José Conrado

An unusual Sunday, with the thermometer showing just over 70 degrees Fahrenheit in Santiago de Cuba I listened to him speak from the altar.  Over two hundred people attended his sermon in the wooden church in a poor neighborhood with the mountains as a backdrop.  For me, bored by liturgies, I was surprised to see him celebrate from reality, taking Jesus as reference to deal with today. José Conrado is a difficult man for those who are accustomed to speaking—themselves only—to a multitude.  A Santiaguan, hearty and cheerful, able to give a piece of his mind to someone who dares to upset his congregation.  Annoying evidence for those who keep quiet and a hard nut for those accustomed to enforcing gags.

So it didn’t surprise me to see him pick up on the feeling of many people and address an open letter to Raúl Castro.*  I see he’s not waiting for an answer to his missive: he already has it.  It is that silent prayer that goes out from each of his parishioners, the way they cry out for changes, without raising their voices.  In his small Church of Santa Teresita everything has been said and—I who was there—say to them that it has the tone of a petition which cannot, should not, wait any longer.

*This letter was translated into English by the Generation Y team and posted as a page on this site.  The original letter, in Spanish, can be read here.


94 thoughts on “José Conrado

  1. To: # 92

    No, I don’t get it. I’m not an accountant, and in any case, this is about achieving real goals, that will help free the country, not one of those shortsighted quarterly financial reports that in any case have proven to lead to failure.

    After fifty years I think most of us can discern a failure from real success. Look at, and consider the possible long term effect of lifting the “embargo”. So what if people can purchase ham and cheese once the embargo is lifted. They will recognize the source of whatever prosperity they attain, and with some prodding, also see that they’re still shackled by a creaky ideology, put in place by sclerotic and irrelevant old men.

    Wake up and smell the coffee. Forget what you may have lost. That was long ago and we and our ancestors are all to blame for allowing the corruption and insensitivity between social groups back in the fifties. This is fifty years later, a new generation with a new perspective has emerged.

    As far as Guantanamo, no chance the U.S. should give it up now. If Cuba is ever free, the terms should be renegotiated and the rent increased on par with other countries who host military bases. God knows a democratically elected government in Cuba will need all the revenue it can get.

  2. To #90
    I think the Embargo is working because if you take a look at the numbers: Cuba continues to purchase in “Hard Dollars” (Cash) anything they need or want from the Yankees they so much hate, upsssssss, that was a slip of tongue. I mean the Americans.

    If you read today’s blog about pizza, you will notice how Yoani describes that “era”; as “the golden decades of the Soviet subsidy” which means that if the embargo is lifted it will be the “golden” decades of the USA subsidy”. Get it?

  3. #85 — we have a friendly debate here (it’s more fun when people disagree strongly… but we try to keep it civil while we do)… so in that spirit, feel free, if you’ve a mind to, describe why the embargo “is working.”


  4. #85

    I don’t expect fidel’s brothers will hightail it to the US of all places… but… I am sure that his children with their swiss bank accounts (and the cousins and so on)… will all be hightailing it to spain or wherever where they will live out their lives in luxury. can’t we find some little deserted island somewhere and move all the descendants of these monsters there so they can enjoy each OTHER’S company and not pollute our countries with their presence? Oh.. and cut off the swiss bank accounts while we’re at it.

    Raul’s daughter Mariela already has italian and spanish citizenship….

  5. Statute of Liberty dice: 10 Febrero 2009 a las 04:56

    Yeah, you have a point!!!!!!

  6. #75

    I also believe fidel’s head is and has always been full of ka ka… but…. unfortunately…. although he may be senile now he was not stupid before…. very unfortunately.

