1352412017_vidacristOn the evening of November 4th some members of the Coexistence team had the privilege of being invited to participate in the activities celebrating the 50th anniversary of Christian Life.

The occasion brought together many at the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, where there was a mass presided over by the Cardinal of Havana Jaime Ortega Alamino, his auxiliary bishop Monseñor Juan de Dios, Father Alberto Garcia, director of Catholic Sunday publications and other priests of the Jesuit Congregation.

God wanted the Gospel proclaimed this day, as appropriate for the occasion, with love your neighbor as the central theme. In his homily the Cardinal emphasized that love conquers all, all hopes; he recalled the words of Father Felix Varela when he said “There is no Fatherland without virtue”, highlighting that virtue is in love rather than knowledge and recalling the first Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI making a call to live in faith and love in all its facets.

After the Mass there was a cultural evening that began with a few words about Christian Life followed by the invitation of Father Alberto for other voices to take the floor. I remembered when he shared in Pinar del Rio, more than six years ago on the 10th anniversary of the magazine Vitral and ceded the floor to who was at that time director, and is still the director. of the project and the magazine Coexistence, the engineer Dagoberto Valdés Hernández.

Dagoberto focused his words in an infinite gratitude to this publication, “this little leaf” as everyone there calls it, a symbol of perseverance, of how much can be achieved by the love of Christ, for others and society. He emphasized that Christian Life today is a sign of how far we can get if we truly believe in the power of the small and the usefulness of virtue. He thanked also the older sister of all publications that later emerged within the Church, for this necessary catechism, simple but direct, for all the good both do for the Cuban family. Finally he thanked Padre Alberto, the Editorial Board of Christian Life and God for allowing us to participate in the celebration and for teaching us that “everything has its time, and there is a time for everything under heaven.”

The Editorial Board and staff of the magazine Coexistence are most especially grateful to Father Alberto Garcia and his invitation to the team, congratulate Christian Life and urge them to continue working for the love of Cuba and its Church.

by Yoandy Izquierdo Toledo

November 8 2012


From blogs.fco.gov.uk

By Dagoberto Valdés

On the afternoon of Sunday, 22 July 2012, we were surprised by unexpected and terrible news: Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, founder and leader of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL), had tragically died near the city of Bayama, seeking the roots of our Cubanness to say goodbye to the land he loved so much and for which he fought so peacefully.

Today Oswaldo’s life appears more transparent and coherent than ever. Death is, for everyone, a summary, a transition, and a lesson.

His history is not yet written. But his accomplishments are. And it is not good to wait too long to put everything in its property place when there is, starting now, an example and legacy to gather, apprehend, and continue. I try, although still moved by the immediacy, to outline what this loss and this gain has meant to Cuba, its present and its future.

Loss, because each person is unique and irreplaceable. Gain, because nothing is lost and everything is gained and the depths of the earth when a good seed falls in the furrow of life, to bring forth more fruits.

I met Payá when he was young, almost a teenager, in one of the halls of the Cerro Parish, where Father Petit was then his pastor and mentor, in a meeting of the few young people who professed the Catholic faith in the hard years of the ’70s. Those were the days when we were discriminated against just for going to Church and declaring in our school records whether or not we were believers.

Oswaldo’s entire life, like that of so many Cuban men and women faithful to Christ and to Cuba, is a daily offering of civil martyrdom of all those who are treated as second class citizens, as “unreliables” for living in what became to be called “a fantastic reflection of reality” for having religious beliefs.

At that time, neither he nor I yet had our own and various projects for Cuba and its freedom and prosperity. But we trained in the bosom of a poor Church, persecuted, committed and faithful to the gospel of its Founder. We received, through the Church, that we must recognize and thank forever, an ethical, civic, religious, and very Cuban education, that followed the saga of Varela, Luz, Mendive, Marti and many others. That is the origin, the cause and the root of our lives and the soul of our Christian commitment. That is its deep motivation, its essence, inspiration, style, methods, criteria of judgment, determination of values, ways of thinking, examples of life.

Each who has lived in his way, as it should be, diverse in the Christian social commitment, but united in the bowels of the Gospel, the Church and Cuba. From this fraternal and daily fellowship where a life is over too quickly was forged, I give testimony to what I think is the legacy of Oswaldo to Cuba and his Church.

 His person and his path

For all of Cuba, Payá leaves the trajectory of a coherent life. Of a whole man,  of one piece, true to what was, what is and what will be: a human being who does not want to us to deify him, who doesn’t need it, who already has and believes in one true God. He was a human being, on earth, with his faults and virtues. But most important is that in his existence there was no contradiction between who he was, what he though, what he said and what he did. Cuba needs men and women with this morality, the “sun of the moral world.”

