Petition for the retirement of Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino

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According to the rules established by Pope John Paul II, all bishops are required to retire when they reach the age of 75. Cardinal Ortega was born in October 1936. This means he is overdue for forced retirement, yet, he clings to his post, and the Holy Father allows him to do so.

A petition has been launched that calls on Pope Benedict XVI to enforce the rules and appoint a successor to Cardinal Ortega. I received this petition as an email, posted below. All you need to do is to email your name and place of residence to cultivrosablanca@aol.com by May 20.

I wish I had time to translate this email, but in less than four hours I have to drive to Hartford –fifty miles away — to catch a flight to Portland, Oregon.  And I’m not done packing yet….   Full text of the petition in Spanish below:

Queridos compatriotas y amigos de Cuba:

Aquellos que deseen firmar la peticion al Vaticano para que acepte la dimision del Cardenal Ortega, enviar titulo, nombre y apellido y estado/pais de residencia. Si lo desean pueden incluir organizacion o empresa a que pertenezcan y si ex-preso, numbero de preso politico. Enviar datos a cultivrosablanca@aol.com antes de Mayo 20, 2012. No se aceptaran pseudonimos ni primer nombre solamente.

Abril 25, 2012
Su Santidad, Papa Benedicto XVI
Palazzo Apostólico
00120, Ciudad del Vaticano
Muy Santísimo Padre:
Le escribimos para humildemente pedirle que acepte inmediatamente la dimisión del Cardenal cubano, Jaime Ortega y Alamino al tener este ya cumplidos sus 75 años de edad como impone el derecho canónico y exige la norma establecida por Pablo VI.
Según la base del Código de Derecho Canónico, es decir, el texto aprobado en 1983 y firmado por Juan Pablo II en su quinto año de pontificado, los obispos están obligados a entregar la dimisión del gobierno pastoral de sus diócesis en las manos del Pontífice al cumplir los 75 años de edad, en aplicación del primer párrafo del canon número 401. Siguiendo las normas contempladas por la actual «carta» que regula la vida interna de la Iglesia católica, la cuestión de las dimisiones y renuncias está blindada.
El Cardenal Ortega nació en Octubre de 1936 y su Santidad Benedicto XVI en lineas generales casi siempre ha aceptado el nombramiento a un nuevo cardenal salvo que otra imprevisible prorroga por motivos de fuerza mayor.
Comprendemos que dado la anunciada visita a Cuba de Su Santidad Benedicto XVI el Santo Padre permitiera al actual cardenal Ortega continuar en su posición meses después de cumplir los mandatorios 75 años de edad para que este pudiera organizar, asistir y participar en esta visita prorrogando así su fecha de retiro permanente. Sin embargo, las recientes declaraciones del Cardenal Ortega en los Estados Unidos han sido rechazadas y desmentidas rotundamente por la oposición cubana tanto dentro y fuera de Cuba y contradicen el mensaje de reconciliación que aparenta promover.
El cardenal Ortega haciendo uso del derecho de libertad de expresión otorgada dentro de los recintos universitarios de los Estados Unidos, derecho que se le niega a los cubanos en la Isla, insulta la memoria de nuestro Obispo cubano Monseñor Agustín Román que fue expulsado y desterrado por el mismo régimen totalitario que aun gobierna por más de cinco décadas en Cuba con el cual el Cardenal Ortega pide reconciliación.
Según el Cardenal Ortega el Obispo Agustín Román le aconsejó no mencionara la palabra reconciliación en la homilía de su primera visita como cardenal a Miami. Sus declaraciones de que tuviera “que callar esa palabra que es nuestra, que es propia del cristianismo” es una ofensa doble al inferir falta de caridad hacia el prójimo de parte de un santo prelado de la Iglesia Católica y poner palabras en boca de un obispo recientemente fallecido que no puede ni afirmalas ni desmentirlas
