State Security Stops Martha Beatriz Roque and Miriam Leiva From Meeting with the Pope

Martha Beatriz Roque. (14ymedio)
Martha Beatriz Roque. (14ymedio)

Opposition member Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello reported that on Sunday afternoon State Security stopped her – for the second day in a row – from personally greeting Pope Francis. Their meeting, which was to have taken place in the Havana Cathedral, had been agreed upon as a way  of readressing what happened on Sunday to this former Black Spring prisoner who was detained as she was on her way to the Apostolic Nunciature.

On Sunday morning, the secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature in Cuba had assured Ms. Roque Cabello that he was surprised by the previous day’s arrest, but that everything was now in order for her to greet the Pope that same day. However, the taxi taking her to Havana’s historic center was intercepted on its way by a car with four State Security agents who did not allow her to reach the place, the activist said.

“If you have something to say to the Pope, tell us, and we’ll tell him,” Roque Cabello said one of the State Security agents told her. The dissident was held for fifteen hours at a police station before being released.

In the case of Miriam Leiva, her detention unfolded under similar circumstances, as she was traveling in a shared taxi. “The car was forcefully intercepted by State Security. They took me to a police station, and there an official warned me that I could not participate in any activity related to the Pope’s visit,” Leiva reported to the EFE news agency.

On the way to Havana Cathedral, where Francis celebrated Sunday vespers with priests, men and women consecrated to religious life, and seminarians, the Papal entourage stopped at the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Saint Ignatius Loyola on Reina Street.* The Pope took a brief tour of the interior of the church, and then continued on his way to the historic center of Havana.

*Translator’s Note: Commonly called “Iglesia de Reina,” “Church of Reina (Queen [Street]),” and consecrated in 1923, it is widely considered one of Cuba’s most beautiful churches, and its tallest, with a fifteen-story bell tower. It is the mother church of the Jesuit Order in Cuba.

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