The Missions of the Cardinal / Mario Barroso

Raul Castro with Cardinal Jaime Ortega

Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matthew 25:40

In those years of UMAP*, when Mr. Jaime Ortega was one more in the concentration camps, no one would have imagined that the last but most important mission of what some still call the Revolution, would be carried out by him.

Last year around this time (May 2011) the Mitred One went to Europe as a messenger of the regime to try to use his influence to eliminate what is called the European Common Position, a logical reaction of the old continent before the excesses of the misrule in Cuba.

He carried with him the boast of having accomplished the release, in 2010, of fifty-two prisoners of the group of seventy-five from the Black Spring of 2003, and others as well, with such pretension, convenient to the political monopoly in Cuba, that he arrogantly usurped the true merit of Orlando Zapata Tamayo’s death, the challenge by women armed only with gladioli, and Mr. Guillermo Fariñas’s fast.

The cardinal’s cassock was used by the regime to manage the negotiations of one of its biggest quagmires of recent times; but still not satisfied, they tried to also use it as a substitute for their ineffective Minister of Foreign Affairs in their efforts to extract urgently needed money from Europe in anticipation of a possible Venezuelan debacle, now imminent.

Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia

It was precisely during the Cardinal’s European mission that God allowed this writer to be with, on Cuba Street in Santa Clara, Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia, a man dying as a consequence of a severe beating that had been previously announced during Fariñas’s fast, and that had been carried out by his executioners on the morning of May 5th.

Arriving before the death of the victim, I tweeted in real time that same morning the news of the assassination that ultimately took his life, in the early morning hours between the 7th and 8th of May. The frustrated impunity for the extrajudicial execution of Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia ruined the European mission of the Cardinal. Those who had sent him destroyed his efforts with the bungling of another death, but what can one expect from a dictatorship accustomed to such methods from its very beginning?

Since the death of Soto Garcia, at least two other notorious deaths have pointed the finger of accusation at the regime: Laura Pollán (October 14, 2011) and Wilman Villar Mendoza (January 19, 2012). Despite this Benedict XVI appeared on the island, and not precisely to condemn the crimes of the regime, as some hoped, but to reclaim ground lost to his church no one doubts, but conceding, on the part of the Vatican, the granting of undeserved rites to a system characterized by the oppression and defrauding of its people.

This new mission of the Cardinal was accomplished with success in the eyes of its beneficiaries, who even offered him the pages of its red daily newspaper, the same one that for decades has denied him and the rest of the churches the right to media.

The Pope arriving in Revolution Square in the Popemobile

As well as promoting the Pope’s blessing on those who one day dreamed, evoking Lenin, of the disappearance of religion, one of the most repugnant things under the sun, the Cardinal behaved exactly like a member of the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution, delivering in the hands of the wolf the desperate sheep who sought protection within the walls of some of his temples. Not satisfied with that, he undoubtedly gave the nod to the entire wave of repression that erupted simultaneously with the Pope’s visit, of which I was one of the hundreds of victims.

Added to the visit of the leader of the Catholic world was that of the pilgrims from the other side of the Florida Straits, some of whom seemed enamored with what appeared to them to be a poor government overwhelmed by the imperial boot of its neighbors to the north.

As a corollary addendum to this successful mission of the Cardinal and evidence in addition to that above, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a letter to President Obama requesting the lifting of the blockade against the Cuban regime, just when they should have complemented it with another request asking that the Cuban blockade against its own people be lifted.

Cardinal Jaime Ortega speaking at Harvard University

This time the spring mission of the Cardinal was with the brutal and turbulent North, truing to get what, exactly a year earlier, he had failed to get from Europe. The robe wanders around North American with total solemnity and dares to sneer on a visit to Harvard University itself, branding as criminals and even semi-literates those sheep that he handed over to the wolf before the Papal visit.

No wonder those whom he returns to represent couldn’t avoid coming out in defense of their bishop in media such as the website CubaSí, in response to the logical reactions of those who have gone so far as to ask even the Vatican for the immediate removal of its servant.

Clearly Jaime Ortega is trying to get, this time, what not even Fidel himself at the beginning of his adventure obtained in his tour in those same parts, though at the cost, then, of denying that he intended to implement Communism here, and saying that his beard was not in imitation of Karl Marx’s but rather of Lincoln’s.

The agents of the Wasp Network didn’t have orders as urgent as this. Taken together, all of the international missions of the past would not have coveted a goal as high as that of the success of this one, depending on one of the last cards the regime has to play in its desperation to survive.

If the Catholic Church has political pretensions in a post-Castro Cuba and wants to gain an advantage with the figure of its Cardinal, it is not giving him a clean slate for it. If this is the smooth transition to which Benedict XVI himself alluded from afar before arriving in Cuba, the Pope is sadly mistaken.

The despicable role of the leader of the Cuban Catholic Church does no favors to the hundreds of its practitioners who work daily to alleviate the pain of the people, and it stains the Church, in its present history, a stain that will not escape future analysis, much less that of He to whom we all must give an account of ourselves, especially when we have been given greater responsibility.

Translator’s note:

*UMAP = “Military Units in Aid of Production.” These were Cuban forced labor camps for homosexuals, religious believers, and others considered “counterrevolutionary.” They operated between 1965 and 1968.

May 4 2012