Sus palabras ante una audiencia universitaria clasificando de antiguos delicuentes, sin nivel cultural y con trastornos sicológicos a 13 opositores que ocuparon un templo habanero y sacados del lugar violentamente a petición del propio cardenal poco antes de la visita papal, han sido rechazadas y desmentidas rotundamente por la oposición cubana tanto dentro y fuera de Cuba. Palabras elitistas que contradicen las del Buen Pastor que ama a todas sus ovejas incluyendo las delicuentes, las enfermas mentales y las de bajo nivel cultural.
Las reacciones del pueblo cubano, tanto dentro de la Isla como en el exilio demuestran que ?ste no esta de acuerdo con la actuación y declaraciones del Cardenal Ortega
El conocido opositor y expreso político cubano Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet declara “Creo que la dirección de la Iglesia no ha comprendido que hay que exigirle al gobierno que los cambios son derechos elementales de la persona”.
Berta Soler, portavoz de las Damas de Blanco, desmiente los comentarios del cardenal Ortega. “Llamar delincuentes a esos hombres son palabras que usa el gobierno cubano. No estoy de acuerdo y yo me pregunto: ¿De dónde sacó esa información Ortega para llamarlos así?” .
Silvia Iriondo, presidenta y fundadora de M.A.R. por Cuba, fustigó a Ortega por un lenguaje que calificó de despectivo. “Claramente, la Iglesia de Jesucristo no es la misma Iglesia del cardenal”
La periodista de Radio Mambí y miembro del Consejo por la Libertad de Cuba, Ninoska Pérez-Castellón, dice. “Me parece una canallada que la severidad de sus críticas vayan siempre dirigidas hacia el exilio y las víctimas y no hacia los victimarios. Peor aún que use a monseñor Román después de muerto y que hable de reconciliarse con un enemigo que no se ha arrepentido y que continúa reprimiendo.”
Voces internas en Cuba comentan “la Iglesia cabildea en busca de apoyo solidario y financiamiento al raulismo bajo la falsa consigna de la reconciliación entre cubanos”.
El cardenal Jaime Ortega y Alamino le debe excusas a la oposición cubana interna y fuera de Cuba así como a la memoria de monseñor Agustín Román. Sus palabras divisivas han causado resentimiento y desconfianza hacia la Iglesia católica cubana por lo que el cardenal Jaime Ortega y Alamino ha dejado de ser digno portador de la Santa Sede en Cuba para llevar el mensaje de reconciliación o vuelta al seno de la Iglesia católica después de un alejamiento.
Por lo tanto, pedimos respetuosamente que su Santidad el papa Benedicto XVI acepte inmediatamente la dimisión del cardenal Ortega por límite de edad como lo indica el Canon 401. “Al Obispo diocesano que haya cumplido setenta y cinco años de edad se le ruega que presente la renuncia de su oficio al Sumo Pontífice, el cual proveerá teniendo en cuenta todas las circunstancias.”
Y que dado las circunstancias especiales del caso la Sede Apostólica provea residencia para el cardenal fuera de Cuba como indica el Canon 402 ” El Obispo a quien se haya aceptado la renuncia de su oficio conserva el título de Obispo dimisionario de su diócesis, y, si lo desea, puede continuar residiendo en ella, a no ser que en casos determinados por circunstancias especiales la Sede Apostólica provea de otra manera.”
De esta forma la Santa Sede da a la Iglesia cubana la oportunidad de abrir paso a otras voces eclesiásticas para llevar los verdaderos mensajes de reconciliación, fe y libertad al pueblo cubano.
Respetuosamente,
Marta Menor – NY, USA
Alicia D. Morrissey – NJ, USA
Roberto D. Ruiz Casas – Florida, USA
Cultivamos Una Rosa Blanca
Zoé Valdés (exiliada). – Paris, Francia

Nota: Para las firmas sólo se admiten nombres y apellidos verdaderos. Gracias.

Because the first one was so successful….

