In Cuba there is the habit of arranging or accommodating things so as to keep up appearances, while the reality and the truth remains behind the curtain. So it usually happens in businesses, offices, agencies and ministries. Lying is so natural and inventing figures and adulterating statistics so common, that we can now say that we Cubans have lived the story and the bad idea for a long time. Invention has saturates all the spaces at all levels, clearly we can’t leave this behind, the greatest storytelling, the most fallacious, is the State.
So, this great machinery of invention was put into practice during the visit of Pope Benedict XVI. Specialized as it is to invent images and pretend that’s not what they are, the created a whole march of the combative people, where hypnotized masses in the strictest order and most militarized discipline waited, listened, cheered and said goodbye to the Pope.
A considerable number of those attending the masses offered by the Pontiff both in Santiago de Cuba as in Havana attended not because the Pope is of interest to them, much less the Catholic Church, but because the Revolution called them to line the streets and plazas and make up the number, so that the world would see a fierce and respectful people show consideration to the leader of the Catholics. Benedict appeared dazzled by by crowd listening to his homilies and did not notice, or at least pretended not to very well, what was happening behind the scenes.
Among the crowd and all around it a strong police cordon was set up, belonging to the organs of State Security, the mission was not to let opponents or dissidents enter the plazas. Despite the measures and precaution, some could express themselves, still it ended in assaults and blows by the Cuban Red Cross, which should have been neutral. Although the aggression occurred only a few yards from the Pope, he took a cold political attitude and showed no sign, then or later, of giving any importance to the event.
Nor did he give any importance to the hundreds of detainees, some in prisons and others in their homes, among these later were my husband and I, guarded all night the night before the mass in the Plaza of the Revolution in Havana, and through the whole time this lasted, in the house of some fellow servants in the faith, who gave us asylum and showed their solidarity and friendship, witnesses also to the arbitrariness of the repressive forces of the Cuban government.
Benedict XVI has refused to offer an opinion on what happened with the Cuban dissidents during his visit, he refused to listen to them and bring them under his spiritual protection. Cardinal Jaime Ortega, in addition, was hostile toward the opponents and too servile and cloying with respect to the authorities. It seems that the Cuban Catholic Church and the highest levels at the Vatican have given their approval to the Cuban dictatorship. It would not be the first time that Catholics made pacts with the powerful and with bad governments.
For my part, I who did see what happened behind the scenes, because I was behind them, say and will say what happened in Cuba during the visit of Pope Benedict XVI, particularly from my own experience, which although I am not Catholic and have no interest in being in the close presence of this person, was placed under house arrest, watched for hours as if I were a criminal and held incommunicado because, like many others, my husband’s cellphone was cut off and silenced from before the mass and several days afterwards.
Benedict did not see this, or pretended that he did not, so delighted was he with the false theater, while behind the scenes the reality was very different from the appearances.
July 20 2012