Drooling Over the Pope in Cuba
Marxism Destruction Tour Part 2
Drooling Over the Pope in Cuba*
*Yasmin S. Portales Machado *
HAVANA TIMES, March 25 — It's no secret that many people's mouths around
the world are watering over the visit of His Holiness Benedict XVI to Cuba.
But not all this is the result of delighted anticipation. And frankly, some
of it is poisonous and violent slobber, though few mouth's will cease to
These days slobber-meter is off the chart in both Cuba and in those areas
where the immigrant community is concentrated. This is because Joseph
Aloisius Ratzinger will be arriving here on Monday. What excitement?
Only 5 percent of Cuba's population is Catholic, and "almost" half of this
small group (2.5 percent of the country) identifies themselves with the
church's teachings on marriage, abortion and birth control. Nonetheless,
soon we will have seen two papal visits in less than fifteen years.
We do indeed live in a unique nation.
Since we here in Cuba are very collectivist, the government is undoubtedly
embracing the joy of those 550,000 people of the Catholic faith by making
it the task of the entire nation to receive the Pilgrim of Charity with all
due pomp and pageantry. Why?
The island is being wallpapered with full-color posters of the pontiff at
the same time we're seeing the cost of books go up and cultural
The streets and the facades of buildings are being repaired along the Holy
Father's routes through Havana and Santiago while buildings are crumbling
in Centro Havana, Cerro and Vedado (and that's only what's being reported
here in the capital on "Radio Bemba" [the grapevine], I don't know how
things are out in the provinces).
A three-day holiday was declared while the state makes desperate calls on
people to increase efficiency and productivity.
And of course they've permitted — ordered? — Cuban television to report on
the "excellent" relations between the Cuban government and the Catholic
Church, a relationship that has never been tarnished because the Church
devotes itself exclusively to social work and doesn't get involved in
Right, because the Catholic Church of "Operation Peter Pan" was a different
And the Catholic Church that excommunicated Fidel Castro was a different
And what about the chapels attended by people who the state denied access
to college, or were expelled from them, or where the authorities allowed
them graduate in an atmosphere of surveillance and persecution and then
denied them the opportunity to practice their professions?
Those who were charged with "ideological deviation" and couldn't be
"trusted" must have belonged to some other Catholic Church.
And the Catholic Church that allowed Yoani Sanchez the use of its
facilities to promote her contemptible blogs? That too was a different
That must have been the Catholic Apostolic Church or the Roman Catholic
Church, but it was definitely a different church.
The one we're now welcoming is not the anti-communist church that allied
with Franco and slapped the Nicaraguan cleric Ernesto Cardenal.
This is a humanist church, one that opposes abortion, contraception and the
rights of non-heterosexual people in the name of the Divine Plan.
The church being represented by Benedict is a marvelous institution with
regard to progress and rights.
And since the people of Cuba are very progressive, people's mouths are
watering on this progressive occasion - though this doesn't mean all
dribble is equal.
There are those whose mouths are watering with delight as they anticipate
the profits this visit will mean from air fares, room rentals and retail
Likewise, there are those drooling over political calculations, since
welcoming the Pope means support from the Vatican City, whose political
weight is inversely proportional to its surface area.
But there are also those who are foaming at the mouth in rage, because
Benedict doesn't want to talk to right-wing dissidents or publically say
that communism must be overthrown.
They will have to be satisfied with his unkind statement when leaving
Italy: "It's now clear that the Marxist ideology, as it was conceived, no
longer corresponds to reality. Because it doesn't have the answers to build
a new society. New models must be found." (See
There is the dribble of distrust by Protestant groups that lament, "Why is
it that Catholics can get involved in the game of politics but not us?"
There's the bitter gall of humiliation for Cuba's African-based religious
groups who are once again being excluded from the papal agenda (they are on
the verge of being declared schismatic) and blacked out of the
"pluralistic" representation in the media concerning the practice of
religion on the island.
There are people who bite their lips in fear and wet them in search of
peace with every shocking news item they read.
How strong are the obstacles being erected against the current struggle now
that there's a honeymoon between the top-down party and the patriarchal
clergy? How much of the Pontiff's discourse will be devoted to a single
"correct" family structure if he cannot slam the state?