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News flash, courtesy of the BBC: An Australian billionaire plans to build a replica of the Titanic. Within four years,  Titanic II will be cruising the high seas,  in search of icebergs.  “It is going to be designed so it won’t sink,” said the billionaire entrepreneur.  Seriously.  Yeah.  You bet, mate.  Never mind what was said about the first one.    Will it be difficult to find passengers?   Not at all.   There are probably some who have already tried to book passage on the maiden voyage.   Human beings love disasters.   This is why so many tourists flock to Cuba, the ultimate sinking ship.

Well, whadda ya know?

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Lo and behold: the CIA boss responsible for extracting information from Al-Qaeda terrorists was a “Latino.” How about that?

Jose Rodriguez, born in Puerto Rico, headed the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, and was the man ultimately responsible for all of the waterboarding and other “enhanced” interrogation techniques. Recently interviewed by Lesley Stahl for “60 minutes,” Rodriguez expressed no regrets or remorse for making “some al Qaeda terrorists with American blood on their hands uncomfortable for a few days.” Lesley Stahl apparently did her best to make him uncomfortable and extract a confession from him that would further tarnish the Bush administration. But Rodriguez proved too much of an expert for Stahl.

Never try to torture the torturer: that might be the lesson here.

When pressed on the ethics of the CIA under Bush, Rodriguez tossed a bomb back at Stahl, pointing out that the Obama administration prefers to kill terrorists with drones rather than to capture them and obtain information. Which is more ethical, he asked: capturing or killing?

Oh boy… what will this do for the image of “Latinos”?

From CBS News::  Rodriguez regrets the cancellation of his enhanced interrogation program by the current administration, accusing the White House of tying America’s hands in the war on terror. “We don’t capture anyone anymore Lesley…the default option of this administration has been to kill all prisoners. Take no prisoners,” he tells Stahl. “The drones. How could it be more ethical to kill people rather than capture them?”

Rodriguez has just written a book on his work for the CIA, entitled Hard Measures.  It is available at Amazon.  rodriguez

Choose your roles carefully

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Never, ever, take the role of Judas lightly

For some unexplained reason, this news story surfaced today, even though the incident occurred nearly three weeks ago. The fact that this piece of news is making the rounds at exactly the same time as that of Cardinal Jaime Ortega’s visit to Harvard, set me to thinking that maybe there are no coincidences at all in this world. It is all carefully scripted. All of it. So, be careful, all of you who are tempted to play Judas. Even those of you who are princes of the Church, and especially those of you princes who, while defending  a classless communist regime, dismiss some of your flock who disagree with you as “low class delinquents.”

Brazilian actor playing Judas dies from accidental hanging

A Brazilian actor has died after accidentally hanging himself while playing Judas in an Easter Passion play.

Tiago Klimeck, 27, was enacting the suicide of Judas during the performance on Good Friday in the city of Itarare.

The actor was hanging for four minutes before fellow performers realised something was wrong.

Klimeck was taken to hospital suffering from cerebral hypoxia but died on Sunday.

The Passion play was being performed in Itarare, 345km (214 miles) west of Sao Paulo.

Klimeck was re-enacting the scene in which Judas commits suicide in repentance for his betrayal of Jesus Christ.

Police are investigating the apparatus that was meant to support Klimeck. It appears the knot may have been wrongly tied.

When the actors realised something was wrong, Klimeck was taken down and found to be unconscious.

The Santa Casa de Itapeva hospital has confirmed the death and a post-mortem examination will take place on Monday.

Day-o, Day-ay-ay-o, Day-ayale-Day-ayale–yale-o

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Singer Harry Belafonte visited Yale University last week. I missed his appearance, since I am on sabbatical leave and holed up in my writing bunker fifteen miles from campus.  Too bad.

Harry was here to talk about social justice and philanthropy. According to news reports from New belafonte 2Haven’s only television station, here is part of what transpired:

“Belafonte touched upon the past, present and future in his answers to students’ questions. He talked about his respect for Eleanor Roosevelt, his disgust with Wall Street and his disappointment with President Barack Obama’s performance in the realm of civil liberties.

“My problem with him is, where is your moral center? Where is your line?” he said, arguing that the president hasn’t used the bully pulpit of the White House to properly advance social justice issues….