  7. Everybody is writing letters to their senators and congressmen, here is mine.

    1.- We (USA) own Guantanamo, therefore please do not give it away. Putin is around the corner
    waiting for us to pull out so they can move in with their sophisticated subs.
    2.- The Embargo. Embargo? Yes, the Embargo. I have seeing people write in this blog that it never
    worked, that if abolished, Cuba will become a paradise overnight. Well, It never worked, eh?
    If it never worked why is it that Castro is beating the drums on a daily basis for us to end it.
    You know my dear Senator, I think right now our government is giving the banks a huge
    stimulous package; hardly any money left to loan Castro any money to subsidize his economy.
    Oh, I forgot, leave the Embargo alone, it is working.
    3.- I am oppose to the takeover of The Miami Herald by the official news agency of Cuba “Granma”
    4.- What about wet foot/dry foot.
    I propose that if any of the Castro’s brothers arrive in US soil they should not qualify for asylum
    or citizenship?
    I am not kidding, it may happen.

    Respectfuly yours,


  8. WAIT! WAIT! It can’t be that easy! What are we going to fight about now?!?!?!?!

    We can fight about the need to add the following text to the letter S.Voice sent to the representatives:

    “I want you to work for lifting the embargo to Cuba’s dictatorship prior the liberation of all dissidents, journalist, independent libraries, human right fighters, pacific opponents and political adversaries the dictatorship has in jail.
    Prior the ending of the violations of the human rights and the ending of the traveling restrictions that make hundred of children live separated of theirs parents.
    Prior the ending of the internal embargo on the cuban people that make it suffering extreme poverty.

    That’s it!!!!!

  9. (But seriously… what international pressure? The only countries they care about are those who give them things. Do you think Hugo-Baby is going to pressure papa fidel? If not him, who?)

    A country needs of all other countries, Hugo-baby-mind alone is not enough for the voracious appetite of castros.

  10. Jerry dice: 10 Febrero 2009 a las 03:58

    Hi Jerry, please don’t go, I need reinforcements!!!!!!!

  11. Thank you for the welcome. I have read this blog for quite some time but have only recently become brave enough to post any comments. (I’m not nearly as brave as Yoani!)
    After reading your #71 posting I went and read the current Reflection and couldnt agree more with your comments. It is very difficult to follow Fidels rambling in this one.

    I wish to thank you and all of the others here who write to discuss and clarify the current situation in Cuba and Cuban/American/World relations. Best wishes to all.

  12. #76 Carbo — WAIT! WAIT! It can’t be that easy! What are we going to fight about now?!?!?!?!

    (But seriously… what international pressure? The only countries they care about are those who give them things. Do you think Hugo-Baby is going to pressure papa fidel? If not him, who?)

    #77 Silent — Don’t forget… you only live in the district of ONE representative but your state’s TWO senators both represent you… so be sure to write to both of them.

  13. Carbo

    I believe I am doing the right thing for them (Cubans).

    Just because I wrote to my congressman and my senator does not make it that they will vote the way I will like them to vote as you must probably know.

    I have mentioned and also mentioned in my letter to them that if these changes do not produces any fruit then we could go back to the old policy and I will be one of the first to ask them to do so.
    But what I see is our brothers and sisters with no voice in Cuba since as we know the Cuban government does not care for them. We know the Cuban government refuses to change then I believe it wise for us to do so since it will mean that maybe the Cuban people may get some respite.

    My objective is the same as yours I believe.

    I like to see Cubans free.
    Free to choose their own leaders free to choose the economic system they desired
    and not some system imposed by the Communist party.

    You and I have the opportunity to influence this because we live in freedom and maybe could affect the outcome of this two bills in a very small way by asking our respective legislators.

    Think of the 50 years of embargo! has it solve the problem?
    If you honestly answer that question the answer should be NO.
    Then why should we stick to the old “solution” if it is not really a “solution”.
    As Andy mentioned with other words it is lunacy to continue on that path.

  14. Andy dice: 10 Febrero 2009 a las 03:05

    OK Andy, now we are more closer because we are only 2 items away of be 100% in accordance, that’s good my friend!!!

    whomever, would trade any one of your ‘freedoms’ for ending the embargo. why would they. they don’t want the embargo to end.

    Well, I believe we have to get the international help for setting enough pressure on dictatorship for make them accepting the lifting of the embargo in exchange of those “freedoms”, it is not an new thing it were a well proven strategy that drove the apartheid regime out of Sudafrica and rose Mandela to the power.

