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AFTER THE VISIT OF THE POPE TO CUBA, WHAT?

You are and must be the sovereigns of your own personal and national history.” (John Paul II, Cuba 1998)

The two visits of the Popes of the Catholic Church, are milestones that show the step forward of Cuban civil society. Cuba has changed, not only and not always for the worse. Our opinion is that between the two apostolic visits there is a process that progresses from awakening of many in the Cuban civil society toward adulthood citizenship, still in development.

Fourteen years are sufficient to feel the difference in the composition of Cuban society and the interrelation of forces between the different social actors. The Cuban State has gained the least lasting thing. The Church has gained, short-term, part of what is proper for her. But the rest of the Cuban civil society is the one that has won: yes, lost because there is some frustration due to the handling of state movements and gestures of the visit; but wins because it not to be recognized as a partner, allows you to advance in the awakening citizen, without waiting for foreign saviours. And this is what most lasts, mature and is beneficial to the nation, in the mid and long term. Although it hurts.
More than complaints without remedy, we intend to analyze other aspects of this visit from four of its multiple facets: Cuba in the showcase; Gestures of the Pope to Cuba; Messages of the Pope to Cuba; and legacy of his visit.

Cuba in the showcase

The country the Pope visits is placed in the centre of the attention of all social media, which is always positive. To achieve such transparency, the world has an extraordinary opportunity to experience firsthand the reality facing the Cuban people, the relationships of domination that the authorities have established with their own citizens, as well as the different methods that the Government uses, the opposition, and the rest of the Cuban civil society. To know what happens really, even for a few days, is a sample button which always leaves fruits of truthfulness on the nation observed.

The gestures of the Pope

The successor of St. Peter, on the one hand has made gestures of much closeness and admiration for Cuba, its cultural and religious heritage, by its founding fathers mentioned several times, among others. One of these symbolic positive gestures was to raise the devotion to the Virgin de la Caridad del Cobre, the most eminent range of expression of universal Catholic piety, presenting her with the Golden Rose. Another gesture was the possibility for people of the diaspora and exile, members of the only Cuban nation, to participate in the celebrations. However, the organizers of the papal visit, could not find time for, not only for a courtesy visit to the head of State – absolutely normal and noticeable in all the countries that the Pope visits – but also for other encounters with people who no longer hold any public office. This could be understood by its symbolic nature, although not necessary, if at the same time, the Pope had greeted briefly some representatives of the Cuban civil society: the other part of the nation without which there would be neither unity nor inclusion nor national reconciliation. The Cuban Church, that will be as the servant in the morning that the same Pope gives a preview of in his messages, perhaps regrets, in time, this exclusionary omission, that looks more to the short term than to the medium and long journey of Cuba in relation to the people and excluded groups who must necessarily be part of the morning in our country. The Church, expert in humanity and with its two thousand year experience, almost always looks further and highest taking in all the time to come. It was a pity that on this occasion it was not so as well. In this aspect it seems that the balance is negative. Hopefully that will be righted, in the daily life of the Church’s relations with the rest of civil society, the best way possible for all.

The message of the Pope and his legacy

We believe that in this aspect the balance sheet is, perhaps, the most positive, compared with the previous issues. For both the present and in the long perspective for the future. The messages from the Pope have pulled forward, have looked high and far. They have left a rich legacy, concrete and inclusive. I hope that no Cuban overlooks this theological legacy of height, maximum humanist depth, and especially of a great love for Cuba and to all Cubans without exclusion. May God who grants serenity to our spirits, no Cuban from here or from outside, obsessed by what the Pope himself called ’irremovable or unilateral positions’, allow us to study and apply these messages a deep ethical, civic and spiritual way.

Although in this number we publish entirely all the official texts that the Pope Benedict XVI pronounced in Cuba so that everyone could extract of them what seems best to him, over a few days, so as not to leave ourselves feeling despondent, we offer the first and immediate selection of these texts, to facilitate the study of the contribution that the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church has suggested to us with great respect and all its moral authority. At the same time we have wanted to compare them with the expectations of many people in Cuba, some of them published in our Leading article 24 corresponding to January – February, 2012. That is the same Pontiff who speaks with our readership:

The Pope recognizes in his heart the suffering and the just aspirations of the Cuban people

“I carry in my heart the just aspirations and legitimate desires of all Cubans, wherever they are found, their sufferings and joys, concerns and desires more noble, and especially of young people and the elderly, adolescents and children, patients and workers, of prisoners and their families, as well as poor and needy.” (Greeting upon arriving at the Antonio Maceo airport)

Cuba is already looking to tomorrow, from the patrimony of the heritage of the homeland
“I’m convinced that Cuba, in this particularly important moment in its history, is looking ahead to tomorrow, and it strives to renew and widen its horizons…to what will cooperate this immense heritage of values…that have been shaping its most genuine identity, and that are sculpted on the work and life of many illustrious Fathers of the homeland such as the blessed Jose Olallo and Valdés, the Servant of God Félix Varela or the hero Jose Marti. ” (Greeting upon arrival at the Airport Antonio Maceo)

This message satisfies the expectations of many Cubans that we were outlining in number 8, of the Leading article 24: The opening to the world strengthens the cultural identity and the national sovereignty.

Shortcuts in search of the truth

Warning of the traps and recesses into which fall all seekers of truth, the Pope lists us some of them: “You will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” (Jn 8,32). The truth is a longing of the human being, and find it always involves an exercise of genuine freedom. Many, however, prefer the shortcuts and try to avoid this task. Some, like Pontius Pilate, satirize the possibility of being able to know the truth (cf. Jn 18, 38), proclaiming the inability of a man to achieve it or denying that there is a truth for all. This attitude, as in the case of skepticism and relativism, produces a change in the heart, making them cold, hesitant, distant from each other and locked into themselves. People who wash their hands as the Roman Governor of the story and leave the water running, without making a commitment. On the other hand, there are others who interpret badly this search for the truth, leading them to irrationality and fanaticism, locking in ’the truth’ and trying to impose it on others. They are like those stubborn lawyers, see Jesus beaten and bloody, crying angry: “Crucify him!” (Cf. Jn. 19, 6)’. (Homily at the mass in the Plaza Cívica José Martí of Havana)

Even God respects and needs the supreme gift of freedom.

This message is, perhaps, the most far-reaching theological and humanistic, which could serve as a solid foundation for its anthropological, social, political or economic, and even religious consequences: ’God not only respects the human freedom, but seems to need it.” (Homily at Mass in the Plaza Antonio Maceo in Santiago de Cuba)

Propose, not impose, even in the face of rejection and the cross.