Belafonte said being a celebrity gave him access to those with resources and influence. It also granted him “the capacity to say things and do things that would cause people to pause and linger.”

Artists, he explained, are any society’s “gatekeepers of truth.” What America does next with those truths, he noted, will be up to students such as those in Professor Thorne’s class at Yale.

“A lot of this is put squarely on your plate,” Belafonte said. “Now the ball’s in your court. Your turn. What have you got for me?”

Well, Harry.. Day-o, Day-ay-ay-o, Day-ay-ay-day-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-o. Daylight come an me wan’ go home. Yeah, home, to the land stolen by a gang of thugs admired by you. Or home to the insane asylum, which is where people like you make me feel I belong.

Here’s what I and millions of others have for you Banana Boat Man: How could you say this, if you really care for justice. It seems to me that your understanding of “justice” is mighty peculiar.

belafonte_hmed_6p.grid-6x2If you believe in justice,” vocalized Mr Belafonte in an interview with Cuba’s propaganda ministry years earlier, “if you believe in democracy, if you believe in people’s rights, if you believe in the harmony of all humankind—then you have no choice but to back Fidel Castro as long as it takes!”

And it seems no one present in the room with Mr. Banana Boat Justice Man raised this particular question. How I wish I could have been there, even though I would have probably come down with an embolia or fatal calambres, or destemplanza, or some such Cuban lethal ailment, maybe even an infarto.  Ay, mami, %$#@!&%! este cantante me ha dado una sirimba.

You know what Captain George Taylor/Charlton Heston would say… if you don’t know, rent “Planet of the Apes” and move up to highbrow cultural literacy.

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Cuba announces “deep and radical” migratory “reforms”

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Knowing that it can make more money out of its citizens abroad than from the ones at home, the military junta that runs the island prison has just announced that it is about to lift restrictions on those who want to leave Cuba. Never one to mince words, Ricardo Alarcon, top-level goon and Minister of Shamelessness, said that half a million Cubans living abroad now visit Cuba, bringing dollars and goods, and that this traffic needs to increase. “This is now an economic migration of people who want to maintain ties with their homeland,” he said, adding that the new migrants are totally unlike those of  “the historical exile” who were all terrorists and thieves.  “These folks are now interested in only one thing: stability”

This comes as no surprise: it’s been building up to this predictable climax for quite some time.  And many Cuban exiles have been sounding the alarm, to deaf ears.  The aim of these upcoming “reforms” is clear: imagine how much longer the thugs will be able to stay in power if Cubans abroad fund their regime? The question remains: what, exactly, will they “reform,” who will be “allowed” to leave, what training will they receive, and what country will be dumb enough to accept a plague of locusts unleashed by Castro Incorporated?

Entire ABC article in Spanish here.

Your next stop: The Twilight Zone

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You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. Your next stop…the Twilight Zone.


As Rod Serling might have said in 1961, on his show, The Twilight Zone:
Historical artifact for your consideration.  A magazine featuring a charming but irksome Latin revolutionary who has taken over a country known for cigars. Said revolutionary smokes them. Journalists in a very large and powerful country to the north know virtually nothing about the cigar-smoking revolutionary or his country. Many of them view the natives of said country as inferior, illiterate, disease-ridden, and highly volatile pests who need a strong leader to keep them from giving in to their worst instincts. Said journalists ask a question in their middlebrow magazine that might prove ridiculous a half a century later, as the cigar-smoking revolutionary and his younger brother still cling to power, in a country turned into a labyrinth of ruins.

Another artifact for your consideration, not at all historical: a crystal ball. Do said journalists use them? Will they be able to foresee that the same question they ask about the cigar-smoking revolutionary will be asked of their magazine a half century later? And what about their progeny? Will the journalists of the far future be even more clueless and ignorant? Well, Mr. John Q. Public, Mr. average American, is in for the surprise of his life, caught as he will be between past and present, befuddled by the sheer ignorance of said journalists, the sheer evil will of said cigar-smoking revolutionary, and the cruel hand of fate. When he opens said magazine, Mr. John Q. Public will discover, much to his chagrin, that all such magazines and all of their questions are crafted in a very special place, a realm beyond the imagination, where cigar smoke and dictators defy the laws of nature, a place beyond wisdom and idiocy known as… The Twilight Zone.

