Father Conrado: Evangelist or Politico? / CID

Padre ConradoBy Karel Becerra *

The compatriot José Conrado Rodríguez Alegre, known as Father Conrado, Catholic but above all Cuban, visited Argentina and among his activities he met in Buenos Aires with a group of Cubans and Argentinians who carry Cuba in their hearts.

I went to the meeting with great interest because the Father Conrado — who has been free to come and go from Cuba for years — knows the Cuban problem from different perspectives. The meeting lasted several hours, during which we talked about the Cuban Catholic Church, the opposition and the regime.

Father Conrado expressed “concern about the current situation of the Cuban people, social pressure has been increasing,” and he does not rule out the possibility of an explosion. According to what he said, this concerns the government, given the question of changes. On lifting the embargo the Father Conrad said, “we need some preconditions .”

On the role of the Catholic Church, he said that Francisco, “is a Pope we have been waiting for, the church removes the superfluous and comes down from the altar, the church is needed in Cuba. It is the church I want because I’m a priest of the people.”

He said Bishop Jaime Ortega and the Church have always been on the side of the Cuban people and that,”Bishop Jaime is really worried.” Father Conrado also referred to Jaime’s forthcoming retirement and his confidence that the Pope will bless us with the election of a new Cuban bishop; it seems that this is a question of months.

In his opinion, the place for the Cuban opposition is on the island where the people will have the last word. He highlighted the “opposition groups and leaders who today are making a move with perspectives of the future, members of UNPACU and opponents such as Jose Daniel Ferrer, Coco Guillermo Fariñas, Antonio Rodiles and the talented young Eliezer Avila.

He made a special mention of Yoani Sanchez for whom he “keeps a personal affection, along with her husband Reinaldo.” He spoke of the talent and dedication shown by Yoani, whom he considers a charismatic leader with a future within the island.

He didn’t address the potential for the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) nor a mulatto doctor that one of those identified as Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, nor did he mention the extensive organization of the Independent and Democratic Cuba (CID) in Cuba. I left that memorable meeting with the impression that the Father Conrado has already chosen his political activism.

Karel Becerra is the Deputy Secretary of International Relations and Coordinator of the blog CID Cuba Advisory

24 August 2013