    #2… on Guantanamo… I am NOT saying the US has a right to it… not at all… but… I am only saying it’s something Cuba DOES want. So… if it could be ‘traded’ for all those freedoms… what would be wrong with that?

    You are right.

    It seem we are close the solution……. Now we only have to convince the USA, the world and castro….jajajajaja

  15. truly extraordinary memory

    andy========you believe anything==================

    yo creo el 90%de los cubano fidel castro le lleno la cabeza de ka ===== ka

  16. SilentVoice dice: 10 Febrero 2009 a las 01:52

    Ok is done, I wrote to my senator

    I know the cuban people is sure that we, the free part of them, are in majority responsible of taking right decisions about it fate and never, never, will go as easy as you want following an empty invocation……

  17. to Carbo #70….

    ok, I’m more than happy to agree you know more about cuba and understand it 1000 times better than I do.

    BUT (ja ja)….I don’t think I agree with your idea that fidel, raul, whomever, would trade any one of your ‘freedoms’ for ending the embargo. why would they. they don’t want the embargo to end.

    #2… on Guantanamo… I am NOT saying the US has a right to it… not at all… but… I am only saying it’s something Cuba DOES want. So… if it could be ‘traded’ for all those freedoms… what would be wrong with that?

    #3 – well at least we agree on the “spies”!!!!


  18. Sorry … “that” in my last comment referred to fidel’s reflection today… a few comments came in while I was writing mine and separated it from John Two’s comment.

  19. I read that today… it’s demented beyond belief. In fact it convinces me that Fidel IS alive and still writing his own reflections because no one who was trying to fake it would write anything so unbelievably ridiculous!!!!!

    But… of course I’ve never had a chat with el comandante en jefe myself (thank god) but I’ve read a lot about him and there’s no question that he two qualities that have helped him be a ‘successful’ tyrant. 1 — that he IS ‘intelligent’…. and I mean that only in an academic sense… there are a lot of kinds of intelligence… and clearly he’s missing many of them. 2 — he has (or one might say at this point, HAD) an unbelievable memory… for facts, figures, people, the details of their lives, etc etc. A truly extraordinary memory. That’s how he could stand up there and give 8 hour speeches will of ‘facts’… yes, I know, he made up a lot of the so-called ‘facts’ himself — but he seems to have had one of those photographic memories for everything he read and heard.

    Equally obviously — either they’ve anointed a complete moron as his stand-in Reflexiones writer… or… he’s still writing them and he is NOT going out of this world with his mind intact.

    I was a little surprised as well by the conflating of Aristotle, Plato and “Inmanuel” Kant and including the latter as one of humankind’s most influential thinkers of all time (I personally thought it was Yoani, but what do I know)…. not to mention he misspelled John Kenneth Galbraith’s last name and his ‘helpers’ didn’t correct it. Nor did they correct the spelling of Clara Rojas’s son which is spelled with two M’s. (I should note I’m one of the world’s worst spellers…. but still I noticed these weirdnesses….)

  20. Andy dice: 9 Febrero 2009 a las 07:00

    Here are my ideas….
    1 – lift the travel and remittance restrictions, no strings attached, just do it.

    What are you proposing is…….. we, the dictatorship, kick the butt/ass of cuban people as we please, you (US) give me the americans money without conditions so we can continue kicking our slaves a..sss

    2 – lift the embargo.



    With all my respect Andy I believe you misunderstand Cuba’s past history……….
    In 1933 cuban people drew a revolution. This revolution brought the derogation of the Platt amendment form Cuba’s constitution, an amendment imposed by the US government to our then young republic. The “perpetual lease” of Guantanamo’s Bay territory stipulated in the Platt amendment is no longer valid because the Platt amendment self is no longer valid…….. the cuban people rejected this abusive “lease” and the US army is still there only because the exercise of the force…. and it has nothing to do with ideologies……. USA has no right to be there, then it is not a negotiable item despite the political situation in our country.
    One of castro’s more execrable crimes against our country is to have left aside the fight for recovering this territory and many people, including me, believes there is a secret treat between Cuba and USA about Guantanamo.