“Christianity, to highlight the values that underpin ethics, does not impose, but proposes that the invitation of Christ to know the truth that makes us free. The believer is called to offer it to his contemporaries… even before the grim harbinger of the rejection and the cross.” (Homily at the Mass at the Plaça Cívica José Martí of Havana)

If we want to achieve unity in diversity: look for a minimum of ethics that will bring us closer

Every human being has to inquire into the truth and opt for it when he finds it, even at the risk of dealing with sacrifices. In addition, the truth about the man is an inescapable desire to achieve freedom, because in it we discovered the foundations of ethics with which everyone can confront, and containing clear and precise formulations on life and death, the duties and rights, marriage, the family and society, in short, on the inviolable dignity of the human being. This ethical heritage is what can bring to all cultures, peoples and religions, the authorities and the citizens, and citizens, believers in Christ with those who do not believe in him.” (Homily at the Mass in the Plaza Cívica José Martí of Havana)

This message matches the expectations of numerous compatriots, reflected in number 4, of our Leading article 24, on the contribution that the teachings of the Pope could give: The reconstruction of the fabric of the sovereign civil society. The search of ethics, with a common minimum denominator, which it includes to all in the national community of life, is and it can be the firmest foundation to reconstruct the relations between the citizens and the authorities, which must be to the service of the civil society and not the contrary.

That Cuba is the home of all, without exclusion of God or of men

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1, 14). The expression “became flesh” points to the human reality more concrete and tangible. In Christ, God has entered into our history, made his dwelling among us, thereby fulfilling the intimate aspiration of human beings that the world is truly a home for man. On the other hand, when God is thrown out, the world becomes an inhospitable place for man…” (Homily at Mass in the Plaza Antonio Maceo in Santiago de Cuba). ’The Virgin Mary with the presence in the Sanctuary del Cobre, from where she accompanies the journey of the Church in this Nation…gives courage to all Cubans so that, of the hand of Christ, they discover the genuine sense of solicitude and desire that lurk in the human heart and reach the force required to build a society of solidarity, in which no one will feel excluded… That no one is prevented from joining this exciting work by the limitation of their fundamental freedoms, or exempt from it because of neglect or lack of material resources. That situation is compounded when restrictive economic measures imposed from outside the country weigh negatively on the population.” (words of farewell in the José Martí Airport of Havana)

These teachings fulfill other expectations shared by many people and delineated in number 1, of the Leading article 24: La Caridad unites us. The unity is an inclusion. An enclosing and united society proposes to us that we not be blockaded from the outside and, much less, from within by apathy, repression or the disrespectful disregard of the diversity on the part of the same civil or ecclesiastic authorities. We cannot understand how the government can respect and feel affection for a thought, be it different or coincidental, of a foreign visitor as the Pope and fails to do the same for its own citizens, peaceful, independent and respectful of the laws of coexistence in the land where they were born.

Role of the Church in Cuba: show your true face without fear or complexes

“Dear Brothers, it was with much effort, courage and selflessness they are working each day so that, in the specific circumstances of his country, and in this time of history, the Church increasingly reflects its true face as the place where God is close to and found with men. The Church… has the mission to prolong on the ground, the saving presence of God, of opening up the world to something larger than itself, to the love and light of God. It is worth dedicating one’s whole life to Christ…the upcoming Passover, let us without fear or complex follow Jesus in his path toward the cross. We accept with patience and faith any adversity or affliction, with the conviction that, in his resurrection, he has defeated the power of evil that darkens everything, and the dawn that has made a new world, the world of God, the light, the truth and joy.” (Homily at Mass in the Plaza Antonio Maceo in Santiago de Cuba)

The expectation number 9, of our Leading article 24 was hoping for a message from the Pope that should exhort us to: The transition of fear to hope and from the hope to the reconstruction of the Country. These teachings from the Square Antonio Maceo confirm and satisfy many who want to let go of fear and open a world where they can breathe more freely. At the same time it is an exhortation so that the Cuban Church is faithful to Jesus Christ, reflects his real face and is not afraid of the cross of the Lord. Collaboration and trust can not exist at any cost. One can not stop being something of the essence of what one is, so as not to run against those who are different. Society and the Church can not exclude part of their message, or part of the people who comprise them, for being different, to thereby achieve complacency or dialogue, to trust or cooperate with the other part of that society and the Church. Trust and collaboration are with all parties or they are not a collaboration nor a credible trust. What is at stake is the authenticity and credibility of all parties.

True religious freedom includes the social and political performance of believers

 “The essential contribution that religion is called to play in the public sphere of society.’ (Greetings to arriving at the Antonio Maceo airport).’The right to freedom of religion, both in its individual dimension and as a community expresses the unity of the human person, who is both citizen and believer. It also legitimizes believers to offer a contribution to the building of society. Its strengthening consolidates the coexistence, feeds the hope in a better world, creates conditions conducive to peace and harmonious development, at the same time establishes a firm base on which to strengthen the rights of future generations. When the Church emphasizes this right, it is not claiming any privilege. It is intended only as faithful to the mandate of its divine Founder, aware that where Christ is present, man grows in humanity and finds its consistency.” (Homily at the mass in the Plaza Cívica José Martí of Havana).

In number 6, of our mentioned Leading article, we were reviewing what some Cubans were hoping that the Pope should clarify: the authentic concept of the free expression and performance of the Christian religion: Towards a real religious freedom. The Pope has said clearly that the rights of the future generations cannot separate the believer’s condition of citizen and of his contribution to the building of the society. This way one concludes that: religious freedom is alone neither freedom of worship, nor what we have called ’a freedom of permissions’. The law must open and guarantee for all, without distinction or exclusions, the profession of worship, the exercise of the prophesying Christian that includes the announcement and the denunciation; as well as the social, political and economic service that the Christian conception of the human being and of the world demands of its believers.

