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My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK—As the days go by it looks as though the Republican Administration is going to be obliged to hand over an extremely touchy situation to the incoming Democratic Administration on January 20—not only in Cuba but in Asia. Certainly we are in trouble on many fronts.

The accusation that we are about to take military action in Cuba has come up for discussion in the United Nations Security Council, but Cuba has offered no convincing proof of our so-called evil intentions.

Now we learn that the Cuban government for the first time has failed to meet the payment on a long-outstanding issue of 4½ percent bonds. This would be a $991,539 interest payment, due on Jan. 1, plus $1,375,000, which constitutes funds to pay off bonds that were called for redemption on Nov. 23 by the Manufacturers Trust Company trustee to satisfy the sinking fund requirement of the bond contract.

The one anxiety that I feel in the break with Cuba is for the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo. It has seemed for some time that it might have been wise to evacuate that base in this long period in friction.

I cannot help being sad, however, that a final diplomatic break has come, though I am not surprised because when misunderstandings start they are apt to grow. Without question the government of Fidel Castro is a dictatorship, but yet it came into power to meet a real need of the people, who previously were under a dictator who had exploited them shamelessly without protest from the United States.

Undoubtedly, the Cuban people hope the present dictatorship will help them to better living conditions. Nevertheless, there will be a need for watching the present government with as critical an eye as the old dictatorship should have received.

It is interesting that a question is being raised in the Senate about Chester Bowles' views on China. Actually, I do not think he has expressed himself as to his own convictions as to what should be done there, either at the moment or in the future.

He has tried to awaken the thinking of the American people on the difficulties of the situation as a whole in the Far East as it exists today. I thought he made it plain in one statement that he felt we had a grave responsibility to the Formosan Islanders and to the Chinese from the mainland who had taken refuge there either with Chiang Kai-shek or since that time.

It was rather evident in the United Nations this past year that on the whole the delegates feel we have lived rather a long time with the fiction that the government of Formosa represents the Chinese people. But if there are those among us who still feel that the generalissimo can count on a general uprising to give him back his dominance of the Chinese mainland I would need some very good proof from them to show why they hold this belief.

Soon the question of what Formosa and Chiang Kai-shek's government can represent in the U.N. will probably have to be settled, and so it is well for all of us to be thinking about this problem. At one point during the Presidential campaign Mr. Kennedy stated that as far as he knew the present government on the mainland of China has shown no particular interest in being recognized by us or in being a member of the U.N.

It is true that the Soviet Union asks for this membership periodically—and the Soviets may feel they could force China to accept it if it were offered—but at the present time I think any impartial observer would say that the Chinese Reds were probably enjoying their position of not being bound to find excuses for anything they do. In addition, their treatment of Great Britain, which did recognize the Communist government, has not been such as to encourage one to believe that Red China is really anxious for recognition from any Western power.

I feel sad over the hatred which apparently exists now in China for the United States. Traditionally, the Chinese and the Americans have been friends. In my husband's family there was an enormous respect for the Chinese as a people of remarkable integrity and dignity. I know he would be grieved at the present situation of antagonism that now exists.

But until China itself shows some sign of desiring understanding there is not much one can do.


(Copyright, 1961, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, January 6, 1961

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.