By Juan Carlos Fernandez in Translating Cuba:
Rise and Fall of a Diocese
Extension of the Diocese of Pinar del Río. (Juan Carlos Fernández / 14ymedio)
“How much everything has changed! How gorgeous the Cathedral is with those add-ons!” exclaimed a Catholic layman on returning to visit his native Pinar del Rio after three decades of exile.
The improvement of the infrastructure of the diocese, which started with the arrival of Archbishop Monsignor Jorge Enrique Serpa, is impressive. The construction work was fast-tracked and the traditional problems with permits disappeared. The cost of the strategy to sustain it, however, will be difficult to sustain.
Cardinal Jaime Ortega and Archbishop Serpa together undertook the task, which happened to please the Cuban authorities, removing part of the secular activity of the diocese to achieve, in exchange, benefits.
When in January 2007, Monsignor José Siro González Bacallao made official Serpa’s assumption of the Diocese, a new chapter began in the pastoral, religious and social life of the local church.
The appointment coincided with a rapprochement between the authorities and part of the Catholic hierarchy, led by the Archbishop of Havana, Jaime Ortega y Alamino. This improvement in relations culminated in the visit to Cuba of Benedict XVI, in March 2012, and the release from prison of a large group of political prisoners of the 2003 Black Spring.
The Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba also paved the way to understanding. The two bishops most uncomfortable for the Government were about to retire for reasons of age. In Santiago de Cuba, Pedro Meurice, old and sick ceded his episcopate to his disciple, Dionisio García. At the other end of the island, José Siro retired to Mantua and left the way open for the pact.
Since the inauguration of the new bishop in Pinar del Rio, it took just three months to begin the dismantling of all the works that were considered an obstacle to improving relations with the government.
The members of the editorial board of the Church magazine Vitral were forced out, and the training center and publisher were dismantled. They also dissolved the Brotherhood of Assistance to Prisoners and Their Families, the Youth Ministry, the Catholic Commission for Culture and the Diocesan Council of Laity. Thus, the lay members left the structure of the Pinar del Rio Church.
When Monsignor Serpa took over, after 20 years serving in the Bogota Archdiocese, the Pinar del Rio Diocese had only 17 priests, fewer than 30 nuns, and a large group of committed lay people. The churches were deteriorated and the difficulties in obtaining permission for restoration were notable.
Now, for the first time in more than fifty years, all the parishes have priests, the number of members by religious congregation has grown, and the entry and establishment of other orders, among them the Brigidine Sisters, have been extended from Havana.
Management has been allowed, in addition to restoring the Cathedral, to enlarge the parish house and the construction of a complex of classrooms for catechisms and meetings. The Church has been able to buy a site for Caritas located in the center of the city, less than a block from the provincial headquarters of the Communist Party.
In addition, in just eight years Sandino is the first captive people to have a temple, one of the greatest diplomatic achievements in the last 25 years of the authorities insistently denying Siro permission. The return of the religious processions in all the dioceses is also a noted achievement of Serpa.
But the negative consequences of his mandate have also been felt. The bishop complains of a lack of motivation and commitment among the faithful, including to make donations. On the other hand, the social commitment is almost zero and the pastoral is ecclesial – more severe than the so-called clerical. Except for the Bishop, there is no presence of Church members in any social environment.
“The loss of moral authority is not achieved overnight,” whispers a Pinar del Rio Catholic. “Rebuilding costs far more than any new temple,” says the layman.
The legacy the current bishop will leave when he retires, at age 75, will be a magnificent architectural infrastructure that will not need to be touched for a while. The challenge will be re-form, articulate and prepare the Church formed by laymen which was dismantled.
The vultures from left to right: Useful Idiots, ALBA, limousine liberals, the EU, USA, Tourism, China, Russia
A little education goes a long way.
Via The Washington Free Beacon:
Majority Oppose Obama’s Cuba Reset When Informed of Rights Abuses
A majority of Americans oppose President Barack Obama’s normalization of relations with Cuba when they are informed of reports of continued weapons smuggling and human rights abuses by Raul Castro’s regime, according to a new poll.
In a survey released on Monday by Inter-American Security Watch, a majority of Americans—51 percent to 38 percent—said they initially favored Obama’s efforts to restore ties with Cuba and lift travel and financial restrictions. However, those numbers reversed when the respondents were informed of the latest actions by the Castro regime.
Columbian authorities halted a Chinese ship en route to Cuba earlier this month after discovering illegal explosives and other arms in its cargo, which was supposed to only contain grain. That followed an attempt by a North Korean ship in 2013 to smuggle 240 tons of Cuban weapons concealed under bags of sugar. After being told about the illicit arms shipments, 63 percent of American voters said they opposed removing U.S. sanctions on Cuba.