The path of change: teach to think and form men of virtue

Cuba and the world need changes, but they will be given only if each one is in a position to ask for the truth and decides to take the road of love, sow reconciliation and fraternity. An illustrious example of this work was the great priest Félix Varela, educator and teacher, illustrious son of this city of Havana, who has passed into the history of Cuba as the first one who taught his people to think. Father Varela presents the way for a true social transformation: form virtuous men to forge a nation worthy and free, that this transformation will depend on the spiritual life of man, because ’there is no homeland without virtue” (letters to Elpidio, letter sesta, 1836 Madrid, 220). (Homily at the mass in the Plaza Cívica José Martí of Havana). Under the gaze of the Virgin de la Caridad del Cobre. I would like to make a call…for living in Christ and for Christ, and with weapons of peace, forgiveness and understanding; fight to build a society open and renewed, a society better, more worthy of man, reflecting more the goodness of God.” (Homily at the mass in the plaza Antonio Maceo in Santiago de Cuba)

On the basis of the strongly Creole teachings of Father Felix Varela, the Pope told us clearly that Cuba needs changes and that we must do so with a spirit, and by a road, without trauma. This meets some of those expectations of broad sectors of our society reflected in Editorial 24,n 24, specifically in number 2: The spirit that promotes structural changes, peaceful and gradual; and in number 7: The national reconciliation: truth, justice, amnesty and magnanimity. The portico of this visit was opened by Benedict XVI while on the plane to Mexico, when he said: The Marxist ideology, as it was conceived, it no longer responds to reality and the Church is available to help changes to take effect without trauma’. We see that he did not say Marxist ideology as applied in the former USSR or in the socialist camp, but as it was conceived. We believe that this frank complaint, which is a part of the prophetic message of every Christian, was superbly complemented by the other part of that prophetic vision which is the announcement that the Pope himself made within Cuba on the way, the style and the players to ensure that changes were without violence or trauma. In effect, we believe that there are two root causes, fruit from the more than 60 years of totalitarian authoritarianism and paternalism, which could lead to violence and trauma: the anthropological damage that produces  depersonalization, and the ethical and civic illiteracy that produces personal and social anomie. These roots of the social and political evils must be overcome with an ethical and civic education and regenerating of the human person and of peaceful coexistence.

 It is time of coexistence and national dialogue that banish immovable positions

“The present hour demands in a compelling way that in human, national and international coexistence, set positions and the unilateral points of view — which tend to make understanding more difficult the understanding and collaborative effort ineffective, will be banned. Any discrepancies and difficulties will be solved by tirelessly searching for what unites all, with patient and sincere dialogue, mutual understanding and a loyal will to listen that accepts goals, carriers of new hope.” (Words of farewell to the José Martí airport in Havana)

The Pope culminates, in his words of farewell at the airport, the masterful strokes of his messages and its legacy. We wish to highlight these teachings that have responded to and exceeded the expectations of many, mentioned in our Editorial 24 in number 3: The promotion of citizen sovereignty and an inclusive national dialog and about essential topics. And in number 5: The decriminalization of diversity.

Make each Cuban feel indispensable as the sovereign of the future of his life, his family and his homeland.

I conclude here my pilgrimage, but I will keep on praying heartily so that you go forward and Cuba becomes the home of all and for all Cubans, where justice and freedom coexist, in a climate of serene brotherhood. The respect and cultivation of the freedom that beats in the heart of every man is essential to answer appropriately the fundamental requirements of his dignity, and to construct in this way a society in whom each one there feels himself the indispensable sovereign of the future of his life, his family and his homeland.’ (Farewell Words in the Airport José Martí of Havana)

Here’s the key to everything. The legacy that we feel is most important and transcendent. And at the same time, the continuity with the message of the unforgettable Pope John Paul II in 1998, prominent as an essential expectation of many in number 10 of the 24 Editorial: ’Cubans we are and we should be the sovereigns of our own personal and national history’.

Cuban civil society, rather than incipient has already grown, having reached, in some central themes, a consensus as never before in the past 500 years of our history. We mentioned some of these points: to be the sovereign of our own personal history with the commitment to weave a civic coexistence; join in the diversity accepting that democracy is plural, diverse and complex; agree on minimum ethics, as are: the aim of achieving democracy and the use of peaceful methods to achieve it.

We have lived through the visit of Pope Benedict XVI. This tour leaves us with a new bar to overcome a challenge that arises as a result of his teachings: giving us, finally, to realize that changes do not come from outside, or from above, but from the inside and from below, which is to say: to exercise the sovereignty of each citizen in personal and corporate form. From outside, the solidarity, support and respect for what we lead from within. And not the other way around.

We believe that the greatest challenge that this visit leaves us is that we cannot, nor should we, expect more from a one-time event, or from a messiah who would come to redeem us from outside, nor even from the representative of the Messiah Jesus Christ. We have entered, it was time, in the deception of false Messiahs and imported solutions. Cuba will be in the future only what Cubans will be able to do among all of us, a sovereigns of our own personal and national history.

This is the unique, authentic and lasting civic adulthood.

Pinar del Rio, April 8 2012

Easter of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Coexistence Magazine. Editorial 26. March-April 2012

www.convivenciacuba.es.

redaccion@convivenciacuba.es

 Translated by: Hank Hardisty

May 3 2012

By Dagoberto Valdes, Pinar del Rio

Cuba is not the same as in 1998 when John Paul II made the first papal visit in our history. Its government is not the same, though essential and structurally, it remains the same system. Its Church is not the same in its workings and leadership, although essentially and structurally, it also remains identical. The political opposition is not the same; although many groups and historical leaders remain, a new generation has been incorporated, and the number of small parties has been reduced, as consensus and alliances are formed. I think what has changed  the most is the rest of independent civil society.

At the same time, the Pope who is coming is Benedict XVI, another person with another style of his pontificate.

So I think it is very important to approach the Cuba the Pope will visit. It is one of the horizontal forms of participation in the preparation of the visit. The closer it gets, the necessary knowledge and information available will consist more or less of the messages and gestures of the Pope, and the more or less objective will be the analysis and evaluation of his trip.

This is my vision of Cuba, just before the announced and expected visit:

Economic vision

The economic changes started timidly do not substantially transformed the centralized and predominantly state owned system. The Cuban state keeps for itself the monopoly of major industries and companies. Land is not delivered in ownership but in usufruct, and the the so-called self-employed are only allowed in a short list of medieval crafts.

The buying and selling of houses and cars is a change only for those who have more. The economic crisis is the result of a economy subsidized first by the Soviet Union and now Venezuela. The government does not free up productive forces and blocks real initiative, open and efficient from all Cubans. So the system is biting its own tail by not recognizing private, cooperative and mixed-ownership of property, not accepting free enterprise or the possibility of investment from both foreigners and Cubans in the diaspora.

Unemployment is rising, there is growing inequality between the few who can and the many who may lose even the little they had. Bread is missing from and freedom, which was the cost paid half a century ago, has not returned. The economy does not run on ideologies or with slogans and cosmetics, it runs on the economy.

However, the Pope will find a people that wants to lift its head, that has not lost initiative and entrepreneurship and that demands more and more strongly its right to economic freedom with responsibility and social justice. For some and for others we would expect a word of ethical encouragement and inner strength from the Pope.

