The Camagüeyan Catholic priest Alberto Reyes Piasone of the most critical voices against the Cuban government, published this Wednesday a relentless message about the situation on the island. “Why has God allowed communism to come to the most prosperous of the Caribbean islands?” cura in his text, also released as a voice message on various platforms.
Reyes explores the causes of the “profound suffering” that the Cuban people have experienced in recent decades, to which he attributes a transcendental explanation: it is not “useless suffering” but rather an opportunity for Cubans to “understand something”, “grow” and your life “be different”.
“Why has God allowed not only that we lose our freedom, but that this dictatorship lasted more than 63 years, destroying the dreams of several generations?” continues the clergyman, who points out several alarming aspects of the reality of the Island.
The message refers to the “valuable people [que] they fled and abandoned their land, even dying in the attempt”, while the daily life of those who remain in Cuba has become an “ordeal of precariousness, of existential anguish, of overwhelming need”.
It also alludes to the protests that have proliferated in Cuba since July 11, 2021, including the recent demonstrations in Nuevitas, in the province of Camagüey, where Reyes was born and develops his pastoral work. The protests have ended in “so brutal and sadistically systematic repression”, says the priest, which can lead to the “(false) feeling that this oppression is immovable”.
As “the worst mistake in our history” he describes the attitude of many Cubans at the beginning of the 1959 Revolution, when “the picture of the Sacred Heart was changed to that of the leaders with the hammer and sickle”, alluding to the iron atheist campaign that swept away religious and cultural symbols on the Island.
“Could it be that we haven’t understood that ‘there is no country without virtue, nor virtue with impiety,'” he adds, quoting the Havanan priest and patriot Félix Varela, and “that freedom is not begged but conquered.”
Reyes assures that “those who govern us do not care about our lives, or our dreams, or our present, or our future; that those who have governed us and govern us do not care that our children die, whether in Angola or in Matanzas”, in whose Base of Supertankers 16 Cubans died earlier this month, including several young men who were completing their Military Service.
The calls “to ‘resist and win’, ‘to do more with less’ or to become and reconvert ourselves into a ‘war-hardened people’ have been of no use”, in reality “placebos” for Cubans to forget “the slavery of the present”.
As for the draft of the Family Codethe text of which the government considered approved and published in the Official Gazette, without waiting for the referendum scheduled for September 25, Reyes lamented that in Cuban “democracy” “everything is, in reality, already decided.”
The enemy is not external, settles the priest, but “is at home”, and has handled the silence of the people to “normalize and perpetuate our misery”, while waiting for one day “something to happen”.
Reyes denounced that “when we get dignified and after beating us they give us chicken and shampoo, they are treating us like pets that have to be calmed down so that they are calm and obey.”
The priest stressed that his opinions are personal, and not institutional. “Pilgrim lucubrations”, he ironized, “when suddenly I get the reason to be thinking”.
Alberto Reyes has been one of the ecclesial actors most harassed by State Security through warning calls, acts of repudiation and threats of legal prosecution. In a interview awarded in July to 14ymediothe clergyman stated that the Cuban government “has amply demonstrated its inability to build a society that is not only prosperous, but also capable of responding to the most basic aspirations of human beings.”
“We are a tired and worn-out people,” he said on that occasion, “we are a people whose life is running out in the struggle for survival; we are a people who have learned to defend themselves as best they can and who go out to parade and applaud energy while preparing their final emigration from the country. We are a people submerged in misery and precariousness where it becomes increasingly difficult to cultivate the values of the spirit. And we are a people who no longer believe in the empty promises that their rulers insist on repeating “.
Reyes is part of a group of priests who are increasingly active in the Cuban public sphere, which also includes Beaver AlvarezJorge Luis Pérez Soto, Lester Zayas, Kenny Fernandez and many other members of the Cuban clergy and religious community, such as the superior of the Daughters of Charity in Cuba, Nadoska Almedia.
In contrast to the harsh declarations of Reyes and other colleagues, the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba has assumed a rather moderate position regarding the crisis and the pronouncements of its members have been individual.
During an interview granted to the Spanish radio station Cope, the Cardinal Archbishop of Havana, John Garcia, admitted that relations with the Government were “stagnant”. “We want to talk, because we have not had the facilities to obtain what we ask for in a larger dialogue” that attends “to the problems of the Church and the needs of the people,” he added.
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