It's all slobber... drool in different colors, tastes and reasons. Dribble is
running down the newly poured pavement and along the freshly painted
avenues of Havana and Santiago; it will grease the skids of the
"popemobile," designed to protect the Supreme Pontiff from jihadist bullets
and the foul smells produced by the tropical sun.
And it that isn't enough, the entire membership of the Cuban Communist
Party (PCC) has been summoned to welcome him. Their surfacing spittle will
serve to fill any crevices left in the roadways (understandable defects
given by the record speed in which those repairs were made and house
Slobber is running across Havana, and specifically here. With this being
the capital of all of Cuba, this city has much responsibility for the
direction and character of how this visit is presented and justified - here
I'm referring to all the expenses and this blatant rewriting of history and
It's one thing to say that we are experiencing the best relations with the
Vatican since 1959, but let's get the story straight; it's something
completely different to state that we never stopped being friends or that
Cuba never prevented anyone from exercising their faith. Why then was it
necessary (in 1992) to clarify the right to religion by members of the PCC?
It's one thing to say we can enter into dialogue — and I believe that it is
essential to try, so that we might gain better understandings of our points
of view — but it's quite another thing to make the Catholic Church the sole
political interlocutor with the state. Thus again cutting off the
possibility of pluralistic social dialogue for the benefit of a specific
interest group - one representing a mere 2.5 percent of the population.
It's one thing is to recognize the important role of Catholicism in the
spiritual formation of the nation and its presence as a personal belief
held by heroes and heroines of our nation, but it's something else to deny
the institution's racist, unscientific, undemocratic, anti-libertarian,
misogynist and anti-communist history, as well as its complicity
with fascism and other dictatorships that this institution supported.
The Catholic Church has not apologized for some of those positions; it's
only brushed them discreetly to one side. Others it still defends, alleging
that it cannot break with its divine commandments. This is what I would
call a lack of consistency.
I'm still not happy with this visit one bit.
It's true that in Cuba we are a hospitable people, but the government
shouldn't take resources from its own people to entertain someone else. The
government can't function like a *casa particular* (where people rent rooms
in their house, forcing some family members to double-up for the paying
It's true that the Vatican's support is necessary for our diplomatic
efforts, which are constantly under siege. However, the prestige of Cuba as
a secular state committed to the rights of all its citizens is once again
being put into question.
It's true that Benedict is presented as a messenger of Christ, but his
love, his preaching and his blessings fail to recognize or address all
families, all ideologies or all people who live here. He doesn't even
Where is the transvestite in his homilies who inspected my house against
mosquitos yesterday? Where is the family of my friends: the male doctor and
mechanic with their son?
Where in his words are the people who champion Marxism? Where are those who
live in this house where no more children will be born?
Where are those who support Abakua? Where are the circles of Afro-Cuban
spiritualism that worship all across this island?
Where are the battered women who one day said enough and raised their
hands? Where are those teenagers who muster the courage to buy condoms at
the pharmacy? Where is the "Carrito por la Vida" HIV/AIDS prevention
And where am I?
Article printed from Havana Times.org: * http://www.havanatimes.org*
URL to article: * http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=65557*
*- Prominent Cuban-American Businessman to Speak in Havana*
Cuban-American businessman Carlos Saladrigas. Photo:
HAVANA TIMES, March 24 - Carlos Saladrigas, a Cuban-American businessman
and politician, will lecture in Havana this coming Friday March 30 at the
Centro Cultural Padre Felix Varela, attached to the local Roman
Catholic archdiocese, according to an announcement released by the Espacio
Laical magazine staff.
The talk will focus on "Attitudes and policies we have to take on to
achieve the inclusion of the Cuban diaspora in the social activity of the
Saladrigas, considered one of the most solvent of the Cuban exiles, favors
dialogue between expatriates and the Cuban government.
The businessman steadfastly opposed participation of Cubans residing in
the U.S. in the celebrations celebrated in Cuba by Pope John Paul II back
in 1998, noted Roman Catholic sources,
Later, he completely changed his attitude, and will now arrive in Havana
coinciding with the visit of Pope Benedict XVI (March 26-28)
Saladrigas' lecture will be open to the public and begin at 3:30 pm.
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