For all of Cuba, Payá is also a citizen who freely chose to stay in his country, despite the constant threats and dangers. A citizen who did not remain in internal exile or the alienation of an ivory tower, or who “took refuge” in an opiate-religion, but who learned from his Master Jesus that true religion is the incarnation, the cross and the resurrection.

The Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) was an expression of this active and systematic engagement. The Varela Project is another example of his faith in action, being the most important civic exercise in the last half century, that managed to transcend the boundaries of the MCL, to be and exist with “All Together”. Cuba needs citizens to stay here, who are one nation with those who work hard to find peaceful solutions.

For the Church, Oswaldo is a paradigm of vocation and mission of lay Christians. He did not abandon the Church in spite of the sorrows and misunderstandings. he did not use it for political purposes but demanded the same thing it taught: consistency and faithfulness to the Gospel of Christ.

The Church needs lay people involved in the world of politics, civil society, culture, economy … and the laity need not be excluded, nor seen as rare, both Tyrians and Trojans, because of their commitments, be they political or civic. They need to be considered and followed, without taking its own political choices, both in life and in death, as do our parish communities, priests, religious and bishops. Just as with other, laypeople who are caregivers, teach the catechism, work in Caritas, pray the Rosary, or animate a mission house. This is what we see and thank Paya’s funeral.

For the Church, Payá is also an example of Christian prophecy. He was the voice many who did not have a voice, but he did not disqualify or exclude his brethren who thought differently. To disagree and debate, is not to exclude. To exclude is to segregate the family of those who are considered “dissidents” or “dangerous” or “troublesome”, or not accepted by the powers of this world. Oswaldo suffered this and much more. But his prophecy did not rest, nor was it exhausted. He denounced the ills suffered by the people and the Church that formed a part of him. He announced the Christian liberation and he created, proposed projects, thinking, laws, new roads, in an absolutely peaceful and proactive way.

Cuba and its Church need this kind of prophet who not only denounces but also proposes solutions and puts them into practice, patiently and bravely.

The immediate fruits of the death of Payá

Here, in the Cerro Parish, with the body still present, we can observe various immediate fruits of the sacrifice of Oswaldo Payá. I will mention a few:

The physical family of the deceased gave testimony of spiritual strength, serenity and faithfulness to the work of Oswaldo. Mired in unspeakable pain they did not lose the integrity or peace of knowing that their husband and father has given his life to a worthy cause and died in the fulfillment of Christian and civic duty.

The Church, Payá’s religious family, offered during his burial an example of communion without exclusion, solidarity in pain and coherence with what it preaches. It has been truly organic and sacramental from the Good Shepherd, from the Pope’s condolences to the last parishioner of the parish who offered water or consolation, through various religious congregations, the pastor, other priests and monks, evangelical pastors, bishops and their bishop the Cardinal, whose homily must be studied and lived. All united by faith in Christ and love for Cuba. Despite the normal and even desirable differences, in the healthy pluralism of the People of God. As the fruit of a Church united in diversity, embodied, prophetic and reconciliatory dialogue, beginning with itself.

Civil society, the citizen family that shares the same history, nation and destination, has also, on the occasion of the death of Payá, shown a clear and unequivocal gesture of unity in diversity, respect for differences without disqualification, excluding hatred, confrontation and other human miseries that we all have and must overcome, to put above all ideological and political differences, which in themselves are not bad … to put above all Cuba, our homeland, the common home, its freedom and prosperity. What I saw there, that mature civic spirit and weaver of coexistence, is the Cuba that we dream of are building together.

The diplomatic corps, represented there as well as the press, accredited or independent, also show respect and the normality with which observers, international and our own, consider Cuban society as a pluralistic body in a process of maturation and serious and peaceful commitment with the changes and democracy.

These gestures have also been made possible by the good will and civic and political maturity of civil society. Other immediate fruits might be mentioned as an example and comforting encouragement to family members of his movement and friends. In the future to come in the medium and long term, surely we will see more that one seed is capable of producing, a symbol, a paradigm, a flag of peace brought by love. No one can calculate.

I want to end by saying that at Oswaldo Payá’s funeral I noted that pluralism and respect for the unity in diversity have come gradually, first to the life of civil society and, in some ways, to the life of the Church, the people of God. May God grant that will also reach the State that it will move them, so that Cuba will be a home where “we all fit.”

I pray to God, for the intercession of Oswaldo Payá, of Harold Cepero, of Laura Pollán, of Wilman Villar, Wilfredo Soto, Orlando Zapata, Pedro Luis Boitel, and many others, who were faithful to their faith and their ideals in this life, that comes to an end, fully, for all in Cuba, with respect for pluralism, unity in diversity, ethical, civic and religious coherence, that we have received as the raised and hopeful fruit of the living cross, the cross accepted by these our brothers.

They were able. We follow his example and legacy.

So be it. Amen.

August 9 2012


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



 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


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?