Declaration of “Convivencia” Magazine on the Restoration of Diplomatic Relations Between Cuba and the U.S.

Convivencia (Coeixistence) magazine salutes the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Cuba and the United States of America.

We hope that this climate of dialogue and negotiation is also established between the Government of the Republic of Cuba and independent Cuban civil society, with a respect for unity in diversity, the right to self-determination and the exercise of citizen sovereignty.

Convivencia magazine is glad for the release of political prisoners, and believes that all political prisoners must be released, including those who are on parole in Cuba.

In the same way, all repression for political reasons must cease. The Cuban Government should ratify the United Nations Human Rights Covenants and the conventions of the International Labor Organization, as they claim the four points of consensus identified by a growing and significant group of Cuban civil society. continue reading

Convivencia magazine is grateful for the mediation by his Holiness Pope Francis in the restoration of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Cuba and the United States of America.

Likewise, we hope that the Church can continue to offer its service of mediation in an achievable and necessary dialogue between the Cuban Government and independent civil society in Cuba, with the consequent recognition of the latter as valid interlocutor.

Convivencia magazine believes that the restoration of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Cuba and the United States of America removes a serious obstacle so that the fundamental dispute can be clearly seen as being between the Cuban Government and its citizens, not between Cuba and the United States. Thus can it be understood that the most important thing for our people is inclusion, civil and political, economic, social and cultural freedoms and the exercise of an ever more participatory democracy in Cuba.

Convivencia magazine hopes that this historic event and the lifting of all blockades, especially the one that the Cuban government uses against the initiative and entrepreneurial nature of its citizens, will create the necessary conditions so that the Cuban people are the principal actors of their own history, and so lead the nation — including all our compatriots on the Island and in the Diaspora — towards a future of peace, freedom, progress and social justice.

The Editorial Board

Translated by: Hombre de Paz, with some assistance from Alicia Barraqué Ellison

18 December 2014

Poland’s Solidarity With Cuban Civil Society / Intramuros, Dagoberto Valdes

Former Polish President Lech Walesa and Dagoberto Valdés


by Dagoberto Valdés Hernández

A year ago I was able to realize one of my lifelong dreams: to visit Poland, a country that remained loyal to its faith and liberty. This past October 20, I had the honor and joy of my second encounter with President Lech Walesa. Just before midday, we arrived at the Warsaw Hotel following a fruitful and cordial meeting with Poland’s vice minister of foreign relations, Mr. Leszek Soczewica.  There we learned that solidarity does not necessarily have to be at odds with an ethical pragmatism.

President Walesa, energetic and affectionate in manner, arrived with quick greetings for everyone, then took his seat to address some urgent words of attention to Cuba and conveying a transcendent message of affection and exhortation toward courageous and responsible action.

Upon concluding his wise words, he expressed his desire to listen to us to better learn first-hand the actual reality of the Cuban people. Various of those present were able to express our concerns for Cuba and we asked him to support the four points of consensus identified and claimed by a growing and significant civil society group in Cuba. President Walesa expressed his support for the four points and encouraged us to strengthen the structure of civil society.

Others also presented their projects and agendas. The wife of Mr. Manuel Cuesta Morúa asked Walesa to support and request the total liberation and exoneration from charges of her husband. She received backing for her cause from the leader of Solidarity and his countrymen. Mr. Walesa expressed, with fervent devotion to Cuba, that he concurred with the four points and also that he desired to travel to Cuba when conditions were right for him to do so.

Each participant was able to have his or her picture taken with President Lech Walesa, grateful for his time and commitment to Cuba.

Director of Convivencia (Coexistence) Project and Magazine

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

30 October 2014

A Gift from Pinar del Rio on Padre Felix Varela’s 225th Birthday / Intramuros, Yoandy Izquierdo Toledo

I remember every November 20th for a special reason (besides being the birthday of a dear aunt, and of a friend): on this day the Cuban nation gave birth to one of the preeminent pillars of our founding history, Father Felix Varela.

“The complete patriot,” as Martí called him, knew how to merge science and conscience in order to carry out the difficult art of showing the way toward freedom and social justice.

Pinar del Rio has the only full-body statue of Varela on the island, located on the grounds of the Cathedral. The work, done in marble from San Juan y Martinez by the sculptor José M. Pérez Veliz, shows us Varela in a walking position, looking into the distance, like someone watching over the fate of the city and the nation. In his left hand he holds his greatest work, Letters to Elpidio. About Impiety, Superstition and Fanaticism. He seems to be telling us from its pages: “Dear ones, never be arrogant with the weak or weak with the powerful.”

Twenty years after the founding of the now-defunct Center for Civic and Religious Training (CFCR) in Pinar del Rio, and seven years after the unveiling of this sculpture, we members of the Coexistence team, the successor to the work of the Center and its magazine Stained Glass, made a pilgrimage to the foot of this wonderful work in order to offer of our project of ethical and civic education – an edited volume of Coexistence Issues, containing courses taught by CFCR from 1993 to 2007.

Inspired by the Varelian maxim that “There can be no homeland without virtue,” we offer this book as a continuation and application of the legacy of the first one who taught us to think. It is a gift from Pinar del Rio to the Father of our culture.

Yoandy Izquierdo Toledo (Pinar del Río, 1987).

Diplomate in Microbioology, Manager of Coexistence Issues, Resides and works in Havana.

21 November 2013

Poland, Walesa, and a Journey to Freedom / Intramuros, Dagoberto Valdes

Dagoberto Valdes and Lech Walesa

By Dagoberto Valdés Hernández

For years I had a dream. Today it has been realized. Poland has always been part of my cultural, religious and freedom identity. Disappearing several times on the map of Europe, “semper fidelis” Poland maintained its nationality thanks to its rooted ancient culture. I learned from Poland, and its greatest son, Blessed Pope John Paul II, that culture is the soul of a people and the soul is immortal. Since then I have dedicated my entire life in Cuba to rescuing, promoting and cultivating the cultural identity of my Fatherland.

Later, I had the inexpressible honor to participate in the preparation for the Polish Pope’s visit to Cuba in 1998. And to be one of his colleagues at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Now I have arrived in twenty-first century Poland. I walk the path of his roots. The path of his history. I drink from the sources. Thanks to Lech Walesa Institute.

As luck would have it I arrived in this country on June 4, the anniversary of the elections won by the Solidarity Union. I’ve met its leaders. Heard their testimonies of their lives. Their love for Cuba. On Thursday June 6 I personally met the living legend of the last stage of Polish history, President Lech Walesa, Nobel Peace Prize winner and and legendary leader of the Solidarity Trade Union.

Just after eleven o’clock he came hurrying to the headquarters of the Institute that bears his name and where he continues his work. He entered the meeting room and sat with confidence. He greeted us. He spoke briefly and quite frankly about his impressions of Poland and Cuba. Respectfully and cordially he gave us the floor to ask him questions or to give him news of the Nation  where he said he wanted to go one day when we have freedom and democracy. Each one expressed his thoughts and his admiration for his work and the history of his nation.

Personally, I enjoyed the meeting. I looked at the lapel of his suit and found there, as always, the blessed image of Our Lady of Jasna Gora, Queen and Patroness of Poland. I heard him mention with deep devotion the name of Blessed John Paul II, his role on the long road to freedom in Europe and in his homeland. The support the Polish Pope always gave to Solidarity and its leader. His visits before and after the change. continue reading

I asked for the floor to express my respect and before it was turned over to me I heard an unmerited presentation about me and my work from my friend and interpreter Tomasz. I thanked him for the opportunity to meet him and told him I wanted to convey good news about Cuba.

I said that ordinary Cubans had become less fearful and the fabric of Cuban civil society had grown and strengthened and is poised for greater coordination for unity in diversity. He listened to me intently, nodding his head, staring at me. At the end of my speech that lasted less than three minutes, I got up from my seat and offered him a symbol of the workers and peasants of Pinar del Rio: a box of Cohiba cigars.

At the end we quickly took informal photos. He had spent more time than planned with the Cubans. He signed some books and reiterated his love for Cuba and wished us the best for the future. He left as fast as he had come. After the applause was a feeling of hope and confidence in ourselves, that “there is no freedom without solidarity” in which the peaceful path to democracy is not just an option but the only ethically acceptable option.

