Archbishop asks Virgin Mary to intercede for release of jailed Cubans
The archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, Dionisio GarcÍa, asked the Virgin Mary to move the hearts of those who can determine the fate of the Cubans imprisoned for demonstrating on July 11, 2021, and that they be released from jail.
Thousands of Cubans took the streets of major cities that day demanding freedom and protesting the unprecedented scarcity of basic necessities as well as the death rate due to the regime's poor handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. The regime responded with a brutal crackdown, arresting many demonstrators. Trials followed with harsh prison sentences.
The prelate made his petition to the Mother of God after Mass on July 17 in the Basilica of Our Lady of Charity of Cobre, patroness of the country.
The archbishop recalled that approximately a year ago "we lifted up our prayers in a special way for the events that had happened the previous Sunday, July 11, when in many cities of our country there were demonstrations, people who wanted to express their views."
"Like all human things, the majority were very peaceful, and unfortunately some were violent. Some violence, violence in which many families suffered and in which a person died," he said.
GarcÍa said that one year after those events "that situation still has consequences. The harshest consequences are for the detainees."
"Therefore, Mother, we beg you to move the hearts of all Cubans and of all those who have it in their power to change the situation, to take a step forward, so that all sentences are reviewed again, and so that all those who wanted to express their opinion on the situation can be released," he said.
The archbishop said that in addition to this suffering is the migration of many Cubans who, due to the conditions in the country, have left the island.
"Added to this is also the exodus. Could it be called that? Well, each one of us experiences this situation in a different way, but many thousands of Cubans have decided to leave their country, their homeland," he said.
GarcÍa said that these Cubans "feel that conditions don't exist to be able to fully develop their potential; they feel that, and there are many thousands of them. And there are many thousands of separated families, and there are many thousands of elderly people who are left alone. Many families ... are suffering because some have died on the journey, either at sea or by land."
The archbishop pointed out that Cuba "is the homeland of all and for the good of all."
"Although there are many Cubans, like [those] from so many other countries who have left, people want to live in their land, the one where they were born," he said.
The prelate asked Cubans to make every effort "so we can all live as brothers even if we think differently, because it will never be possible to make everyone think the same way, but we can in fact think differently and respect each other. No one [is] imposing himself."
GarcÍa recalled the statement published by the Cuban bishops on July 12, 2021, the day after the demonstrations, in which they affirmed "that every person is free, with rights and duties, because he is a creature of God, made in the image and likeness of God, and that everyone has the right to express himself and give an opinion on situations that concern us all."
He then asked the Virgin Mary "that the necessary changes be made so that we can feel happy and safe here. The Cuban person feels that he is in his land, he feels that it belongs to him; but we Cubans need the conditions to be met."
"The necessary changes have to be made, they have to be made ... so that we Cubans may not be enemies of one another. May all our differences be able to be resolved through dialogue and mercy and forgiveness, and never with violence and intolerance," he prayed.
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.