Carter calls for end of blockade

On his historic visit to Havana, ex-US President Jimmy Carter called for an end to the US-imposed economic blockade on Cuba.

In his half-hour address, in Spanish, to the Aula Magna at the University of Havana, Jimmy Carter criticised the country’s leadership for not allowing people to organise opposition movements and called for a direct voting system to elect the country’s government.

He also spoke out against the US-imposed economic blockade against the island which has continued for four decades, causing great suffering to the Cuban people and countless thousands of deaths through disease. However, Fidel Castro has managed to build an exemplary public health system with limited resources and an education system which is arguably one of the best in the world. In a UN study of American primary school children, the Cubans were, without exception, so far above the other nations of north and south America that the tests had to be re-taken, for fear that they had been badly organised. The results were repeated.

Jimmy Carter declared that “I hope that Congress will soon allow people to travel freely between the United States and Cuba, establish open commercial relations and end the embargo. I did not come to interfere in the internal affairs of Cuba but to hold out a hand of friendship to the Cuban people”.

George Bush, for his part, was unimpressed, declaring that Carter’s trip “did not change my external policy”. The State Department has recently made declarations claiming that Cuba is developing weapons of mass destruction, but these claims were ridiculed by Carter and by the Cuban authorities, including some dissidents.


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