Mil gracias to Ralph and Becky Martinez for sharing this historical artifact

So, again, tell me, just how awful was that papal visit? …

fidel pope fidel raul

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Even the liberal  New Republic would like to let the world know how Pope Benedict XVI betrayed the Cuban people. Here is an essay that they commissioned me to write:

When Pope Benedict XVI travelled to Cuba two weeks ago, he was acting within a long tradition. Popes, after all, are not only spiritual leaders, they are representatives of the oldest continuous absolute monarchy in the world, which traces back to the Apostle Peter two millennia ago: The Holy See has been engaging in diplomacy far longer than any modern state has been in existence. On account of that history, and because of its spiritual authority, the Vatican has a rare sort of international clout, one that doesn’t depend on armies or a gross national product.

Pope Benedict XVI cannot be accused of shirking his responsibility to engage with world affairs. But it is equally clear that he has not been inclined to use his diplomatic power to promote political freedom. On his recent trip, Benedict could have advocated human rights, or protection for Cuban dissidents, many of whom are Catholic themselves. But on all these issues, he largely kept silent. Indeed, when it comes to papal visits and speeches, this pope has focused his diplomacy on ensuring the Catholic Church’s growth, even when it requires keeping silent about flagrant abuses of human rights.    read on…here.

Oye pero mira que le encanta dar lata a este profesor viejuco. Le zumba al mango. Debería taparse la boca y tratar al Santo Padre con mas respeto… Es que estos desterrados hístericos no saben respetar a nadie…. #@!%&$#$@!+*!

Hide that cross!

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Political repression and religious persecution come in many forms. In the so-called First World the worst agents of repression are those who adhere to “political correctness.”   The saddest and most illogical twist in the thinking of these ideologues is that while they push for “diversity” as one of the highest goals every society should aspire to meet, they tend to fear real diversity in opinions and to stifle freedom of expression. High on their list of forbidden behavior is the public display of one’s faith.  According to their implosive pretzel logic, any such display is “offensive” and “threatening.”

The latest example of this has surfaced just in time for Easter.  Two British women who were fired from their jobs for refusing to take off the crosses they were wearing around their necks have taken their case to the highest court of the European Union. In response to their plight, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, archbishop of St. Andrews in Scotland has urged all British Catholics to wear crosses in public.  The court in Strasbourg is expected to rule against them, and if this does happen, then no one will be free to display religious symbols in public.  And if so, then what next?

Read about it here and here

Meanwhile, it is perfectly alright to sell t-shirts that call for the slaughter of Christians, such as the one above, or at this web site and this one and this one.

18,262 days to be thankful for

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I have two birthdays: the day I was born in Cuba, and the day I went into exile in the United States.  Today was my second birthday.  Today I turned fifty, as an exile, and as an American.
Fifty years ago, my brother Tony and I boarded a KLM propeller plane at Rancho Boyeros airport in Havana. About an hour later we landed in Miami. I got into one van and headed for a camp in Florida City; Tony got into a different van and headed for a camp in Kendall. We were but two of over 14,000 unaccompanied Cuban kids sent to the United States by their parents. At that time I thought we kids were the ones being put through the wringer. Now, fifty years later, I realize that it was our parents who must have wept tears of blood, especially when the loving Castro regime would not allow them to leave and join us here in the United States. God bless them. Mil gracias, mama y papa.
Tony and I were lucky enough to be taken in by two wonderful American Jewish families in Miami. Louis and Norma Chait gave me a warm and loving home in which to adjust to life in this strange, wonderful land. Sidney and Carol Rubin opened their home to Tony, though they already had two teenage children of their own. Even at that time, this snot-nosed malcriado boy knew that he had won the lottery, so to speak, and that he was in a land far more marvelous than he could have ever imagined, among people so kind and generous that they seemed superhuman. Thanks Norma, thanks Lou. Thanks Carol, thanks Sid –though Tony can no longer thank you himself.