    Who were the spies spying ??????………….. Spying the USA?????…… NO……… they were spying cuban emigrates, they were conspiring to kill cuban emigrates, they were part of a conspiracy that has nothing to do with US government but Florida police, they are not spies, they are part of a mob. Your doubts about if castro wants the spies back are well grounded…… he wants no them back, that’s why he is crying so loudly for them….. no country in the world would assemble such a big spectacle in the media for get free spies, because the effect on the public opinion would be exactly the contrary.
    So the spies are not a negotiable thing for the dictatorship…….. dictatorship doesn’t care of them!!!!!

    But please… do tell me what you think fidel/raul would give the US for lifting the embargo??

    In this question, exactly in this question you can find your misunderstanding of the cuban problem and the relationship Exile/USA.
    USA have to give nothing to castro and castro have to give nothing to USA. The problem is not between USA and castro but between castro and the cuban people…… (I have repeated it several times in my comments)
    The US gov gave a tool to the exile….. the embargo……. this tool, like much other pseudo tools US gov gave to the exile, doesn’t works…… why doesn’t works all those tools….. it’s a issue for other comment………. but anyway it is the only tool we have, then lets try to change it for something good, like:

    – Freedom for all political prisoners
    – Speech freedom
    – Association freedom
    – Travelling freedom
    – Union (bonding) freedom
    – Commercial freedom
    – Etc, etc.

    I would change the embargo for only one of the above named “freedom”

  21. I miss spelled Gorbachev sorry ! :D

    I am glad you enjoy a bit of Cuban humor. I could not help myself. I was thinking to say something clever as Fidel Castro in the Weeds by I could not place myself in his shoes!

  22. Correcting my own comment. There are not always “Fidel” type figures lying in the weeds. There are not that many fidels in the world. There are MANY would-be-fidels… but what makes a fidel so evil and dangerous is that you take a man who is a complete psychopath, who sees the world only as it is reflected in himself, who has absolutely no feeling or care for other human beings, none at all, who has no sense of humor, no self-awareness, yet who is incredibly intelligent… AND… this is what sets the fidels apart, is charismatic to other people. They cannot see that he is a psychopath. They are drawn to him. They believe he is listening to them. That he cares about them. But no, he only cares that they care about him. People like Jim Jones who convinced all those people drink the Kool Aid in Jonestown (and shot the few he couldn’t convince).

    Most psychopaths do not combine all these qualities… the ones that make them dangerous on a global scale. Jim Jones, for example, a lot of people could see that he was a psychopath. And of course fidel, even early on, some could see. But it took the slow development of all his crimes for (almost) everyone to see… and even now there are people who excuse him… nothing was his fault… amazing.

  23. John Two #61

    There’s ALWAYS a “Gorbachav” type figure lying in the weeds of any organization… but there are always “Fidel” type figures lying in the weeds too… most of them never make it to the front of the room, for good or ill.

    I think that’s what’s most important about what Yoani’s doing — with her blog, and very importantly with the new “Blogger Journey” she and her friends have undertaken… they are actively going around the island — physically and virtually — and recruiting people to join them in this virtual civic space.

    Citizenship has been crushed for so long — what’s amazing is that it has not died — but the spark must be tended and grown. That is what Yoani is doing.

    The other thing that I think is amazing — is that even though the great bulk of her readers, of course, are outside the island, she doesn’t write for us… she continues to write for her fellow citizens — to address their issues, to speak in their language, she keeps her face turned to the island, while of course building bridges to those of us beyond the waves.

  24. Posted by Ian #47:
    “Concessions are useless. All these people care about is power and their own privileges. They have no “better natures” to which we might appeal. Were it otherwise, they’d have put a stop to suffering on the island decades ago.”

    Are ending the restrictions on travel and trade necessarily “concessions.” Perhaps ending them is enlightened self-interest?

    And nobody can say for sure whether there is or is not a Gorbachev type figure in the Cuban leadership lying in the weeds waiting for the day the brothers Castro pass from the scene.

