greetings to everyone currently tuned into Cuban
Television. I welcome you, together with the former
President of the United States, James Carter who,
minutes before returning to his country, has
graciously agreed to give us an interview, an
exclusive statement for our network.
Welcome. Thank you for accepting our
James Carter.—It is a great
pleasure to return to Cuba, to Havana.
Arleen Rodríguez.—It is a great
pleasure to have to you as well.
You were commenting to me that that
you wanted to say something to the Cuban people
before our interview.
Arleen Rodríguez.—The camera is
James Carter.—I would like to
thank the people of Cuba for the opportunity to be
in this country once again, to be able to meet with
Cuban leaders, to meet with some Cuban citizens who
are in disagreement with the government. We have
been very encouraged in terms of the possibilities
of the meeting that is going to take place in the
Congress next month.
We also had the opportunity to meet
with the family members of the five Cuban patriots,
with their mothers, with their wives.
I hope that in the future there will
be normal diplomatic relations between Cuba and the
United States. I should also like the time to come
when the restraints on travel from the United States
to Cuba and Cuba to the United States can be
suspended, and also that the freedom, association,
travel can be enjoyed. I believe that it is very
important for everyone and for the people of Cuba.
We have had meetings with the
Minister of Foreign Affairs, with the President of
the National Assembly, with President Raúl Castro,
with former president, Fidel Castro, who is my
personal friend, and we will do everything possible
to enable economic changes to take place in Cuba.
This morning I also met with Mr.
Gross, who has spent a long time in prison in Cuba,
and we think that he is innocent of any crime. I
hope that in the future he can be released, as well
as the so-called Cuban Five, who have spent 13 years
in prison in the United States.
In the future I hope that commerce
and travel between both countries can be developed
and that the economic embargo can be totally
suspended. It is an oppression for the Cuban people
and it doesn’t only affect the Cuban government, it
is the Cuban people who are most affected. I believe
that relations between the United States and Cuba
When I became President, I suspended
the restraints on travel between the two countries
and I have worked very closely with President Castro
to establish diplomatic exchanges. Now the United
States and Cuba have 300 people employed in the
Interests Offices, both in the United States and in
Cuba, and Cubans working in the Interests Office and
vice versa, and I believe that this can contribute
to normal diplomatic relations between the two
This has been an opportunity that
Cuban Television has given me to be able to speak to
you and tell you how marvelous your country is.
Arleen Rodríguez.—Thank you.
I would like to take advantage of
this opportunity to ask you some questions.
First of all, I would like to greet
you with the respect and warmth generated by the
only President of the United States in 50 years to
have done something toward normalizing relations.
You were recalling some of those important steps.
Also the fact of having come to Cuba twice now and
doing so with your hands outstretched and with
respect. The Cuban people, who are very proud and
honorable, receive visitors here with solidarity.
I believe that, beginning the
interview, you have relieved me of making an
introduction by once again expressing your will and
desire for the blockade of Cuba to be lifted. It is
known that there is a majority consensus in U.S.
society, which includes the Cuban community in the
United States and that, moreover, the international
community as a whole has been demanding that for the
last 20 years, and that its efforts are also
accompanied by large majorities in Cuba and in the
As you yourself acknowledge, the
blockade is being maintained, and we Cuban men and
women know that it is being maintained, moreover,
with the same rigor as before and, at times,
squeezes a little more.
And I ask: what prospects do you see
for Cuba-United States relations and that blockade,
which the whole world is against?
James Carter.—As you know, the
majority of Cubans wish for normal relations with
the United States, and the great majority of
Americans also wish that normal relations existed
with Cuba. Undoubtedly, there are some radical
leaders in my country, some in prominent positions
in Congress, in many cases Cuban-Americans, who
insist on maintaining this breach in relations
between the two countries, these representatives of
the previous Cuban-American community, whose
fundamental objective was to topple the Castro
regime; among Cuban Americans in my country there is
even a small minority at this time, small but very
powerful from a political point of view, in
political circles. I think that there has been some
progress in the last few years, even in terms of
public opinion within circles in Miami and Cuban
Americans; also younger people within that community
want this economic embargo to be lifted and to have
normal opportunities to be able to travel in both
directions: from the United States to Cuba and from
Cuba to the United States, this is a change. In my
opinion, it is a change that is going to advance in
the future and I hope that my small voice, as well
as the opinion of many Americans, can make this
Arleen Rodríguez.—Mr. Carter, I
listened to you with much emotion in the press
conference and here in the introduction, I heard you
ask for, also demand the release of the five Cuban
heroes, whom Cuban considers heroes, because they
confronted terrorist groups and managed to avoid the
lengthening of the list of 2,099 disabled and 3,478
dead that terrorism has inflicted on our country.
I don’t know to what point you are
aware of the Cuba’s people’s great sensitivity to
the demand to free the Five. However, or in other
words, I did not hear you make any statement about a
pardon for them.
You said that, according to U.S.
legislation that you expected them to be released.
They have appealed to the Supreme Court, which
denied them a review of the case, despite the fact
that it was a demand made by more than 10 Nobel
Prize laureates and hundreds of political and
intellectual figures from all over the world. In
other words, they have exhausted all the legal steps.
