this was published by the blog DESDE CUBA (www.desdecuba.com in Spanish, and www.desdecuba/generationy in English) I’m reprinting here, because this is the TRUTH about what’s happening inside CUBA, for those of my readers who have been following my views, since my recent trip to habana. forget MY opinion…this one is the real deal. lordflea sending good wishes to all, especially to the oppressed .
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guardian of the sky forsakes the cuban people
Open letter from Father José Conrado Rodríguez to Raúl Castro
Written by Fr. José Conrado Rodríguez
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Catholic priest José Conrado Rodríguez Alegre, pastor of Santa Teresita del Niño Jesús (St. Therese of Lisieux) parish in the Archdiocese of Santiago de Cuba, issued this Open Letter to Army General Raúl Castro Ruz. The Web site DESDE CUBA is pleased to share it with its readers, noting there are no objections to its being reproduced in any medium in or outside Cuba.
Open letter to Army General Raúl Castro Ruz
President of the Republic of Cuba
Dear Mr. President:
Fifteen years ago, I dared to write the then head of state of Cuba, Dr. Fidel Castro Ruz [J.D.], president of our country at the time. The direness of that moment imposed on me the duty to do so for the good of the nation. The direness of this moment compels me to write to you to share my present concerns. Do I need to describe to you our country’s condition? The economic crisis affects every household and makes our people spend their lives wondering anxiously: What I am going to eat? How am I going to clothe myself? How am I going to meet my family’s most basic needs? Daily struggles have become so overwhelming they keep us mired in sadness and despair. Insecurity and a widespread feeling of helplessness lead to amorality, hypocrisy and two-facedness. Everything goes, because nothing matters, nothing other than survival at all costs, which we later discover means “at any cost.” That is why the dream of Cubans, especially of the youngest, is to leave the country.
It would seem our nation is at a dead end. As a man of faith, however, I believe God never places us in totally hopeless situations. I firmly believe that our journey as a nation and as a people will not end in an inevitable precipice, in a situation of irreversible disaster. There is always a solution, but you need courage to seek and find it. In your recent urgent calls for us to work with tireless determination, I believe I discern a particular and accurate perception of the gravity of the moment, but also that you believe the solution depends on us. But, as the old slogan-turned-joke went: “It’s not enough to say ‘onward’; you have to know where you’re headed.”
We have spent our lives blaming the enemy, and even our friends, for our situation. The collapse of the bloc of communist countries in Eastern Europe and the United States’ trade embargo have become the scapegoat that bears all our sins. And that is a convenient but deceptive way out of the problem. As Miguel de Unamuno said, “We tend to occupy ourselves counting the hairs on the Sphinx’s tail, because we are afraid to look her in the eye.”
It is not enough, General, to solve the problems, certainly serious and urgent, of food, and of the homes that so many of our countrymen – “with their meager belongings: fears, sorrows” – have just lost in the recent hurricanes. We are at such a critical moment that we must undertake a thorough examination of our beliefs and our practices, of our aspirations and our objectives. And here it would be appropriate, with all due respect, to remember the words the apostle of our nation, José Martí, wrote to [Cuban independence army] Commander-in-Chief [Máximo] Gómez in a somewhat similar situation: “You do not found a nation, General, the way you run a military camp.”
The world is changing. The recent election of a black citizen to occupy the presidency of a country formerly known to be racist, and a violator of the civil rights of blacks, tells us something is changing in this world. The commendable and fraternal concern of our brethren in exile in the face of the weather phenomena that recently struck our people, and their generous, disinterested and immediate aid, are a sign that something is changing among us. The Cuban government that you currently head should have the boldness to confront those changes with new ideas and new approaches.
Our country has reacted with courage when a foreign government has tried to meddle in our domestic affairs. Nevertheless, where the violation of human rights is concerned, not only governments, but even individuals, ordinary citizens, at home and abroad, have something to say. In his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.” We must have the tremendous courage to recognize that in our country there is constant and unjustifiable violation of human rights, which manifests itself in the existence of dozens of prisoners of conscience and in the damaged exercise of the most basic freedoms: of speech, information, press and opinion, and in serious limitations on religious and political freedom. Failing to recognize these truths in no way benefits our national life and makes us lose self-respect, in our eyes and in the eyes of others, friends or foes.
The cause of peace, domestic and international, and the nation’s very prosperity, are rooted in unconditional respect for those rights that express the supreme dignity of the human being as a child of God. And remaining silent about this truth places such weight on my conscience as I feel unable to bear. And this is for me my way of serving the truth and being consistent with the love I feel for my people.
I confess, General, the distress and sadness it has caused me to learn that our government has rejected – apparently for reasons of ideology or political differences – the aid that the United States and several European nations wanted to send the victims of the hurricanes that lashed our homeland. When misfortune strikes (and that can happen to anyone, even the powerful), it’s time to accept whatever help is offered, because that help reveals a stock of good will in response to suffering, of human solidarity, even in those whom we considered our enemies. Giving our opponents the opportunity to be good and to do the right thing can bring out the best in us and in others, making us change old attitudes and heal harmful resentments. Nothing contributes more to peace and reconciliation among peoples than this giving and receiving. St. Francis of Sales’ dictum, valid as to interpersonal relations, is also valid where nations are concerned: “You can catch more flies with a drop of honey that with a barrelful of vinegar.” As His Holiness John Paul II said during his visit to our country, “Let Cuba open up to the world, and let the world open up to Cuba.” But if we keep the doors shut, no one will be able to enter, no matter how much they want to. For me, a hopeful sign is the larger role and room CARITAS has been given in the task of helping our people. That deserves special recognition and constitutes positive and encouraging change.
Believe me, Mr. President, I am not writing to offer a list of complaints and grievances regarding our country’s condition, even though if I did, that list could be very, very long. In truth, I have endeavored to speak to you Cuban to Cuban, heart to heart. A good friend of mine, a priest who is now deceased, used to say, “A man is worth what his heart is worth.” At your wife’s funeral, seeing you surrounded by your children and grandchildren, moved to tears, I sensed that you are a sensitive man. And I believe there is more wisdom in the heart of a good man than in all the books and libraries of the world, because, as the song goes, “What feeling can do, knowledge cannot, nor can the highest behavior, nor the greatest thinking…” That is why I am appealing to your sense of responsibility, to your kindness, to tell you not to be afraid, to be bold in setting out on a new and different path in a world that is showing so many signs of changing for the better. As I told your brother 15 years ago, all of us Cubans are responsible for the future of our country, but because of the office you hold, because of the power you now wield, that responsibility falls especially on you.
If you decide to set out on that path of hope, you can count on me, General. You will find me at the front of the line, ready to offer Cuba, once again, all I have: my heart; and to offer you my honest hand and my disinterested assistance. That way, we will realize Marti’s dream of building a nation “together with all and for the good of all.”
I would like to close with some words our current Pope, Benedict XVI, said in 1968: “Above even the Pope, as an expression of the binding nature of ecclesiastical authority, is one’s conscience, which one must obey first and foremost, even, if necessary, by going against what ecclesiastical authority says.” If that applies to ecclesiastical authority, whose source I believe divine, it applies to all other human authority, no matter how powerful.
Rev. José Conrado Rodríguez Alegre
Pastor of Santa Teresita del Niño Jesús