Political vision

The totalitarian Marxist Leninist project is exhausted. It has not achieved the expected results in fifty years, patiently endured by Cubans. It imposed a high human cost and reduced fundamental human rights and responsibilities. State paternalism transformed the people en masse, and changed the entrepreneurial person into a dependent who lives “the culture of the caged chick.” In the unforgettable  words of Archbishop Meurice in Santiago de Cuba on the former apostolic visitation, “a growing number of Cubans … have confused the country with a party, the nation with the historical process we have experienced in recent decades, and culture with an ideology. ”

However, the Holy Father can find another group of Cubans committed to the politics of its country, with alternative projects to integrate Cuba into the community of democratic and prosperous nations, while safeguarding citizen sovereignty and national independence. For them as for others, we expect an acknowledgment and a word, based on the Gospel and the Social Doctrine of the Church, summarizing ethics and politics as service to the nation.

Social vision

The Pope found a society that has suffered the consequences of both the economic crisis and political authoritarianism, such that inequality has increased between those with access to remittances from family or friends abroad, or work in joint ventures or foreign missions, and the majority without access to hard currency who survive on totally inadequate wages.

Unemployment multiplied corruption, the black market, moral relativism and the deterioration of values and virtues of the identity of the Cuban people. Alcoholism, prostitution, unstoppable exile, suicide and despair of not having viable life projects, are some of the doors through which Cubans try to escape the social anomie they suffer.

However, the successor of St. Peter will also find a subsistent moral substrate, a sense of social justice and equality of opportunity, a solidarity that relieves poverty but does not cure the root, and can find small social responsibility initiatives that sustain the certainty of the ability of civic recuperation of Cubans, even under daily repression. All of this in framework of a growing web of independent civil society is best articulated through the use of new information technologies and communications. It is the Cuba of autonomous cultural projects, bloggers, independent journalists, human rights groups, the well known Ladies in White and other initiatives.

To confirm and encourage the progress of this social recuperation, we expect to receive words and gestures of the Pope that recognize the pluralism and diversity as wealth. And we want the Pope to preach in Cuba what can be read in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church: “The political community is essentially in the service of civil society and, ultimately, people and groups that compose it. Civil society, therefore, should not be considered a mere appendage or a variable of the political community; on the contrary, it has the preeminence, as civil society is precisely what justifies the existence of the political community. ” (Compendium of ISD No. 418, p. 231. Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2004).

Religious view

The pope will find a church more diverse, more present in public life, more missionary, but one that still does not enjoy the authentic religious freedom that is not only freedom of worship, nor relationships based on “permissions” of political authority. He will find, also, a visible and public improvement of relations between the senior church hierarchy and the senior government hierarchy, but still part of His faithful children suffer for their faith, for the consequences of Christian social engagement and for their political choices. A church that still learns responsibility, unity built in diversity and inclusion of all its children who have, as is legitimate, different political, economic and social choices. A church that still learns to be a true mother and teacher, and mediates and shows solidarity with the oppressed.

However, the Vicar of Christ will also find the deep Christian matrix of our culture, a widespread, personal and communal religion, a thirst for God and a hunger for a transcendent and fulfilling life while building the Kingdom of God on this earth. For all its children, not just for some, the Church should receive from its Universal Pastor a word of confirmation in faith, hope and love that unites us and includes us all in its diversity.

Anthropological view

The Pope can find in his in his upcoming visit something less visible, less studied, but absolutely most important and decisive for the future of Cuba. This is the main character, subject and purpose of all this: the human person that is every Cuban.

In my opinion, of all the disasters suffered in this half century of totalitarianism, the most serious and lasting damage is anthropological. A person who has a great share of his inner freedom blocked, is crumbling from lack of oxygen to his own humanity. A person whose individual responsibility is systematically blocked, or superseded with authoritarianism and paternalism, stops growing and becomes an adolescent in civic terms.

The blockade of independent or community life projects crumbles the human soul and promotes existential despair. The blockade of personal, free, and responsible participation, aand the blocking of public spaces where the venture acquires essential community character, causes an unstoppable desire to flee into external exile or internal alienation.

However, the Pope also will find people who have survived almost miraculously by their own efforts in this anthropological disaster. Generous people who have given their lives to serve their countrymen and the world. People who have been healed of this interior damage and work to heal other Cubans here and in the diaspora. Cubans who are free and are responsible and are the bridge and road to the unity and fraternity of the nation, wherever they live.

As the Church is, above all, expert in humanity, both groups should receive from the Pope this nutritional supplement of the spirit that faith in God is inseparable from faith in the supreme dignity of the human person. The spiritual nourishment that does not put new patches on the damaged tissue of citizens and civil society, but renews from the inside the soul of the nation that suffers, works, struggles, loves and hopes in the incomparable green island in the Caribbean.

“You are, and must be the protagonists of their own personal and national history.”(John Paul II in Cuba, 1998)

The Cuba Pope Benedict XVI will visit is one and plural, less flat and more complex. It’s not as simple. It is at the same time, the Cuba of faith in God and human betterment, and the distrust of others in the power of men. It is the Cuba of the irrevocable hope of some, and despair of others who are tired of waiting and who show it however they can. It is the Cuba of the love that unites us and hate that excludes us. It is the Cuba that tries to dialogue among its diverse children and all represses those who are different. It is the Cuba of the dispersion, unique as a nation, on pilgrimage on the island and in exile.

Fernando Ortiz said that “Cuba is a melting pot.” I would say yes, but in these times, the torrid heat of the tropics sets the pot on fire, thought at times it appears in a blackout. We know that inevitably we are called to save everyone, each other, from violence and death, and to save our common home, setting Cuba on the path of fraternal coexistence and civic friendship which, according to Aristotle, “is the greatest of the civic assets, and with it civil strife will be redeemed.” (Cf. http://www.convivenciacuba.es. Editorial 25).

So, I think with the unforgettable John Paul II that we should not expect from without what we should build within. We should expect from above what we should construct, block by block, from below. We must not promote any other earthly or pseudo-spiritual messianicism that causes flight from the world. Nothing will be achieved in Cuba without the person in each one of us Cubans and all that must be built so that God and the world, including the Pope, will one day soon find a Cuban nation healthy, free, adult, responsible and fraternal, open to the world and integrated into the international community.

This is what I hope. It is for this that I live, work and have decided, with the grace of God, to stay in Cuba.

March 20 2012

Dagoberto Valdes speaking on the 4th anniversary of the magazine.

Dear friends of Convivencia:

The time God gives us to do good works and grow in humanity passes quickly. We are already celebrating the fourth anniversary of the digital magazine Convivencia.

The presence of all of you here and the multiple and diverse collaborators that have written for the magazine in these twelve months, show that a magazine does not stand alone, nor only through the members of its editorial staff. The magazine is created and maintained by its collaborators who put their names and thoughts at the service of the present and future of Cuba, and in consideration of all who want to read, learn to think, disagree, suggest, propose and work.

This year of 2012 has been a year of tests, maturation and growth.The three things that have contributed the magazine being more well-known, more read, and more sought after.

