‘We do not want to see the police beat their own people again,’ Say Cuban Priests
“We do not want to see the police beat their own people again,” 15 Cuban Catholic priests say in a letter released this Wednesday, with less than a week remaining before for the Peaceful March for Change. “We do not want blood to be shed again,” or “to hear gunshots again,” insist the priests, “that is not the path that will take us to the Cuba we need and that we all desire.”
“Do not hit the protesters because both you and they live amidst so much scarcity and misery,” they say in the letter addressed to “the civil and military authorities,” the National Revolutionary Police, State Security and “all those who in these days they have been summoned to repress the citizen march of November 15.”
The priests ask that the the protesters not be prevented from protesting peacefully because Cubans “want to live without fear of saying what they think, without fear of being watched, without fear of ’falling from grace’… Both you and they have fathers, mothers, friends, acquaintances, who gave everything for an ideal and who today have nothing.”
In the letter, signed by, among other religious, the priests Rolando Montes de Oca Valero, Lester Zayas Díaz and Jorge Luis Pérez Soto, they argue that the Government “is doing the impossible” so that the population desists from the demonstration, although it carries out “a mass call for violent confrontation.’’
They also set out as a precedent the protests of July 11 (11J) last when thousands of Cubans “took to the streets with a cry that for many years was a muffled cry: Freedom! Freedom.” In this regard, they point out that many of the protesters “were beaten, detained, denigrated” and hundreds “are being harshly tried and sentenced without having done wrong.”
Regarding the new march on 15 November (15N), they warn that “there are summons and warnings to many people who have expressed their support for this call,” so they make it clear that they do not agree with the intimidation of the authorities. “We do not want violence, we reject the order of combat” and “the sticks delivered in the work centers.”
Camagüey priest Alberto Reyes is also among the signatories. The priest has previously questioned that in Cuba there can only be one ideology, a single party, a single way of educating, and has denounced the “great theater” that the Island is today, “where we lie to each other as part of a play that no longer needs to be rehearsed.” Another of the uncomfortable voices for the Government who has signed the letter is Father José Conrado.
The priests call for a 15N with “respect, care, peace… We are all Cubans, all brothers. Let us give an example to the world by saying yes to peace, freedom and civility.”
“When what happened on November 15 is written, there will only be two alternatives: to talk about those who were summoned to beat and repress but decided to protect and take care of their compatriots; or to relate how you hit your brother and how you repressed the one who he was demanding what many others long for “
They insist that “no Cuban should raise his hand against his compatriot for the mere fact of thinking differently” and much less the police “who by vocation have the duty to set an example of civility to the entire population, who exist to take care of citizens and protect public order.”
“May the Virgin of Caridad del Cobre, Mother and Patroness of all Cubans, intercede for us before her Son Jesus Christ; He is our peace. At his feet we entrust the efforts and desires of those who dream and work for a Cuba of all, with everyone and for everyone,” they conclude.