Raul Castro, The Altar Boy

Pope Francis greets Raul Castro on his arrival in Cuba. (EFE)

Pope Francis greets Raul Castro on his arrival in Cuba. (EFE)

14ymedio, Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 22 September 2015 – The Cuban leader, Raul Castro, has accompanied Pope Francis at all his Masses during his tour of the island. From the one celebrated in Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution to the words pronounced at the Santiago de Cuba Cathedral. Like one seeking absolution for a long list of sins, the General President has traveled from the capital to the east of the country, following the papal entourage.

Castro appears to be fulfilling, in this way, the notice he gave in Rome last May. He said then, “If the Pope continues speaking like this I will go back to praying and return to the Church, I’m not joking.” The return to the faith appears to include not only him, but a part of his family that has accompanied him, along with the executive branch of the island and officials from the state press.

Despite the sudden mystical fervor, national television carefully avoided showing images of the Cuban president when the faithful were reciting the Mass, making the sign of peace, or repeating some prayer when he was present. The cameras only focused on his arrival and departure from temples and plazas.

Some television newscasters who participated in a special ‘magazine’ feature, broadcast during these three days have faced a particular plight. Several faces well-known for their staunch ideological discourse have had to moderate their vocabulary, and are salting their phrases with psalms, biblical allusions and reverence for religious figures.

The pirouettes performed by these presenters and journalists, to avoid words like “revolution,” “communist” or “comrades,” have also been worthy of the political circus they represent. All that was missing in the studio was a crucifix and a Bible, but they weren’t necessary.

The excessive incense of these days is not appreciated by many. “This goes from the sublime to the ridiculous,” a 63-year-old Communist Party militant who lives in my building told me. “From atheism to religious servility,” he added, referring to the attitude of the Cuban authorities and the broadcast of complete Masses in the national media.

Now, all we need is to hear Raul Castro’s next public speech, to see if he also has replaced the bellicose “Homeland or death!” with the more concise, “Amen!”

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97 thoughts on “Raul Castro, The Altar Boy

  1. THE TRUE STORY OF CHE GUEVARA- The History Channel presentation: From his famous motorcycle trips to his historic role in the Cuban Revolution, Argentinean revolutionary Che Guevara is profiled in a documentary produced to explore the life of the man whose visage has become an iconic symbol of hard left politics. This man, who ordered the execution of countless human beings while in charge of the notorious La Cabaña prison in Havana, who terrorized Cuban society and who denied freedom to thousands of citizens whom he considered “deviants” or “anti-revolutionaries” can never be accepted as a hero, martyr or — the shock of it — a saint.
    TO SEE THE FULL DOCUMENTARY CLICK LINK
    http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/the-true-story-of-che-guevara/

  2. HEY DEAR Omar Fundora! READ THIS LIST DEAR! AND GIVE ME YOUR FEEDBACK!

    216 DOCUMENTED VICTIMS OF CHÉ GUEVARA IN CUBA: 1957 TO 1959 From Armando M. Lago, Ph.D.´s – Cuba: The Human Cost of Social Revolution – The exact number of Che’s victims in Cuba is unknown. Guevara is said to have acknowledged ordering many executions -all carried out without affording the victims due process of law. Combat deaths caused by Che in Cuba or other countries where he led guerrilla operations have yet to be tallied. The following list is not exhaustive and includes only cases for which historic reference is known -those he personally executed as well as those killed under his orders. Names are cited as reported. Additional details, including bibliographic information, are available for most cases.

    http://www.cubaarchive.org/downloads/CA08.pdf

  3. THE CASTROFASCIST Raul Castro AKA “La China”, SHE IS NO “LEADER” BUT A DICTATOR! OR SHOULD I SAY BIOTCH WITH A BONNET (see pic in article)!

    YAHOO NEWS: Cuban leader arrives in NY for UN General Assembly

    New York (AFP) – Cuban President Raul Castro arrived in New York Thursday ahead of the UN General Assembly, the country’s first leader to visit the United States in 15 years, Cuba’s official Prensa Latina reported.

    Castro will attend the General Assembly on Friday to listen to an historic address from Pope Francis, who helped broker the recent rapprochement between Cuba and the United States.

    Washington and Havana reestablished diplomatic relations in July after more than half a century of enmity.

    Prensa Latina, the Cuban government news agency, said Castro will attend the Sustainable Development Summit at the weekend.
    The 84-year-old will then address the General Assembly on Monday, only several hours after US President Barack Obama
    http://news.yahoo.com/cuban-leader-arrives-ny-un-general-assembly-193757594.html

    VICTIMS OF THE CUBAN REVOLUTION – Cases up to January 25, 2012 – Castro regime: January 1, 1959 – Present
    Deaths & disappearances attributed to the Cuban state
    Non-Combat Victims of the Castro Regime: Work-in-progress-Documented Cases Total = 10,500
    “Balseros” (rafters estimate to 2003) = 77,833 victims
    This work documents loss of life and disappearances of a political or military nature attributed to the Cuban Revolution. Each documented case is available for review at The Cuba Archive and substantiated by bibliographic/historic data and reports from direct sources. Due to the ongoing nature of the work and the difficulty of obtaining and verifying data from Cuba, the following totals change as research progresses and are considered far from exhaustive. Cuba Archive is currently examining additional cases -most are expected to be added to this table. Experience has shown that as additional outreach efforts are undertaken, many more cases are likely to be uncovered.

  4. Of the nearly 3,500 prisoners that were released in honor of the pope’s visit, there was not a single political prisoner among them. Just last week the repressive state security apparatus detained hundreds of members of the predominantly Catholic dissident group Ladies in White.
    Christians are still suffering for their faith, denying them the right to education, or sending faithful party members to infiltrate churches and report on church activities.

    The Castroit regime is a totalitarian police state. Civil liberties such as freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of the press do not exist under the regime.

  5. I wonder how many Cubans the Castros really killed?

    Stalin has a good clean rep before the Kruschev communists admitted he was a psychotic killer.

    Mao had a good clean rep too, before the post-Mao communists half admitted his “mistakes”.

    We now know Mao and Stalin killed tens of millions of innocent Chinese, Tibetans, Russians, Ukrainians, Jews, Poles, Lithuanians, Czechs, Germans, etc.