Tests such as the harassment, accusations and pressures of every kind, direct and indirect, that serve to strengthen our spirits, purify our intentions and  sharpen our good will and our methods of working. The early Christians, persecuted by the decadent Roman Empire, used to say with simplicity that it was given to them to suffer: Per crucem ad lucem: Through the cross to the light.

All this produces maturation of people and works. Maturation that means: the ability not to let ourselves be manipulated from one side or another; to be faithful to our purpose and to our identity as a project of Cuban thought; to exercise citizen sovereignty and freedom of expression, in an ethical way, respectfully and proactively, putting our love for Cuba, the welfare of Cubans, above everything.

There are no better fertilizers of growth than these movements of the human spirit: through the cross to the light; and of this personal and community maturation. This is the secret of the growth of Convivencia. There is no doubt that the attacks of the Media of Communication officials have contributed to helping us learn and mature.

We give thanks to God for the solidarity, understanding, respect and affection that thousands of people and many institutions, within and outside of Cuba, have offered us. This has made our name, Convivencia, be one more experience of living and sharing for a large number of Cuban men and women who look with hope on the future of Cuba.

The magazine Convivencia lives for them.

Thank you very much.

January 26 2012

Death is step and journey in the essence of life. Archbishop Pedro Meurice Estiu course, retired archbishop of Santiago de Cuba has ended his fruitful and suffering journey for the time he lived. Cuba has lost one of its greatest pastors of all time and has gained one of the holy intercessors who has known its deep reality.

Meurice, undoubtedly, has a place alongside bishops such as that other Pedro, Morell de Santacruz, or with Espada, the most Cuban of Spanish bishops as Martí called him, or his own friend and father, Monsignor Enrique Perez Serantes, whose personal secretary he was.

I am honored to have been his disciple and friend. I met him when I was a young man of barely 25 and he was the archbishop president of the National Commission for the Laity. He was for me a paradigm, a stimulus and a counselor. Hard as a rock, paternal like a grandfather, tender as a child.

But mostly I remember the two major events of the Church in Cuba in the last half century: the Cuban National Ecclesial Meeting (ENEC, 1986) and in the unforgettable visit of John Paul II to Cuba in 1998. In the first event I can not forget his passionate devotion to the Father of Cuban culture, Felix Varela, reading the decree to begin his canonization still pending and slowed down.

The Pope’s visit I could not remember without hearing, in the hollow of the Cuban soul, that clear and courageous presentation of his people before the blessed image of the Virgin of Charity and the Supreme Pastor of his Church. Never were the reality, the hope, the transparency closer to the heart of the people and their Queen and Mother.

Cuba remains as described by Archbishop Meurice. Nobody has narrated a diagnosis so endearing, respectful and truthful of their homeland. This text should be published and studied again. I witnessed with much love and how much did this presentation cost, as valid and urgent now, 13 years later.

Time soothes and balances, eases and melts, in the historical memory of peoples life, the service and the example of its protagonists, will one day make the biography I tried to begin one day starting with over a hundred questions, of course incomplete and put aside the humble sanluiseño. I know other good Cubans tried to save his image and did so with unsurpassed audiovisual work on his predecessor.

As that time comes, I leave my simple testimony to his glorious and no longer breathless remains, forever serene, these three words and an adjective with the haste of the moment that forced me to tax my homage:

Meurice has been and is: a Cuban, a pastor and a faithful friend.

Cuban: Above all a man of a single piece and a consistent and contagious ethic, true to his country, its history, the soul of the nation and to San Luis and Santiago of his hopes and tribulations. All he did was to be faithful to that love without cracking and without duplicity. Cuba should honor him as one of its finest sons. In time it will.

Pastor: faithful to Christ, his only and beloved Lord. The Gospel and its blessings, which were his compass and his way. Faithful to the Church that he served non-stop, without measure, saying sometimes yes and sometimes no, according to his conscience dictated in full communion with his faith and his brothers. The Church in Cuba should honor and revere him as one of its most faithful pastors and saints. In time it will.

Friend: faithful to the nearby and distant in geography, but always faithful to friendship lucid, critical and transparent. I learned from him that one may be, at the same time, oneself and a friend of those who think or believe like one. I learned also from Meurice, that one may be Cuban, pastor and friend without conflict of duties and subdivisions. Time will make that friendship sown, cultivated, preserved and shared, the best altar to the Patriarch Archbishop Primate of Cuba.

How he succeeded, like P. Varela, to unite in one heart the love of Cuba, of Christ and his church, admired and reverent at the altar of the Fatherland of the Church, the living sacrifice that was Pedro Claro Meurice Estiu , who true to his two names, was able to combine the strength of the stone and the clarity of light in the same breathless tenderness of his invincible hope.

Archbishop Meurice: Pray for Cuba, for its Church and for each one of us! Amen.

By Dagoberto Valdés

Antecedent.

On December 15, 2009 the government intervened in the courtyard of the house where Karina Galvez held gatherings of the journal Coexistence and they built a wall, seizing the covered terrace, pantry and bathroom, which had been built inside the courtyard of her property. The wall remains and the case is in the Supreme Court.

In 2011 the harassment continued.

This series of events covers the first six months of 2011 and reports on harassment directed to the members and collaborators of the digital magazine Coexistence of Pinar del Rio, Cuba:

January 30, 2011: Dagoberto Valdes, director of the magazine, was detained for three hours at the police station in Los Palacios in Pinar del Rio, on the grounds that the car in which he was going to Havana had been involved in an alleged accident.

Tuesday February 15: Threats to the musicians who participate in the 3rd Anniversary of Coexistence.

Thursday February 24: The Cuban Communist Party Office of Attention to Religious Affairs said that Dagoberto Valdés could not take a trip to Paris to attend a conference on Social Doctrine of the Church in the Mother House of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul.

Monday March 14: The first program in the government television series, “Cuba’s Reasons,” attacked Dagoberto Valdés.

Tuesday March 15: The newspapers Granma and Juventud Rebelde published a two-page article attacking Dagoberto Valdés

Monday March 28: The second program in the government television series, “Cuba’s Reasons,” attacked Dagoberto Valdés again.

Tuesday March 29: The newspapers Granma and Juventud Rebelde published another article of two pages against Dagoberto Valdes which are a summary of the television programs yesterday as well as the previous week.

Monday April 4: The third program in the government television series, “Cuba’s Reasons,” attacked Dagoberto Valdés again.

Tuesday April 5: Thenewspapers Granma and Juventud Rebelde published the third article of two pages against Dagoberto Valdes, a summary of the television program of yesterday as well as the previous week.

Wednesday April 6: An agent asks what home the diplomat’s car parked outside the house of the economist Karina Galvez is visiting; it was Prof. Hans from the University of Stockholm from a conference on the economies of the Nordic countries.

