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.