    And millions of Koreans and Vietnamese and Cambodians through their puppets.

    Here’s the question: How many Cubans did the Castros really kill?

    tens of thousands? hundreds of thousands?

    Will the Castro Mafia hang on to power so long all memory of their crimes is lost?

    I think the Castros learned from Stalin and Mao and are making sure no record of their crimes will survive.

    Less and less older witnesses are around to attest to pre-Castro Cuba and the Castro coup d’etat.

  6. It would be nice if Raul stopped killing Catholic pacifists like Paya.

    Remove Che the “hate-filled cold-blooded killing machine” as the model for the New Man and replace him with Christ.

    Go to confession Raul, and ask forgiveness for the tens of thousands of peasants you massacred or otherwise “pacified” in the 1960s.

    Right now, it looks like Raul just wants more handouts from the Vatican.

    Before only atheism was allowed.

    Now Catholicism and Santeria are tolerated because they bring in hard cash for the Castro Mafia

  7. Thomas Merton (one of the (4) Americans Pope Francis mentioned during his address to Congress
    Merton’s influence has grown since his death and he is widely recognized as an important 20th-century Catholic mystic and thinker. Interest in his work contributed to a rise in spiritual exploration beginning in the 1960s and 1970s in the United States. Merton’s letters and diaries reveal the intensity with which their author focused on social justice issues, including the civil rights movement and proliferation of nuclear arms. He had prohibited their publication for 25 years after his death. Publication raised new interest in Merton’s life.

  8. Dorothy Day, Obl.O.S.B. (November 8, 1897 – November 29, 1980) was an American journalist, social activist, Christian socialist and devout Catholic convert. She advocated the Catholic economic theory of distributism. In the 1930s, Day worked closely with fellow activist Peter Maurin to establish the Catholic Worker Movement, a pacifist movement that continues to combine direct aid for the poor and homeless with nonviolent direct action on their behalf. She served as editor of the Catholic Worker newspaper from 1933 until her death in 1980.

    The Catholic Church has opened the cause for Day’s canonization and therefore refers to her with the title Servant of God.
    Distributism (also known as distributionism or distributivism) is an economic ideology that developed in Europe in the late 19th and early 20th century based upon the principles of Catholic social teaching, especially the teachings of Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical Rerum novarum and Pope Pius XI in Quadragesimo anno.[3]

    In the early 21st century, some observers have speculated about Pope Francis’s exact position on distributism because of his denouncement of unfettered capitalism as tyranny in his 84-page apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium:

    Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills… A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which has taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits.

  9. Folks…the Pope is a Man of God and not bias to any ideology of Man
    Pope Francis called out four “great Americans” who “were able by hard work and self-sacrifice — some at the cost of their lives — to build a better future.” He mentioned Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton. He said Lincoln was the “guardian of liberty.” Francis said King’s dream of full civil and political rights for African Americans “continues to inspire us all.” This is the second time he mentioned Martin Luther King. In his remarks on the White House Wednesday, Francis quoted from King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. He praised Day, who founded the Catholic Worker Movement, for her social activism and passion for the oppressed. Merton, a Cistercian monk, “was above all a man of prayer,” Francis said, “a thinker who challenged the certitudes of his time and opened new horizons for souls and for the Church. He was also a man of dialogue, a promoter of peace between peoples and religions.” “A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to “dream” of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton,” Francis said.

  10. FARC leader Londoño was unrepentant when he spoke, as was to be expected. Colombia isn’t South Africa, and Pres. Santos isn’t Mandela, so truth, reconciliation and forgiveness can’t work in the same way.
    The most dangerous part of this is that the FARC will be given political power, and soon-to-be ex-Mayor of Bogota and “ex”-guerillero Petro is preparing to become President in 2018. Petro + Farc can take power in a similar way as Adolf Hitler did in 1933 in Germany, but Colombia isn’t Germany either. The people is much more divided and the opposition much stronger, also compñared with Vzla now. There may be civil war. Bright times indeed ahead!

  11. RC said that “I’m not joking”. Does that mean that he may retire to “pray” and guide his successors? It’s getting interestinger and interestinger! We’ll see…

  12. Mario: The United States is in violation of the “agreement” with Cuba for the Guantanamo base. The U.S. has been using the base to engage in War against another People.

  13. I hope Raul really believes in change and stops killing Catholics who preach Love Thy Neighbor.

    Maybe Raul should confess for the death of Paya, a Catholic pacifist who preached what the Pope is preaching.

    That would be real change.

    If Raul used some of his billions to open up a homeless shelter or build some houses for the poor instead of the Cuban military and rich tourists, that would also be a sign of change.

    The Catholic church is just another source of money for the failed Cuban economy. They church looks after the poor, the Castros after the rich.

  14. Omar,

    I enjoy your comments on the subject CHANGE under the three names: Obama, Francisco and Raul.

    Raul changed most on his terrain in the last 8 years. Under his presidency Cuba changed more then the US under Obama or the Vatican under Francisco. Cuba is a leader of change world wide, so different then under the previous President.

    But in some sense Raul has it easier. He has a huge support and the unity of the Cuban people.

    Francisco, on the other side, is a slave of the doctrine, not allowing for any form of dialectics. Some book says that a women cannot be a priest and he has to shut up.

    Obama’s power is limited limited by the military-industrial-spying complex. He only can do a little. For 7 years he tries to close Guantanamo prison and the Pentagon says NO. They just want to humiliate the president.

    Guantanamo must return to Cuba. Not just to release the prisoners but to show the might of Peoples’ Power to other Latino countries.

  15. The Castroit tyrannical regime, which called itself Marxist-Leninist, materialist and atheist, remains the most restrictive place in Latin America for Catholics. The Churches of all religions are not allowed to operate any types of schools. Pastors and their families are especially vulnerable, and many have faced beatings, had their property seized, destroyed or both, and even faced imprisonment as a result.

  16. Pingback: Cuba : la visite du Pape a-t-elle transformé Raúl Castro en enfant de cœur ? | Contrepoints

  17. Pingback: Raul Castro, The Altar Boy | I am Puddin'

  18. “For America, the choice is clear: We choose hope over fear. We see the future not as something out of our control, but as something we can shape for the better through concerted and collective effort. We reject fatalism or cynicism when it comes to human affairs. We choose to work for the world as it should be, as our children deserve it to be.”

