A Letter to Cuba’s Bishops / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

29 09 2014

His Excellency, Dionisio García Ibáñez

Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba and Cardinal Primate of Cuba

Your Excellency:

Last night I had the opportunity to meet you at a reception in your honor given by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the papal nuncio to Cuba. Today I am writing to you regarding several concerns of the Center for a Free Cuba with the hope that in your role as president of the Cuban Conference of Catholic Bishops you might forward this letter to your fellow bishops.

The Center for a Free Cuba is an independent organization that promotes respect for human rights and the re-establishment of a democratic government under the rule of law in our beloved Cuba.

The Center considers the evangelization and humanitarian work of the Church in Cuba to be of utmost importance and has always responded to the requests of priests and bishops who have approached us. In light of our strong desire to continue collaborating with the Church, please allow us to share with Your Excellency the following concerns:

1) It has been reported that there are over three thousand cases of dengue fever in Cienfuegos. What can you tell us about the causes of this epidemic and what steps are being taken to counter it? How can we support the Church to help those affected?

2) As of more than two years ago, two devout Cuban Catholics have been held prisoner without trial. They were arrested and beaten by State Security agents as they were preparing to attend the mass celebrated in Havana by Pope Benedict XVI in March of 2012. Sonia Garro is being held in the Manto Negro prison. She is not in good health. Her husband, Ramón Alejandro Muñoz, is being held in the Combinado del Este prison.

Could not the Church urge the authorities to release them, or at least to put them on trial? We would also greatly appreciate it if the bishops celebrated a mass on behalf of Sonia and Ramón and all other political prisoners, as Archbishop Wenski did recently in Miami.

3) It is well known that the regime has intensified its repression of peaceful opposition figures such as the Ladies in White. Could not the Catholic Bishops Conference of Cuba ask the authorities to cease acts of repudiation and the excesses of the Rapid Response Brigades for the sake of peace and national reconciliation? Is there anything that might be preventing this noble and urgent request?

4) In the [Church sponsored] periodical, Espacio Laical (Secular Space), there have been articles about the need to encourage a “loyal opposition.” Many ask, loyal to whom or to what? To the regime or to freedom, democracy and the full dignity of all human beings? Clarification of this issue would be helpful so that the publication or the Church is not seen to be branding as “disloyal” anyone not in agreement with those who for more than half a century have held the people of Cuba hostage.

Given our great respect for your high office, we would very much appreciate your comments on the concerns we have outlined in this letter.

In extending this cordial and patriotic message to Your Excellency, as well as to the other bishops of our forlorn homeland, we evoke the memory of the historic visit of His Holiness, St. John Paul II, who urged all of us to be “valiant in truth, bold in freedom, constant in responsibility, generous in love, invincible in hope.”

Respectfully yours,

On behalf of the Center for a Free Cuba

Guillermo Marmol, businessman and civic leader

Filiberto Agusti, Esq., attorney and legal counsel for the Center for a Free Cuba

Dr. Néstor Carbonell Cortina, businessman, intellectual and civic leader

Ellis E. Briggs, former United States ambassador to Portugal, Panama and Honduras

Beatriz Casals, businesswoman, intellectual and civic leader

Prof. Carlos Eire, Yale University

Dr. Sergio Díaz Briquets, international advisor

Prof. Jaime Suchlicki, University of Miami

José Sorzano, former United States ambassador to the United Nations

Prof. Enrico Mario Santí, University of Kentucky

Otto J. Reich, former United States ambassador to Venezuela

Joaquín P. Pujol, economist, former assistant director of the International Monetary Fund and member of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy

Victor J. Pujals, P.E., professional engineer and civic leader

Robert A. O’Brien, businessman, civic leader and philanthropist

Frank Calzon, executive director for the Center for a Free Cuba [frank.calzon@cubacenter.org]

Posted to this blog:
25 September 2014

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