Carter’s US-Cuba Road Map for Peace

By Alberto N Jones

James Carter greets Cardinal Ortega during his visit to Havana, Cuba. Photo: Jorge Luis Baños

HAVANA TIMES, April 4 — Once again, former president Jimmy Carter has carved out another road map of peace, when he challenged politically correct  dogmas, risked  the wrath of warmongers of this world, by doing what is morally right, when he decided to travel to Cuba in search of peace, harmony and a better tomorrow for all.

Only someone with his strong moral and religious convictions at age 86, would subject himself to such an excruciating pilgrimage in which he met for hours with religious leaders, government officials, journalist and those opposed to the Cuban government, all in return for no personal earthly reward.

Terribly maligned during his one-term presidency of the United States, this man of peace, love and hope, has demonstrated to the world, his total commitment to every human endeavor, by bringing cure to millions in Africa suffering from chronic transmissible diseases, returning the Panama Canal to its rightful owners, attempting to create peace in the middle east, building homes for the needy or simply, through his humble demeanor and respect for others, is teaching many how we can strive for that better world.

Once his second trip to Cuba became public, he was stridently denounced by right wing fundamentalist groups in the US and elsewhere,  accusing him of betraying America’s democratic values, for caving into tyrants and dictators or for being a useful idiot.  No amount of threat or offense was sufficient to move him away from his desire to rebuild a channel of communication or a bridge of understanding between the US and Cuba.

Although a three day visit is a terribly short time in politics, his actions, expressions of love towards the Cuban people and his frank exchange in private and public, may have laid the groundwork for a respectful exchange between both governments, in which, all outstanding issues can be discussed as equal, civilized and respectful individuals.

For the past fifty years, every US administration has felt compelled to try and bring the Cuban people to their knees, have them cry uncle and reverse their achievements to those of the XIX century, when Cuba’s sovereignty and independence was in the hands of Spain or the United States government.

Cuba resisted, suffered and paid a hefty price, but in so doing, it was consistent with its history and the teachings of our forefathers.  Today, we are much older, mature and both governments have come to acknowledge, that some basic principles are non-negotiable and just as it is with other nations, a relation of equals is the only game in town.

No matter what our personal opinion may be, President Barack Obama is of a different extraction, with a different set of life experiences and presumably with a different perception of the world.  As opposed to his predecessor, he has seen hunger, sickness, inequalities, hopelessness and injustice.  Few others in his position are equipped to incorporate, assimilate, extrapolate and come up with the right answer of this political debacle.

Like most of the world, the United States is going through its worst financial crisis, it is involved in two wars he inherited from the previous administration and one he initiated recently. The US is dealing with severe unemployment, housing crisis, vicious political divisions, rampant social violence, massive drug abuse, illiteracy, crumbling penal system and others, which have made his administration, one of the most intractable in history.

Cuba on the other hand, is located less than 100 miles off the US mainland.  Its land mass and population are 80 and 60% respectively of the state of Florida and although Cuba’s natural resources, beauty and geographical diversity are far greater than Florida, its GDP is 25 times smaller.

These overwhelming, pragmatic arguments re-enforce the overall understanding of the mutually damaging effects that this ill fated embargo have exerted on both countries and their people.

President Carter’s timely visit to Cuba has served to highlight, what patience, justice, courage and an honest desire to help both countries find common ground to discuss and resolve their differences, is doable.