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'The people have the right to express their needs...'

Cuban bishops speak regarding protests in their nation

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Cubans are seen outside Havana's Capitol during a demonstration against the government of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana, on July 11, 2021. Thousands of Cubans took part in rare protests Sunday against the communist government, marching through a town chanting "Down with the dictatorship" and "We want liberty." (YAMIL LAGE / AFP via Getty Images)

Photographer: YAMIL LAGE | AFP via Getty Image

Cubans are seen outside Havana's Capitol during a demonstration against the government of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana, on July 11, 2021. Thousands of Cubans took part in rare protests Sunday against the communist government, marching through a town chanting "Down with the dictatorship" and "We want liberty." (YAMIL LAGE / AFP via Getty Images)

This is an unofficial translation of the statement issued July 12, 2021 by the Cuban bishops' conference in response to the protests that occurred throughout the island a day earlier.

To all Cubans of goodwill:

Brothers and sisters, we cannot close our eyes or look away, as if nothing were happening, in the face of the events that our people have lived through yesterday, Sunday, July 11, and that are continuing today in some places. Despite the restrictions due to the increase of COVID-19 contagion, thousands took to the streets in cities and towns of Cuba, publicly protesting and expressing their discontent with the deterioration of the economic and social situation that our people are experiencing and which has significantly intensified.

We understand that the Government has responsibilities and has tried to take measures to alleviate the aforementioned difficulties, but we also understand that the people have the right to express their needs, desires and hopes and, in turn, to publicly express how some of the measures that have been taken are seriously affecting them. It is necessary for each person to contribute their creativity and initiative, and for each family to work for their own well-being, knowing that when this happens, they are working for the good of the Nation.

Photographer:

At this time, as pastors, we are concerned that the response to these demands is the resistance to change, which contributes to the continuity of the problems without solving them. Not only do we see that situations are worsening, but also that we are moving towards a rigidity and hardening of positions that could generate negative responses, with unpredictable consequences that would harm us all.

A favorable solution will not be reached by impositions, nor by calling for confrontation, but rather when mutual listening is exercised, common agreements are sought and concrete and tangible steps are taken that contribute, with the collaboration of all Cubans without exclusion, to build the Homeland "with all and for the good of all." That is the Homeland that we want.

Pope Francis, as well as our own experiences, have taught us that crises are not overcome by confrontation, but by seeking an understanding.

Violence begets violence, and today's aggressiveness opens wounds and feeds resentment for tomorrow that will be very difficult to overcome. Therefore, we invite everyone not to encourage a situation of crisis but, with serenity of spirit and good will, to exercise listening, understanding and an attitude of tolerance that recognizes and respects the other, so that together we can seek ways to find a just and appropriate solution.

To Our Lady of Charity, Queen and Mother of all Cubans, always a source of reconciliation, we ask that she make the Cuban nation a home of brothers and sisters where the search for truth and the common good will prevail.

Havana, July 12, 2021

The Catholic Bishops of Cuba

Comments from readers

Gustavo - 07/13/2021 08:40 PM
God Bless the people of Cuba! Now is the time for justice. The authoritarian communist regime is crumbling. May the Lord help all Cubans of goodwill who are out on the streets attempting to take back the country that was stolen from them. My question is: where is the official response from Pope Francis and the Vatican?

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