    – President Obama, United Nations General Assembly, September 24, 2014

    We need system change. …Pope Francis

    My analysis of both actors: We need system change, we in the United States have hope that we, the People, will make the changes that will shape the future for not only us, but, also for the World. We need to protect our Home for Man and Life continued existence.

    How does this fit with U.S.-Cuba relations….Cuba is ahead of the Curve in substitution of artificial fertilizers in agriculture and multi-crop small farm agriculture, water conservation strategies. Cuba is a middle income country in the World and has helped other countries with doctors and teachers. Cuba’s cooperatives are models for other developing and poor countries. The United States will lift the blockade of Cuba and technology, agricultural products and professional services will go to Cuba and Cuba will get access to the financial industry in the U.S. Trade will increase the middle class in Cuba and provide the capital sorely needed for infrastructure, national healthcare programs, education, conservation programs, restoration programs, cities and more….human rights, freedom, liberty will be expanded within the context of a single party political democratic system. Trade with Cuba will help restore the middle class in the southern part of the United States where inequality is high.

  19. I THINK CHE GUEVARA HAD A VISION DURING HIS TRIP TO NORTH AFRICA ABOUT THE FUTURE WHEN HE WROTE HIS NOTES THAT I AM QUOTING HERE ABOUT LEADERS IN A CAPITALIST SOCIETY- DONALD TRUMP, A POPULIST AMONG WHITE AMERICAN SAYING DURING HIS PUBLIC APPEARANCES WHAT MANY PEOPLE WANT TO SAY AND MAKING PROMISES THAT CANNOT BE DELIVERED. TYPICAL IN THE LAST 1/2 A CENTURY IN THE U.S.

  20. ERNESTO CHE GUEVARA
    Some phenomena of this kind (the masses are the agent of change) can be seen under capitalism, when politicians appear capable of mobilizing popular opinion. But when these are not genuine social movements — if they were, it would not be entirely correct to call them capitalist — they live only so long as the individual who inspires them, or until the harshness of capitalist society puts an end to the people’s illusions.
    Invisible laws of capitalism
    In capitalist society individuals are controlled by a pitiless law usually beyond their comprehension. The alienated human specimen is tied to society as a whole by an invisible umbilical cord: the law of value.[37] This law acts upon all aspects of one’s life, shaping its course and destiny. The laws of capitalism, which are blind and are invisible to ordinary people, act upon the individual without he or she being aware of it. One sees only the vastness of a seemingly infinite horizon ahead. That is how it is painted by capitalist propagandists who purport to draw a lesson from the example of Rockefeller[38] — whether or not it is true — about the possibilities of individual success. The amount of poverty and suffering required for a Rockefeller to emerge, and the amount of depravity entailed in the accumulation of a fortune of such magnitude, are left out of the picture, and it is not always possible for the popular forces to expose this clearly. (A discussion of how the workers in the imperialist countries gradually lose the spirit of working-class internationalism due to a certain degree of complicity in the exploitation of the dependent countries, and how this at the same time weakens the combativity of the masses in the imperialist countries, would be appropriate here, but that is a theme that goes beyond the scope of these notes.)
    In any case, the road to success is portrayed as beset with perils — perils that, it would seem, an individual with the proper qualities can overcome to attain the goal. The reward is seen in the distance; the way is lonely. Furthermore, it is a contest among wolves. One can win only at the cost of the failure of others.

  21. Mario: During the entire revolutionary government existence, the United States and the so called Democratic organizations outside of Cuba have been telling the American People that Fidel is a dictator, Fidel rules by force, Fidel is anti-democratic, Fidel is a monarch, the Cuban People do not support the Revolutionary government, etc. etc… Che Guevara clearly and transparently described why the Cuban Revolutionary Government has stayed in power even after mercenary invasion, terrorism, blockades, Soviet Union collapse, Especial Period economic meltdown, activism, devastating hurricanes, droughts and unbalanced immigration. It is the People of Cuba.

  22. Mario: A Metric that will tell us when the majority of the People support changing the system

    Participation of the masses
    The mass participated in the agrarian reform and in the difficult task of administering state enterprises; it went through the heroic experience of the Bay of Pigs; it was hardened in the battles against various groups of bandits armed by the CIA; it lived through one of the most important decisions of modern times during the October [missile] crisis; and today it continues to work for the building of socialism.
    Viewed superficially, it might appear that those who speak of the subordination of the individual to the state are right. The mass carries out with matchless enthusiasm and discipline the tasks set by the government, whether in the field of the economy, culture, defense, sports, etc. The initiative generally comes from Fidel, or from the revolutionary leadership, and is explained to the people, who make it their own. In some cases the party and government take a local experience and generalize it, following the same procedure.
    Nevertheless, the state sometimes makes mistakes. When one of these mistakes occurs, one notes a decline in collective enthusiasm due to the effect of a quantitative diminution in each of the elements that make up the mass. Work is paralyzed until it is reduced to an insignificant level. It is time to make a correction. That is what happened in March 1962, as a result of the sectarian policy imposed on the party by Aníbal Escalante. Clearly this mechanism is not enough to ensure a succession of sensible measures. A more structured connection with the mass is needed, and we must improve it in the course of the coming years. But as far as initiatives originating in the upper strata of the government are concerned, we are currently utilizing the almost intuitive method of sounding out general reactions to the great problems we confront.
    In this Fidel is a master. His own special way of fusing himself with the people can be appreciated only by seeing him in action. At the great public mass meetings one can observe something like the dialogue of two tuning forks whose vibrations interact, producing new sounds. Fidel and the mass begin to vibrate together in a dialogue of growing intensity until they reach the climax in an abrupt conclusion crowned by our cry of struggle and victory. The difficult thing to understand for someone not living through the experience of the revolution is this close dialectical unity between the individual and the mass, in which both are interrelated and, at the same time, in which the mass, as an aggregate of individuals, interacts with its leaders.

  23. Mario: According to Che…the People is the best actor to bring about system change….
    “In the history of the Cuban Revolution there now appeared a character, well defined in its features, which would systematically reappear: the mass. This multifaceted being is not, as is claimed, the sum of elements of the same type (reduced, moreover, to that same type by the ruling system), which acts like a flock of sheep. It is true that it follows its leaders, basically Fidel Castro, without hesitation. But the degree to which he won this trust results precisely from having interpreted the full meaning of the people’s desires and aspirations, and from the sincere struggle to fulfill the promises he made.”

