It’s Good for Them to Know They Are United /Mario Barroso

When Granma and the National Televised News publicized on Thursday, February 23rd the previous day’s meeting between hierarchies of Cuban religious denominations and fraternal organizations with representatives of the Cuban regime, many were alarmed to discover the existing communion between religious and political leaders. Such agreement places both on the same playing field.

Esteban Lazo, a member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of The Party and vice president of Advisors of the State, summarized everything when he declared clearly, “It’s good for them to know we are united.” Granma confirms this by claiming that these meetings convene annually to reflect the unity between the Cuban government and religious and fraternal organizations.

Such images and declarations place many clerics in a difficult position. In the past, some of these leaders revealed themselves as critics of the Advisory for Cuban Churches by accusing them of appeasing the government, some whose denominations still do not belong to this ecumenical group. What is certain is that belonging to the CIC (Advisory for Cuban Churches) or not does not determine the degree of submission to the regime, which is realistically channeled through the Attention Office of the Central Committee for Religious Matters in charge of punishing or rewarding according to the required behavior.

As a matter of fact, it has been a while since the government discarded the use of the CIC as a control mechanism.  All the CIC has is its fame. The government no longer needs them so much. Its own Attention Office for Religious Matters has managed to fix control, and its methods of reward and punishment are turning out to be extremely effective. In encounters like this, petitions are made, as in years past, in which ecclestiastical leaders were asked to make the changes necessary in their religious structures that would allow them to remain in power, a subject in which these political officials have so much to teach, and the reason is obvious: we already know you.

After returning to their own institutions, as on prior occasions, a good part of these leaders intend to remove so much dust from the top, located between the sword and the wall, between the people and the God they say they serve and the human princes to whom they show their true servitude.

We fell into a trap, they say: we have the duty, as your representatives, to attend the meetings the authorities call us to, and later they take our photos and videos so they can publish them with declarations of politics, boasting about their intimacy with us.

What is certain is that they comment on this in their offices, in their comfortable cars or corridors, but no one dares to publicly refute the hand that pets them, such as Lazo or Caridad Diego, head of the Office that gives the orders.

Entirely the opposite: in practice, they point out the certainty of politicians’ declarations. Some of them hierarchical, critical of the CIC in the past, smiling from ear to ear in front of Lazo or Caridad, but with a different story before their constituency. Demonstrating a double standard, they have arrived at the height of prohibiting their members from attending any of the church’s activities in which I take part, or relating as they used to, not only with me, but with any of the brothers that have remained firm in our congregation, since we could become a danger for its prioritized interests if Caridad Diego finds out.

For them, it is preferable that their constituents have better relationships with the members of the CDR (Committee for the Defense of the Revolution), which many times even they themselves direct, than with brothers in Christ with whom for years they have cultivated relationships and whose houses may be separated by just one door.

Not even these same officials of the regime offices put up with the amoral behavior of these religion merchants bartering the principles of the Kingdom they are called to live for plates of lentils. Some of these politicians have confessed to being perfectly convinced that many of these over-pious white-collar individuals, who in their presence feign being more faithful to the regime than those who show their true devotion when turning their backs, know and exploit very well the eagerness for comfort and lifestyles, which are, of course, ever more remote from the large part of their suffering constituents.

They is sad, these elites, who claim to represent the Kingdom of heaven in Cuba but who, in practice, only demonstrate submission to and complicity in the same regime that extorts the masses, whom they are called on to minister, to change the privileges and salaries. The recent meeting is without a doubt a true confirmation of the degree of “constantinization” of Cuban religious organizations.

But there is no doubt that the axe is at the base of the trees and that Jesus will return to throw the merchants from the temple, those that have been allowed to set prices to be able to buy and sell, while their people perish for lack of vision. But yes, Lazo, while that day approaches, it is good to know, although not even you yourself really believe it, that they are united, at least in the mire of their hypocritical bedfellow relationship.

Translated by: M. Ouellette

February 28 2012