Cuba also continues to harbor dozens of U.S. fugitives accused of committing murder and acts of terrorism. When informed of Cuba’s practice of offering asylum to Americans wanted for murder and terrorism, 63 percent said they were against removing sanctions, and 68 percent supported keeping the Castro regime on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Overall, 64 percent of Americans said sanctions should remain in place until the Cuban government frees all political prisoners and stages multi-party elections. The Castro regime subjected dissidents to nearly 9,000 short-term detentions last year, a sharp increase compared with recent years.
OnMessage Inc. conducted the poll among 700 likely voters with an oversample of 300 likely Cuban American voters. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.7 percent.
Via South Coast Today:
Acclaimed author, professor, talks about his Cuban and American experience
DARTMOUTH — As a Cuban American, Carlos Eire said he is not happy about the United States’ effort to normalize relations with his home country.“I am not and I cannot be. Anyone who reads this history will know why,” Eire, acclaimed author and Yale professor, said to a packed room in UMass Dartmouth’s Claire T. Carney library on Monday afternoon. “It’s all about justice.”
One of the 14,000 unaccompanied "Peter Pan" children, ages 3-18, who were rescued from Cuba in the early 1960s and raised in the U.S., Eire describes the trauma of that separation coupled with the new opportunities that awaited him in two of his books, written wholly from memory.
“I am two different people — a historian of late medieval history and a professional Cuban,” he said as he read from the "preambulo" of his book “Waiting for Snow in Havana.”
“Memory is the most potent truth. Show me history untouched by memories and you show me lies," he said.
Torn from his family at the age of 11, raised first by a Jewish family and then in a Cuban camp, Eire was reunited with his mother after three-and-a-half years in the United States. He never saw his father and wasn’t allowed to attend his funeral when he died. All his books are banned in Cuba and Eire never returned.
The personal memories of his childhood and the history of his home country “collide and crash,” for Eire, who often spoke with great emotion about Cuban school children forced to work for free in agricultural camps on the other side of the island where their parents could not reach them; about mandatory military service for boys over 17; how less than 3 percent of the population has access to the Internet; and how anyone can be imprisoned for distributing the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“Almost every family has been destroyed, one way or another, by this regime but (the regime) has never been punished for their crimes against humanity,” he said.
Continue reading HERE.
This boat with eight Cuban migrants aboard arrived in George Town harbor on Sunday
East Berliners who wanted to escape from their communist Hell had to surmount The Wall or tunnel under it.
Cubans who want to escape from their communist and tourist-infested Hell have to cross shark-infested waters in "rustic" vessels.
And they don't just aim for Florida. Lately, large numbers of Cubans have been heading south, to the Cayman Islands.
The ultimate destination for many of them is the United States, by roundabout routes.
Their exodus is steady, and growing. Their plight is tragic.
As the acolytes of the current occupant of the White House bring wondrous gifts to the Castro regime, the victims of that regime seek to escape before those gifts are opened.
The American gift they fear the most is the one that will strip Cubans of refugee status and make them no different from Haitians, Mexicans, and other Lateeeeeen-ohs.
Welcome to the undocumented migrant club, ah-mee-goes...
Haitian migrants: "welcome to our club, Cubanos."
From Cayman Compass:
More Cuban migrants arrive in Cayman
Sixty Cuban migrants have arrived in Cayman Islands territorial waters over the past few days and have been given permission to dock or anchor offshore while they await improved weather conditions.
According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, the largest group was at Colliers Beach on Monday. Some 38 Cuban migrants, 31 men and seven women, were awaiting a sea change while the 39th person aboard, a male, chose to disembark and be taken into custody.
Another group of 13 Cubans, nine men and four women, were docked near the old Divi Tiara resort on the south side of Cayman Brac.
A third group of eight Cuban migrants floated into George Town harbor on Sunday and anchored off the harbor.
According to ministry officials, acting Chief Immigration Officer Bruce Smith had given the Cuban boaters permission to stay and await calmer weather. However, local rules require the migrants to stay on their watercraft. If they come ashore, they face arrest and repatriation to Cuba.
In addition to the 60 migrants floating offshore as of Monday, another 44 were being housed in the Immigration Detention Centre awaiting their return home.
The latest influx brings to more than 160 the number of Cuban migrants who have shown up in local waters since the start of this year.
Mexican migrants: "welcome to our club, Cubanos."