  24. CUBA HAS ONE OF THE WORST ENVIRONMENTAL RECORDS AROUND AND MR. CACA-PAPA SAYS NOTHING WHILE HE IS THERE? NOW HE IS IN THE “BAD OLD USA” AND HE LETS DOWN HIS HAIR ON THIS AND OTHER ISSUES OF HUMAN RIGHTS? DID YOU KNOW THAT THOSE OUTSIDE OF HAVANA CANNOT TRAVEL TO THE CAPITAL WITHOUT A PERMIT?? WHAT A CACA-PAPA HE IS!

    GUARDIAN UK: Pope Francis calls for urgent action on climate change in White House speech

    Pope Francis addressed one of the thorniest issues in American politics on Wednesday with a White House speech explicitly supporting Barack Obama’s plan to cut carbon emissions and chastising climate change deniers for failing in their duty to protect our “common home”.
    “I would like all men and women of goodwill in this great nation to support the efforts of the international community to protect the vulnerable in our world and to stimulate integral and inclusive models of development, so that our brothers and sisters everywhere may know the blessings of peace and prosperity which God wills for all his children,” he said to loud applause.
    In Washington, the pope appears willing to be more bold, addressing head-on the major controversies that divide a polarised US political establishment. The pope provoked cheers from the crowd, for example, by reminding them that he too was an immigrant and that America was a country built on immigration – another subject of fierce topical debate in the US.
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/23/pope-francis-climate-change-white-house-speech

  25. HMM!! SO THE CASTRO OLIGARCHY MAFIA FUNDS AND SUPPORT THE TERRORISTS FARC COMMUNIST MOVEMENT IN COLOMBIA FOR 50 YEARS AND NOW THEY WANT TO TAKE THE CREDIT FOR “HELPING” TO FIND A TRUCE BETWEEN THE COLOMBIAN GOVERNMENT AND FARC?? BUT EVEN MORE CYNICAL THEY ARE NOT WILLING TO TALK TO THE INTERNAL OPPOSITION IN CUBA? KING OBAMA AND MR. PAPA DONT PUSH FOR THIS DIALOGUE? WTF!!

    BBC NEWS: Colombia’s President Santos and Farc to announce justice deal

    The Colombian president and the leader of the Farc rebel group are expected to announce an agreement on how to deliver justice for crimes committed during more than five decades of conflict.

    President Juan Manuel Santos and Rodrigo Londono, known as Timochenko, are meeting in Havana.

    The deal is seen as a major breakthrough after nearly three years of peace talks hosted by Cuba.

    The conflict is the longest-running in Latin America.

    The Cuban foreign ministry, which is helping mediate the talks, issued a statement saying the agreement involved the creation of a “special peace jurisdiction”.

    Negotiators from the Colombian government and the Farc, the country’s largest rebel group, have already reached agreement on land reform, political participation and illegal drugs.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-34338208

  26. Mario: The actor or actors championing change has to start with adhering to the morality of the religions of the World. I am not suggesting Fundamentalism, but, adhering to morality, peace and an ideology that is aligned with the Common Good of Man and Life through Conservation and Restoration of Man’s Home. The majority of the progressive people of the World support and approves this ideology. We all know that we need to continue investing our scarce resources to advance Man’s technologies, but, we can’t do it by discarding so many people like we presently do with Capitalism. The cost outweigh the benefits of the system. This has been the case for a very long time now. The actors championing change in the United States have to do it with facts and metrics that cannot be disputed it. The American People understand metrics, better than most people of the World. We just cannot allow people on the Right to use their money and wealth to muzzle the truth from being revealed to the American People. The People can see the environmental change, they know that unbridle Corporatism cannot be allowed to continue running the show in the U.S. The anti-immigration movement in the U.S. is driven by the lack of opportunity, another undeniable fact that can bring changing Capitalism more attractive to the American People. Temporary employment replacing full time work. No affordable insurance for many Americans, cutting services in cities, raising property taxes, racism, violence, young people committing suicide. All signs of failure in a system. As the pope said: “we must change the system”.

  27. DEAR Omar Fundora!! DON FORGET TO POST A LINK TO YOUR “STATEMENTS” DEAR!

    BIOGRAPHY: Thor Halvorssen
    A human rights advocate and film producer, Thor Halvorssen founded the Human Rights Foundation in the spring of 2005. Halvorssen began advocating for human rights in 1989 in London by organizing opposition to South African apartheid. He is president of HRF, founder of the Oslo Freedom Forum, and patron of the Prague-based children’s peace movement, On Own Feet; the Centipede Children. Prior to his work at HRF, Halvorssen was cofounder and served as Executive Director and CEO of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education from 1999 until 2004. Halvorssen’s opinions and views have appeared in numerous venues including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, The Economist, the Washington Post, NPR, TIME Magazine, the Daily Telegraph, New York Post, and GQ, as well as television outlets such as Al-Jazeera, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, BBC, HBO, and many others. Halvorssen has produced several films that focus on freedom and human rights. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania with concurrent undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science and history. He sits on HRF’s Board of Directors.

    Halvorssen personally understands the importance of protecting human rights. In August of 1993, his father, a diplomat with the rank of ambassador, was falsely imprisoned, tortured, and savagely beaten in a Venezuelan jail. His father was released only after Amnesty International, the International Society for Human Rights, and numerous human rights advocates and public figures took his case. In August of 2004, Halvorssen’s mother, a child psychologist, was brutally gunned down and wounded by members of the Venezuelan government security apparatus while attending a peaceful public gathering. The gunmen’s actions were broadcast on live television as they shot into the crowd, leaving twelve wounded and one dead. And in February of 2014 Thor’s first cousin, Leopoldo Lopez, a Venezuelan politician, became a political prisoner of the government of Nicolas Maduro.
    http://humanrightsfoundation.org/about/board-and-international-council/thor-halvorssen

  28. IT IS SO HYPOCRITICAL FOR MR. PAPA TO MEET WITH THE LEFTISTS DICTATORS Fidel & Raul Castro, PUSH ASIDE THE DISSIDENTS IN CUBA AND THEN MEET WITH ALL KINDS OF ACTIVISTS IN THE USA! WOULD HE MEET THE RIGHT WING FASCISTS IN HIS OWN COUNTRY OF ARGENTINA RESPONSIBLE FOR THE “DIRTY WAR” AND SHAKE THEIR HAND!

