Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cuban dissident says no disrespect meant by Church outburst

Cuban dissident says no disrespect meant by Church outburst

Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, Apr 25, 2012 / 04:09 pm (CNA).- Cuban dissident
Andres Carrion said he did not intend to offend the Catholic Church when
he shouted "freedom" during the papal Mass in the country on March 26.

"It was not my intention to tarnish the Mass, and I have said so to
various priests I have spoken with and they have understood me," he
said. "I am a Catholic and I didn't have any intention to harm the
Church or the image of the Pope."

Minutes before Pope Benedict XVI began Mass at Antonio Maceo
Revolutionary Square in Santiago during his recent visit, Carrion
shouted, "Down with Communism! Down with the dictatorship! Freedom for
the people of Cuba!"

He was quickly subdued by state-security agents and beaten by a supposed
member of the Red Cross.

In an April 24 interview published by the newspaper El Pais, Carrion
said he has sent a letter to the Archbishop of Santiago explaining the
reasons for his protest "and to apologize to the Pope and to the entire
Catholic community."

"But they and everyone else should understand that we Cubans have no
freedom of expression," he said. "Because of this, we look for an
opportunity to be heard, and I thought that that was an opportunity that
could not be passed up."

Carrrion said he does not belong to any political party and that he was
motivated only by a sense of civic duty and principle.

"We Cuban needed to do something so the world could know about the
violations and the huge problems that we face here with freedom of
expression and human rights," he explained. "I carried all of that
around inside of me for a long time and that was the time to say it."

Carrion said he spent 20 days in prison after the incident, and although
he was not physically mistreated during his detainment, he was kept in a
dark cell and only allowed to have the lights on ten minutes during the
morning and ten minutes at night.

He was eventually released and forced to sign agreement with further

"I have to check in at the police station each week, I cannot leave my
town without asking permission, I cannot meet with members of the
opposition or give interviews, I cannot participate in protests."

But "I have not followed hardly any of that," he added. "They are not
going to silence me in this way."

Carion said that before heading to Antonio Maceo Square on March 26, he
said goodbye "to my mother, my sister, my wife…I told her that morning
before going to Mass, 'I love you very much.'"

"I thought I would not return, I thought that was going to be the last
day of my life."

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