John Suarez in Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter:
18 years without justice for Danish student gunned down in Havana by a soldier
"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." - Elie Wiesel, Nobel Lecture 1986
Joachim Løvschall: 1970 - 1997
Joachim Løvschall was studying Spanish in Havana in the spring of 1997. He was gunned down by a soldier of the Castro regime in Havana, Cuba eighteen years ago today on March 29, 1997. The identity of the soldier has never been revealed to Joachim''s family. No one has been brought to justice. Joachim's family is not satisfied with the explanation offered by the dictatorship.
The last time they saw Joachim
On March 28, 1997 Joachim Løvschall ate his last dinner with white wine in a little restaurant called Aladin, located on 21st street in Havana. He went to the Revolutionary Plaza and bought a ticket to the Cuban National Theater. Following the performance he went to the theater's bar, Cafe Cantate, and met up with two Swedish friends. They each drank a couple of beers, but soon left because Joachim did not like the music. At 23:30, they said good bye to each other on the sidewalk in front of Cafe Cantate. Joachim was never seen alive again.
The Castro regime's version of what happened
On September 28, 1997 the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published an article by Kim Hundevadt titled "Dangerous Vacation" that outlined what happened to Joachim Løvschall and presented the Castro regime's version of the events leading to this young man's death:
Around 23:30, a person matching Joachim Løvschall's description was in a bar named Segundo Dragon d'Oro. The bar lies in the hopeless part of town, around the Revolutionary Plaza which is dominated by ministry and other official buildings of harsh concrete architecture, and lies empty in at night.
At 2:45am he left the bar, after becoming intoxicated. Around 20 minutes later, he was walking down the Avenue Territorial, behind the Defense Ministry.
Joachim Løvschall walked, according to the Cuban authorities, first on the sidewalk that lies opposite the Ministry. Midway he crossed over to the other sidewalk, considered to be a military area, though it is not blocked off.
The Cubans have explained that Joachim Løvschall was shouted at by two armed guards, who in addition fired warning shots, which he did not react to. Therefore, one guard shot from the hip with an AK-47 rifle. The first shot hit Joachim in the stomach and got him to crumble down. The second shot hit slanting down the left side of the neck.
Ten years later
On June 12, 2007 Christian Løvschall, Joachim's father, at a parallel forum at the United Nations Human Rights Council spoke about his son's disappearance and the struggle to find out if Joachim was dead or alive:
"Although the killing took place on the 29th of March, we only came to know about it on the 6th of April - i.e. after 8 days were we had the feeling that the Cuban authorities were unwilling to inform anything about the incident. Only because of good relations with Spanish speaking friends in other Latin American countries did we succeed in getting into contact with the family with whom Joachim stayed and the repeated message from their side was that they could reveal nothing, but that the situation had turned out very bad and that we had to come to Cuba as soon as possible. At the same time all contacts to the responsible authorities turned out negatively... Only after continued pressure from our side on the Cuban embassy in Copenhagen, things suddenly changed and the sad information was given to us by our local police on the evening of the 6th of April. We are, however, 100% convinced that had we not made use of our own contact and had we not continued our pressure on the embassy in Copenhagen, we might have faced a situation where Joachim would have been declared a missing person, a way out the Cuban authorities have been accused of applying in similar cases."
Ten years later Christian Løvschall outlined what he knew concerning his son's untimely death:
We do feel we were (and still are) left with no answers except to maybe one of the following questions:
Where, When, Who, Why Starting out with the where we were told that Joachim was killed by the soldiers outside the Ministry of Interior.
Continue reading HERE.
Who told the left that Hispanics were all supposed to believe or sound the same way?
The bottom line is that Hispanics in the US are a diversified group of people. We should respect our differences rather than engage in these attacks against those of us who didn't buy into "hope and change".
Click to read:
GUEST: Jorge Ponce, Cuban American writer and contributor to the Babalu blog, joins us for a discussion of US-Cuba talks.........there are still very controversial issues dividing the two nations, such as Joanne Chesimard, the woman who killed a New Jersey state trooper and escaped to Cuba.....the Venezuela rift......human rights violations in Cuba.....concerns in the US Congress about normalization with Cuba.......
Click to listen:
By Rebeca Monzo in Translating Cuba:
For the last few years I have been tuning-in to a program broadcast on Sundays, from 6 to 9am, on the Cuban Radio station Radio Rebelde, ironically titled, “Memories.”
Because I love good Cuban music of all eras, I am a faithful listener of this program, and I also take the opportunity to dance a little, as a means of morning exercise. I must, I confess, bite the bullet to ignore the tedious sermons (“….had to travel thousands of kilometers to buy the molds….when the island was blockaded….”) and which year after year they play on the air lest, as they say, we forget.
