“It is time to return to God.” Hundreds of clerics and lay people see their country as being in a state of profound crisis and are hoping for a national dialogue that will lead to political changes.
Catholic Cubans launched an appeal, strongly criticizing the communist political and social system in their country and called for a fundamental review. In the January 24th appeal, to which the international charity, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), had access, the authors paint a bleak picture of the situation on this island republic. “We are living through the collapse of an economic, political, and social model,” the statement declares, adding, “Cuba needs political changes. We need to overcome authoritarianism.”
At the same time, the authors of the appeal propose the dream of a “republic where the full dignity of every man and woman is respected.” They express their own “political-economic-social commitment that comes from faith, which launches us into the world to transform it, to humanize it according to the image of the full person we can see in Christ.”
Living Under the Constant Threat of Shortages
The writers of the appeal take the view that the existing system, which has been in place ever since the Communist revolution of the late 1950s, is beyond reform. The text states that “as was to be expected, since it is based on a philosophy that ignores the truth about what brings full meaning to human beings, the economic, political and social system that has determined Cuba’s destiny since 1959 has proved incapable of evolving.”
The authors abhor the difficult economic situation in Cuba. Work “does not allow people to buy what they need in order to live with dignity. They live under the constant threat of shortages, of prices that are practically out of reach.”
“The near impossibility of living without engaging in something illegal makes the black market an indispensable ally for survival and an environment dominated by theft, corruption and even blackmail.” “The ‘every man for himself’ atmosphere, where anything goes, shows a corruption that permeates almost all social strata,” the text continues.
“Added to this,” the authors lament, “is the sense that we are constantly being spied on.” Indeed sometimes, they add, “even without any guilt at all, a person can feel afraid due to the excessive control of the organs of State Security” which enter “even into people’s strictly personal lives.”
Survival Becomes Exhausting
The document also highlights the impact of this situation on the Cuban family. Many homes are destabilized by the separation caused by emigration, yet often “the only means of bettering one’s quality of life requires separating family members.”
According to the authors, the consequent exhausting daily struggle to survive also causes the loss of a moral sense. “Often the announcement of a birth, which should be a cause for hope and joy, becomes the cause of uncertainty and worry, and ends in abortion” according to the document. The authors propose a number of measures to overcome the crisis.
We urgently need a better legal framework. “The fact that there are no law firms that work independently of state control promotes impunity for a sector of society tied to the government, while jeopardizing any politically diverse and peacefully presented initiative,” they explain.
A dialogue that includes Cubans in exile abroad is also necessary. “We need the full citizenship of Cubans abroad to be recognized. This will allow them to participate actively in the decisions to be made in Cuban society.” The authors refer to Cubans who fled the communist revolution on the island after 1959.
However, for the authors of the appeal, it is essential to opt for the truth. “Living the truth sometimes comes at a high price, but it makes us internally free, beyond all external constraints. To live a lie is to live in chains.” This “fundamental option to live in truth and freedom reveals our real power as citizens. We are a sleeping giant that can make Cuba change.”
Referring to the state-imposed atheist ideology of the country, they add: “These people, many years ago, turned their backs on God, and when a people turns its back on God, it cannot move forward.”
And so the authors conclude their message with an appeal for conversion: “We, as believers, consider that it is time, as a people, to return to God.”
As of Monday, February 1st, more than 725 Cuban citizens, including many priests, had publicly signed the appeal.
ACN International supports pastoral projects on the island of Cuba so that the Catholic Church can fulfil its mission under these difficult conditions. These projects include the renovation of parish churches, repair of old and ailing vehicles and projects to strengthen the family.