My American foster family
My American foster family

Eventually we would end up in a mouse- and roach-infested hellhole a few blocks from the Orange Bowl, in a group home for juvenile delinquents run by a malevolent Cuban couple. Bureaucratic error. We were supposed to be sent to our uncle’s house in Bloomington, Illinois. It was a tough break, but a great experience. Now, thanks to that house, I think I understand Nietzsche. Eventually we ended up with our uncle Amado, his wife Alejandra, and our cousins Marisol and Alejandrita. Mil gracias, tio y tia. Those two years I spent with you in the Corn Belt were among the happiest in my life.

With uncle and cousins, Funks Grove, Illinois, 1963
With uncle and cousins, Funks Grove, Illinois, 1963

Our mom finally arrived in early November 1965, after going through hell to get here. We went to live with her in Chicago. Our dad never did make it out. He died as he was trying to leave in 1976.
Multiply this story 14,000 times. Add all the thousands of kids who left alone, but not through the Pedro Pan airlift. What you have is a remarkable and very pointed lesson in the value of freedom, and the price that some are willing to pay for it.

With mom in Chicago, 1967
With mom in Chicago, 1967

I thank God and my parents every single day for tossing me out of hell and sending me here alone. Only now, fifty years later, do I fully realize the sacrifice they made.

I am so, so lucky.   So much to be thankful for, including the fact that the 1970’s are far behind us.

New Haven, 1976
New Haven, 1976

Big Brother gets bigger in the Big Apple

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Yes, Big Brother has grown bigger and ever more insanely ridiculous:  the Department of Education in New York City has just proposed a list of fifty “forbidden” words or topics that should  never, ever  be used in standardized tests because they have the potential to offend NYC schoolchildren.  And the geniuses at the Department point out add that the list has to be a long one because the wide diversity of  the NYC student population increases the risks of offending someone.  The list speaks for itself, and for the mentality of those who love to police thought.  In this case, the identification of “offensive” subjects seems to be grounded in the holy Trinity of the politically correct socionazis: race, class, and gender.   Trauma and religion figure prominently too, though to a lesser extent.   Some prominent obsessions are easy to spot: a desire to flatten out everything and everyone, and all emotions too, and to eliminate all peaks and valleys, as well as all fears and joys.   This new Index Verborum Prohibitorum will no doubt be championed by all progressives, statists and helicopter parents.  Welcome to the zombie utopia of the future, a schizoid paradise where achieving diversity is the ultimate goal and also the ultimate fear.

Among the forbidden words and topics:

Birthday celebrations (and birthdays) — might offend those who can’t have birthday parties or whose birthday falls on a date other than that of the exam being administered

Bodily functions —   might offend everyone

Cancer (and other diseases) — might scare and sadden everyone

Catastrophes/disasters (tsunamis and hurricanes) — ditto

Celebrities — might make some or all feel inferior or inadequate

Children dealing with serious issues —  total trauma for everyone

Cigarettes (and other smoking paraphernalia) —  death sticks should not exist, not even in the vocabulary

Computers in the home (acceptable in a school or library setting) — might offend those without home computers

Crime — might scare those who live in safe neighborhoods and give rise to feelings of inferiority among those who live in dangerous neighborhoods

Death and disease – the ultimate trauma for everyone

Divorce —  never mind that it affects over 50% of all families, it’s just too nasty.

Evolution — might offend creationists and muslims

Expensive gifts, vacations, and prizes —  might offend the poor and all misanthropes

Poverty  — might offend the rich and remind the poor that they actually exist.

Religion — worse than death or disease, the absolutely absolute in offensiveness

Sex  —  this has been on the list for 5,000 years, nothing new here

Terrorism —  might offend terrorists?

