April 22, 2003: Destaque Internacional, Buenos Aires; April 23, 2003: Libertad Digital, Madrid; April 25, 2003: Il Giornale, Milano; April 26, 2003: Diario Las Américas, Miami.

The Cuban drama and the Vatican silence

By Armando F. Valladares

Each day it becomes more and more enigmatic, perplexing and heavy the silence of the Vatican diplomacy about the return of the "paredón"; the prompt execution of three dissenters and the many convictions of dissenters in communist Cuba. Silence as heavy as clamorous has been the insistence of the Holy See alleging the rights of the Iraqi people and of the victims of the war.

The news about the shootings and arrests published in the Osservatore Romano, including the concise statement of the Cuban bishops, is almost nothing compared to the gravity of the facts and of the recent circumstances which affect directly not only the victims and their families but also the 12 million of my Cuban brothers enslaved in the prison-island for more than 40 years.

The Vatican silence about the three shootings and the conviction of the 75 dissenters in Cuba reminds me of the scandalous episode of the decoration of the tyrant Fidel Castro by the Abbess of the Saint Brigida's Order, last March, with praises and embraces to the sinister figure of Castro, in front of Cuban TV cameras, in the presence of Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, Mayor of the Assembly for the Evangelization of the People, who was in the island at that moment. It was such a shocking farce that Cardinal Ortega, Havana's Archbishop, in many occasions a collaborator, refused to attend the event.

The Vatican silence about the recent shootings reminds me of the episode of the three brothers García Marín, which looked for asylum in the diocese of Havana in December 1980, and were withdrawn from there by the Cuban political police agents, who arrived there in a car of the diocese dressing religious attires.

After that they were shot (cfr. Armando Valladares "Against all hope", Plaza & Janés, Barcelona, 1985, chap. 48).

The Vatican silence about the recent shootings reminds me also the shouts of "Long Live King Christ! Down with communism!" that I could hear from so many catholic students in the prison of La Cabaña, before giving their souls to God, as being killed by the bullets at the "paredón" (cfr. Armando Valladares "Contra Toda Esperanza" - "Against all hope", Plaza & Janés, Barcelona, 1985, chap. 3), martyrs of the faith for which the most representative figures of the Cuban exile have asked the beginning of a beatification process in a letter handed to the State Secretariat of the Vatican in October 14, 1999, request that so far did not get a reply.

Finally, the silence of the Vatican diplomacy about the drama of Cuba, in this moment and in this circumstance, contributes objectively to increase the worse and most contradictory type of chaos that menaces the world societies: the mental chaos.

As a catholic and a Cuban, it hurts me deeply to make such public consideration, which I make as a relief of conscience, with all veneration due to Peter’s Cathedra; with a pain bigger than the worse physical tortures I suffered in 22 years in prison, also because the spiritual suffering is deeper than the physical one.

P.S. For shortness of space I do not refer to the danger that represents, in the context of an instable Latin America, the continuity of the Castrian dictatorship, which counts with the support of the Venezuelan president Chávez, who has just renewed the contract for the supplying of oil to Cuba and with the friendship of the Brazilian president Mr. Lula da Silva who, during his presidential campaign, called me "swindler", because I proved with documents his close connections with the bloody dictator.

Today, Lula winks his right eye to international capitals, attracting and anaesthesing them with high banking interests and winking his left eye to pro-Castro Brazilian politicians who, little by little, are fulfilling spaces in his government, like the MST (Landless Movement), the followers of the "liberation theology" and its "grey eminence", the Minister of Civil House, José Dirceu, an ex-guerrilla agent trained in Cuba.

Finally, the weak and shameful resolution about the Castrian regime, recently approved by the Human Rights Commission of the UN, suggested by some Latin American governments, shows how weak is their political will in making opposition to the dictator Castro, whose ambassador in Geneva has directed them, without punishment, the severest insults.

The fearful resolution simply asks Havana to accept the entrance of a reporter, without condemning absolutely nothing, not even counting with the support of the Brazilian and Argentine presidents who, in the voting day, the last Holy Thursday April 17, washed their hands like Pilate. Not in vain, stated 23 Cuban religionists in exile: "The silence about the suffering of Cuba is complicity" (cfr. Agencia Católica de Informaciones, ACI, April 10, 2003).

Armando Valladares, Cuban ex-political-prisoner for 22 years, was United States ambassador to the Human Rights Commission of UN, in Geneva (Reagan and Bush administrations); author of the book of memoirs "Against all hope" (1985) and other books and articles, among which "The beg for forgiveness that did not exist: the ecclesiastic collaboration with communism"(2000) Info9224@yahoo.com

Translators: Álvaro Pedreira de Cerqueira / Huáscar Terra do Vale