03 April 2012 ~ 2 Comentarios

What the pope saw in Cuba

by Carlos Alberto Montaner

(THE MIAMI HERALD) Hundreds of millions of people watched the pope in Cuba, heard his utterings and observed what happened. Naturally, each one of those witnesses perceived the visit differently. What’s interesting now is to find out what the perception was among the pope and his Vatican entourage.

This is what I’ve been able to find out through ecclesiastical sources (and others) that wish to remain in absolute anonymity. Some of those sources were very close to the Holy Father.

• First. Benedict XVI was struck by the huge contrast between the Mexican welcome — joyous, free, multitudinous and spontaneous — in a city that was alive and economically vibrant, and the tense Cuban ceremonies, evidently controlled by the political police, held in a country impoverished to the point of misery, and preceded by hundreds of detentions.

The horrific spectacle of a young man savagely beaten by a policeman disguised as a Red Cross stretcher-bearer touched the pope’s heart and caused him to take a personal interest in the man’s fate. After all, the poor man had only shouted “Down with communism,” the common man’s echo of what the pontiff himself had said when he left Italy, when he declared that Marxism was a failed ideology that needed to be buried.

• Second. The pope and his retinue found it lamentable that Raúl Castro chose to deliver in Santiago de Cuba a classic Stalinist Cold-War speech intended to justify the dictatorship. They had expected a message of change and hope, not a reiteration of the regime’s main arguments.

That text, along with the speeches made by Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez and the vice president in charge of economics, Marino Alberto Murillo, convinced them that Raúl Castro is much more interested in remaining anchored in the past than in preparing a better future for the Cubans.

• Third. They ascertained — painfully — that the plea made by the Pope John Paul II during his visit 14 years ago, to the effect that the Cubans lose their fear, had been for naught. Except for a few hundred opposition democrats who are permanently harassed and beaten, sometimes jailed, Cuba’s is a society rotted by fear.

But the manifestation of fear that intrigued them the most was not that of the oppositionists but that of the apparent supporters. They heard their double-talk up close and were terrified.

In private, the functionaries appeared open, tolerant and desirous of deep reforms that would include the political arena. One of them even admitted that a multiparty system and free elections were essential for society to truly advance toward modernity — even if the communists lost power.

But as soon as someone else joined the conversation or the journalists appeared, the officials reprised the most inflexible and Stalinist orthodox discourse, parroting the official script without leaving out a single comma. It was a painful spectacle.

• Fourth. The pope and his retinue confirmed what they already suspected: the Cuban Church is split into two very clear sides: that of Cardinal Jaime Ortega, compliant to the collaborationist extreme of asking the police to empty a temple occupied by parishioners who wanted to protest against the dictatorship, knowing full well that they would be arrested and surely mistreated, and the side of bishops like Dionisio García Ibáñez, who was an engineer before being ordained as a priest and is much firmer in his rejection of the Cuban regime.

While Cardinal Ortega expresses compassion for some victims of the government (evidently not all), Dionisio (even while remaining friendly with the cardinal) and other priests, like the famous Rev. José Conrado Rodríguez, a priest in Santiago de Cuba, are convinced that there will be no relief or reconciliation among Cubans until the regime is peacefully replaced by a true democracy that takes into account the opinions of all of society, not just those of a handful of ultra-communists who are entangled in the cobwebs of the past.

• Fifth. The Pope ascertained that his contemporary Fidel Castro — they’re the same age — is in worse physical and mental conditions than himself. The pontiff found an elderly man who is physically incapacitated, mentally erratic and seriously unable to communicate. Fidel is finished.

The pope, who is a good man, prayed for him. It’s the Christian thing to do.

2 Responses to “What the pope saw in Cuba”

  1. Jorge Menendez 4 April 2012 at 1:28 pm Permalink

    No hay que ir a Cuba para descubrir la realidad encontrada por el Papa.
    Ya todo sobre Cuba y sus dirigentes se sabe a plenitud…solo queda esperar lo que pase con Chavez y Fidel, que obviamente generara una dinamica dificil de pronosticar.

  2. joseluis 5 April 2012 at 11:34 pm Permalink

    Fidel Castro es tan cobarde, tan miserable, que siendo un anciano, donde la muerte se acerca por naturaleza, teme ser derrocado y con la derrota su ajusticiamiento, o quizás los buenos del exilio, lo perdonen; pero no así los que habitan en Cuba, aquellos que tienen un odio engendrado por los abusos y la humillación que han tenido que pasar, aquellos no creen en el apaciguamiento de la iglesia católica. Quizás para los cubanos en la isla, la iglesia católica y Castro sean lo mismo, creo que hora mismo se está viendo igual, aunque no creo esto; pero lamentablemente, el cardenal Ortega quiso mas merito personal o histórico que cristiano, yo quise defender a la iglesia, por que sé que entre loa católicos en Cuba hay muchos sacerdotes que se acercan mucho a Cristo.

    Lo que decía del miedo de Castro: Castro es tan cobarde o miedoso, que se viste contradictoriamente con cualquier traje, se hace el humanista, se viste de monje o de Cristiano, se viste de pacifista y de toda corriente en moda.
    Fidel Castro le teme a la verdad, y nuca dirá una verdad que nazca del corazón, solo un disimulo o la doble moral para sobre vivir internacionalmente, es un Estalin o un Hitler en la practica con los cubanos en la isla; pero con un discurso que nada tiene que ver con su persona, y su proceder, y lo apañan: la prensa liberal de Estado Unidos, y algunos actores, algunos escritores, y porqué no decir hollywood.
    Estados Unidos después de la desaparición de la Unión Soviética, han dejado que Castro tome espacio en latino América, ¿ tu sabe por qué?…????; pero los cubanos opositores, se arriesgan, para que el mundo sepa la realidad de Cuba y cada día convencen mas al mundo de quienes son los Castro y su abusiva dictadura.
    Cuado yo oigo a una Zoe Valdes, haciendo el trabajo de los castristas, me en cojono, y no creo que sea con mala intención, sino, que es personalista, se cree idiotizada, que es igual que endiosada.

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