Read the whole list here

Smoke Signals to Cuba: Amnesty International report

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Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez has had her phone blocked

Smoke signals to Cuba

The repression of dissent by the Cuban authorities has surged amid the Pope’s visit to the island this week.

By James Burke, Cuba Campaigner at Amnesty International

“The mobile you are calling does not exist.”

The phone in question, belonging to Cuban political activist José Daniel Ferrer García, certainly existed a week ago.

I know this because my colleagues and I spoke to him about increasing repression against government critics in the run-up to Pope Benedict XVI’s three-day visit to the island.

“The number you are dialling is wrong.”

We double check the telephone number of independent journalist and blogger Luis Felipe Rojas Rosabal. It is most definitely correct, but the recorded message would have us think otherwise.

“The number you have dialled is out of service.”

Our attempts to get through to the Havana office of the Cuban Commission of Human Rights and National Reconciliation – an organization denied legal status by the Cuban authorities – draws a similar blank.

As our efforts to communicate with government critics, human rights activists and independent journalists across Cuba are continually frustrated, it becomes clear that repression of dissent by the Cuban authorities during the Pope’s visit has become increasingly Orwellian.

From just before the Pope arrived in Cuba last Monday, mobile and landline connections belonging to government critics, human rights activists and independent journalists have all apparently been tampered with. A communications blockade is in place, and all potential voices of dissent have been silenced by the authorities.

Communication with Cuba is always challenging, as access to the internet is heavily restricted.

The Twitter accounts of independent journalists and bloggers, who are able to tweet from their mobile phones, have almost all been silent over the last few days.

Blogger Yoani Sánchez has been one of the few who has been able to send regular tweets, but has been unable to receive text messages or calls. One tweet reads “anyone who wants to communicate with me, best to use smoke signals!”

Continue reading here

Berta Soler speaks for the Ladies in White

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Berta Soler (center) and the Ladies this past Sunday, outside the Church of St. Rita in Havana (a mere three blocks from my childhood home).

Much like earthquake victims being pulled from the rubble, the Ladies in White are starting to surface, more than a bit shaken, and more than disappointed in what happened during the pope’s visit.

Berta Soler spoke by telephone to the Spanish newspaper ABC, and said: “the pope forgot to grant all of the oppressed and marginalized in his flock the one minute of contact that we begged for, but, in spite of our great disappointment, we have not lost our faith or our love for Christ.”

She also confirmed that most of the dissidents with phones had their service cut off during the pope’s visit, and that it had not yet been restored today, twenty-four hours after his departure. She also said that it was impossible to know how many of those who were imprisoned had been freed.

Berta Soler and her husband, Angel Moya – an ex-prisoner and survivor of the Black Spring roundup of dissidents – spent Wednesday imprisoned in a police station outside Havana, and she confirmed that State Security prevented most dissidents from attending the mass in Havana.

The successor to Laura Pollán lamented the fact that the Castro dictatorship “had filled the jails with dissidents faithful to the pope and the plazas where he said Mass with communist sympathizers.”

There you have it.

These women and their fellow dissidents are transcendent heroes, the kind you think only exist in fiction, or history books.  Some day they will have the largest monument on the Malecón, and better, yet, most of them will live to see it, and be there for the dedication ceremonies.  Let’s hope most of us can join them when it happens.

ABC article here.

Let Peter weep

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Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept. Mark 14:72

When Jesus chose Peter as his chief apostle, he knew he was delegating his authority to a very weak, and very flawed man. Peter was impulsive, inconstant, given to cowardice, and – by his own description – quite a sinner. Yet Jesus, the all-knowing Son of God, chose him over all the others.

And Peter’s denial of Jesus just before the crucifixion was not the end of his constant screw-ups. He tried to lie to the apostle Paul, in regard to his opinion on keeping Kosher, and even tried to cover his tracks about having lied (Galatians 2:11). Up until the end he kept screwing up, and those around him kept recording his faults. Legend has it that when Nero began his persecution of the Christians in Rome, Peter headed straight out of town, and would have kept going if the risen Jesus had not bumped into him and asked “quo vadis?”, hey, where are you going?  But legend also has it that he came to his senses, returned to Rome, and was crucified upside down on the Vatican hill.

