Carter's unsavory dealings with Castro


Still smarting from a Carter Center visit to Caracas, Venezuelan essayist Gustavo Coronel takes a closer look at Jimmy Carter's organization's previous efforts in Havana to flatter Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. The Carter Center's oily, obsequious praise to the longtime tyrant of the Caribbean belies their claims of impartial interest in democracy facilitation. Coronel's analysis, pointing out the damage Carter's done in Havana, hits the target. He writes:
When Carter visited Cuba with Dr. (Jennifer) McCoy (who led the Venezuelan recall referendum observation team), in May 2002, Dr. McCoy said: "Castro allowed President Carter to speak to Cubans and to freely criticize him if he wanted. This was very courageous of him." Dr. McCoy admired Castro because he was letting Carter do, as an exceptional favor, what a true leader should do all the time: let his people, not only Carter, speak freely. Dr. McCoy continued: "Castro agreed beforehand that the entire speech would be broadcast uncensored on Cuban television and radio. It was quite unusual that we had this honor." Again, letting the words of Carter be heard uncensored was considered by Dr. McCoy to be an honor, a gracious favor being dispensed on Carter by the dictator.

This attitude reveals much of what is wrong with the Carter Center approach. It is an approach based on making concessions, which should not be made if principles are to be maintained. In order to truly defend a democratic way of life, no one should accept as a generous gift what pertains to all citizens as a right. In doing this, the Carter visit reinforced the dictatorial system of government prevailing in Cuba for more than 40 years.

This recalls other news of Carter's unsavory dealings with Castro. As the New York Post yesterday reported that U.S. investigators are actively looking into allegations of sweetheart deals at Carter's Friendship Force Foundation in the Oil for Food scandal, it's worth remembering that the foundation itself has suspect origins touching on Carter's ties to Cuba.
That foundation was started years ago by Carter and his political crony, Wayne Smith, who served as Carter's "diplomat" to Havana in the 1970s. We last heard from Smith in December, when he openly advised Castro to undermine U.S. efforts to honor Cuba's imprisoned dissidents by urging Castro to post giant blow—up pictures of Abu Ghraib "atrocities," in front of the U.S. mission to counter the U.S.' gutsy Christmas light display Castro obliged, adding swastikas to the display. We noted that in The American Thinker here

Here is what Smith told USA Today  at the time, after Castro took him up on his suggestion:

Wayne Smith, who headed the U.S. mission here during the Carter and Reagan administrations and has long advocated restoring normal diplomatic relations with Cuba, said he thought the images of prisoner abuse in Iraq were an appropriate response by Castro's regime.

"If I were in their shoes, this is what I would do — call attention to the fact that the United States is now guilty of torture, of massive violations of human rights," Smith said by telephone from Washington.

That, in short, sums up the concessionary Carter approach to citizen diplomacy that Coronel described.

Wherever he goes, the result is the same: Jimmy Carter is the dictator's friend. Someone should pull the plug on this Carter edification operation for tyrants.

A.M. Mora y Leon  03 01 05