Over the long weekend, from 8 to 10 June, we went to the places where it all started: Gdanz, an ancient and beautiful city on the Baltic Sea. We visited Westerplate, where World War II began that September 1, 1939. We offered honor and prayers for all those who died in this horror of the twentieth century. On Sunday at early Mass at the Parish of Santa Barbara the Eucharist was offered for them all and for the conscience of mankind with that gigantic phrase on the memorial for the fallen: “No more war”. We could feel the terrible cross of a Poland invaded and bloody.

But there is no cross without resurrection. On Monday, we visited Gdanz Shipyard, door of life, a sanctuary for the rights of workers, temple of nonviolent struggle. Tabernacle of peace with justice, freedom and solidarity. So I wanted to express the famous Polish poet who was asked to write a verse to place forever in the back wall of the monument, but he refused humbly expressing that none of his poems could express what had happened and chose Psalm 29 verse 11 which proclaims: “The Lord gives strength to his people. The Lord will bless his people with peace.” In fact, in this sacred place, the Polish people received “the power of the powerless” and not to use it for war and violence but for freedom and solidarity by way of peace is the gift and task.

We began what was for me a pilgrimage and a school, by the monument to the fallen workers in these yards. Over the intense and luminous blue of Gdanz, rise, solemn and serene, the three crosses with three crucified anchors. This symbol of hope and of the deep sea. This symbol of the Passion of Christ in his people. But it does not give the impression of a tragic monument. It looks like a giant flower of life that comes from the assumed cross and redemption. It looks like a lighthouse in the sea of oppression and injustice, that the eventful life of those who row tirelessly toward freedom loses neither its direction nor its way. I got the impression of an immeasurable arm of warning. A warning signal, a prayer which rises for all who decide to fight for their freedom, we take the paths of solidarity and peace.

I could not stop the tears as I joined this silent prayer and looked down to pay tribute to all crucified in their body or in their soul, I realized that the blood and tears of so many men and women had been marked by the artist’s hand, concentric circles on the pavement, widening from the center of the monument, it seemed to reach to each pacifist fighter and every crucified village. I wanted to kneel there and stay awhile open to expansive mysticism. But Magdalena’s voice dissuaded me, the passionate guide who told us that there was a wide balcony reserved for the contemplation of this triple cross, in the huge cultural center and museum that  Solidarity built just below the monument and in line with the famous Door 2 which we approached reverently.

There it remains close to three decades later, the picture of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa and the portrait of Pope John Paul II that the shipyard workers had placed as shields during strikes where it all started. Then we passed through the vast hall of the Directorate of Health and Safety at Work, where the rounds of dialogue and negotiation were held over the 21 demands that the Solidarity Union demanded from the government that said it had been “the dictatorship of the proletariat” to guarantee the rights of workers.

In the end, we were cordially invited to the opening of Museum-Center of European Solidarity, which will be June 4, 2014.

Our friend David, mystic and musician from the Omni-Zona Franca project of Alamar, gave me a huge red pen with the image of Pope John Paul II, a true copy of the one Lech Walesa used to sign Gdanz Agreements. With it I wrote in the guestbook the incredible religious experience of having stepped on ground sacred to the history of mankind.

I did think of my suffering mother, of the example that my father left me on leaving this world too early, of my three children, my granddaughter who was born on May 20, the day of the independence of Cuba, of my family, of close friends and collaborators from the Civic Center, of that magazine Vitral (Stained Glass Window), and the current magazine Coexistence. And also forgiving all and each of those who have considered themselves my enemies or opponents with a prayer for the reconciliation of all Cubans.

This land has been inscribed with the letters of Solidarity the eternal message that full and true freedom can only be achieved through the paths of justice and peace.

I left with the deep conviction that it is worth spending a lifetime to inscribe, educate, empower, ethically and civilly, this message in the soul of the people, in the language and the circumstances in which each nation embarks on his own journey toward the civilization of love.

20 June 2013

Patience and Work / Intramuros, Livia Galvez Chiu

By Livia Galvez Chiú

“Time puts everything in its right place” or maybe peoples’ work does it too?

There are many stories in which in the end everything finds its proper place. Perfect. Fine for some, and for others, not so fine. Everything depends on where we are situated while the “process” occurs and where we find ourselves when we get to the end.

The mistake is thinking that things end up in the right place through a magical process.

Putting to one side things which happen by chance or accidentally, in order for this to come about you have to have people who mess things up and people who try to sort things out. People do what they can, and God, or life, or time, takes care of the remainder. There are people who divide, sow discord, cultivate hatred, feed resentment; there are those who wait patiently or impatiently, like spectators, without getting involved; and those who, moving between patience and impatience, are watched sceptically as they work and make an effort to “put things in their proper place”. continue reading

I know people who pass through the three positions. These are, for me, those who learn from getting burnt, grow and mature. It’s difficult, after getting it wrong, to accept you have made a mistake, and then work very hard to try to put things right with the patience necessary to help regain the confidence of others. Extremely difficult, but possible.

Cuba has endured 53 years of disorder. Those who have messed things up appear to have no intention of putting things right. Something has to happen. If the damage has been done, we have to try to put things back in their rightful place, because those people who only want to wait without getting involved have no way out apart from hope.

Cubans have a lot to do. Someone who tries to take one step forward towards liberty cannot go backwards again. There are men and women in Cuba, not all of them Cubans, who can bear witness to that. They are a light on the dark bad road we have to pass through.

Translated by GH

4 April 2013

Oswaldo Pay: Example and Legacy / IntraMuros, Dagoberto Valdes

By Dagoberto Valdés

On the afternoon of Sunday, 22 July 2012, we were surprised by unexpected and terrible news: Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, founder and leader of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL), had tragically died near the city of Bayama, seeking the roots of our Cubanness to say goodbye to the land he loved so much and for which he fought so peacefully.

Today Oswaldo’s life appears more transparent and coherent than ever. Death is, for everyone, a summary, a transition, and a lesson.

His history is not yet written. But his accomplishments are. And it is not good to wait too long to put everything in its property place when there is, starting now, an example and legacy to gather, apprehend, and continue. I try, although still moved by the immediacy, to outline what this loss and this gain has meant to Cuba, its present and its future.

Loss, because each person is unique and irreplaceable. Gain, because nothing is lost and everything is gained and the depths of the earth when a good seed falls in the furrow of life, to bring forth more fruits.

I met Payá when he was young, almost a teenager, in one of the halls of the Cerro Parish, where Father Petit was then his pastor and mentor, in a meeting of the few young people who professed the Catholic faith in the hard years of the ’70s. Those were the days when we were discriminated against just for going to Church and declaring in our school records whether or not we were believers.

Oswaldo’s entire life, like that of so many Cuban men and women faithful to Christ and to Cuba, is a daily offering of civil martyrdom of all those who are treated as second class citizens, as “unreliables” for living in what became to be called “a fantastic reflection of reality” for having religious beliefs.

At that time, neither he nor I yet had our own and various projects for Cuba and its freedom and prosperity. But we trained in the bosom of a poor Church, persecuted, committed and faithful to the gospel of its Founder. We received, through the Church, that we must recognize and thank forever, an ethical, civic, religious, and very Cuban education, that followed the saga of Varela, Luz, Mendive, Marti and many others. That is the origin, the cause and the root of our lives and the soul of our Christian commitment. That is its deep motivation, its essence, inspiration, style, methods, criteria of judgment, determination of values, ways of thinking, examples of life.

Each who has lived in his way, as it should be, diverse in the Christian social commitment, but united in the bowels of the Gospel, the Church and Cuba. From this fraternal and daily fellowship where a life is over too quickly was forged, I give testimony to what I think is the legacy of Oswaldo to Cuba and his Church.

His person and his path

For all of Cuba, Payá leaves the trajectory of a coherent life. Of a whole man, of one piece, true to what was, what is and what will be: a human being who does not want to us to deify him, who doesn’t need it, who already has and believes in one true God. He was a human being, on earth, with his faults and virtues. But most important is that in his existence there was no contradiction between who he was, what he though, what he said and what he did. Cuba needs men and women with this morality, the “sun of the moral world.”

For all of Cuba, Payá is also a citizen who freely chose to stay in his country, despite the constant threats and dangers. A citizen who did not remain in internal exile or the alienation of an ivory tower, or who “took refuge” in an opiate-religion, but who learned from his Master Jesus that true religion is the incarnation, the cross and the resurrection.

The Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) was an expression of this active and systematic engagement. The Varela Project is another example of his faith in action, being the most important civic exercise in the last half century, that managed to transcend the boundaries of the MCL, to be and exist with “All Together”. Cuba needs citizens to stay here, who are one nation with those who work hard to find peaceful solutions.

