Monday, March 26, 2012

Benedict XVI: Between Neo-Castroism and Democracy / Antonio Rodiles

Benedict XVI: Between Neo-Castroism and Democracy / Antonio Rodiles
Translating Cuba

A few months ago, when former President Jimmy Carter visited the island,
he was interviewed by a Cuban television journalist. The interview was
too forced, with constant leading questions: Carter ended up calling
directly for the release of the five Cubans convicted for spying, and
disparaging the sentences imposed by the United States government. The
result was counterproductive, no one could take very seriously a
mediator or emissary who showed he was biased.

Although the official media have rejected "in theory" any attempt to
politicize the visit of Benedict XVI, the reality is different. The
newspaper Granma, on March 21, launched a tendentious message a few days
before the arrival of the Pope, revealing the main objective the
government is pursuing with this visit. The front page contains a left
column that covers most of the sheet and is titled Blockade Against Our
Homeland. The right column is headed by the title of an article which
then appears on the center page and is titled Another Chapter of
Disrespect and Falsehood; the issue is the alleged slander and
falsehoods raised by those trying to destroy the Revolution and show a
distorted image of the country. Of course one can not miss the insults
to everyone who does not share the official view, something that
continues to show the lack of moral strength and low political stature
of a system in deep crisis.

It is clear that the government's main objective for the Pope's visit is
not to eliminate all prohibitions against the church so that it can
fully perform its pastoral work, let alone from faith in a process of
greater openness and dialogue among all Cubans, but rather to seek
legitimacy from the Vatican and especially to enlist its support to
remove the restrictions that our northern neighbor has placed on the
current government. In other words, to manage the time and financial
funding to transmute itself. Power in Cuba is drowning in a moribund
economy, and facing an adverse situation it urgently needs a lifeline.
That and no other is its main priority.

But they have asked not only this from the Pope, now they have
"suggested" via multiple pathways, including Cuba's ambassador to the
Vatican, that he ignore Cuban civil society, especially those calling
for changes to a democratic society where individual rights are the
central focus. This request demonstrates the narrow vision of a
government intellectually and politically decapitalized. Unfortunately,
Power is not acting alone, events have shown that they can count on the
support of Cardinal Jaime Ortega, who from his hierarchy is heavily
damaging the credibility of the church not only to his faithful, but
also to civil society. The Cuban church hierarchy should take note of
actions such as those of the Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a man of
faith, whose moral force marked a milestone in a process of national

Legitimacy in Cuba rests not a government that disregards the rights of
its citizens, but in all those who call for a democratic system where
full respect for individual rights and freedoms dictate social dynamics.
Those who oppose this basic principle, under whatever pretext, become a
part of the retrograde and reactionary.

Our country needs mature and astute political actors who visualize the
transition to democracy as an urgent and indispensable step. We act,
therefore, at every moment, conscious that we are living this process.
Democracy in Cuba, we are creating today.

Antonio Rodiles is one of the founders of the Estado de Sats. This
article is from Diario de Cuba.

25 March 2012

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