Every pope after him screwed up in various ways. Three examples should be enough.

Pope Honorius I (625 -638) agreed with the monophysite heretics in a private letter, and his remains were later dug up and thrown into the Tiber River.

Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503) had several mistresses and fathered a brood of ruthless illegitimate children, one of whom – Cesare Borgia — was not only made bishop at the age of 15 and cardinal at the age of 18, but actually went on to become a formidable back-stabbing warrior, and the inspiration for Machiavelli’s book The Prince, the ultimate how-to manual for unprincipled tyrants.  As if this were not enough, he also inspired the lurid and dreadful Showtime television series, “The Borgias.”

In 1517, when Pope Leo X first heard of an Augustinian monk in Saxony named Martin Luther who had angered a Dominican preacher by challenging the legitimacy of indulgences, he dismissed all the fuss as nothing more than another “monkish squabble” between religious orders. Of course, we all know what happened next: the Protestant Reformation.

What are we to make of this, those of us who are Catholics? And those who are not?

The First Vatican Council proclaimed in 1871 that the successors of Peter are infallible in questions of faith and doctrine, that is, they are incapable of leading the faithful astray when it comes to their salvation. But it said nothing about the pope’s private life and his behavior concerning earthly matters.

Up until today, all of this had been a very abstract issue for me. Yes, I knew all this, and have studied it and taught my students about it ad nauseam, but I had never been affected by a papal failure of character until today.

Today reminded me of Good Friday. It felt like it, more than any Good Friday in recent memory. There was an abject despondency in the air, an oppressive grief beyond words. A crucifixion, multiplied eleven million times.

Today His Holiness Benedict XVI disowned Christ in Cuba. Today, he averted his eyes from the eleven million crucified Cubans in his midst, as he celebrated the holy sacrifice of the Eucharist. Today, he chose not to speak for the crucified, or to chasten their tormentors. Instead, he spent his time criticizing the so-called embargo, blessing the tyrants, and preaching a platitudinous sermon written for the theological faculty at the University of Regensburg rather than for the Cuban people.

And his subaltern, Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino, archbishop of Havana, beamed with satisfaction at the abject submission of Church to state.

I am saddened, yes, as are many other Cubans. I wept today. I am beyond sad: today has been one of the blackest days for me in a long time. The clouds hung low. At one point the sun was blotted out. I could not help but see eleven million crosses, with bodies writhing on them, stretched from one end of Cuba to the other. But I am not broken. Nor is my faith shaken. God works in mysterious ways. The Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth, Pope Benedict XVI has betrayed Cuba. So what? Aside from questions of faith and doctrine, he is as fallible as all of us are, and as prone to moral failure. And as a Catholic, it is my duty to pray for him.

I am angry too, yes. Mad as hell. I am angry at the old man, Joseph Ratzinger, and at the subalterns who advised him and made excuses for him.  But popes have screwed up before, and will continue screwing up. And it isn’t up to any pope, or cardinal, or any foreign power to free Cuba from its tyrants. It is up to us, and to us alone, whether there or in exile.

His Holiness Benedict XVI did all Cubans a great favor today, when you look at his behavior from a certain perspective. He showed us that we cannot depend on anyone to help us.

Forget the pope. Let Peter weep, when he comes to his senses. Weeping is not for us, nor is whining. Forget any power on earth. Forget the differences between Catholics and non-Catholics. Forget heaven above, forget hell below . Cuba is hell on earth, our hell. Our task is to fight the tyrants and those who set up the eleven million crosses. Our role is to stand up to the tyrants and the henchmen who set up the crosses, wherever we are, and to remind the world constantly of their crimes against humanity.

Eventually, we shall overcome. Yes, we will.

But first, we have to realize where we are, and what the hour demands of us. Right now, for every Cuban, everywhere, there is but one question to answer: “quo vadis?”