For the Church, Oswaldo is a paradigm of vocation and mission of lay Christians. He did not abandon the Church in spite of the sorrows and misunderstandings. he did not use it for political purposes but demanded the same thing it taught: consistency and faithfulness to the Gospel of Christ.

The Church needs lay people involved in the world of politics, civil society, culture, economy … and the laity need not be excluded, nor seen as rare, both Tyrians and Trojans, because of their commitments, be they political or civic. They need to be considered and followed, without taking its own political choices, both in life and in death, as do our parish communities, priests, religious and bishops. Just as with other, laypeople who are caregivers, teach the catechism, work in Caritas, pray the Rosary, or animate a mission house. This is what we see and thank Paya’s funeral.

For the Church, Payá is also an example of Christian prophecy. He was the voice many who did not have a voice, but he did not disqualify or exclude his brethren who thought differently. To disagree and debate, is not to exclude. To exclude is to segregate the family of those who are considered “dissidents” or “dangerous” or “troublesome”, or not accepted by the powers of this world. Oswaldo suffered this and much more. But his prophecy did not rest, nor was it exhausted. He denounced the ills suffered by the people and the Church that formed a part of him. He announced the Christian liberation and he created, proposed projects, thinking, laws, new roads, in an absolutely peaceful and proactive way.

Cuba and its Church need this kind of prophet who not only denounces but also proposes solutions and puts them into practice, patiently and bravely.

The immediate fruits of the death of Payá

Here, in the Cerro Parish, with the body still present, we can observe various immediate fruits of the sacrifice of Oswaldo Payá. I will mention a few:

The physical family of the deceased gave testimony of spiritual strength, serenity and faithfulness to the work of Oswaldo. Mired in unspeakable pain they did not lose the integrity or peace of knowing that their husband and father has given his life to a worthy cause and died in the fulfillment of Christian and civic duty.

The Church, Payá’s religious family, offered during his burial an example of communion without exclusion, solidarity in pain and coherence with what it preaches. It has been truly organic and sacramental from the Good Shepherd, from the Pope’s condolences to the last parishioner of the parish who offered water or consolation, through various religious congregations, the pastor, other priests and monks, evangelical pastors, bishops and their bishop the Cardinal, whose homily must be studied and lived. All united by faith in Christ and love for Cuba. Despite the normal and even desirable differences, in the healthy pluralism of the People of God. As the fruit of a Church united in diversity, embodied, prophetic and reconciliatory dialogue, beginning with itself.

Civil society, the citizen family that shares the same history, nation and destination, has also, on the occasion of the death of Payá, shown a clear and unequivocal gesture of unity in diversity, respect for differences without disqualification, excluding hatred, confrontation and other human miseries that we all have and must overcome, to put above all ideological and political differences, which in themselves are not bad … to put above all Cuba, our homeland, the common home, its freedom and prosperity. What I saw there, that mature civic spirit and weaver of coexistence, is the Cuba that we dream of are building together.

The diplomatic corps, represented there as well as the press,accredited or independent, also show respect and the normality with which observers, international and our own, consider Cuban society as a pluralistic body in a process of maturation and serious and peaceful commitment with the changes and democracy.

These gestures have also been made possible by the good will and civic and political maturity of civil society. Other immediate fruits might be mentioned as an example and comforting encouragement to family members of his movement and friends. In the future to come in the medium and long term, surely we will see more that one seed is capable of producing, a symbol, a paradigm, a flag of peace brought by love. No one can calculate.

I want to end by saying that at Oswaldo Payá’s funeral I noted that pluralism and respect for the unity in diversity have come gradually, first to the life of civil society and, in some ways, to the life of the Church, the people of God. May God grant that will also reach the State that it will move them, so that Cuba will be a home where “we all fit.”

I pray to God, for the intercession of Oswaldo Payá, of Harold Cepero, of Laura Pollán, of Wilman Villar, Wilfredo Soto, Orlando Zapata, Pedro Luis Boitel, and many others, who were faithful to their faith and their ideals in this life, that comes to an end, fully, for all in Cuba, with respect for pluralism, unity in diversity, ethical, civic and religious coherence, that we have received as the raised and hopeful fruit of the living cross, the cross accepted by these our brothers.

They were able. We follow his example and legacy.

So be it. Amen.

August 9 2012



You are and must be the sovereigns of your own personal and national history.” (John Paul II, Cuba 1998)

The two visits of the Popes of the Catholic Church, are milestones that show the step forward of Cuban civil society. Cuba has changed, not only and not always for the worse. Our opinion is that between the two apostolic visits there is a process that progresses from awakening of many in the Cuban civil society toward adulthood citizenship, still in development.

Fourteen years are sufficient to feel the difference in the composition of Cuban society and the interrelation of forces between the different social actors. The Cuban State has gained the least lasting thing. The Church has gained, short-term, part of what is proper for her.But the rest of the Cuban civil society is the one that has won: yes, lost because there is some frustration due to the handling of state movements and gestures of the visit; but wins because it not to be recognized as a partner, allows you to advance in the awakening citizen, without waiting for foreign saviours. And this is what most lasts, mature and is beneficial to the nation, in the mid and long term. Although it hurts.
More than complaints without remedy, we intend to analyze other aspects of this visit from four of its multiple facets: Cuba in the showcase; Gestures of the Pope to Cuba; Messages of the Pope to Cuba; and legacy of his visit.

Cuba in the showcase

The country the Pope visits is placed in the centre of the attention of all social media, which is always positive. To achieve such transparency, the world has an extraordinary opportunity to experience firsthand the reality facing the Cuban people, the relationships of domination that the authorities have established with their own citizens, as well as the different methods that the Government uses, the opposition, and the rest of the Cuban civil society. To know what happens really, even for a few days, is a sample button which always leaves fruits of truthfulness on the nation observed.

The gestures of the Pope

The successor of St. Peter, on the one hand has made gestures of much closeness and admiration for Cuba, its cultural and religious heritage, by its founding fathers mentioned several times, among others. One of these symbolic positive gestures was to raise the devotion to the Virgin de la Caridad del Cobre, the most eminent range of expression of universal Catholic piety, presenting her with the Golden Rose. Another gesture was the possibility for people of the diaspora and exile, members of the only Cuban nation, to participate in the celebrations. However, the organizers of the papal visit, could not find time for, not only for a courtesy visit to the head of State – absolutely normal and noticeable in all the countries that the Pope visits – but also for other encounters with people who no longer hold any public office. This could be understood by its symbolic nature, although not necessary, if at the same time, the Pope had greeted briefly some representatives of the Cuban civil society: the other part of the nation without which there would be neither unity nor inclusion nor national reconciliation. The Cuban Church, that will be as the servant in the morning that the same Pope gives a preview of in his messages, perhaps regrets, in time, thisexclusionaryomission, that looks more to the short term than to the medium and long journey of Cuba in relation to the people and excluded groups who must necessarily be part of the morning in our country. The Church, expert in humanity and with its two thousand year experience, almost always looks further and highest taking in all the time to come. It was a pity that on this occasion it was not so as well. In this aspect it seems that the balance is negative. Hopefully that will be righted, in the daily life of the Church’s relations with the rest of civil society, the best way possible for all.

The message of the Pope and his legacy

We believe that in this aspect the balance sheet is, perhaps, the most positive, compared with the previous issues. For both the present and in the long perspective for the future. The messages from the Pope have pulled forward, have looked high and far. They have left a rich legacy, concrete and inclusive. I hope that no Cuban overlooks this theological legacy of height, maximum humanist depth, and especially of a great love for Cuba and to all Cubans without exclusion. May God who grants serenity to our spirits, no Cuban from here or from outside, obsessed by what the Pope himself called ’irremovable or unilateral positions’, allow us to study and apply these messages a deep ethical, civic and spiritual way.

