UNPACU asks the Pope for Solidarity with the Oppressed / 14ymedio

Building the stand in Havana's Plaza of the Revolution for the papal visit. (Luz Escobar)
Building the stand in Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution for the papal visit. (Luz Escobar)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 3 September 2015 – The executive secretary of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Jose Daniel Ferrer, sent Pope Francis in a letter published this Thursday on the organization’s website, to warn him that on his upcoming visit to the island he is going to find a scenario very similar in many aspects to that observed by his predecessors on previous visits to Cuba. The activist asked the pontiff for “a gesture of solidarity in defense of the oppressed.”

“From the visit of Karol J. Wojtyla to date, the world has opened itself to Cuba, but the Cuban government, in a reticent way, appears to open itself to the world, while at the same time continues to be closed to the feeling of an entire people and continues to deny rights and freedoms without which the happiness and well-being of nations and of the individual are impossible,” he writes.

Ferrer argues that those who speak of “reforms” on the island exaggerate, and that “the measures taken by the government are still insufficient, they do not go to the root of the problem.” However, he adds, that something has, indeed, changed substantially: the mentality of the people. “The majority already say that what they feel and want is profound changes. The fear of repression, little by little, is being overcome,” he added.

The UNPACU secretary argues that the Cuban people suffer not only widespread material misery, a product of decades of the centralized economy, but also, and above all, the lack “of the precious gift of Freedom.” He also regrets that the spaces of association and participation for civil society “continue to be disjointed and stranded,” and he asks the pope for a “gesture” to support the building of a nation on the basis “of freedom and solidarity.”

“You can intercede and advocate for the rights of the oppressed, and in Cuba we are the majority,” he affirms, asking support for the release of political prisoners and for the end to arbitrary detentions of peaceful activists.

In addition, Ferrer explains that many members of the organization, as well as other groups of independent civil society, wish to attend the masses that the pope will celebrate during his stay in Cuba, between 19 and 22 September, but “the secret political police will prevent it, as happened during the visit of Benedict XVI.”