Skip to comments.Andres Oppenheimer: Cardinalís action clouds Popeís visit to Cuba
Posted on 03/23/2012 4:55:50 AM PDT by LibFreeUSA
March 22 - Pope Benedict XVIs three-day visit to Cuba starting Monday will begin under a cloud: human rights groups are appalled by Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortegas decision to call the police to evict peaceful dissidents who had sought refuge in a church to draw international attention to their demands for civil rights. According to an official Cuban Roman Catholic Church communiqué published in the Cuban regimes daily Granma, Ortega asked the police to evict 13 dissidents on March 14 after they had occupied the Our Lady of Charity church in Havana.
Following their forced eviction by anti-riot police clad in black uniforms, the dissidents, including an 82-year-old man, said they were beaten and taken to a police station, where they were interrogated for five hours before being conditionally released. They had wanted to submit a petition to the pope, and to voice their demands for democracy and human rights, they said. How usual is it for a cardinal to ask police to evict peaceful protesters from a Church, I asked some of the biggest international human rights groups and best-known international law experts.
Recalling my days as a foreign correspondent during the rightist dictatorships of South and Central America, and judging from what I read from what happened in Poland and other communist dictatorships in Europe, I couldnt recall any incident like this one. Im not alone on this. I have never seen anything like this, said Jose Miguel Vivanco, head of the Americas department of the Human Rights Watch advocacy group, referring to the dissidents eviction. This is the result of a Church hierarchy that is obviously subordinated to the Cuban government.
Vivanco recalled that in 1977 and 1978, during Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochets regime, hundreds of relatives of missing people regularly sought refuge in churches to draw international attention to their demands. Many spent long periods of time there, without ever being forced out.
It wouldnt have crossed any Chilean bishops mind to call the police, Vivanco said. Chilean Cardinal Raul Silva Henriquez used to say that the Church was there to give a voice to those who didnt have a voice. The Church never allowed the state security services to get even close to churches.
Javier Zuniga, a Latin American expert at Amnesty Internationals headquarters in London, told me that Cardinal Ortegas request to the Cuban police was very unusual.
Jaime Ortega has always, always been a toady for the Castro regime in exchange for being able to run the church as a homosexual brothel.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.