Saturday, July 23, 2011

Cuban Archbishop Meurice Stood Up to Power

Yoani Sanchez - Award-Winning Cuban Blogger

Cuban Archbishop Meurice Stood Up to Power
Posted: 7/22/11 11:48 AM ET

In memoriam for Pedro Meurice Estiú, Archbishop Emeritus of Santiago de Cuba

They called Archbishop Pedro Meurice Estiu "the lion of the East" for
his more-than-proven bravery in the face of the arbitrary and
authoritarian. That January 24, 1998, in Antonia Maceo Plaza in Santiago
de Cuba, his face is serious, deep in thought. Pope John Paul II has
just finished his homily and the Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba was to
address his flock and the Shepherd who had come to visit it. Before
taking the podium, Meurice spoke with the priest Jose Conrado Rodriguez
Alegre and told him, "This lion is old with a shaggy mane, but it will
roar." He took the microphone and kept his word.

Facing the surprised Santiagans gathered there, and those who were
watching the live on television, Meurice's address seems to interpret
our thoughts, to spring from our own mouths. "Holy Father... I present
to you a growing number of Cubans who have confused the country with a
party, the nation with a historical process we have lived through in
recent decades, culture with an ideology." And on this side of the
screen, many of us did not stop applauding, crying, jumping, looking at
the shocked and annoyed face of Raul Castro at the foot of the dais. No
one had told the Minister of the Armed Forces -- in public and before so
many witnesses -- truths of this nature. Some escaped in fear from that
immense square, but others? The boldest? They were chanting the word,

"This is a people that has the richness of joy, and a material poverty
that saddens and overwhelms it, barely letting it see beyond immediate
subsistence," the lion continued to roar. And in our lethargic civic
consciousness something began to stir. Meurice had returned to his years
of greatest vitality and the swords that emerged from the ground of that
Plaza flew in the face of a rebelliousness lost in some corner of
history. For a few brief moments we were free. The homily ended, the
severe gesture of our current president presaged scoldings for the old
lion, but the crook of John Paul II would protect him.

Today, Pedro Meurice has left us, with his nobility of the feline
guardian of the litter, leaving us with the responsibility to present
ourselves to the world. How are we going to describe ourselves now? Who
will be believe that 13 years later we haven't been able to "demystify
the false messiahs"? How will we explain the fear that has led to
paralysis, to continuing to wait for others who will roar for us?

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