There has been much arbitrariness
throughout the proceedings, as you said, recognized
by judges, and they have received an additional
punishment in that two of them have been deprived of
regular visits from their wives, and difficulties
have also been placed in the way of family visits.
Having reached that point of the
Supreme Court refusing them a review of such a
complex case has led these same Nobel laureates and
political figures to call on President Obama to
You were president of the United
States, you exercised the right of pardon; as a
humanitarian gesture I am asking you if you would be
prepared to join with other Nobel Prize winners who
are asking Obama to pardon the Five?
James Carter.—As you know, I am
not only a former president of the United States,
but also a Nobel prize winner.
Arleen Rodríguez.—That’s why.
James Carter.—In other words, in
my private conversations with President Bush and
with President Obama, I have talked about the
release of these persons.
I recognize the limitations within
the judicial system of the United States and I hope
that the President can grant this pardon; but that
is a decision that only the President himself can
make; in other words, I can’t tell the President
what to do, but the President, both before and now,
knows that my opinion is that the trial of the Five
was highly questionable, that standards were
violated, and that the restraints on their
visitations are extreme.
Now, I know that those family
members have now been able to visit them, and I hope
that in the future a full pardon might be granted
and that there might also be greater access for
family members to these prisoners in the United
Certain officials have informed me,
for example, that the downing of the light aircraft
in Havana, which caused the death of two of the
pilots, took place after the President of the United
States informed the Cuban leaders that there would
be no more flights. The Cuban officials communicated
to me that they stated very clearly to the President
of the United States that overflying the country’s
capital and dropping leaflets would not be permitted,
and that they had to protect Cuba’s sovereignty. So
even though this is something more serious, it is a
more serious allegation, in my opinion, I am very
doubtful about the extensive sentences to which one
of these people was subjected. When I go back I am
thinking of talking with President Obama, here is my
public statement, I have done so before with other
American leaders, and we have talked in favor of the
release of the Five; one of the reasons, whether
they are guilty or not, is that they have served
long prison sentences, more than 12 years; in other
words they have been punished adequately, even if
they were guilty.
Arleen Rodríguez.—A person very
closely linked to the case, whom you knew well,
Leonard Weinglass, died just recently; I know that
you know that he was a man who loved justice and
fought for it, and his last statements, his last
work, even on his deathbed, was directed at proving
that the Five had nothing to do with the downing of
the light aircraft.
James Carter.—Yes, I know.
Arleen Rodríguez.—Going more
deeply into the case would make this conversation
longer, but what the people of Cuba do know, what
can be proven, what even the U.S. authorities know,
on account of the entire report that Cuba broadcast,
is that the only thing that those young men were
doing was seeking information in order to avert acts
I am confident that you could also
convey the request for a pardon, as a humanitarian
gesture. These men have suffered a lot and have lost
family members without being able to be at their
side; finally, I will not insist; on behalf of the
people of Cuba I thank you very much for your
interest and for your statements.
Mr. Carter, you also said this
morning at the conference that you had a meeting
between friends with Comandante Fidel Castro who, in
his Reflections, has expressed much anguish over the
danger to humanity presented by enormous and ever
increasing nuclear arsenals, which have the capacity
to destroy the world various times over, and also
over the terrible consequences that climate change
could have for humanity. These are issues on which I
believe that you are widely in agreement.
As a nuclear physicist you know what
the possession of nuclear weapons signifies for
humanity, you were a President who worked very hard
to educate your people against a consumerist society,
you promoted rational policies, in defense of the
environment, even though they made you unpopular in
Well, quickly, I would just like to
know if you believe that there is still an
opportunity to do something to save humanity.
James Carter.—When I was
president I negotiated with the Soviet Union to
reduce the number of nuclear weapons, via the SALT I
and SALT II Treaties and I was very much in favor of
nuclear arsenals being reduced on both sides. I also
firmly believe that this global warming represents a
threat to all human beings, and as you probably
know, President Obama and his predecessor, President
Bush, were interested in working with other nuclear
powers to reduce arsenals, and the agreements signed
by these governments have been and are being very
I believe that the United States has
not been as firm as it should have been in
approaching the problems of global warming. Since I
have been here, the Cuban officials have pointed out
to me what has been done with the old city of Havana,
and I have been in Bolivia to meet with Evo Morales,
and Bolivia could be the first country to have major
damage to its economy, because of the melting of its
mountain glaciers, which signify a source of
drinking water. For that reason, I hope that in the
future, this issue, as it is also related to global
warming, can be discussed by all nations, and I know
that Fidel Castro is also a promoter of this issue.
We were talking about the steps taken when I was
president of the United States, and we have been
talking now and he is talking and trying to use his
voice as a senior statesman for the wellbeing of
human beings. We were talking, we were in agreement
on a lot of things and, above all, we also talked
about this global warming, and I believe that there
are possibilities between the two countries.
Arleen Rodríguez.—I thank you
very much indeed.
Thank you, every time that you visit
Cuba hopes open up, even though relations continue
being so difficult with the blockade.
James Carter.—I hope that we can
come back another time. I want to bring all my
family, we are a very big family, 36 of us. I hope I
don’t have to wait too long and can bring my family.
Thank you very much.
Arleen Rodríguez.—Thank you, Mr.
Carter, thank you very much.