Although in this number we publish entirely all the official texts that the Pope Benedict XVI pronounced in Cuba so that everyone could extract of them what seems best to him, over a few days, so as not to leave ourselves feeling despondent, we offer the first and immediate selection of these texts, to facilitate the study of the contribution that the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church has suggested to us with great respect and all its moral authority. At the same time we have wanted to compare them with the expectations of many people in Cuba, some of them published in our Leading article 24 corresponding to January – February, 2012. That is the same Pontiff who speaks with our readership:

The Pope recognizes in his heart the suffering and the just aspirations of the Cuban people

“I carry in my heart the just aspirations and legitimate desires of all Cubans, wherever they are found, their sufferings and joys, concerns and desires more noble, and especially of young people and the elderly, adolescents and children, patients and workers, of prisoners and their families, as well as poor and needy.” (Greeting upon arriving at the Antonio Maceo airport)

Cuba is already looking to tomorrow, from the patrimony of the heritage of the homeland
“I’m convinced that Cuba, in this particularly important moment in its history, is looking ahead to tomorrow, and it strives to renew and widen its horizons…to what will cooperate this immense heritage of values…that have been shaping its most genuine identity, and that are sculpted on the work and life of many illustrious Fathers of the homeland such as the blessed Jose Olallo and Valdés, the Servant of God Félix Varela or the hero Jose Marti. ” (Greeting upon arrival at the Airport Antonio Maceo)

This message satisfies the expectations of many Cubans that we were outlining in number 8, of the Leading article 24: The opening to the world strengthens the cultural identity and the national sovereignty.

Shortcuts in search of the truth

Warning of the traps and recesses into which fall all seekers of truth, the Pope lists us some of them: “You will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” (Jn 8,32). The truth is a longing of the human being, and find it always involves an exercise of genuine freedom. Many, however, prefer the shortcuts and try to avoid this task. Some, like Pontius Pilate, satirize the possibility of being able to know the truth (cf. Jn 18, 38), proclaiming the inability of a man to achieve it or denying that there is a truth for all. This attitude, as in the case of skepticism and relativism, produces a change in the heart, making them cold, hesitant, distant from each other and locked into themselves. People who wash their hands as the Roman Governor of the story and leave the water running, without making a commitment. On the other hand, there are others who interpret badly this search for the truth, leading them to irrationality and fanaticism, locking in ’the truth’ and trying to impose it on others. They are like those stubborn lawyers, see Jesus beaten and bloody, crying angry: “Crucify him!” (Cf. Jn. 19, 6)’. (Homily at the mass in the Plaza Cívica José Martí of Havana)

Even God respects and needs the supreme gift of freedom.

This message is, perhaps, the most far-reaching theological and humanistic, which could serve as a solid foundation for its anthropological, social, political or economic, and even religious consequences: ’God not only respects the human freedom, but seems to need it.” (Homily at Mass in the Plaza Antonio Maceo in Santiago de Cuba)

Propose, not impose, even in the face of rejection and the cross.

“Christianity, to highlight the values that underpin ethics, does not impose, but proposes that the invitation of Christ to know the truth that makes us free. The believer is called to offer it to his contemporaries… even before the grim harbinger of the rejection and the cross.” (Homily at the Mass at the Plaa Cívica José Martí of Havana)

If we want to achieve unity in diversity: look for a minimum of ethics that will bring us closer

Every human being has to inquire into the truth and opt for it when he finds it, even at the risk of dealing with sacrifices. In addition, the truth about the man is an inescapable desire to achieve freedom, because in it we discovered the foundations of ethics with which everyone can confront, and containing clear and precise formulations on life and death, the duties and rights, marriage, the family and society, in short, on the inviolable dignity of the human being. This ethical heritage is what can bring to all cultures, peoples and religions, the authorities and the citizens, and citizens, believers in Christ with those who do not believe in him.” (Homily at the Mass in the Plaza Cívica José Martí of Havana)

This message matches the expectations of numerous compatriots, reflected in number 4, of our Leading article 24, on the contribution that the teachings of the Pope could give: The reconstruction of the fabric of the sovereign civil society. The search of ethics, with a common minimum denominator, which it includes to all in the national community of life, is and it can be the firmest foundation to reconstruct the relations between the citizens and the authorities, which must be to the service of the civil society and not the contrary.

That Cuba is the home of all, without exclusion of God or of men

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1, 14). The expression “became flesh” points to the human reality more concrete and tangible. In Christ, God has entered into our history, made his dwelling among us, thereby fulfilling the intimate aspiration of human beings that the world is truly a home for man. On the other hand, when God is thrown out, the world becomes an inhospitable place for man…” (Homily at Mass in the Plaza Antonio Maceo in Santiago de Cuba). ’The Virgin Mary with the presence in theSanctuary del Cobre, from where she accompanies the journey of the Church in this Nation…gives courage to all Cubans so that, of the hand of Christ, they discover the genuine sense of solicitude and desire that lurk in the human heart and reach the force required to build a society of solidarity, in which no one will feel excluded… That no one is prevented from joining this exciting work by the limitation of their fundamental freedoms, or exempt from it because of neglect or lack of material resources. That situation is compounded when restrictive economic measures imposed from outside the country weigh negatively on the population.” (words of farewell in the José Martí Airport of Havana)

These teachings fulfill other expectations shared by many people and delineated in number 1, of the Leading article 24: La Caridad unites us. The unity is an inclusion. An enclosing and united society proposes to us that we not be blockaded from the outside and, much less, from within by apathy, repression or the disrespectful disregard of the diversity on the part of the same civil or ecclesiastic authorities. We cannot understand how the government can respect and feel affection for a thought, be it different or coincidental,of a foreign visitor as the Pope and fails to do the same for its own citizens, peaceful, independent and respectful of the laws of coexistence in the land where they were born.

Role of the Church in Cuba: show your true face without fear or complexes

“Dear Brothers, it was with much effort, courage and selflessness they are working each day so that, in the specific circumstances of his country, and in this time of history, the Church increasingly reflects its true face as the place where God is close to and found with men. The Church… has the mission to prolong on the ground, the saving presence of God, of opening up the world to something larger than itself, to the love and light of God. It is worth dedicating one’s whole life to Christ…the upcoming Passover, let us without fear or complex follow Jesus in his path toward the cross. We accept with patience and faith any adversity or affliction, with the conviction that, in his resurrection, he has defeated the power of evil that darkens everything, and the dawn that has made a new world, the world of God, the light, the truth and joy.” (Homily at Mass in the Plaza Antonio Maceo in Santiago de Cuba)

The expectation number 9, of our Leading article 24 was hoping for a message from the Pope that should exhort us to: The transition of fear to hope and from the hope to the reconstruction of the Country. These teachings from the Square Antonio Maceo confirm and satisfy many who want to let go of fear and open a world where they can breathe more freely. At the same time it is an exhortation so that the Cuban Church is faithful to Jesus Christ, reflects his real face and is not afraid of the cross of the Lord. Collaboration and trust can not exist at any cost. One can not stop being something of the essence of what one is, so as not to run against those who are different.Society and the Church can not exclude part of their message, or part of the people who comprise them, for being different, to thereby achieve complacency or dialogue, to trust or cooperate with the other part of that society and the Church. Trust and collaboration are with all parties or they are not a collaboration nor a credible trust. What is at stake is the authenticity and credibility of all parties.

True religious freedom includes the social and political performance of believers

The essential contribution that religion is called to play in the public sphere of society.’ (Greetings to arriving at the Antonio Maceo airport).’The right to freedom of religion, both in its individual dimension and as a community expresses the unity of the human person, who is both citizen and believer. It also legitimizes believers to offer a contribution to the building of society. Its strengthening consolidates the coexistence, feeds the hope in a better world, creates conditions conducive to peace and harmonious development, at the same time establishes a firm base on which to strengthen the rights of future generations. When the Church emphasizes this right, it is not claiming any privilege. It is intended only as faithful to the mandate of its divine Founder, aware that where Christ is present, man grows in humanity and finds its consistency.” (Homily at the mass in the Plaza Cívica José Martí of Havana).

In number 6, of our mentioned Leading article, we were reviewing what some Cubans were hoping that the Pope should clarify: the authentic concept of the free expression and performance of the Christian religion: Towards a real religious freedom. The Pope has said clearly that the rights of the future generations cannot separate the believer’s condition of citizen and of his contribution to the building of the society. This way one concludes that: religious freedom is alone neither freedom of worship, nor what we have called ’a freedom of permissions’. The law must open and guarantee for all, without distinction or exclusions, the profession of worship, the exercise of the prophesying Christian that includes the announcement and the denunciation; as well as the social, political and economic service that the Christian conception of the human being and of the world demands of its believers.