    THE AUSTRALIAN: Pope Francis must stop flirting with dictators in Latin America – by ROGER BOYES

    Cuban secret police picked up the dissident Berta Soler on her way to meet Pope Francis in Havana last Saturday. Having prevented that encounter, they arrested her later the same day with members of her Ladies in White group in case they used a papal mass to call for the freedom of the 53 political prisoners still being held in Cuba.

    The heavy-handedness of Raul Castro’s goons did much to undermine the Pope’s Cuban pilgrimage. Yet the Argentinian pontiff did not breathe a word of protest. Nor did he use his homilies to make the case for respecting human rights, which are still so obviously being trampled on despite a Vatican-engineered thaw in relations between Washington and Havana. Instead the Pope, who presents himself as the champion of the global poor, seems to have promised Left-leaning Latin American regimes such as Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador that the church will not threaten their stability with any public challenge.

    Pope Francis has built up a liberal fan club with his encyclical against global warming, the recognition of Palestinian statehood and an attack on unfettered capitalism (“the dung of the devil”). Now he runs the risk of committing the sin of vanity. He is playing to one audience that wants to hear that the Pope is in touch with the zeitgeist — he is about to denounce as immoral the possession of nuclear weapons — while neglecting the fundamental significance of social dissent.

    The Polish pope, John Paul II, did not fall into that trap. Like all modern pontiffs he deplored consumerism and policies that drove people into poverty, but made clear that a society had to be given the oxygen to breathe. On his Cuba visit in 1998, John Paul II took aim at the Castro brothers, declaring: “Liberation cannot be reduced to its social and political aspects but rather reaches its fullness in the exercise of freedom of conscience — the basis and foundation of all other human rights.” You did not hear words like that from Pope Francis.

    As for meeting dissidents, John Paul II managed to meet Lech Walesa when the Polish communist regime had marked the union leader down as a “non-person”. The Polish pope’s homilies were full of nods to his countrymen that he hadn’t given up on the outlawed Solidarity movement. On his watch, the Vatican helped fund the smuggling of printing presses to the underground resistance.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/pope-francis-must-stop-flirting-with-dictators-in-latin-america/story-fnb64oi6-1227540987850

  29. OK Omar, but how will you “protect the Home of Man” if this Home is divided in social classes and some classes are perfectly happy with the world as it is now?

    Obama made a nice try, but the real power is in the Wall Street (no free elections there!) and they are not for any changes as long as their wealth grows (and it does, year by year). Che Guevara would know how to talk to them but they were smart enough to kill him.

  30. Mario: All these democracies have found common ground:
    1. Capitalism is not sustainable and must be changed
    2. We need to protect the Home of Man now!!…

  31. CLASH OF DEMOCRACIES

    The recent visit of Pope in Cuba and the USA has shown, how different the concepts of democracy might exist (and there are more then just three on our planet).

    CUBA: popular democracy where all citizens have equal rights but political process is controlled by one party (i.e. no right to form a party).

    VATICAN: faith democracy, one ideology for all, but excluding women, gays and other religions.

    USA: money democracy where all kinds of committees may be formed, but only those approved by Big Money have a chance in the election process.

  32. WHO IS THOR HALVORSSEN???….COUSIN OF LEOPOLDO LOPEZ….KEEPING WITH THE LATIN AMERICAN TRADITION…BLOOD IS THICKER THAN THE TRUTH…HIS COUSING LOPEZ, A TRAITOR TO THE VENEZUELAN PEOPLE, IS BEING CANONIZED BY THE DINOSOURS OF THE RIGHT.
    Halvorssen was born in Venezuela to Hilda Mendoza, a descendant and a relative, respectively, of Venezuela’s first two presidents Cristóbal Mendoza and Simón Bolívar. His father is Thor Halvorssen Hellum, who served as a Venezuelan Ambassador for anti-Narcotic Affairs in the administration of Carlos Andrés Pérez and as special overseas investigator of a Venezuelan Senate Commission. His family was prosperous and on his father’s side he is the grandson of Øystein Halvorssen, the Norwegian king’s consul who “built a family dynasty as the Venezuelan representative for corporations including Dunlop, Alfa Laval and Ericsson.” His cousin is Leopoldo Lopez.

    Halvorssen attended the University of Pennsylvania and graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude, with concurrent undergraduate and graduate degrees in Political Science and History.

  33. THE DAILY BEAST: Venezuela Just Threw My Cousin in Jail – Thor Halvorssen

    “They’re either going to have to kill me or imprison me because I’m not leaving and I’m not giving up.” That’s what Leopoldo López, Venezuela’s most prominent opposition leader, told me in his Caracas home after the policeman assigned to protect him, Carlos Mendoza, was shot at twelve times and killed as he waited for López in his SUV in what was a failed assassination attempt against the latter.

    Ten years on from that conversation López has survived several attempts on his life—the Venezuelan government has typically claimed they are botched robberies. He is now in prison and was declared last Friday Amnesty International’s firstofficial Prisoner of Conscience from Venezuela in living memory. But what the media covering López’s sham trial and sentencing have failed to appreciate is that the government’s objective is to extinguish López’s life force.

    Maduro is terrified of an electoral contest where Venezuela’s poor overwhelmingly vote to elect as president a man who rejects the kleptocracy and its hateful revolution. López is in prison precisely and only because he is among the fewopposition leaders with an unwavering commitment to consistently denouncing the government as what it is: a dictatorship that must come to an end.

    The prison sentence was very clear to underline that López is disqualified from running for election. If you add this new disqualification to Chavez’s previous order to bar Leopoldo (in 2005), he has been disqualified from electoral office for a total of 23 years and 9 months.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/09/23/venezuela-just-threw-my-cousin-in-jail.html

  34. THIS ARTICLE FAILS TO MENTION THAT GOOGLE OFFERED TO SET UP FREE WI-FI IN CUBA, BUT THE CASTRO OLIGARCHY MAFIA SAID NO! IN ADDITION THEY FAIL TO MENTION THAT THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION MADE CHANGES IN 2009 SO THAT U.S. TELECOMMUNICATION COMPANIES COULD SET UP SHOP IN CUBA!

