The Guardian May 22, 2002


Jimmy Carter in Havana

The following statement was made by former President Jimmy Carter on 
Monday May 13, while visiting the Centre for Genetic Engineering and 
Biotechnology in Havana:

I think I can represent The Carter Center in saying that we have been 
overwhelmed with the dedication of the Cuban people and the Government, and 
their research and humanitarian sharing of knowledge about better health 
care with the rest of the world.

It may be that Cuba is unique in having emphasised the health need as a 
driving force and not just how to make a profit on specific medicines 
developed.

We have also been impressed with the range of cooperation that has been 
developed between Cuba and other countries on Earth. The results of 
preventive health care, including vaccinations of children in Cuba, is 
indeed impressive.

My hope is that in the future there could be close cooperation between the 
scientific and medical community in Cuba and that of my own country, the 
United States. My personal thanks and that of tens of millions of people 
around the world who have benefited from this research in Cuba I would like 
personally to emphasize.

With some degree of reluctance I would also like to comment on the 
allegation of bioterrorism. I do this because these allegations were made 
maybe not coincidentally just before our visit to Cuba.

In preparation for this unprecedented visit, I requested, and we all 
received, intense briefings from the State Department, the intelligence 
agencies of my country, and high officials in the White House.

One purpose of this briefing was for them to share with us any concerns 
that my government had about possible terrorist activities that were 
supported by Cuba.

There were absolutely no such allegations made or questions raised. I asked 
them specifically on more than one occasion is there any evidence that Cuba 
has been involved in sharing any information to any other country on Earth 
that could be used for terrorist purposes. And the answer from our experts 
on intelligence was "no."

I think it's very significant though that this allegation was made, and I'm 
grateful for a chance to come here at the center of this effort on behalf 
of Cuba.

In the welcoming address at the airport when we arrived, your president 
publicly offered that any person who wanted to come and investigate any 
allegations concerning this bioterrorism issue would be free and welcome to 
come without restraint.

My presumption and hope is that anyone who does have evidence of this kind 
would take advantage of this offer.

One of the allegations was that Cuba was providing potentially terrorist 
information to Libya and to Iran.

The understanding I have this morning is that there is no relationship at 
all between Cuba and Libya in this field, and that there is a standard 
contract prescribed by the international community that any technology 
shared would be restrained from any illicit use.

The relationship between Cuba and Iran in this respect is just in the 
initial stages and has not reached the point of technological development.

And my hope and my presumption is that Cuba will be very intensely 
concentrated upon enforcing that provision that would prevent any illicit 
or improper use of the technology which they share.

In closing, let me thank everyone for these wonderful presentations that we 
have received this morning.

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