The path of change: teach to think and form men of virtue

Cuba and the world need changes, but they will be given only if each one is in a position to ask for the truth and decides to take the road of love, sow reconciliation and fraternity. An illustrious example of this work was the great priest Félix Varela, educator and teacher, illustrious son of this city of Havana, who has passed into the history of Cuba as the first one who taught his people to think. Father Varela presents the way for a true social transformation: form virtuous men to forge a nation worthy and free, that this transformation will depend on the spiritual life of man, because ’there is no homeland without virtue” (letters to Elpidio, letter sesta, 1836 Madrid, 220). (Homily at the mass in the Plaza Cívica José Martí of Havana). Under the gaze of the Virgin de la Caridad del Cobre. I would like to make a call…for living in Christ and for Christ, and with weapons of peace, forgiveness and understanding; fight to build a society open and renewed, a society better, more worthy of man, reflecting more the goodness of God.” (Homily at the mass in the plaza Antonio Maceo in Santiago de Cuba)

On the basis of the strongly Creole teachings of Father Felix Varela, the Pope told us clearly that Cuba needs changes and that we must do so with a spirit, and by a road, without trauma. This meets some of those expectations of broad sectors of our society reflected in Editorial 24,n 24, specifically in number 2: The spirit that promotes structural changes, peaceful and gradual; and in number 7: The national reconciliation: truth, justice, amnesty and magnanimity. The portico of this visit was opened by Benedict XVI while on the plane to Mexico, when he said: The Marxist ideology, as it was conceived, it no longer responds to reality and the Church is available to help changes to take effect without trauma’. We see that he did not say Marxist ideology as applied in the former USSR or in the socialist camp, but as it was conceived. We believe that this frank complaint, which is a part of the prophetic message of every Christian, was superbly complemented by the other part of that prophetic vision which is the announcement that the Pope himself made within Cuba on the way, the style and the players to ensure that changes were without violence or trauma. In effect, we believe that there are two root causes, fruit from the more than 60 years of totalitarian authoritarianism and paternalism, which could lead to violence and trauma: the anthropological damage that produces depersonalization, and the ethical and civic illiteracy that produces personal and social anomie. These roots of the social and political evils must be overcome with an ethical and civic education and regenerating of the human person and of peaceful coexistence.

It is time of coexistence and national dialogue that banish immovable positions

“The present hour demands in a compelling way that in human, national and international coexistence, set positions and the unilateral points of view — which tend to make understanding more difficult the understanding and collaborative effort ineffective, will be banned. Any discrepancies and difficulties will be solved by tirelessly searching for what unites all, with patient and sincere dialogue, mutual understanding and a loyal will to listen that accepts goals, carriers of new hope.” (Words of farewell to the José Martí airport in Havana)

The Pope culminates, in his words of farewell at the airport, the masterful strokes of his messages and its legacy. We wish to highlight these teachings that have responded to and exceeded the expectations of many, mentioned in our Editorial 24 in number 3: The promotion of citizen sovereignty and an inclusive national dialog and about essential topics. And in number 5: The decriminalization of diversity.

Make each Cuban feel indispensable as the sovereign of the future of his life, his family and his homeland.

I conclude here my pilgrimage, but I will keep on praying heartily so that you go forward and Cuba becomes the home of all and for all Cubans, where justice and freedom coexist, in a climate of serene brotherhood. The respect and cultivation of the freedom that beats in the heart of every man is essential to answer appropriately the fundamental requirements of his dignity, and to construct in this way a society in whom each one there feels himself the indispensable sovereign of the future of his life, his family and his homeland.’ (Farewell Words in the Airport José Martí of Havana)

Here’s the key to everything. The legacy that we feel is most important and transcendent. And at the same time, the continuity with the message of the unforgettable Pope John Paul II in 1998, prominent as an essential expectation of many in number 10 of the 24 Editorial: ’Cubans we are and we should be the sovereigns of our own personal and national history’.

Cuban civil society, rather than incipient has already grown, having reached, in some central themes, a consensus as never before in the past 500 years of our history. We mentioned some of these points: to be the sovereign of our own personal history with the commitment to weave a civic coexistence; join in the diversity accepting that democracy is plural, diverse and complex; agree on minimum ethics, as are: the aim of achieving democracy and the use of peaceful methods to achieve it.

We have lived through the visit of Pope Benedict XVI. This tour leaves us with a new bar to overcome a challenge that arises as a result of his teachings: giving us, finally, to realize that changes do not come from outside, or from above, but from the inside and from below, which is to say: to exercise the sovereignty of each citizen in personal and corporate form. From outside, the solidarity, support and respect for what we lead from within. And not the other way around.

We believe that the greatest challenge that this visit leaves us is that we cannot, nor should we, expect more from a one-time event, or from a messiah who would come to redeem us from outside, nor even from the representative of the Messiah Jesus Christ. We have entered, it was time, in the deception of false Messiahs and imported solutions. Cuba will be in the future only what Cubans will be able to do among all of us, a sovereigns of our own personal and national history.

This is the unique, authentic and lasting civic adulthood.

Pinar del Rio, April 8 2012

Easter of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Coexistence Magazine. Editorial 26. March-April 2012

Translated by: Hank Hardisty

May 3 2012

The Cuba That Will be Visited by Pope Benedict XVI / IntraMuros, Dagoberto Valdes

By Dagoberto Valdes, Pinar del Rio

Cuba is not the same as in 1998 when John Paul II made the first papal visit in our history. Its government is not the same, though essential and structurally, it remains the same system. Its Church is not the same in its workings and leadership, although essentially and structurally, it also remains identical. The political opposition is not the same; although many groups and historical leaders remain, a new generation has been incorporated, and the number of small parties has been reduced, as consensus and alliances are formed. I think what has changed  the most is the rest of independent civil society.

At the same time, the Pope who is coming is Benedict XVI, another person with another style of his pontificate.

So I think it is very important to approach the Cuba the Pope will visit. It is one of the horizontal forms of participation in the preparation of the visit. The closer it gets, the necessary knowledge and information available will consist more or less of the messages and gestures of the Pope, and the more or less objective will be the analysis and evaluation of his trip.

This is my vision of Cuba, just before the announced and expected visit:

Economic vision

The economic changes started timidly do not substantially transformed the centralized and predominantly state owned system. The Cuban state keeps for itself the monopoly of major industries and companies. Land is not delivered in ownership but in usufruct, and the the so-called self-employed are only allowed in a short list of medieval crafts.

The buying and selling of houses and cars is a change only for those who have more. The economic crisis is the result of a economy subsidized first by the Soviet Union and now Venezuela. The government does not free up productive forces and blocks real initiative, open and efficient from all Cubans. So the system is biting its own tail by not recognizing private, cooperative and mixed-ownership of property, not accepting free enterprise or the possibility of investment from both foreigners and Cubans in the diaspora.

Unemployment is rising, there is growing inequality between the few who can and the many who may lose even the little they had. Bread is missing from and freedom, which was the cost paid half a century ago, has not returned. The economy does not run on ideologies or with slogans and cosmetics, it runs on the economy.

However, the Pope will find a people that wants to lift its head, that has not lost initiative and entrepreneurship and that demands more and more strongly its right to economic freedom with responsibility and social justice. For some and for others we would expect a word of ethical encouragement and inner strength from the Pope.

Political vision

The totalitarian Marxist Leninist project is exhausted. It has not achieved the expected results in fifty years, patiently endured by Cubans. It imposed a high human cost and reduced fundamental human rights and responsibilities. State paternalism transformed the people en masse, and changed the entrepreneurial person into a dependent who lives “the culture of the caged chick.” In the unforgettable  words of Archbishop Meurice in Santiago de Cuba on the former apostolic visitation, “a growing number of Cubans … have confused the country with a party, the nation with the historical process we have experienced in recent decades, and culture with an ideology. ”

However, the Holy Father can find another group of Cubans committed to the politics of its country, with alternative projects to integrate Cuba into the community of democratic and prosperous nations, while safeguarding citizen sovereignty and national independence. For them as for others, we expect an acknowledgment and a word, based on the Gospel and the Social Doctrine of the Church, summarizing ethics and politics as service to the nation.

Social vision

The Pope found a society that has suffered the consequences of both the economic crisis and political authoritarianism, such that inequality has increased between those with access to remittances from family or friends abroad, or work in joint ventures or foreign missions, and the majority without access to hard currency who survive on totally inadequate wages.

Unemployment multiplied corruption, the black market, moral relativism and the deterioration of values and virtues of the identity of the Cuban people. Alcoholism, prostitution, unstoppable exile, suicide and despair of not having viable life projects, are some of the doors through which Cubans try to escape the social anomie they suffer.

However, the successor of St. Peter will also find a subsistent moral substrate, a sense of social justice and equality of opportunity, a solidarity that relieves poverty but does not cure the root, and can find small social responsibility initiatives that sustain the certainty of the ability of civic recuperation of Cubans, even under daily repression. All of this in framework of a growing web of independent civil society is best articulated through the use of new information technologies and communications. It is the Cuba of autonomous cultural projects, bloggers, independent journalists, human rights groups, the well known Ladies in White and other initiatives.

