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Carter Center Announces Dates for Historic Trip to Cuba

ATLANTA, GA….Accepting an invitation from Cuba President Fidel Castro, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, will head a Carter Center delegation to Cuba May 12-17.

"I look forward to this opportunity to meet with Cuban people from all walks of life and to talk with President Castro. More than a century after Cuba's independence, our two countries have not yet developed a constructive relationship and, although official interest sections were established while I was president, for the last 41 years our two nations have not had normal diplomatic relations," President Carter said. "I do not expect this trip to change the Cuban government or its policies. However, it is an opportunity to explore issues of mutual interest between our citizens and to share ideas on how to improve the relationship between the United States and Cuba."

In addition to agreeing to establish interest sections in both Havana and Washington, D.C., the Carter Administration relaxed restrictions on travel. Thousands of political prisoners were released, and Americans and dual nationals were permitted to return to the United States. Further progress toward normal relations was subsequently halted after Cuba's expansion of military activities in Africa. During his visit, President Carter expects to discuss with Cuban leaders some lessons to be learned from the past.

President Castro extended a verbal invitation to President Carter to visit Cuba when they were honorary pallbearers at the October 2000 funeral of former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. In January 2002, President Carter received a formal written invitation and began to explore possibilities for visiting Cuba. The U.S. Treasury Department issued a license April 5 for a Carter Center delegation to visit the country.

"As a leader who made human rights the centerpiece of his administration, President Carter is looking forward to a full discussion of this issue with President Fidel Castro and with other leaders in the Cuban government, the Church, and human rights communities," said Dr. Jennifer McCoy, director of the Carter Center Americas Program. "President Carter is traveling as a private citizen with no intention of entering into negotiations with the government of Cuba. This trip symbolizes his strong belief that this new century is the time to open our two countries to each other."

Established in 1986, the Carter Center's Americas Program works to improve inter-American relations and strengthen democracy in the Western Hemisphere. Founded by President and Mrs. Carter in 1982, The Carter Center is a nongovernmental, nonprofit organization advancing peace and health worldwide.

EDITORS NOTE: Most of the media coverage of President Carter's visit to Cuba will be pooled. Reporters who will be in Cuba to cover the trip should e-mail Deanna Congileo ( by May 3 to ensure access to group photo and question opportunities as well as pool coverage. Individual interviews with President Carter are not being set up in advance of the trip. For more information on The Carter Center visit

Full Delegation List:

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter

Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter

Dr. John Hardman, M.D., Executive Director, Carter Center

Dr. Jennifer McCoy, Director, Carter Center Americas Program, and Georgia State University Professor

Dr. Robert Pastor, Emory University professor, adviser to the Americas Program

Chip Carter, President, Friendship Force

Dr. Shelley McConnell, Associate Director, Carter Center Americas Program

Deanna Congileo, Director of Public Information, The Carter Center

Nancy Konigsmark, Director of Scheduling for President Carter 

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