14ymedio Havana, July 13, 2021 — “In light of events our people have experienced, we cannot close our eyes or look away as though nothing was happening,” declared the Cuban Catholic Bishops Conference (COCC) on Monday. The statement followed protests that that took place across the island in which thousands expressed their frustration at the nation’s deteriorating economic and social situation.
The Catholic church expressed concern that “these appeals will be met with inaction, which is helping to perpetuate the problems rather than resolving them.”
“Not only do we see that the situation getting worse but that we are moving towards a rigidity and hardening of positions that could produce negative responses with unpredictable consequences that would harm us all,” the COCC said.
In their statement the bishops assert the government “has responsibilities and has tried to adopt measures to alleviate these difficulties.” They insist, however, that “people have the right to express their needs, desires and hopes and, in turn, to publicly express how some measures that have been taken are seriously affecting them.
The bishops insist that “a favorable solution will not be reached by decree or by calls for confrontation.” They emphasize the importance of open dialogue, common agreements and “concrete and tangible steps which allow all Cubans, without exclusion, to contribute to building the nation.”
“Crises are not resolved by confrontation but by seeking understanding,” says the COCC, which warns that “today’s aggressiveness opens wounds and feeds resentments for tomorrow that will require great effort to overcome.”
The bishops urge Cuba’s leaders “not to encourage the crisis situation but, with serenity of spirit and good will, to listen, understand and adopt an attitude of tolerance in order to seek a common path towards a just and appropriate solution.”
“We ask the Virgin of Charity, Queen and Mother of all Cubans and constant source of reconciliation, to make of the Cuban nation a home for brothers and sisters in which truth and the common good shall prevail,” the statement concludes.
Among the hundreds of those arrested since Sunday was a Catholic priest, Fr. José Castor Alvarez, who was beaten by government forces in Camagüey after joining demonstrators at a protest.
“I tried to prevent confrontation. I was trying to protect someone when I was hit with a bat.” he says in a video shared on social media. “We are well, thank God, and hope that we can all live in peace, that there is no violence, and that we have peace and justice.”
— Rolando Nápoles (@RNapoles) July 13, 2021
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