To confirm and encourage the progress of this social recuperation, we expect to receive words and gestures of the Pope that recognize the pluralism and diversity as wealth. And we want the Pope to preach in Cuba what can be read in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church: “The political community is essentially in the service of civil society and, ultimately, people and groups that compose it. Civil society, therefore, should not be considered a mere appendage or a variable of the political community; on the contrary, it has the preeminence, as civil society is precisely what justifies the existence of the political community. ” (Compendium of ISD No. 418, p. 231. Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2004).

Religious view

The pope will find a church more diverse, more present in public life, more missionary, but one that still does not enjoy the authentic religious freedom that is not only freedom of worship, nor relationships based on “permissions” of political authority. He will find, also, a visible and public improvement of relations between the senior church hierarchy and the senior government hierarchy, but still part of His faithful children suffer for their faith, for the consequences of Christian social engagement and for their political choices. A church that still learns responsibility, unity built in diversity and inclusion of all its children who have, as is legitimate, different political, economic and social choices. A church that still learns to be a true mother and teacher, and mediates and shows solidarity with the oppressed.

However, the Vicar of Christ will also find the deep Christian matrix of our culture, a widespread, personal and communal religion, a thirst for God and a hunger for a transcendent and fulfilling life while building the Kingdom of God on this earth. For all its children, not just for some, the Church should receive from its Universal Pastor a word of confirmation in faith, hope and love that unites us and includes us all in its diversity.

Anthropological view

The Pope can find in his in his upcoming visit something less visible, less studied, but absolutely most important and decisive for the future of Cuba. This is the main character, subject and purpose of all this: the human person that is every Cuban.

In my opinion, of all the disasters suffered in this half century of totalitarianism, the most serious and lasting damage is anthropological. A person who has a great share of his inner freedom blocked, is crumbling from lack of oxygen to his own humanity. A person whose individual responsibility is systematically blocked, or superseded with authoritarianism and paternalism, stops growing and becomes an adolescent in civic terms.

The blockade of independent or community life projects crumbles the human soul and promotes existential despair. The blockade of personal, free, and responsible participation, aand the blocking of public spaces where the venture acquires essential community character, causes an unstoppable desire to flee into external exile or internal alienation.

However, the Pope also will find people who have survived almost miraculously by their own efforts in this anthropological disaster. Generous people who have given their lives to serve their countrymen and the world. People who have been healed of this interior damage and work to heal other Cubans here and in the diaspora. Cubans who are free and are responsible and are the bridge and road to the unity and fraternity of the nation, wherever they live.

As the Church is, above all, expert in humanity, both groups should receive from the Pope this nutritional supplement of the spirit that faith in God is inseparable from faith in the supreme dignity of the human person. The spiritual nourishment that does not put new patches on the damaged tissue of citizens and civil society, but renews from the inside the soul of the nation that suffers, works, struggles, loves and hopes in the incomparable green island in the Caribbean.

“You are, and must be the protagonists of their own personal and national history.”(John Paul II in Cuba, 1998)

The Cuba Pope Benedict XVI will visit is one and plural, less flat and more complex. It’s not as simple. It is at the same time, the Cuba of faith in God and human betterment, and the distrust of others in the power of men. It is the Cuba of the irrevocable hope of some, and despair of others who are tired of waiting and who show it however they can. It is the Cuba of the love that unites us and hate that excludes us. It is the Cuba that tries to dialogue among its diverse children and all represses those who are different. It is the Cuba of the dispersion, unique as a nation, on pilgrimage on the island and in exile.

Fernando Ortiz said that “Cuba is a melting pot.” I would say yes, but in these times, the torrid heat of the tropics sets the pot on fire, thought at times it appears in a blackout. We know that inevitably we are called to save everyone, each other, from violence and death, and to save our common home, setting Cuba on the path of fraternal coexistence and civic friendship which, according to Aristotle, “is the greatest of the civic assets, and with it civil strife will be redeemed.” (Cf. Editorial 25).

So, I think with the unforgettable John Paul II that we should not expect from without what we should build within. We should expect from above what we should construct, block by block, from below. We must not promote any other earthly or pseudo-spiritual messianicism that causes flight from the world. Nothing will be achieved in Cuba without the person in each one of us Cubans and all that must be built so that God and the world, including the Pope, will one day soon find a Cuban nation healthy, free, adult, responsible and fraternal, open to the world and integrated into the international community.

This is what I hope. It is for this that I live, work and have decided, with the grace of God, to stay in Cuba.

Translated from Diario de Cuba

20 March 2012

Convivencia [Coexistence]: Test, Maturation and Growth / IntraMuros, Dagoberto Valdes

Dagoberto Valdes speaking on the 4th anniversary of the magazine.

Dear friends of Convivencia:

The time God gives us to do good works and grow in humanity passes quickly. We are already celebrating the fourth anniversary of the digital magazine Convivencia.

The presence of all of you here and the multiple and diverse collaborators that have written for the magazine in these twelve months, show that a magazine does not stand alone, nor only through the members of its editorial staff. The magazine is created and maintained by its collaborators who put their names and thoughts at the service of the present and future of Cuba, and in consideration of all who want to read, learn to think, disagree, suggest, propose and work.

This year of 2012 has been a year of tests, maturation and growth.The three things that have contributed the magazine being more well-known, more read, and more sought after.

Tests such as the harassment, accusations and pressures of every kind, direct and indirect, that serve to strengthen our spirits, purify our intentions and sharpen our good will and our methods of working. The early Christians, persecuted by the decadent Roman Empire, used to say with simplicity that it was given to them to suffer: Per crucem ad lucem: Through the cross to the light.

All this produces maturation of people and works. Maturation that means: the ability not to let ourselves be manipulated from one side or another; to be faithful to our purpose and to our identity as a project of Cuban thought; to exercise citizen sovereignty and freedom of expression, in an ethical way, respectfully and proactively, putting our love for Cuba, the welfare of Cubans, above everything.

There are no better fertilizers of growth than these movements of the human spirit: through the cross to the light; and of this personal and community maturation. This is the secret of the growth of Convivencia. There is no doubt that the attacks of the Media of Communication officials have contributed to helping us learn and mature.

We give thanks to God for the solidarity, understanding, respect and affection that thousands of people and many institutions, within and outside of Cuba, have offered us. This has made our name, Convivencia, be one more experience of living and sharing for a large number of Cuban men and women who look with hope on the future of Cuba.

The magazine Convivencia lives for them.

Thank you very much.

January 26 2012

Pedro Claro Meurice: Cuban, Pastor, and Faithful Friend / IntraMuros

Death is step and journey in the essence of life. Archbishop Pedro Meurice Estiu course, retired archbishop of Santiago de Cuba has ended his fruitful and suffering journey for the time he lived. Cuba has lost one of its greatest pastors of all time and has gained one of the holy intercessors who has known its deep reality.

Meurice, undoubtedly, has a place alongside bishops such as that other Pedro, Morell de Santacruz, or with Espada, the most Cuban of Spanish bishops as Martí called him, or his own friend and father, Monsignor Enrique Perez Serantes, whose personal secretary he was.

I am honored to have been his disciple and friend. I met him when I was a young man of barely 25 and he was the archbishop president of the National Commission for the Laity. He was for me a paradigm, a stimulus and a counselor. Hard as a rock, paternal like a grandfather, tender as a child.

But mostly I remember the two major events of the Church in Cuba in the last half century: the Cuban National Ecclesial Meeting (ENEC, 1986) and in the unforgettable visit of John Paul II to Cuba in 1998. In the first event I can not forget his passionate devotion to the Father of Cuban culture, Felix Varela, reading the decree to begin his canonization still pending and slowed down.

The Pope’s visit I could not remember without hearing, in the hollow of the Cuban soul, that clear and courageous presentation of his people before the blessed image of the Virgin of Charity and the Supreme Pastor of his Church. Never were the reality, the hope, the transparency closer to the heart of the people and their Queen and Mother.

Cuba remains as described by Archbishop Meurice. Nobody has narrated a diagnosis so endearing, respectful and truthful of their homeland. This text should be published and studied again. I witnessed with much love and how much did this presentation cost, as valid and urgent now, 13 years later.