  25. I believe what Yoani is doing has a lot to do with this

    As stated by His Holiness John Paul II during his visit to our country,

    “Let Cuba open to the world and let the world open to Cuba.”

    who by the way did not agree with the embargo.

  26. From an article in the American Spectator:

    Yoani remains hopeful and believes “change will come not through government agencies but through the citizens and the spread of information and exchange with the outside world.”

    So… it seems to me our job is not just to chat with each other here on the blog — but to spread the word, recruit more readers, write to newspapers, elected officials, and so on.

  27. Regarding the reference above to Diaz-Balart and the so embargo (or whatever you want to call it), unfortunately for many exiles who are moderates, these brothers are related to Castro by virtue of their aunt having been married to the dictator with one child (Fidelito I believe). The fact that the dictator betrayed that marriage, plus other unknown family and political factors created very bad blood between the Diaz-Balarts and the Castro family. This I believe taints and distorts logical thinking and prevents the use other methods for dealing with Cuba. These are people who are just unable to think outside the box and are ironclad in their thinking.

    I support the earlier suggestion by the writer who sent the letter to their legislator. Letter writing to their legilatros should be done by all of us concerned about the situation in Cuba.

    There is no question that people – everybody not just Cuban-Americans – should be allowed to travel. I know of many who once there, will not hold back notwithstanding the consequences, in telling their relatives, extended families and friends, what they think of the regime and the situation they are in as seen from outside the island. I believe you multiply this a million fold, and sooner or later change will come. I would also support all manner of cultural exchanges, including students, so that everyone learns from everybody else.

    I like the idea suggested earlier of lifting the “embargo” a few years, and if this does not work, the U.S. can always tighten up or reassess its relationship with the regime.

  28. Carbo

    This “The dictatorship leave only 2 choices to the normal citizen: you are with me or against me. ” is the false dichotomy logical fallacy that he has put the Cuban people. What is real is that some people will agree with him on certain things and disagree on the rest as it happens all over the world with any leader. Nobody is 100% with any government! Nobody is 100% oppose or 100% in favor of any government. they are multiple shades of agreement
    and I can not express this any better than our poet Dulce Maria Loynaz on her poem “I dreamed of classifying”.

    I dreamed of classifying
    Good and Evil, the same way wise men
    classify butterflies:
    I dreamed of pinning Good and Evil
    down to the dark velvet
    of the glass display case…
    Under the white butterfly
    a label that would read “GOOD”.
    under the black butterfly,
    a label that would read “EVIL”.
    But the white butterfly
    was not Good, nor was the black butterfly
    Evil… And in between my two butterflies,
    flew green, golden and infinite
    all the butterflies of the earth.

    Replace Good with us and Evil with them or vise versa and there you have it!
    This as you probably know was written by another very smart woman. Just like Yoani.

    Unfortunately we have all bite his hook of “you are with me or against me”. If you listen to Yoani she is very explicit not to label herself as oppose to the Cuban government!
    Let us stop doing so because every time we do he wins!

  29. Carbo on #44

    “I repeat my dear friend……… embargo does not work and must ended but…….. it is our only tool and we can’t give it away for nothing.”

    I would also agree but the history of the problem is that every time we have gotten close to a deal with them as you have acknowledge they have done something on purpose to force our hand the other way as it has being discuss.

    Therefore this goes to show that the Cuban government can not live without the powerful enemy of the North!
    If we make their powerful enemy their biggest friend then what are they going to say?
    They must have strong reasons to keep us as enemies. Those are the lies they have being telling Cubans for 50 years and unfortunately some still believe them.

    If we do as you say and ask for something in exchange they will do something again to force our hand so that they do not get what they appear to want!

    As Carlos and others explained we have not try going this other path and I think they can not deal with this change because to them is an unknown variable.
    I am sure they are sufficiently smart to know that unknown variables are not good for them since they do not know the end result. I strongly believe that the end result will be on our favor.

    I agree also with Carlos. While Fidel Castro is there people will not do anything. Will see later what happens!

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