Carter should have stayed home

Although former President Jimmy Carter thought his trip to Cuba would ease tensions between the Communist country and the United States, he should have known better. President Bush made it perfectly clear Tuesday that the United States would continue to uphold its Cuban embargo until dictator Fidel Castro either allows his citizens human rights or is no longer in power.

The unchanged stance has left many around the world dumbfounded. If nothing was to be changed by Carter’s visit, why the dog and pony show? It seems the only thing Carter’s visit proved was that Castro could allow a U.S. president on Cuban soil without shooting him down and that he was willing to at least lend an ear, though a deaf one, to Carter’s pleas for civil liberties.

Carter’s much heralded trip was in direct response to requests from the former president and Congress that the Bush administration ease trade embargoes with Cuba that have stood since the Cold War. However, Bush and his staff have done the right thing. While Cubans live in relative poverty, to allow trade with Cuba would be equivalent to the United States shooting itself in the foot.

To support trade with Cuba is to support Cuba. While its people deserve better, it is Castro who is still withholding basic human rights from his people. The United States cannot help the Cuban people without inadvertently helping Castro himself. And to do so would be hypocritical. The United States must hold its stance that allowing trade with Cuba only implies that the state of its citizens is acceptable.

Castro has been a thorn in America’s side since the 1950s, and it seems that only with his death will the country be able to begin its transformation. Then, it will be America’s turn to step up. Hopefully, Carter will still be free.