Time soothes and balances, eases and melts, in the historical memory of peoples life, the service and the example of its protagonists, will one day make the biography I tried to begin one day starting with over a hundred questions, of course incomplete and put aside the humble sanluiseño. I know other good Cubans tried to save his image and did so with unsurpassed audiovisual work on his predecessor.

As that time comes, I leave my simple testimony to his glorious and no longer breathless remains, forever serene, these three words and an adjective with the haste of the moment that forced me to tax my homage:

Meurice has been and is: a Cuban, a pastor and a faithful friend.

Cuban: Above all a man of a single piece and a consistent and contagious ethic, true to his country, its history, the soul of the nation and to San Luis and Santiago of his hopes and tribulations. All he did was to be faithful to that love without cracking and without duplicity. Cuba should honor him as one of its finest sons. In time it will.

Pastor: faithful to Christ, his only and beloved Lord. The Gospel and its blessings, which were his compass and his way. Faithful to the Church that he served non-stop, without measure, saying sometimes yes and sometimes no, according to his conscience dictated in full communion with his faith and his brothers. The Church in Cuba should honor and revere him as one of its most faithful pastors and saints. In time it will.

Friend: faithful to the nearby and distant in geography, but always faithful to friendship lucid, critical and transparent. I learned from him that one may be, at the same time, oneself and a friend of those who think or believe like one. I learned also from Meurice, that one may be Cuban, pastor and friend without conflict of duties and subdivisions. Time will make that friendship sown, cultivated, preserved and shared, the best altar to the Patriarch Archbishop Primate of Cuba.

How he succeeded, like P. Varela, to unite in one heart the love of Cuba, of Christ and his church,admired and reverent at the altar of the Fatherland of the Church, the living sacrifice that was Pedro Claro Meurice Estiu, who true to his two names, was able to combine the strength of the stone and the clarity of light in the same breathless tenderness of his invincible hope.

Archbishop Meurice: Pray for Cuba, for its Church and for each one of us! Amen.

By Dagoberto Valdés

I am guilty of… / Intramuros

By Sironay Gonzalez Rodriguez

How good I feel when knowing that I am doing the right thing, even when the majority contradicts me or avoids any comment so as not to be implicated. I like to be on the opposite side, I feel good being apart from the mass.

My biggest commitment is with the truth. With it I walk with my head up and I am not afraid, because the fear is for those who are attached to dogmas and live in the obligation of being servile although they don’t understand a thing. I give myself to a noble cause, justice, and for it I will be fighting with all the known peaceful means while God gives me strength.

I believe in the power of the small, in the capacity that people still have (although they don’t notice it) to love.

Sironay Gonzalez Rodriguez
San Cristobal, Artemisa. 1976

Translated by Adrian Rodriguez

June 30 2011

Pedro Pablo Oliva and Henry Constantin: Two Examples of the Blockade on the World of the Cuban Culture / IntraMuros, Dagoberto Valdes

By Dagoberto Valdes and the Editorial Board

In editorial No. 14 of Convivencia Magazine ( of March-April 2010, we said that:

“In the last year there has been a visible increase of the natural diversity of expressions of men and women in Cuba. This plurality has been manifested, mainly, in the cultural world. This world has been always a very multicolored one. And in the last fifty years, it has been treated more with subtle censorship and exclusions than with more direct methods. Thus, the cultural and educational world was expressing itself, more and more, in a peaceful way, critical, punctual and persevering. Instead of more room for debates; instead of opening the existing paths to the diversity of opinion and action, the answer has been the growth of violent repression, direct, without a mask nor subtleties as before.”

The last two milestones with this sad reality have been: The closing down of Pedro Pablo Oliva’s studio in Pinar del Rio last May 14, 2011 and the “cancellation” of the enrollment and grades earned over two years, by the blogger from Camagüey Henry Constatin, who is also a member of the editorial boards of the magazines Voces and Convivencia and who participates in the preparation of the serial Citizens’ Reasons, an audiovisual space for independent debates that address different aspects of our national life. Both decisions damage noticeably the spirituality and creativeness of the Cuban nation. So we expressed in the afore-mentioned editorial only a year ago.

“Those who blockade the cultural world, those who gag the arts, those who uglify beauty and turn off the lights of letters and the truthfulness of dreams for freedom, for justice and for love in Cuba, are crossing a very dangerous red line: Not only are they repressing the artists’ creativity, and the honesty of the intellectuals, or the sincerity of the communicators, but also they are repressing the nation’s soul. Those who repress the soul of the people in order to try, unsuccessfully, to smother the motions of the human spirit, are inflicting the greatest of anthropological damage on their citizens, fatally wounding the spiritual stability of the nation and executing it by means of the irreparable slope of violence, which nobody wants.”

On the now closed door of Pedro Pablo Oliva’s house, the greatest living artist of Pinar del Rio, there’s a phrase that speaks clearly of his great soul: “strictly prohibited to stop dreaming”. So responds this Cuban who loves so much his motherland, who gave so much for it and who did so much good, discreetly, to Pinar and to Cuba. All artists, intellectuals, cultural or civic animators, know that Pedro Pablo, his home and his help, has been always in favor of the realization of the best dreams of each one of us. His moderation, his humble life and his desire for a universal inclusion of everything good, right and beautiful, mark his attachment to the homeland and his indelible contribution to the culture. Reading the exhortation to don’t stop dreaming, I couldn’t avoid recalling the end of the number 14 editorial of Convivencia which is another way to say the same thing and to dream of a better future for Cuba and its culture.

“This world is upside down. And one day will be straightened. And the artists will create and express in free public spaces, respectfully and participative. And the bloggers will write and launch to the world their blogs without gags or blockades on the internet. And the musicians and composers will say, with their free musical notes and free lyrics, what their souls want for the good of all. And the writers and artisans will let fly in the air letters and shapes as free as they are responsible. And the educators and students, methodologists and directors of education, will not fear students expressing themselves, or gathering freely without the surveillance of their custodians with teacher faces. And every one, men or women, will contribute, express or intervene in the public spaces, in the cultural environments without the horrible nightmare of being labeled as a worm or a mercenary.

This world will come, nobody doubts it, and then Cuba will stand up and will close the door on the gag. And the threatening arms of brother against brother will be lowered. And the offenses between lifetime neighbors will end, and fear and the threats from our phones and squares will end. And families divided by all these will be reunited. And, then, it won’t be a day for revenge, or for hate, or rancor. Cuba, every Cuban man or woman, will brick up the door to violence and repudiation. And we will open between all of us, with the beauty of the arts and the letters, with the truthfulness of the ethical and civic education and with the kindliness of the peaceful coexistence, the ample door, diverse and fraternal of the National Home that it is and it will be forever this Cuba that still navigates in hope.”

Pedro Pablo and Henry, you know you can count on the solidarity, the affection and respect of many people in Cuba and overseas. Even the silence of fear speaks by itself. It’s only a matter of not sinking in hopelessness. It is only another big blackout. Let there be light.

Translated by: Adrian Rodriguez

May 26 2011

Cuba – United States: The Lion Isn’t As Fierce As It Was Painted / IntraMuros

By Luis M. Cáceres

In February of 2010 a book was published by the Cuban State titled: Fundamentals of Planning, which says on page 23: we do business with all the world’s regions, Cuba’s principal commercial partners are: Venezuela, China, the countries of the European Union (composed of 27 developed countries) among them Spain, Italy as well as Canada and Russia. It continues to say:in the last few years agricultural commerce has developed with the United States which now surpasses 500 to 600 million dollars annually.

According to the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language, the word ‘Bloqueo’ means: besieged, immobilized, naval force that blocks, cuts all types of communications to one or more coastal ports of the enemy country. Has anyone seen this blockade in Cuba? At the start when the Americans were not compensated for interventions, expropriations or nationalizations, they only had some frozen funds on their part that is far from compensating them for the value seized.

When that stage of the hurricanes that left entire zones destroyed, they were among those who offered help to construct living spaces, but their help was rejected without consulting those affected.

It can already be considered a rare case for someone to have no family member who has left for economic or political reasons (for the case is the same) to the United States and who doesn’t receive a little gift to “soften” their situation and hold up spirits and strengths for everyday work, receiving from those who carry in their body the remembrance of those who would probably accompany them for life, leaving their souls and joys in the land they love, those who lost it all without being able to leave it to a family member who might have needed it, those who have gone to live in a borrowed Fatherland. This has brought them work and well-being. However, the Cuban Government calls them enemies.

