Catholic Church in Cuba offers to facilitate dialogue between government and opposition

Cuba People queue to buy food in Havana on March 27, 2024. Claims of lack of food coupled with long blackouts, which affected almost the entire Cuban population in recent weeks, led hundreds of people to demonstrate on March 17 in at least four cities in the country, in the largest protests recorded since the historic anti-government marches of July 11, 2021. | Credit: YAMIL LAGE/AFP via Getty Images

The deputy secretary of the Cuban Bishops’ Conference, Father Ariel Suárez, said that the Catholic Church is available to facilitate dialogue “if the different political actors” would agree to it in order to find a solution to the crisis in the country.

In an interview with NBC News, the priest referred to protests that once again shook the country, this time in March on the eastern end of the island.

“In the protests of last March 17, this pain turned into a cry, in a cry that was heard and that has been accepted, shall we say, by all the levels of the country,” Suárez said.

The deputy secretary of the Cuban Bishops’ Conference said that “at least everyone has agreed to consider that this cry reflected anguish, reflected desperation, and that people were asking obviously for a different situation than the one they were going through.”

On March 17, thousands of people took to the streets due to the shortage of food, medicine, and the constant power outages that make daily life more difficult. Despite the promises from the communist regime, the energy supply problems have continued, and on Thursday there were power outages lasting about six hours.

According to the Diario de Cuba, the cause is supposedly eight generators that are out of service either for breakdowns or for maintenance and another 32 that were out for lack of fuel.

In addition, there is the constant emigration of Cubans from the country, mainly to the United States.

Given this scenario, Suárez noted that “the bishops have called for prayer so that solutions can be found, so we can find a way out of this distressing situation, so that those in power may have the wisdom and the boldness when making decisions that will benefit people’s lives.”

The bishops “have noted the pain people are in and have also asked the Church, if the different political actors agree, to offer a space for dialogue, a meeting place” between all “these different but not necessarily contradictory positions.”

The priest expressed his desire that these different positions “won’t be hostile” to one another and that “they can help find the concrete solutions that this people needs.”

“We Cubans can love Cuba with different visions, with different perspectives,” the deputy secretary stated, asking citizens “to put above all those differences the love for Cuba and the desire to improve the life of its people now and in the future.”

In addition to the serious economic situation, the nongovernmental organization Prisoner Defenders noted that the communist regime — in power since 1959 — currently holds 1,092 political prisoners, a situation that has also been denounced by the opposition inside and outside Cuba.

On several occasions, the leaders of dissident organizations — not legally recognized by the government and therefore constant victims of acts of repression — have indicated that the solution lies in a peaceful transition of Cuba toward a democracy that guarantees human rights and civil liberties for the people.

This story was first publishedby ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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