By Margarita Alarcón
My previous post was dedicated to welcoming President Carter to Cuba once again. I had not yet had the opportunity to meet him again and yesterday I was granted that honor thanks to my father and the fact that there was no translator present so I could use that extra seat at lunch.
Since my entry for Huffington had been posted I quickly printed it out and handed it over to our head of section in Washington who is here for the visit who graciously handed it over to the President, who smiled and put it in his pocket. I still don’t know for sure what he thought of the text.
Jimmy Carter is a man who I believe is truly a decent human being. His eyes show this decency and his smile serves as an accompaniment of this fact. His questions were well versed and respectful, he did not come to Cuba to impose anything now nor has he ever done so. He came to learn, to listen to offer opinions and suggestions but most of all to try to help out in whatever way he can in order for life between both countries somehow reach a level of mutual understanding which he unfortunately didn’t have a chance to achieve during his presidency.
Of course he refers to the imprisoned Alan Gross, and then he also refers to the Cuban Five whom he also considers to be unjustly imprisoned in US jails. Like any logical person he is against the US embargo on Cuba and the Helms Burton law and he wishes that travel to and from the island for US citizens be something as natural as taking the afternoon subway on the way back from lower Manhattan back to the Upper West Side.
Carter asked about reforms on the island and centred his interest on land reform and how best to use food production on the island for the betterment of the Cuban people. He was interested in the ELAM Medical School program and the US students down here.
I am truly blessed because he spoke directly to me and asked interesting questions about my life down here and more so about my work writing and getting published when I can. I mentioned that in my experience US citizens when coming down to Cuba never held any animosity towards the island or its people and in reality would leave not quite understanding why they hadn’t been allowed to come down before. He asked me when I had last been back to the US and when I answered that I wasn’t a citizen he joked “but you write for Huffington!” Very good joke, but I wish it were that easy. We all laughed. He is a man of intense and very sharp wit.
But he is not the President today. He is only a man who, surely, will be a forthright messenger to both President Obama and Secretary Clinton. I am convinced that he will have much to talk to both of them about and I am equally convinced that the both of them will do the United States and Cuba a lot of good listening to this man who is not only a Nobel Peace Laureate and a member of the so called group of Elders but who is above all a man of great decency and knowledge about the real things in life, I refer to life itself.