Catholic magazine in Cuba takes stock of successes and challenges for the future

.- Despite heavy restrictions on freedom of speech in Cuba, the magazine “Palabra Nueva” (“New Word”), published by the Archdiocese of Havana, closed out 2004 with a positive evaluation of year and a commitment to continue serving Catholics during 2005. The Cubanet news agency reported that the magazine’s editors, lead by editor-in-chief Orlando Marquez, spent the last day of the year evaluating their work in 2004, with the help of their own readers who months earlier responded to a survey on various questions.

The magazine has some 50,000 readers with a circulation of about 11,000 copies, and 860 readers responded to the survey.

According to the results, women make up the bulk of the magazine’s readers, 80% of readers are above the age of 30 and the working class demonstrates the most interest in the Catholic publication.

“The occupational level of readers is evenly distributed between 20% who are workers, 18% who are intellectuals, with the rest being stay-at-home moms and retired people, as well as a small proportion of those who are self-employed,” Cubanet reported.

According to Miguel Saludes of Cubanet, the opinions offered by readers “provided a broad view of what people are expecting of the publication,” despite the inconveniences associated with “an environment dominated by fear, distrust and other negative attitudes.”

Responses to the survey included compliments and criticisms, as well as requests for more articles on history, economy, politics, social problems and civil rights in Cuba.  There was also a show of support for Cardinal Jaime Ortega, Archbishop of Havana, for his defense of the family.

According to Saludes, the experience of Palabra Nueva is unique in Cuba.  “To assume the task of being a voice in the current reality of Cuba requires responsibility and courage.  In addition, being something new in the midst of so much repetition and emptiness demands moderation, competence and initiative,” he said.

During the evaluation, Orlando Marquez, who has received various international awards for his role as editor of the magazine, reiterated the need for charity and truth to be ever present in the pages of Palabra Nueva.

“The presence of these two virtues is essential for Palabra Nueva to continue contributing to the formation of a generation of Cubans founded on love and tolerance,” Saludes concluded.

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