What this program keeps quiet about is that it has been the Revolutionary government itself which has subjected its people to a criminal cultural blockade, depriving more than three generations of our best musicians and singers, for the sole fact of their having emigrated after 1959 — or who being on tour outside the country, never returned, as in the case of our great musician and composer Ernesto Lecuona, whose name was forbidden from being mentioned on the radio until 1989 or 1990.
Also silenced (and still so today) were a good number of musicians and singers, such as Celia Cruz — and Olga Guillot, who, for the first time, the program hosts dared to mention last month and to play one of her renditions.
They also seem to forget that The Beatles not only were prohibited, but that their records were hunted down, and those of us who owned any had to carry them inside other sleeves to keep them from being confiscated — and that now not only is there a sculpture of John Lennon in a centrally-located Havana park, but the old Atelier nightclub has been re-christened El Submarino Amarillo [“The Yellow Submarine”]. My generation cannot forget that if we wanted to listen to their music, we had to do so at low volume and under lock and key inside the house.
I believe that the moment has come, if we are to be current with these times (and with the timid attempts by the government to reestablish negotiations with the country that has always depicted us as Public Enemy Number One) to change that old aggressive and pejorative language, and address those great Cuban artists who opted for full individual liberty and left the country in search of broad cultural horizons.
I suggest to the program director, the whole team, and especially to the scriptwriter, that they break once and for all with those atavisms and finally broadcast those voices, silenced throughout so many years, as well as provide information about their interpreters, so as to stop damaging our musical culture.
Note: This article was published in the digital daily 14ymedio.com
Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison
Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo in Post Revolution Mondays:
No blogger, no Obama
No blogger, no cry.
1 In the beginning was the Blog. 2 But blogs were formless and empty. 3 Repression was all over the blogosphere. 4 And the citizens saw the blogs were good. 5 So that lacking other channels of expression, the Cuban civil society occupied blogosphere as a tool for dissent. 6 Won’t you help to share these blogs of freedom? 7 Redemption blogs, redemption blogs to emancipate ourselves from the State.
As early as in the summer of 2005, I opened a blog for publishing a literary and opinion magazine that three Cuban writers decide to edit in Havana: Cacharro(s) —in English, Junk(s).
Lizabel Monica, Jorge Alberto Aguiar and I were posting our texts in cyberspace, hoping for a reader abroad to save us from the silence within. We couldn’t imagine that in a couple of years our initial experiment was to be ignored in the history of Cuban blogosphere, when our efforts to escape not only censorship, but also the mass media mediocrity of the Revolution, were displaced by new voices with high public impact both from the cultural and political fields.
This happened when the Consenso —Consensus— digital magazine became Contodos —With All— and opened the website Desdecuba.com, directed by Reinaldo Escobar, Manuel Cuesta Morúa, Miriam Celaya, Dimas Castellanos, among others, including a webmaster who, in April 2007, started a very simple WordPress blog called Generation Y. The trademark Yoani Sánchez was born, as well as the first virtual revolution in the time of Castro.
This was the genesis of an independent movement of citizen journalism which challenged the lack of transparency of the public sphere in Cuba, a country still without private Internet today.
Cuban top-level intelligence commanders like Ramiro Valdes have stated that the Internet is a “wild horse” that “must be tamed” before offering it to the people. After many promises and postpositions, including a submarine fiber-optic cable that connects us with Venezuela since 2011, Cubans are still waiting for a miracle.cu, although the vice-president Miguel Diaz Canel has warned our press not to be objective but “loyal to Fidel, Raul, and the Revolution”, while Fidel himself determined that the “internet is a revolutionary tool”.
Elaine Diaz, blogger of La Polemica Digital —The Digital Polemics— known as critical of certain official measures, but at the same time a professor of journalism at Havana University and now a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, in her degree thesis about the Cuban blogosphere “scientifically” established in terms of topics and chronology that none of the renowned dissident bloggers were pioneers at all, thus diluting this phenomenon in an ocean of other blogs practically discovered by her, up to nearly 3,000 today, which outnumbers by far the dozens of local independent bloggers.
Diaz quotes only those blogs that can be quoted in Cuba without risking her research position, like Patria y Humanidad —Homeland and Mankind— since 2006 administered by Luis Sexto, a winner of the National Journalism Prize; and La Isla y la Espina —The Island and the Thorn— since 2007 administered by Reinaldo Cedeño, both defined as open to “foreign authors” and to “hot heated debates” but, of course, within the temperature limits of political discipline on the Island.