Wednesday April 13:  The Art School of Pinar full of agents returned to testify against Dagoberto Valdés.

Friday April 15: The provincial weekly “Guerrilla” in Pinar del Rio, publishes a page and a half article against Dagoberto Valdés who, according to the weekly newspaper, founded “the magazine Vitral” in 1994 and what should be “a Center for Civic and Religious …” and “has been trying since 1992 to unite the opposition …. “

Wednesday April 27: They cut the email to Servando White, songwriter of Pinar del Rio, whose house was celebrated the 3rd anniversary of the magazine Coexistence at a meeting in the directorate of provincial culture.

Saturday April 30: “A Revolutionary Act” was called “for the First of May” in the square in front of the house of Dagoberto Valdes, where they read three statements, the last person who read, at the end, shouted, “Down with the dissidents in the neighborhood!” Then two of the masses shouted “Down with the worms in the neighborhood and down the dissidents in the neighborhood!”

Wednesday May 11: Search and seizure of laptop, printer, cameras and books in the house of Juan Carlos Fernandez, a contributor to the magazine Coexistence. Detention and interrogation and warning notice. Belongings taken have not yet been returned. No search warrant or certificate of seizure.

Tuesday May 24: Henry Constantin, a member of the Editorial Board of Coexistence was expelled after two years of study at the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA).

Friday May 27: At 1:28 in the morning Henry Constantín is taken by three militants of the FEU from his dorm in the ISA, and in a car taken to the bus terminal in Havana.

Monday May 30: Juan Carlos Fernandez and his wife go early to the headquarters of State Security Lieutenant Colonel Eduardo, who said he was the head of the Department that made the search and he explains to Irene that their possessions are now in the laboratory into the hands of experts who are reviewing. He promises that on Monday June 13 he will give her an answer. Upon leaving, he says: “Irene, talk with Juan Carlos, tell him to be quiet, we do not want to act, he already has an official warning and we will not do anything if you are quiet, but if you force us, we will act.”

Monday June 13: Irene, the wife of Juan Carlos Fernandez, goes to State Security to claim the computer, printer, cameras and video and all the books, memories and DVD taken from Juan Carlos and Irene in the search May 11. The answer: “We have a lot of work. Come within 15 days.”

Monday June 20: An Interior Ministry official visited Jesuhadín Perez, a member of the editorial board of the journal Coexistence to investigate his laptop, whether he had papers. He said he was an operative for computers without papers. If he built, if he was working, how he lived. He had been twice before, once in a neighbor’s home and another his home, but was not Jesuhadín wasn’t there.

Saturday June 25: Sironay Gonzalez, of the Coexistence Magazine team is summoned to a three-hour interview at the police station of San Cristobal in the present province of Artemis. Topic: the computer, how she lives, what she does.

Monday July 4: Karina Galvez, economist, member of the Editorial Board of Coexistence is summoned at two in the afternoon and threatened for hours by the Provincial Department of Education by the Director of this, the law, the director of technical education and the school principal. Topic: Her views on the Cuban economy in international media and Internet.

Wednesday July 13: Two teachers and a worker, Karina Galvez’s co-workers at the Institute of Economics where she teaches, are called by the Director of the School to warn them about their friendship with Karina Galvez.

Saturday July 16: Karina Galvez, a member of the editorial board of the journal Coexistence, is arrested in the middle of highway and taken in a police car to the Consolacion del Sur Police station in Pinar del Rio, where she was held for 3 hours, in the company of her sister Livia Gálvez, also of the Editorial Board and their three young children, 8 to 12 years. Having been to Havana to participate in a panel on the economic future of Cuba, they were held under the pretext that the car had been involved in having a road accident. They took their identity cards and mobile phones, also, to prevent their making calls.

- Will it continue?

