Go to so much shame? Others can. We cannot! — José Martí
On the occasion of the celebration of the Jubilee Year of the 400th anniversary of the apparition of the image of Our Lady of Charity, patron saint of Cuba, in the Bay of Nipe, Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to travel to Cuba between March 26 and 28.
Once again we are confronting the actions of a Catholic hierarchy in Miami — represented by Archbishop Thomas Wenski — intent on serving as a travel agent and catalyst of the false projection of normalcy in a country where nothing is normal, where nothing essential has changed and where power arbitrarily remains in the hands of an illegitimate communist regime that continues to violate each and every one of its citizens’ human rights.
Previously, for the visit of Pope John Paul II to Cuba in 1998, a “cruise” initiative was launched and ultimately cancelled after several Catholic voices from our exile community — our group’s among them — rose up with irrefutable arguments against it, and some of us held meetings with Cardinal O’Connor in New York, among others, given the incongruity of this pilgrimage.
Now, 14 years later, Archbishop Wenski, currently the maximum authority of our church in Miami — city of victims that harbors the suffering and decorum of the exiled Cuban nation — has fully dedicated himself to the promotion and organization of the ill-named “pilgrimage of reconciliation” to the island to coincide with the pope’s visit, once again fomenting the division between Catholics within our exile community.
Acceptance of the conditions of the pilgrimage constitutes a humiliation and shows a lack of respect to the dignity of Cubans. The Castro regime controls and approves those who can visit the island. Obviously there is no room within the “pilgrimage” for Cubans openly critical of the Castro brothers’ dictatorship to show solidarity towards political prisoners, the Ladies in White, or human rights’ activists. Everyone who goes needs an entry visa to the country where they were born and have to be subjected to the official agenda imposed by the regime under the complacent gaze of Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino.
The name given to this undertaking, “pilgrimage of reconciliation,” constitutes by itself a distortion of the sad Cuban reality, which problem does not lie in the “reconciliation” of Cuban exiles with Cubans on the island — we are one people — but rather emanates from the urgent necessity of establishing a rule of law, with justice and freedom, which we have the duty to defend and the commitment to achieve.
While this takes place on this side of the Straits of Florida, over there on the island, under a brutal repressive climate, the attitude of the ecclesiastic hierarchy, with honorable exceptions, has been one of accommodation with the oppressors and not with the victims of the longest dictatorship of our hemisphere.
In exchange for some concessions that precisely ratify the totalitarian nature of the regime, they have given preference to interests over sacred principles. The way in which ecclesiastical authorities on the island have made pronouncements or failed to do so, preferring the accomplice’s silence to the proclamation of the truth, is incompatible with the Christian values of the religion for which so many Cuban martyrs died executed by the Castro firing squads exclaiming, “Long Live Christ the King!”
The ecclesiastic hierarchy has undertaken a media campaign supported by a small group, with the objective that Cubans “reconcile” with their executioners and go down the path indicated by the president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba and Archbishop of Santiago, Dionisio García, in recent statements to a European news media, that it is necessary to foster an attitude of “accepting the other, accepting what the other thinks, what the other states, what the other is, and how the other sees the reality of things.”
Accept the murderers that continue to murder with impunity?
Accept the torturers that continue torturing Cuban political prisoners and the state security agents that continue savagely beating the Ladies in White and women of the resistance?
Accept the infamy of evil that keeps marching forward without any remorse whatsoever through a land that thirsts for rights and freedom? Accept censorship and slavery?
Accept the reality of a totalitarian dictatorship that for more than half a century has repressed and continues to repress the Cuban people? Accept traveling to our homeland as foreigners and giving up meeting with the victims of oppression?
Paraphrasing Martí: Go to so much shame? Others can. We cannot!