    REUTERS: Relishing new Wi-Fi, Cuba’s young clamor for more HAVANA – By Andrew Cawthorne

    While the government blames cost for lack of investment in internal infrastructure, critics suggest the real impediment is its fear of losing control on media and seeing new avenues of political opposition open up.

    Ideological considerations do not impress many of the young Cubans hanging out at open-air hotspots in Havana and the eastern city of Santiago in the cool of the evening, fiddling with Galaxys and iPhones brought in from abroad.

    In interviews, several said they were fed up with the ideological hang-ups of the older ruling generation, and simply want to watch films, access Facebook, and enjoy other online activities that are part of daily life for their equals abroad.

    “It’s a really good initiative. But I think they could make it cheaper,” added the economist. The $2 hourly tariff represents about 10 percent of a typical monthly salary.

    INTERNET INGENUITY

    Before the hotspots, broadband access had been limited largely to even pricier state Internet parlors and hotels

    Dissident and pornography websites are blocked.

    Cuba is connected by only one undersea fiber optic cable originating from Venezuela, although it still offers plenty of bandwidth given the low number of end users.

    “There are multiple proposals before the Cuban government to have an undersea cable connected from Miami to Havana,” said Daniel Sepulveda, a U.S. State Department official who has visited Cuba seeking access for U.S. companies.

    “They tell us they’re reviewing it but … they’re not using the full capacity of the Venezuela line so it’s not their first priority.”

    State telecom Etecsa’s executive president, Mayra Arevich Marin, has promised more Wi-Fi zones by the end of the year, with seats, shelter from the elements and cheaper prices. The $2 an hour is already an improvement on the old cost of $4.50.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/23/us-cuba-internet-idUSKCN0RN1MO20150923

  35. BBC NEWS ARCHIVE : 1961: Victorious Castro bans elections Cuba’s prime minister, Dr Fidel Castro, has proclaimed Cuba a socialist nation and abolished elections. Hundreds of thousands of Cubans attending a May Day parade in the capital Havana roared with approval when their leader announced: “The revolution has no time for elections. There is no more democratic government in Latin America than the revolutionary government.” Dr Castro also announced that foreign Roman Catholic priests would be expelled and all Roman Catholic and private schools would be nationalised.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/may/1/newsid_2479000/2479867.stm

  36. Omar, sure, we can say something positive about all the three: Obama, Francisco and Raul. All of them have a great PR staff at their disposal, too.

    Yet I maintain that the three (symbolic and less visible) agents of change for the future of Cuba are the farmer, the policeman and the hotel manager.

  37. Trip down memory lane, 2012:

    Castro kills Oswaldo Jose Paya, a Catholic who preaches love for one’s brother.

    Even if your brother isn’t a communist and criticizes Castro.

    That was heresy in Castro’s Kingdom, so Castro had Paya harassed, threatened with death and eventually killed.

    Paya’s family weren’t allowed to perform an autopsy, take possession of the body or even have a proper funeral, all at the orders of Castro.

    Castro doesn’t like this love business, unless you love Castro above all others.

    The same thinking as Hitler, Stalin and Mao.

  38. Mario: the persona of these individuals is extremely important, all three men understand the poor and the discarded in Human Society. They all are in agreement about Climate Change and all of them are doing something about it. They also know that we must do more to create an inclusive World. President Obama in the U.S. budget wants to give Americans free junior college (among many other proposals with the objective to create a more inclusive United States). Raul Castro’s reforms have allowed greater freedom of religion, gay people’s rights, economic participation by citizens, lifted travel restrictions and more. The Pope has regain the “foot hold” in Cuba it had once… and you are right, that their actions are driven by the new generation of people in the United States, Cuba and the Catholic Church 1 billion Catholics and the “new blood” in the Church institutions. Organized opposition to the progressive forces in the World has always existed. The Progressive Forces of the World have always found a way to overcome the dinosaurs that refuse to change for the Common Good of the People of the World. In Latin America and the Caribbean the opposing forces to change have camouflage themselves behind the banner of Liberty, Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights once again. Nieto in Mexico, Lopez in Venezuela and a cast of other actors are representatives of these dinosaurs who claim they stand for Democracy, but, once they assume control, they systematically proceed to destroy any political organization who opposes them. They quickly surrender the economy to Corporatism and allow the pursuit of profit to take priority over the need of working people, the poor and the environment. The governments they form may have one man one vote systems, but, because of the surrender of the economy to Corporatism the people are under oppression. Unions of workers are discourage, supply and demand principles in healthcare, food, housing and transportation discard a large number of people within the society who are not paid living wages as businesses engage in the efficiency and productivity of capitalism. They create charity and engage the Vatican and other religious organization to assist the millions discarded by the economic apartheid system of capitalism. These government historically have not been able to control inequality and eventual civil wars to replace them with Left or Center governance. In other words the same political organizations and actors that they so quickly removed from the scene after Right Wing regime change. Latin Americans and Cubans……never again!!!…

  39. Cuban troublemakers complain, that the Pope refused to see them.
    They forget, that one day later he would speak to Obama himself.
    All right, Damas in White and 14ymedio are doing their best to represent the US interests in Cuba, I agree. But they work for Washington, not for Vatican.

    Why to speak to the lower rank intermediaries of US policy if the Pope may talk to the big boss directly?

  40. A trip down memory lane:

    Castro orders churches to be ransacked, desecrated, and bulldozed.

    Except the churches he turned into temporary concentration camps to help hold the hundreds of thousands of Cubans he arrested.

    Castro orders all religious schools closed.

    Castro expels almost all priests, nuns and lay religious workers from Cuba.

    Except for the ones he arrests or executes.

    Within a year of taking power Fidel Castro executes more than a thousand Cubans without trial.

    Little brother Raul wants to execute a lot more but Fidel is more PR savvy and prefers to torture his enemies with long prison sentences.

    Castro declares Cuba an atheist state.

    Guards are posted at the few churches that remain open.

    Anyone who dares attend church must be monitored by the secret police for rest of life.

    All students are questioned for their loyalty to atheism.