Editorial 24

The Catholic Church and the official press have announced that His Holiness the Pope Benedict XVI “is considering visiting Mexico and Cuba during the spring of the year 2012”. At the same time, the spokesman of the Holy See has declared that the State Department of the Supreme Pontiff has told the Papal Nuncios in each one of these countries to inform the respective ecclesiastical and civilian authorities about the expected visit.
This news which was published at the beginning of November has aroused numerous expectations and possibilities. More than a half of the Catholic Church one thousand million members live in Latin America so the visit of the Supreme Pastor of the Catholic Church is always a momentous event that does not leave indifferent either the visited Church or the civilian authorities or a great part of the people that declares itself a believer from a Christian matrix.
It’s about two things at the same time which are inseparably mixed in one person: the visit of the head of one church and the head of a small State which symbolizes the sovereignty of this religious denomination to be able to exercise its evangelizing mission, without interference or manipulation. That is why whether we want it or not, every visit of one Pope has a religious dimension and another political and social dimension. For this reason it brings spiritual and political expectations in a wide sense though his visit is essentially religious.
However, the visit of a head of State should not be compared or likened to the visit of the Pope; if we do that we would be making a mistake in perspective, in interpretation and expectations.
Cuba already had a papal visit 14 years ago. His Holiness the Pope John Paul II who has been declared blessed and has been venerated as a saint by millions of persons around the world, carried out an unforgettable pastoral visit to our Island which lasted five days, from the 21st to the 25th of January 1998. It’s impossible not to bear this in mind and it’s very probable that some try to make comparisons with the announced pilgrimage of Benedict XVI. Though it is natural that we remember and evoke that historic event the best thing we should do is to be aware of the fact that any visit of this kind can’t be likened to another one because they are different Pontiffs, because this is a different time and because Cuba in 1998 was a different one in many aspects compared to the Cuba of 2012.
THE RESULTS OF A PONTIFICAL VISIT DEPEND ON THE PROTAGONISTS.
However, we wish to be participants in this stage of preparation of the possible Pope’s visit so we wish to tell some expectations and possibilities shared by some Cubans, women and men, not necessarily Catholics. There is an old Latin saying though it’s not always exact and it goes: “what goes to Rome comes from Rome”. This generally means that the expectations of the Church are very important and so are the expectations of the rest of the Nation that the Pope will visit; the view of the local reality that will be informed to the Pope and the characteristics of his pastoral pilgrimage as desired by both parties.
That is why it is logical and good that the Holy Father should listen to what the Church and the people wish from his visit. But it is also logical and good that the Pope should wish to convey his message without distorting his mission and being at the service of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, his only paradigm and source of inspiration. The results of a Pontifical visit depend essentially on the smooth communication and the consistence with the identity and the mission of all the protagonists of such event: the Church, the people and the authorities.
The president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Cuba who is Dionisio García, Archbishop from Santiago de Cuba has stated that the Pope will come mainly to participate, as a pilgrim, in the celebrations of the discovery of the Virgin of Charity image from El Cobre: the mother, queen and patron of the Republic of Cuba. Thus the center of the Pope’s presence in Cuba will be the visit and the Eucharist that will be held in the National Sanctuary-Basilica of El Cobre. And though the itinerary has not been announced, and it appears to be short, we expect he will visit the Capital too in order to have another religious celebration and pay his greetings to the authorities of the country. We cannot either rule out that the Pontiff would have encounters with more specific sectors of the Church, for example, young people, laics, bishops, priests and nuns.
SOME EXPECTATIONS AND POSSIBILITIES.
It is a responsibility and a duty of each citizen not to stay indifferent toward the national events. The preparation of a papal visit does not belong exclusively to the Church; it is a civic and religious task. All of us should express our opinion, suggest things and show what we feel inside us. We should show our souls because above all it is the visit of a spiritual leader and we all have a soul and we all share the Nation’s soul. Here are some of our expectations and opinions:
1. Charity unites us. Unity is inclusion.
“Charity unites us”. This is the slogan that summarizes the spirit of the celebrations of the 400 years of the discovery of the Virgin of Charity image which is at the same time, the end and the center of the papal visit. Then charity is the Christian name for love that makes us give ourselves to the others so it should unite all Cubans and that’s why our expectation in that sense is that this unity will not be uniformity in thinking, believing in options and in acts. We believe that this unity should not exclude the different ones and the ones that upset the government or the Church. We believe that this unity is not unanimity or unity around one only option. Any way, in only one phrase which is, at the same time, our main expectation regarding this topic: Unity is inclusion. Thus the Pope’s visit should include all the representatives of the Cuban nation, all of us children of the Virgin of Charity: the believers, the non-believers, the government, the opposition and the civil society, the ones who live in the Island and the ones who live in the Diaspora. If any of these groups is left out of the papal visit and out of the life in Cuba the unity in charity would not be possible. The degree of inclusion before, during and after the visit could be one of the expectations and opportunities for the preparation and the evaluation of the visit.
2. The spirit that will promote the pacific and gradual structural changes.
The pacific and gradual structural changes in the political, economic, social, cultural and anthropologic environments are not the purposes of the Pope’s visit but they are an urgent need of the people that the Pope will visit and a need of the Church that will receive him. These changes are not a task that the Pope should carry out or a task that should be carried out by the Church in Cuba exclusively but each substantial reform has its foundation in the soul of the people and in the spirit of the citizens. Thus, everything that strengthens the spirit of Cubans, men and women; everything that nurtures the Nation’s soul; everything that opens up the nation to the best motions of the Spirit of Truth, Good and Beauty will revitalize the changes that have been patiently expected for a long time. The degree of spiritual depth before, during and after this visit can be one of the expectations and opportunities to prepare the visit, to experience it and evaluate it.
3. The promotion of the sovereignty of citizens and a national inclusive dialogue about essential topics.
The people that the Pope will visit and even the Catholic Church that is preparing his visit which is a part of that people have had a deficit in citizen education and ethical education to live in freedom, responsibility, participative democracy and fraternity during more than half a century. This civic and moral illiteracy is one of the greatest shortages of the people and the Church the Pope will visit. It’s a pastoral and evangelizing duty of the Church to contribute, with its educative mission, to the education for citizen sovereignty, responsible civic participation and the inseparable coherence between ethics and politics without choosing any ideology or partisan political option. One of the expectations and opportunities to prepare this visit, to experience it and evaluate it is the endeavour for an ethical and civic education that may be present before, during and after the visit. This education would lead to an authentic national dialogue without exclusions in order to deal with every essential topic.
4. The reconstruction of the sovereign fabric of civil society.
The reconstruction of the sovereign fabric of civil society is a long-term task and a consequence of the education of each person as a citizen, of the ethical responsibility and a spiritual mystique in order to achieve that the discouragement, the human miseries and the materialist and hedonistic interests do not destroy this task for the present and the future of Cuba. The Pope’s visit, the way of life and work of the very Church as a paradigm of one of the communities in civil society could be a view, a motion and a possibility of work on the occasion of the Pontiff’s visit. The preparation, the carrying out and the ecclesial style that the Pope’s visit to Cuba will leave can be a testimonial and prophetic school for the reconstruction of a sound civil society. At the same time that life school for civil society can be an expectation and an opportunity to prepare the visit, to experience it and to evaluate it before, during and after the visit.
5 The decriminalization of discrepancy.
Cuba needs, above all, to live in the respect and the agreement of diversity which is natural and desirable in a sound society. Cuba needs to decriminalize discrepancy, such as a relevant journalist in Camagüey has said. The mission of Christianity is, according to the Gospel of Saint Luke in its chapter 4, 18-21: To preach the Gospel to the poor; to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind; to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord”.
That’s to mark the visit of the Pastor of the Church we can expect: an amnesty for all the political prisoners or prisoners of conscience, rather than pardon; the cessation of all repression and to change the climate of exasperation we find in the media and on the streets: an environment of war, conspiracy and espionage that harms the Nation’s soul and the spirit of Cubanhood: to change all that toward an atmosphere of confidence and fraternity. This good news, guaranteed and consolidated by the complete decriminalization of discrepancy, before, during and after the pontifical visit can be one of the expectations and opportunities to prepare the visit, to experience it and evaluate it.
6. Toward a true religious freedom.
The true religious freedom in a modern laic State is not “the permit” for each action or work by the churches and it is not having a special office to control their activities or to exclude some works, persons and groups from the Church in order to obtain “the normalization” of the relations between the Church and the State. These relations will only be normal when the Churches enjoy a true religious freedom guaranteed by law or Concordat, by the renewal of mentality and by a social environment of freedom and respect for all the believers. The religious freedom is not a privilege for the ecclesiastic institutions but a right of each citizen and each community of believers. To take care of this right is a responsibility of the Hierarchy of the Church and the civil Authority as well. There cannot be religious freedom if only one of the believers is pursued, discriminated, excluded or repressed for his faith and for the consequences of his faith regarding his political, economic and social options. The purposes of the Gospel are not exclusively the good relations between the Church and the State but and above all, the good relations among all citizens and the State. To promote this more holistic concept of religious freedom can be a support and a source, inspiration and complement of all the other liberties, human rights and expectations regarding the life of the Churches and the Pope’s visit. The degree of true religious freedom achieved before, during and after this visit and for each Cuban can be one of the expectations and opportunities to prepare this visit, to experience it and evaluate it.
7. National reconciliation: truth, justice, amnesty and magnanimity.
Another expectation about the papal visit is that it should contribute to the long and necessary process of national reconciliation. For more than five decades confrontation among Cubans that think and act differently has been stimulated. Persons that love Cuba and work pacifically for it have been unfairly called “warms”, mercenaries, traitors and all kinds of degrading damaging remarks. Informers and oppressors have done a lot of physical and psychological harm. The pontifical visit should use a strong spiritual and ethical motivation to make this mania of discrediting the person instead of disagreeing with serenity about his ideas stop. Weak must be the arguments against these ideas when discredit is used against this person. The people that the Pope will visit needs a deep process of national reconciliation that necessarily should include these four steps: a commission of truth, legal processes with all the guarantees, an amnesty without amnesia not to fall in the same hole ever again and a spirit of magnanimity which is the mix of forgiveness and fraternity. The degree in which the preparation of the papal visit, the visit itself and what comes afterwards contribute to the process of national reconciliation can be one of the expectations and opportunities to prepare the visit, to experience it and evaluate it.
8. The opening-up to the world strengthens the cultural identity and the national sovereignty.
“May Cuba open- up to the world and may the world open-up to Cuba” was one of the most stunning messages of the visit paid by John Paul II to Cuba 14 years ago. Quickly, many of us in Cuba added that together with those two openings and as a consequence of them the government should open-up mainly to the very Cubans so that all of us can enjoy all the rights. Unfortunately the three openings are still unresolved, some are not started, and some are not completed. The world has changed since 14 years ago: it is more independent, more supportive, more conscious and sensitive to the violations of the Human Rights and to the use of violence in any ways and places. The opening up and the interdependence do not degrade or harm but strengthen the cultural identity and the national sovereignty if the citizens have an ethical and civic education to start a dialogue with other cultures and other nations. Paternalism thinks that by locking up their children at home as if they were little and by giving them a simplified version of the world will result in the children’s fidelity and purity. The very life denies the efficiency of being so enclosed regarding information, media, interpersonal relations, travel and interchange among countries. The degree of opening to the world, to Cubans and to all of human rights for all achieved before, during and after this visit can be one of the expectations and opportunities to prepare this visit, to experience it and evaluate it.
9. The transition from fear to hope and from hope to the reconstruction of the Country.
Cuba needs a deep transition but not only a political and economic transition. Cuba needs, above all and first of all, to transit from fear to hope. This indicator of the situation in our country and the life quality we have in this Island is indeed measurable by all of us: Cuba will not really change if you find fear around you. If television threatens and attacks; if the newspapers are libels that denigrate the different ones; if your neighbourhood is a nest of distrust and informers; if your job is a pack of envy and corruption. If all this happens then something is wrong in Cuba and it must change. There is no life quality where fear is present. If there is no hope the future moves away from each one of us and from the country. A country where the hope of persons lies in the possibility to travel to any other country in order to improve has to change substantially. The Pope’s visit, its preparation and its continuity can be evaluated by the concrete steps in this urgent itinerary of transition from fear to hope and from hope to the reconstruction of the Country with freedom and responsibility.
10. We Cubans, women and men are and should be the protagonists of our own personal and national history.
Another unfinished legacy of the visit paid by John Paul II is that message three times repeated by the venerated Pontiff: “You are and should be the protagonists of your own personal and national history”. This is maybe the foundation, the key and the guarantee of all the expectations and possibilities related to the visit of Benedict XVI: Only if we Cubans, women and men accept our personal and civic responsibility the changes in Cuba will be implemented with depth and peace. The Pope will not turn all of our expectations into realities but the prominence and the responsibility of all Cubans will do it; and we will be able to do it and we should do it counting on the supplement of the soul that religions can give through their mystique, their spirituality, their ethics and their liberating and holistic view of reality.
The visit of every religious leader is always a call and a spiritual encouragement for all who want to listen and accept the Pope’s wise suggestions and advices. That is why the visit of His Holiness Benedict XVI can be a magnificent catalyst in this gradual but irreversible process in which each Cuban, woman and man should accept our responsibility, our social and historic prominence to implement, all of us without exclusion or violence, the changes that only we Cubans should do for Cubans.
This will depend on each one of us but very especially on the authorities and the faithful of the Catholic Church and also on the authorities and followers of the Country’s government. It will also depend on the contribution of those Cubans, women and men who have decided to exercise their citizen sovereignty in the every day national events.
This is the time for every one to contribute what he thinks, what he expects, what he will decide to do on the occasion of the Pope’s visit during the next spring in Cuba.
Pinar del Río, November 20th 2011
22nd Anniversary of Father Varela’s Birth.

