CNA—July 14, 2021—Four Cuban-American bishops issued a statement Tuesday indicating their support for Cubans seeking recognition of their human rights, following protest’s of the island’s communist government.
“We, Cuban-American bishops, join in solidarity with the Cuban people in their quest for responses to their human rights and needs. We are deeply troubled by the aggressive reaction of the government to the peaceful manifestations, recognizing that ‘violence engenders violence,’” read the July 13 statement.
“Such a reaction seems to negate the basic Cuban principle of having ‘una patria con todos y para el bien de todos’ (a homeland with all and for the good of all). We stand in solidarity with those detained because they have voiced their opinions.”
The statement was signed by Archbishop Nelson Perez of Philadelphia; Bishop Felipe Estevez of St. Augustine; Bishop Manuel Cruz, Auxiliary Bishop of Newark; and Bishop Octavio Cisneros, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Brooklyn.
Archbishop Perez was born in Miami to Cuban emigrants, while Bishops Estevez, Cruz, and Cisneros were all born in Cuba.
Protests took place across Cuba July 11-12. Protesters cited concerns about inflation, shortages of food and medicine, and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Some protesters were beaten, and at least 100 were arrested. Among the arrested was Father Castor Álvarez, a priest of the Archdiocese of Camagüey.
The Cuban-American bishops said the protesters’ “chant of ‘Libertad’ underscores their desire for every Cuban citizen to enjoy basic human rights, as recognized as part of our human dignity by the United Nations, and defended for centuries by the Catholic Church in its social teaching.”
“As Cubans and as bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States, we are ever-mindful of the constant suffering and frustration of our brothers and sisters on the Island. We recognize that, while hundreds of thousands have experienced the need to emigrate, in order to enjoy basic human rights and a future filled with possibilities, those who have not – by choice or inability to do so – as Cubans in Cuba, are to be the actors of their own future and aspirations. The right and courage of the people in Cuba to raise their voice publicly, casting away their fear of repression and revealing authentic solidarity as a people, are acknowledged and applauded.”
The bishops called on “governments and all charitable organizations to collaborate in assisting in this urgent humanitarian crisis for the sake of the suffering people of Cuba, especially the sick and the poor. We commend the care of Caritas Cubana, as it continues to mediate – with ever so limited resources – a response to the basic human needs of the people of the Island.”
“As always, together with our brother-bishops in Cuba, and our brothers and sisters inside and outside the Island. We continue to place our trust in the motherly gaze of the patroness of Cuba, Our Lady of Charity,” they concluded.
Communist rule in Cuba was established soon after the conclusion of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, which ousted the authoritarian ruler Fulgencio Batista.
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