    Any Cuban who says they believe in God is not allowed to go to university.

    The only god allowed in Cuba is Castro, by decree of Castro.

    Sweet memories from the Castro dynasty.

  41. RAUL CASTRO AN AGENT OF CHANGE DEAR Mario?? ATTEMPTING A CHANGE FROM FASCIST TOTALITARIANISM TO AN OLIGARCHY OLIGOPOLY FOR THE CASTRO CLAN AND HIS HENCHMEN IN CASTROISM 2.O!

    AN OLIGOPOLY (from ὀλίγος (olígos), meaning “few”, and πωλεῖν (polein) , meaning “to sell”) is a market form in which a market or industry is dominated by a small number of sellers (oligopolists). Oligopolies can result from various forms of collusion which reduce competition and lead to higher prices for consumers. Oligopoly has its own market structure.[1]With few sellers, each oligopolist is likely to be aware of the actions of the others. According to game theory, the decisions of one firm therefore influence and are influenced by the decisions of other firms. Strategic planning by oligopolists needs to take into account the likely responses of the other market participants.

    ACTUALLY MR. PAPA REFERRED TO THE CUBAN EMBARGO AS A “BLOQUEO” OR BLOCKADE WHICH IS WRONG! HE BETTER GET A DICTIONARY!

    WALL STREET JOURNAl: Pope Francis Won’t Push for More Cuba Trade Easing in Speech to Congress – He doesn’t plan to raise the question of the U.S. embargo in his Congressional address this week- By Francis X. Rocca

    WASHINGTON— Pope Francis doesn’t plan to raise the question of the U.S. embargo against Cuba during his address to Congress this week and said he declined to meet with dissidents during his visit to Cuba as part of a general policy against private meetings during the visit.

    The pope made the comments during an in-flight news conference flying from Cuba to Washington, where he touched down Tuesday. His four-day visit to Cuba was the first leg of a nine-day trip that now takes him to Washington, New York and Philadelphia.

    The pope is scheduled to address Congress on Thursday and, during the speech, he won’t push for a further loosening of U.S. restrictions on doing business with Cuba, said the pontiff. Pope Francis, like his predecessors, has denounced the embargo against Cuba. Last week, the Obama administration moved to ease trade restrictions with Cuba.

    “The position of the Holy See has always been against embargoes,” he said. ”This is the social teaching of the church.”’

    During his visit to Cuba, the pope disappointed some who had called for him to meet with dissidents. More than 50 political dissidents were reportedly detained to prevent them from seeing the pope. During the 30-minute news conference, the pope said he had “no information” about the arrests.

    The pope said the Vatican’s diplomatic mission there had invited some dissidents to join a larger group of people who greeted him Sunday outside Havana’s cathedral, but he said no one on that occasion identified himself as a dissident. He told reporters that he had declined all requests for private audiences during his visit.

    Asked if would like to meet with Cuban dissidents at some point, Pope Francis said he likes to “meet with everyone. I consider, first, that everyone is a child of God and has rights and, second, that to deal with another person always enriches.”

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/pope-wont-push-for-more-cuba-trade-easing-in-speech-to-congress-1442956675

  42. Omar says: “President Obama, Raul Castro and Pope Francis are all agents of change.”

    None has more then 3 years to go.

    I agree, all of them have introduced changes in their respective environments, but agent of change is somewhat younger, don’t you think?

    To me, agents of change are young Cuban farmers, selling cows at 10 000 pesos and horses at 15 000 (international readers: 1000 pesos = 265 chinese yuan).

    Agents of change are police officers who do not tolerate attempts to throw Cuba 60 years back.

    Agents of change are hotel managers who bring impressive financial results although they cannot accept US-issued credit cards or Paypal.

    Let the old men depart in dignity, Omar.

  43. Humberto: your article of Christianity Today….are you serious!!!…..did you not see Raul Castro, Fidel Castro and the Pope together….did you not see the crowds on the Plaza de la Revolucion….two new churches built or in process of being built…my God ……you have being absorbed by the dark side of Humanity….

  44. Why people here hate good politics. President Obama, Raul Castro and Pope Francis are all agents of change. The Pope looking to regain the Catholic Church position in Cuba. Raul Castro, the Reformist, wants to integrate Cuba fully into the World and gain access to the Financial Industry in the U.S. President Obama wants the business community to lobby Congress to lift the embargo and increase American exports in technology, agricultural products and professional services. In other words, outcomes of good governance by the Vatican, Cuba and the United States.

    Who is not happy….the “I want to live like Americans, but, can’t pay for it crowd.” The Right Wing Crusaders in the name of Freedom, Liberty, “Free market” and Human Rights. ( I don’t think most of them really know what this ideology is all about. None of these things really exist in its purest form as conceived by the imagination of Man. I vote for good governance over any ideological exaggerations and promises that cannot be delivered. Latin America and the Caribbean has a long history of failed promises by individuals and so called Democratic Organizations and Movements under the same identical banner (Freedom, Liberty, “Free Market” and Human Rights.)….Cubans….never again!!

  45. CHRISTIANITY TODAY: Religious freedom worsening in Cuba: ‘There is a crackdown happening’ – by Lucinda Borkett-Jones – January 26, 2015
    Violations of religious freedom are increasing in Cuba, according to a new report released by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) today.
    The number of recorded violations has risen year on year. There were 220 recorded incidences in 2014, up from 180 the previous year, 120 in 2012, and 40 in 2011.
    The incidences have also become more violent, with cases of Protestant pastors being arbitrarily detained or beaten and churches being demolished.
    But the increase in the figures is partly owed to more information being reported, despite government restrictions on information.
    “There is a crackdown happening… but that’s come simultaneously with more people speaking out and being ready to put their work and their situation on the line to make sure information gets out,” CSW’s Cuba advocate told Christian Today. “I think that then provokes a more intense crackdown, so it’s a circular cycle.
    “Everything’s monitored, so the Cuban government has complete control over telephone lines and internet connection. Any pastor or church official who tries to send information out is doing that knowing that what they are doing, the government’s going to know about and that comes with repercussions.”
    Those who have reported violations have been harassed and some have been threatened with arrest.
    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://www.christiantoday.com/article/religious.freedom.worsening.in.cuba.there.is.a.crackdown.happening/46769.htm