Translation from the Convivencia website.

December 1 2011

CONVIVENCIA (COEXISTENCE) LITERARY CONTEST II – 2011

JURY RESULTS

Prize in the Photography category:

The jury decides, unanimously, to award the prize in the genre of Photography to the series titled: Desconocido (Unknown), by the Cuban author, Alberto Borrego Sánchez, of San Cristóbal, Artemisa province.

By judicious selection of settings, use of bold and contemporary content, with a social approach committed to its environment, without devaluing in the least the quality of photography as art. As a set of pieces, strung together with a mark of style, where the sepia tones and the mood of hieratic reality shown are utilized according to the messages revealed in the works.

Prize in the Essay category:

The jury decided unanimously to award the prize in this area to the work presented with the title: Until the End of the Exclusions, by the Cuban author Orlando Freire Santana, native of Cerro, Havana province.

For the social and contemporary effectiveness of its analysis, which treats different settings (the Island and its Diaspora). It is not limited to a simple dissection of the political agenda in recent years, but explores the social-ethical and individual background of our existence as a nation; it stands out for its powerfully communicative paragraphs, manifested Cubanness, citizen reference and commitment to its thesis.

Story Category:

By a majority, the jury decided not to award the prize in the Story category, in this edition of the contest.

General Poetry Prize:

In this literary genre, after a sharp and deep analysis of the outstanding works presented, the jury decided, unanimously, to award the prize to the work: Room of One Day, by the Cuban author Francis Sánchez, of Ciego de Ávila.

For the music of the universal language and encouragement reborn in its verses, in which one finds words released from the depths, like a weaving of clarities that transcend the collective suffering and nostalgia for living in a time already in the past. Significant in this collection are the social nuances of the magnetic messages.

In this same genre, we also agreed unanimously to grant an honorable mention to the notebook of poems Exact Room, from the author Mojena Miguel Angel Hernandez, Candelaria, province Artemis. It is proposed to publish some of his writings in Convivencia Magazine. For this decision, we have taken into account the organic nature of the book, the beauty of poetic images, and the intimate nature of its parts.

Meeting in Pinar del Rio, with the Convivencia Board, July 27, 2011.

THE JURY (in alphabetical order):

Henry Constantín Ferreiro

Maikel Iglesias Rodríguez

Jesuhadín Pérez Valdés

July 28 2011

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