Pope Francis is coming to Cuba this September and the Cuban people will give him an affectionate welcome, as already happened with the last two visits of his predecessors. This time, religion here is diverse; there are more than a few atheists, and Catholics and non-Catholics alike will be present at his activities.
This will be an occasion to greet a Latin American pope who has tried several reforms in the Catholic Church for the poor and the dispossessed, who has called exploitation by its name, and who, in Latin American lands, said that “the rules and the laws, as well as the projects of civil community, have to seek inclusion, open spaces for dialog, for encounter, and thus leave behind the painful memories of any kind of repression, excessive control and loss of freedom.”
Today, as Pope John Paul II wanted, the world is opening itself to Cuba and Cuba is opening itself to the world, and the Latin American pope has played a very important role in this, brokering agreements between the governments of Cuba and the United States, beginning a process of dialog that has already permitted the reopening of embassies and the reestablishment of diplomatic relations.
The internal situation could be complicated by the resistance of the Government to recognize different thinking and its insistence on repressing its manifestations
And this process has been possible because of the need of the Cuban government to access international sources of financing, and the need of the United States to rebuild its relations with Latin America, affected precisely by the policy of isolating Cuba.
However, what we Cubans need most, we citizens, those below, those of us who could receive no benefit from these governmental rapprochements, is that the government of this country open itself to its people. Pope Francis might also contribute to this, although the force that he commands is more moral and human than economic.
In this regard, the Cuban Civil Society Open Forum wrote a letter to His Holiness, delivered personally to the Nunciature in Havana, in which they solicited his help to mediate between the Government and Cuban civil society and facilitate a dialog, as it did between the Cuban authorities and those of the United States.
Cuban society urgently needs this national dialog which different political and social forces have called for in recent years, as there is a difficult internal situation that, unfortunately, could be complicated by the resistance of the Government to recognize different thinking and its insistence on repressing its manifestations.
Today, officialdom continues making speeches and acting like a citadel under siege – “all dissent is treason” – while it is evident that the government politicians themselves are those who are preventing the democratization of society, the advance of the productive forces, and the development of the relations of free production, of a character of self-management, that characterizes the new post-capitalist society, concomitant with the social doctrine of the Church.
Cuba could emerge strengthened as a nation, or it could lead to the consolidation of authoritarianism.
Cuba is living in a transcendental moment from the coincidence of important factors: the natural decline in the figures who have ruled the country for more than half a century; the failure of the statist wage model; the centralized form of political management; and the policy change toward Cuba of the Obama administration. From the combination of these factors, Cuba could emerge strengthened as a nation, or it could lead to the consolidation of authoritarianism.
Much depends on the people’s ability to achieve self-government and self-reliance, so it is of prime importance that the current Government, now open only to the proposals of the Communist Party, open itself to all ways of political thinking and of economic and social action.
If, as a consequence of the combination of these factors the monopolistic State capitalism emerges stronger, in alliance with foreign capital, the big winner will be the current militaristic authoritarianism, but at the eventual cost of a virtual economic and geopolitical annexation by the great neighbor to the north, which will be the guarantor and financial motor of authoritarianism.
If the result is the advancement of a process of democratization of politics and the socialization of the economy, the prosperity and well-being of all Cubans – and consequently the future of the nation – it would be guaranteed, aided by the new international situation.
The Pope could now contribute another grain of sand, or perhaps throw in a dose of sediment, to the good road of the Cuban nation and help all of us to understand the need for dialog and the politics of communal well-being supported by the social doctrine of the Church.
Welcome to Havana, Pope Francis.