Pope Benedict XVI has accepted a request by Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez for an audience during his visit to Cuba according to Venezuelan journalist Nelson Bocarranda. Chavez returned to Cuba on Saturday to receive more treatment for a cancer that many experts say will end the dictator’s life within a matter of months. This news will no doubt raise the already heightened concerns of human rights activists in Cuba and throughout the world who have pleaded with the pope to grant an audience to Cuban dissidents, in particular the devoutly Catholic, all-women human rights organization, The Ladies in White Laura Pollan.
The Vatican has so far refused to commit to any meetings with Cuban dissidents or the Ladies in White, citing the time constraints of a full schedule during the visit to Cuba. However, the Vatican has offered an audience to Fidel Castro if he so wishes, apparently willing to shuffle the pope’s busy agenda to accommodate the retired dictator. The news now that the Vatican on such short notice has suddenly found room in the schedule to provide an audience for another dictator, Hugo Chavez, will most certainly cause more controversy.
H/T Punt de Vista