Very many old people receive a decent subsidy without ever having worked in that country, simply all, from whom also comes something to our pockets making part of the so-called ‘remittances’ which have totaled millions that have left from that enemy, money which when it touches Cuban soil, along with the metamorphosis of color loses 20% of its original value.

I know the case of a Cuban recently arrived in that country who needed — urgently — open heart surgery, this very sad person said he didn’t have the money to pay for it, at which the doctor responded to him that he hadn’t asked the question.

He underwent successful surgery to the point where he could even manage to drive a cart as an option, pleasure and trade (and for the operation, he didn’t have to pay a cent).

Another curious fact also from a retired Cuban who traveled and worked several months and on his return confessed to his friends that he’d earned more money there than all his working life here.

This is a personal experience from someone who writes: On arriving and the plane landing, they announced that Americans and legal residents would deplane first, I felt discriminated against because I thought that in this we’d win by doing this in reverse, here the foreigners are first in everything.

That enemy has only received criticism with the official message that arrives from and up to their own houses by diverse means of broadcast without their being able to protest nor interfere or, could it be that they aren’t paying attention?

This is the empire that defeated the other empire, the Russian, which gave us fish without teaching us how to fish, which proclaimed that the entire world belonged to socialism, where only one flag would fly — that of the hammer and sickle — that of the missiles and the Warsaw Pact, that of the enormous army and its nuclear arms and a solid Party conscience of its people in which, up to that moment we came to believe in.

They say that they allowed that damn enemy ideology to penetrate (the only explanation) when they spoke of empire, we thought of strength, also impositions — something that all of us rejected — but of this, many wanted its commerce, its investments, tourism and our taste for its movies, and why not too its money, although for some it is false but at times I think they’re more false than they will admit.

Translated by: JT

January 20 2011


José Antonio Quintana de la Cruz

The draft guidelines of economic and social policy that will be discussed by the sixth congress of the Communist Party have been circulated for public discussion. Some believe that it contains nothing new, is not conducive to substantive change and is more of the same but tinged with tones that have been imposed by mass unemployment and the existing crisis, that they are short term rescue modifications. It seems that seen from expectations based more on wishes than sober assessments of reality, this may be true. But it never occurred to me that the Communist Party would discuss at a conference the abolition of socialism and the transition to a capitalist market economy.

An objective analysis of the document reveals that it contains substantive developments. But it is necessary to define what is novel. For this editor all that appears in the project that did not exist or was not permitted in the model that this seeks to overcome or modify; or update, as the official discourse has it, is new. According to this criterion, twenty percent of the guidelines contain new features that can induce changes in the operation or the quality of the system. The remaining eighty per cent proposes to rectify long standing shortcomings and imperfections.

It is clear that the document proposes a diversification and expansion of property relations, which in Marxist terms are relations of production. It recognizes the right of existence of small businesses in various sectors of the economy without employment limits. The figures of landlord, tenant and contractor appear. The area of action of the cooperatives of transport, trade and other sectors are extended, while freedoms and options are granted to those cooperatives which lack them, without which it would be a fiction.

The fact that individual proprietors and partners can compete, produce and sell, protected by law, that they can create companies to supply them and import what they need, together with a concession to receive bank credits, the fact that these private enterprises have business relationships with state enterprises and with the population, creates a market, embryonic and imperfect, but a market that will no longer be the suppressed variable of the economy, but a necessary and legally protected part of the economy.

This is new in Cuba. In my view, this social experiment, replaces the old debate between Von Mises and Oscar Lange about the possibility of a real and efficient economic calculation in a socialist economy. As is known, Lange believed that a regulated market subject to planning would make economic calculation possible under socialism. Von Mises asserted that this was impossible because socialism was a mistake. China has brought experience to the theoretical debate. In this great Asian country there is a market socialism which performs efficient economic calculations and where the socialist character is more related to distribution forms designed by the party and state that by the ownership structure under which it occurs.

But the guidelines under discussion do not suggest a socialism of the market in Cuba, but a socialism with a market. This market, according to the project, will be a minority partner in social enterprise and shall be subordinate to planning which will remain the main form of movement of the economy and its relations of production. Planning which, incidentally, can stop being inefficient in the sense of failing to ensure proportionality and balance in the economy, sand must take care of not being totalitarian and authoritarian, but flexible, coordinated, cooperative, and with reservations.

The challenge facing Cuban planning is great not only because it must reconcile the statistical survey methods and strategies of state scenarios with price signals emitted by the market, but because the freedoms, which is to say the degree of autonomy that the draft gives to state enterprises, should become actors and decision makers responsible for their success or failure. Under the project, state enterprises will not able to impose a plan, or have their earnings taken over, nor may the state interfere in its administration directly. It is assumed that the party can not do that either.

State owned enterprises with sustained losses will be liquidated. This is also new. But we need to define how long is needed to define these losses as “sustained”.

Guideline number three, which prohibits the concentration of ownership without mentioning exceptions, contradicts number twenty nine, which authorizes the cooperatives, which in turn contradicts number twenty six. Contradictions may be intentional, designed to promote discussion. I wish it were so!

The ban on ownership concentration may be aimed at preventing the formation of oligarchies, which in Russia was disastrous. Or it may be intended to protect free competition, promoting competition and its beneficial effects on prices and product quality as well as on creating jobs in a society where both are needed. If there is a motivation to interfere with the concentration of private production and thus the reproduction of capitalism according to the Leninist school, then this sector of the new economy would be condemned a prior to stagnation.

I think that if everything that the guidelines indicate or suggest is done, Cuba’s economy will be more robust and efficient. The problem is that Cubans are accustomed to agree marvelously, to make speeches with logical arguments, and then to make the thing, violating and mocking, openly, or veiled, that which was agreed to or discussed. It is a corruption of custom to be serious and make commitments with responsibility, coupled with the widespread lack of social discipline that does not escape anyone.

In conclusion, the projected guidelines propose a model of a socialist planned economy with the presence of state enterprises, cooperatives and private enterprises, with a predominance of the former, and in which a regulated market operates involving all types of economic agents allowed by law. You can like this model or not, but it is nothing more than more of the same. It unleashes forces that have been pent up until now. It introduce variables of an unprecedented quality. It employs measures of efficiency and control that can be viewed with ideological ill will. It creates opportunities for the exercise of managerial freedom and responsibility. And it has flaws and limitations for which its promoters have sought criticism. This is what I am doing: Trying to be constructive.

Translated by ricote

November 25, 2010

Initiative for the Abolition of the Death Penalty on the Island / IntraMuros

Press release

(Miami-Madrid-Warsaw, 10 December)- A group of Cubans celebrates the International Human Rights Day by launching a campaign to abolish the death penalty on the Island.

It is an initiative of the Christian Democrat Party of Cuba, based in Miami, which already has the support of the group Convivencia Cuba (Pinar del Río), of the Federation of Cuban Associations, the Cuban Human Rights Observeratory (Madrid), and the Cuban Workers Council. It has also received the backing of the former prisoners of conscience José Luís García Paneque, Víctor Rolando Arroyo Carmona, Pedro Pablo Álvarez Ramos and Alejandro González Raga, all part of the “Cause of the 75”.

The campaign seeks to start a national debate on the need for the death penalty to be removed from the Cuban criminal code.

The organizers maintain that respect for life should be encouraged in Cuba and they call on all Cubans, both on the Island and in exile, to choose life, opposing the damage caused by so many decades of “Socialism or Death”. They believe the initiative is also in line with the challenge of making changes in Cuban society through justice and reconciliation, not by vengeance.

Cuban society has, for decades, been taught not to value life, but to pay homage to death: ‘The Fatherland or Death’, ‘Socialism or Death’ have been the most important slogans. We have gained nothing by following that path; let life, and not death, be the cornerstone of our future.” (Campaign message).

The opening text of the campaign reminds us that the death penalty still exists in Cuban criminal law. It acknowledges that the regime has, in practice, suspended the use of the death penalty in recent years, ‘but this is due to tactical convenience and not to doubts about the morality of it‘. And it recalls that the death penalty was applied in 2003 after several years in which it had not been used. ‘All Cubans, especially those condemned to death, know that the regime retains this terrifying power and that it may use it at any time‘.

Against this fact, they declare that the free and democratic world is more than ever aware that the death penalty must be abolished in all countries.

Any person or group who wishes to express support for the position of this organization can do so at the web page:, where they will also find a box for suggesting other initiatives which could help in the campaign.

Contact details:

Marcelino Miyares
Phone: 001 3057783977

Translated by: Jack Gibbard

December 9 2010