  46. YOUTUBE: CUBA: Caridad Diego on Government Persecution of Apostolic Movement – For years, churches affiliated with the Apostlic Movement, a charismatic, evangelical network of churches in Cuba have complained of persecution and have given evidence of repeated violations of their religious liberty. The churches and the network have been denied the right to register and receive official recognition. One of the main leaders, Pastor Omar Gude Perez is serving a 6 1/2 year prison sentence on trumped up charges. Authorities have repeatedly threatened to confiscate the family’s home and goods. Other leaders have reported cases of harassment, arbitrary detention, confiscation of their homes and personal or church property. Churches have been completely demolished without warning while others have been forcibly shut down.The Cuban government has not responded to requests for an explanation and continues to maintain that there is religious freedom in Cuba. However, in early 2010, Caridad Diego, the long-time head of the Office of Religous Affairs for the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party addressed a group of leaders from the Cuban Council of Churches and openly admitted to the government’s targeted persecution of churches affiliated with the Apostolic Movement. Some of those in attendance were so shocked by her admission that they clandestinely filmed her speech. The video was smuggled out of the country and leaders of the Apostolic Movement asked Christian Solidarity Worldwide to make it public

  47. YOUTUBE: CHRISTIAN SOLIDARITY WORLDWIDE CUBA-Footage and testimony of destruction of church in Santiago de Cuba . On November 20th, 2007 the Church of the Apostles in the Abel Santamaria neighborhood of Santiago de Cuba was razed to the ground by Cuban authorities. Officials used heavy equipment including bulldozers and heavy duty metalcutters, as helicopters circled overhead. Music and audio equipment and other church property were confiscated by the government. Pastor Alain Toledano, who leads the 700 member church and other church leaders were not given advance notice of the demolition. Their telephone lines were cut during the operation preventing them from communicating with one another.

  48. Dissidents beg to see the Pope: Struggle for freedom and dignity in Cuba a Catholic movement
    http://www.wsj.com/articles/dissidents-beg-to-see-the-pope-1442787912

    The struggle for freedom and dignity in Cuba is essentially a Catholic movement.


    Pope Francis and Cuban President Raúl Castro in Havana, Sept. 19. Photo: Zuma Press

    Por Mary Anastasia O’Grady
    Domingo, 20 de Septiembre de 2015 18:25 EDT

    The first victory we can claim is that our hearts are free of hatred. Hence we say to those who persecute us and who try to dominate us: ‘You are my brother. I do not hate you, but you are not going to dominate me by fear.’

    Those words were spoken in 2002 by Oswaldo José Payá—a Cuban Roman Catholic and the founder of the island’s Christian Liberation Movement. He was addressing the European Parliament, which had given him the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. He emphasized his dream of Cuban reconciliation: “We are going to seek the truth together. This is the liberation which we are proclaiming.”

    Payá was brave, eloquent and dedicated to nonviolent change. That made him dangerous to the regime. In 2012 he was killed when the car he was riding in, according to its driver, was run off the road by another vehicle. The Castro regime did not allow a transparent investigation of the crash.

    The Cuban dissident movement that Payá energized is essentially a Catholic movement. Its struggle for human dignity is built on a faith handed down by the earliest Christians, who were brutalized by pagan Rome. Its heroes are also harassed, beaten, imprisoned, exiled and even murdered for peacefully expressing their love of God and neighbor.

    This is why Pope Francis’ visit to Cuba that began on Saturday evening and runs until midday Tuesday is generating controversy. Any refusal to acknowledge the men and women of the resistance risks turning the trip into a papal punch in the gut to the island’s devout Catholics. However, the pope would not be in Cuba if Raúl Castro hadn’t thought that his tour would be good for the regime’s image. To express solidarity with dissidents the pope would have to offend his hosts.

    The signals ahead of the visit were not encouraging for nonconformists. The Vatican spent months preparing the public for a show choreographed by Castro, his military dictatorship and Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega. Last week Rome said that a meeting with dictator emeritus, Fidel Castro, was “probable.” Catholic activists, who were begging for an audience of their own, were still waiting for an answer.

    Another troubling development this summer was a statement by Cardinal Ortega that the dictatorship no longer holds political prisoners. That’s a howler. The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation reported in June that it has documented 71 political prisoners. There are likely many more. The penal code, modeled on the Soviet penal code, makes the mere appearance of “dangerousness” a crime. Anyone not judged sufficiently revolutionary can be, and often is, locked up.

    Earlier this month the regime announced that in honor of the pope’s visit it would release some 3,500 inmates from its jails. But the dictatorship said that those who have committed “crimes against state security” or the crime of killing a cow—to get food—are not part of the release. Translation: Desperate acts to feed your family or political transgressions are unforgivable.
    Catholic dissidents have not lost hope that the pontiff will see them. Earlier this month five democracy activists holed up in the Cathedral of San Rosendo in the province of Pinar del Rio and issued a statement asking for human rights and support from Francis. Church officials had them arrested.

    In the year the Castros took over (1959) they executed more than 1,000 men, many of faith, by firing squad. Valiant cries of “long live Christ the King” are said to have reverberated in those prison courtyards just before the triggers were pulled. Soon priests and nuns were exiled and God was outlawed to make room for Marxism.

    The dictatorship has refined its methods, turning in the sledgehammer for a scalpel to control the population. Intermittent crackdowns on individuals and small groups to terrorize the rest are highly effective. Yet managing the international image remains a challenge.

    At times it seems as if the church is being used to help solve this problem. Rome wants to send more priests to the island to administer the sacraments and evangelize. The Castros may be willing to go along but at a price: The moral authority of the church must not be used to condemn the police state.

    It’s a messy trade that can’t end well for the Vatican. On Wednesday Afro-Cuban activist José Luis García Pérez “Antúnez” who spent 17 years in a Castro dungeon, initiated a group hunger strike called “Holy Father, we too are Cuba” at his home in the city of Placetas. By Sunday afternoon the pope met with Fidel while dozens of dissidents—including some of the Catholic group Ladies in White—who tried to be recognized by the pope had been detained.

    When this column went to press there was no sign of the pope reaching out to marginalized souls like Antunez. Things could still change, but if not Pope Francis’ departure Tuesday will leave a lot of disappointed Catholics behind.

    Write to O’Grady@wsj.com.

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