Catholic New Service
RE: Article "In Mexico and Cuba, papal trip to highlight local and regional issues"
It is misleading and inaccurate to state that the Cuban "Catholic Church has enjoyed relatively tranquil dealings with the civil authorities".
The Cuban communist regime established its relationship with the Catholic Church by deporting, confiscating church property and closing Catholic schools all across the island. In 1961, when the regime outwardly declared itself Marxist Leninist, one hundred and thirty two Cuban parish priests throughout Cuba were ordered to go to Havana, on false premises, and forcibly placed on a ship named "Covadonga" (without any personal documents or possessions) that deported them to Spain. I have friends who are still affected by their childhood memories of how the militia men, in the name of the Cuban Revolution, expropriated Catholic schools, vandalizing and breaking images of saints before the student body.
To say that the fifty three year old Cuban communist regime has now "a growing respect for Church authority" is also misleading and inaccurate to say before your readers for in Cuba's totalitarian state, all is controlled by a military regime that manipulates social institutions to benefit their only goal: to stay in power. Cardinal Jaime Ortega was used by the Cuban regime to get rid of and deport around 100 citizens whom it considered an "international nuisance". These representatives of independent Cuban civil society such as journalists, doctors, poets, teachers, union leaders etc. suffered cruel and degrading treatment during an eight year unjust imprisonment for defending fundamental freedoms in the island. The release of each and everyone of these men was offered by Cardinal Ortega with one condition: that they had to leave Cuba . In violation of Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all of these Cuban political prisoners' passports, as well as their families', have a stamp on them that denies their return to their country: "SALIDA DEFINITIVA" (DEFINITIVE EXIT). Today, the eleven men who refused forced exile and remained in Cuba, are under a parole that could send them back to prison anytime if they attempt to exercise independent ideas. All of them, as well as their families, are under surveillance and are victims of sinister tactics of harassment.
The power of the media is enourmous. The news media is supposedly guided by an ethical responsibility to report information that is backed by documented data. When it is not, more often than not, it undermines the investigative work of human rights groups whose main objective is to defend the victims of oppression.
Laida A. Carro
Human Rights Defender
Coalition of Cuban-American Women