The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK—The situation in France is of great interest to all of us who have watched President Charles de Gaulle's efforts to bring about peace in Algeria and cooperation between that country and France itself.

It is often difficult for citizens of any country to face the realities of a situation. More and more the world trend is toward the freedom of peoples and the willing cooperation between those who find that they have mutual interests and can gain by working together. Trying to force people into a mold that has become distasteful in the world as a whole seems to be more and more difficult. And for those who look upon the past as being the way in which they want to live, it seems impossible to accept the changes that apparently are coming in spite of all they try to do.

The rebellious generals of France are trying to preserve the past. President de Gaulle has been big enough and realistic enough to see that the past could not be preserved. As a result, I think, the majority of the French people will follow Mr. de Gaulle, but whether this can be accomplished without civil war is hard to tell at the moment.

There seems to be more hope of a cease-fire in Laos.

An appeal for the cease-fire has gone out from Moscow and London; Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru has been asked to convoke the three-man supervisory commission; and 14 nations have been invited to a Laos Peace Conference in Geneva.

Let us hope that these plans really work and that the rebels heed the cease-fire appeal, since it is fairly well accepted that the Chinese Communists are backing the rebels and perhaps instigating them. The hope is that the Soviets' appeal, or their acceptance of an appeal, means an effort on their part to get the agreement of the Chinese and of the rebels to accept a cease-fire.

If this does not come about it will be an indication perhaps that the Soviets are simply giving lip service to this appeal or that they do not have sufficient persuasive powers to influence their Chinese allies. Time alone will give us more information.

Now we come to the problem nearest to us, namely Cuba.

President Kennedy has stated that he takes full responsibility for the failure of the recent raid on Cuban shores made by Cuban exiles, many of whom departed from this country. It is, of course, true that the President of the United States has responsibility for what government officials do, but no President can be responsible for the way in which certain things are carried on, nor for the past which has brought certain situations about. He must, however, accept the situation he is faced with, and he is responsible for what he does about it.

He made the necessary decisions that grew out of the facts of a situation which had been created. This unfortunate raid was not successful. Those who thought it could be successful perhaps lacked proper knowledge—the complete facts upon which to base a judgment. But it seems to me this is an incident and should not shape our future policy toward Cuba.

If the Cuban people feel they have a leader who has brought to the masses some hope for a better life, they have a right to follow that leader. In all probability they have little realization of the difference between a leader controlled by the Communists and a leader who would cooperate with the U.S.

The Cuban people's concern, no doubt, is with the conditions of their daily lives and the hope that they will have a better future. Those who have left Cuba did so because they understood better what the situation was—at least where their interests were concerned. But, quite evidently, the masses of people in Cuba are those who suffered the most under the previous dictatorship and are not yet really convinced that their present leadership is not going to benefit them.

It seems to me that under these circumstances we might better be putting as much thought as possible on how we set our own house in order so as to serve as an example throughout the world as to what democracy can give to make life better for people in general. We can show what we really mean by believing in the inherent value of every human being regardless of race, creed or color.

From our efforts to make this clear it may be that we will be able to evolve a policy that will create a different feeling toward the ideals and the principles we believe in and would like to see followed by other nations of the world.

E. R.

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

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • New York (N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, April 26, 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.