Pope Francis and His Cuban Critics / 14ymedio, Pedro Campos

Pope Francis did not hide his surprise at receiving Evo Morales’s gift. (EFE / Bolivian Information Agency)
Pope Francis did not hide his surprise at receiving Evo Morales’s gift. (EFE / Bolivian Information Agency)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Pedro Campos, Havana, 17 September 2015 — Of course all Cubans, no matter where they are, have the right to think as they see fit about events in Cuba and to look at other and related events according to the capacity of their vision or the calibration of their lenses, and others have the right to share or not to share these visions. My respect for everyone.

And here we are facing the third visit of a pope to Cuba in a few years when in all the prior history of Cuba we have had none. This is evidence enough of the importance the Vatican concedes to this little Caribbean archipelago, to its inhabitants and all of its natives.

Some criticize Bergoglio’s constant references to the poor and his dissatisfaction with the global systems of domination, his declarations that seem very leftist, his reforms and actions within the church, or his prologue to some book where he mentions social benefits that the Cuban people achieved in their struggles to better their living conditions, benefits that some may attribute as if they had been given the gift of multiplying the loaves and fishes.

No one would dispute Pope Francis’s role in mediating the reestablishment of relations between Cuba and the United States

It is not possible to establish a dependency relationship between the narrow modifications introduced by Raul Castro and the Church’s influence in them, but it is undeniable that in recent years it has played some role in them. For some, it has been a simple screen, for others, something more.

But what nobody can dispute is Pope Francis’s role as a mediator in the reestablishment of relations between Cuba and the United States, one of the most significant political events so far this year and from which the Cuban people expect many good things.

This pope could well come to “take stock” of this event with which he will be historically linked. Not by pure chance is he going to the United States by way of Cuba.

The reconciliatory role of the church is undoubtedly clearly expressed there. We would also like his help in our internal reconciliation, that’s true.

Some opponents do not agree with the reestablishment of relations, as they reject all eventual conversation or dialog with the Cuban government. They could not share the reconciliation, the political dialog, the mercy and forgiveness promoted by the Catholic Church as a part of the social harmony. They also have a right to that.

Pope Francisco is in a better position to lobby for democratization in Cuba than are those who criticize him from the opposition

In this context reference should be made to the positions we are defending from a part of the Cuban democratic left. And the first point of a platform — “For a broad democratic movement of the Cuban democratic left” — offered by three groups who made the call, states:

“The creation of an atmosphere of collaboration and harmony leading to the establishment of an inclusive national dialogue and the recognition of fundamental freedoms; a new Constitution which is the fruit of the creation and collective and horizontal discussion of the Cuban people, and then approved in a referendum; a new democratic electoral law, and the establishment of a modern State of Law with full working and informative transparency, under popular control, with autonomous municipalities, participatory budgets at the different levels and laws that affect all citizens and is submitted to a referendum. Finally, a Democratic Republic based in humanism and solidarity, with full social justice, comprehensively governed by the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in which we all have a part.”

From these positions we welcome everyone that supports the creation of this climate.

Does anyone doubt that Cuba today needs an atmosphere of collaboration and harmony that brings us this constructive dialog and the conditions for a broad process of democratization? Or does someone still believe that democratization can be achieved by other unrelated means?

Does anyone not want this process of democratization for Cuba?

And one might wonder who brings better conditions of influence to bring about the realization of this environment that almost all Cubans agree is needed. Figures like Pope Francis in his approach to the Cuban government, or those who, from the opposition, scorn and even try to ridicule the efforts of the Catholic Church and its personalities for trying to help, specifically, in the creation of this indispensable climate?

The answer is obvious, but it should be expressed: Pope Francis is in better position to influence conditions in favor of the democratization in Cuba, with his policy of approach to the government, than are those who criticize from the opposition.

That his action results in support for the continuation of the current authoritarian and intransigent State, or in a positive influence in favor of the gradual changes that the vast majority desire, is a question that in practice has already been demonstrated.

In politics everyone speaks and acts from their own position, but there are positions from which one can talk, discuss, negotiate and get results, and there are others that make that difficult or impossible, that alienate and divide.

“Participatory and democratic socialism contemplates many aspects coincide with the social doctrine of the Catholic Church”

Everyone is free to choose their political position, their actions, which is not the same as ideology, but don’t expect to reap the same fruits. There is not the same fertile ground everywhere, there is not the same irrigation, there is not the same sun and certainly there are not the same cultivators and harvesters.

Everyone can choose how they refer to the pope and his efforts in Cuba: everyone can reap what they sow.

From the positions of a participatory and democratic socialism, which contemplates many aspects that coincide with the social doctrine of the Catholic Church, we hope that the upcoming visit of Pope Francis can continue this climate of détente and harmony in our country that is conducive to other democratic developments for the good of all Cubans.

In fact, his coming is already contributing, with the government’s recent release of more than 3,500 prisoners sentenced for different crimes. Hopefully it will also stimulate changes in the laws will prevent so many imprisonments and so much arbitrariness.

Welcome to the key of the Gulf, Pope Francis. May you have a happy visit and may your expectations meet success.