The Cubanet news agency is denouncing the move by Cuban authorities in Santa Clara to prohibit a parish from distributing medicines and eyeglasses free of charge to the local population.
Last week, the priest in charge of the distribution, identified only as Fidencio, had to explain to the large crowd of people that usually come every Tuesday to the Church of Las Pastora that the service will be suspended as of June 1.
The priest received an official letter, which said that Cuba is a “medical power” and that “there is no lack of medicines on the island such that they should be giving away medicines there, which was causing people to conglomerate unnecessarily.”
According to the Spanish priest, a public health official told him that “medicines in Cuba are abundant, and large, disorganized gatherings are prohibited from now on,” and she told the priest he had 30 days to shut down the donations.
The parish usually distributed medicines and eyeglasses donated from Spain and Malta and was one of the channels through which Catholic Charities in Cuba provided assistance to the population.
Each Tuesday dozens of people go to the parish to receive medicines they are unable to find in the Public Health facilities, and church personnel distributes the medicines free of charge to those who have a valid prescription.
According to Cubanet, the Church of La Pastora is known for its outreach to prisoners, the elderly, the infirm and the needy.
A sign on the parish property reads, “Starting June 1, the donation of medicines will be suspended because the parish is not authorized to provide such a service.”