island, not just
for Cuban-Americans.It was what I did
when I was president 30 years ago.The
end of the embargo will follow suit’, the former president said.
expressed that results were also depending on the Cuban leaders; surely, on us
and on all the Cubans who have struggled and are willing to struggle.