Diaz recognizes that the Union of Cuban Journalists (UPEC) and no less than the Ideological Department of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party, authorized more than 1,000 official journalists to open blogs from their workplaces or privileged home connections, in order to —as Milena Recio wrote in her article “Cuban blogs: an entrenched identity”— reproduce in cyberspace the same battlefield logic of the street propaganda, to “counteract the distorted and opposite speeches from hegemonic mass media” against the Revolution.
The very Code of Ethics of UPEC rejects “hyper-criticism” in its article 7, while in articles 8 and 9 reminds their members to “maintain a social and moral behavior in accordance with the principles and norms of our society […] to promote the best of our national values and the constant improvement of our socialist society”. And after paternalism comes a large list of punishments, which includes imprisonment, as happened to a journalist from the Communist Party newspaper Granma, Jose Antonio Torres, accused of espionage after one of his official reports.
Diaz also proposes the “emancipatory and anti-capitalist usefulness of the new media and technology” in Cuba, and the need of “virtual symbols” for a country where it is “possible” the “horizontal dialogue”, beyond power hierarchies and all kinds of social exclusion: by race, by gender, by sexual preference, by economic status, etc. Although she omits to mention the cause of all discriminations in Cuba: the political intolerance and hate speech of the revolutionary government, summarized by Fidel Castro in his speech to Cuban intellectuals in 1961: “Within the Revolution, everything; against the Revolution, nothing.”
Continue reading HERE.
Obama's Hope and Change policy of supporting and empowering Cuba's apartheid dictatorship continues to roll along and over the island's peaceful democracy and freedom activists.
Via Uncommon Sense:
20 Cuban Ladies In White arrested in Havana
Cuban Ladies In White march Sunday in Havana. (Photo by Angel Juan Moya via ICLEP.org)
Twenty members of the Cuban Ladies In White and other opposition activists were arrested Sunday after they threw photographs of Cuban political prisoners out a bus they were riding. Among those arrested was Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies In White, or Damas De Blanco.
After Sunday Mass, the activists hopped on a bus and as it approached the famed Coppelia ice cream stand, they began throwing the photographs out the windows.
They were then taken off the bus and arrested. Their whereabouts early Sunday evening were not known, but there was at least one report that some of those arrested had been released.
Earlier in the day, 63 Damas had attended Mass, then as always they marched down Fifth Avenue.
Today's demonstration marked the 12th anniversary of the group's founding by the late Laura Pollan and other female relatives of journalists, librarians and other activists arrested during the "black spring" crackdown of 2003.
34 years ago (around 2pm CT), I was in Mexico City and walking back to my office across from the US Embassy.
I got to the office and there was “an urgent” message from my mother.
I tried to call my mom in Texas but she beat me to it.
My mother was very nervous and said that “Reagan had been shot”.
I tuned “Armed Forces Radio” on my little shortwave radio and I got the latest reports.
We know today that Pres Reagan almost died that day.
We are very grateful that a Secret Service Agent pushed Reagan into the car and told the driver to go to the nearest hospital.
Pres Reagan survived and enjoyed two successful terms as president. However, it almost ended prematurely 34 years ago today.
We had a TV at the office and tuned in Frank Reynolds & Sam Donaldson of ABC.
A few weeks later, Pres Res Reagan spoke to Congress.
Wait a minute--you say-- the Inquisition was abolished in the 19th century!
Not so. Not so. Not the Castro Inquisition.
That Inquisition is alive and well, and it has many outposts throughout the Castro dynasty's island. And that Inquisition calls itself Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR).
Don't let the name change throw you off. It's just window dressing.
These so-called committees are outposts for spying on everyone, and for denouncing those who stray from orthodoxy.
In this updated version of the good old Inquisition a new star is on the rise. His name might seem vaguely familiar to you: Elian Gonzalez.
Yes, that boy.
He has risen to the top post of the CDR Youth.
In a country best known for its free and fair elections, this human trophy snatched by Fidel Castro has been voted into office by current members of the CDR.
His job will be to lead young Cubans in the patriotic task of spying on their neighbors, chanting slogans, staging "acts of repudiation" against heretics, and harassing anyone who dishonors or perverts the "ideals" of the so-called Revolution.
Oh, my! Such a surprise!
Who could have ever predicted this turn of events when the Clinton administration kidnapped him at gunpoint and sent him back to Fidel?
Whole story HERE in the Castellano dialect (from Cafe Fuerte).
And for another story on Elian's role in the "normalization" circus, go HERE (in English, from Breitbart)
Elian and "Cuban Five" spy Antonio Guerrero
NO ONE EXPECTS THE CASTRO INQUISITION!!!