.- The founder and director of the most influential Catholic think-tank in Cuba, Dagoberto Valdes Hernandez, said in an interview this week that the Catholic Church is “the only institution in Cuba where there are still footprints of the civil society which otherwise has been annihilated.” The subject of the Catholic leader’s interview was the issue of transition to democracy in Cuba and the Catholic Church’s role in that process.
Valdes, who founded the Center for Civic and Religious Formation in the Diocese of Pinar del Rio and the magazine “Vitral,” said the situation in Cuba today is one of “uncertainty and of expectation” due to the lack of information about what is happening in the country and because the future “is in the hands of the those in the highest echelons of power and not in those of the sovereign citizenry.”
“Anthropological harm” combined with “totalitarian control” is preventing Cubans from fully developing their freedom and responsibility, he explained.
Valdes, who was appointed member of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace after the visit of John Paul II, said, “The Church has been the only institution present throughout Cuba” that has maintained “autonomy and independence from the State during half a century.”
This distinguishes the Church from the rest of the elements of Cuban society, he continued, “which were slowly dismantled by authentic socialism.”
Asked about the Church’s current relationship with the Cuban government, the renowned dissident said the Church “has maintained its own identity, its mission and its place with the limitations that come with being inserted in a State that seeks to control everything and everyone.”
Valdes said he is a witness of the existence of “many priests, religious and laity that have worked for decades as faithful witnesses, even at the risk of their own wellbeing and that of their families.”