News

Cuba Rejects Pope's Calls for More Freedom, Openness

Pope Benedict XVI gestures to believers after visiting the sanctuary of the Virgin of Charity of El Cobre in El Cobre village, Cuba, March 27, 2012.
Pope Benedict XVI gestures to believers after visiting the sanctuary of the Virgin of Charity of El Cobre in El Cobre village, Cuba, March 27, 2012.

Cuba's vice president says there will be no political reform in Cuba, despite calls by Pope Benedict XVI for more freedom and openness in the communist-ruled country.

Marino Murillo made his remarks as the pope arrived Tuesday in the capital, Havana, for a meeting with President Raul Castro and possibly with Fidel Castro, the long-time Cuban leader and elder brother of Raul.

"In Cuba, there will be no political reforms.  In Cuba we are talking about the actualization of the Cuban economic model that will make our socialism viable.  This has to do with the well-being of our people," said Murillo.

On Monday, the pontiff urged thousands of people at a Mass in the city of Santiago to help build a "renewed and open society."   

Pope Benedict traveled to Havana after paying homage Tuesday to the patron saint of Cuba, the Virgin of Charity of El Cobre.

The pope visited the shrine holding the Virgin of Charity of El Cobre to mark the 400th anniversary of its discovery by fishermen.  The doll-sized wooden statue is revered in Cuba and within the Roman Catholic Church.

Pope Benedict told an audience he has prayed for the needs of those who suffer and who are deprived of freedom, as well as those who are separated from their loved ones or are undergoing times of difficulty.

Watch related video

It is not clear whether the pope will also meet in Havana with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who is in Cuba undergoing another round of radiation treatment for cancer.

The pontiff is scheduled to preside over an outdoor Mass Wednesday in Havana's Revolution Plaza.

The pope is on a three-day visit to Cuba, where his aim is to renew the faith in what was once an atheist state.

Pope Benedict is not expected to meet with Cuban dissidents, including the Ladies in White, a group of wives and mothers of the 75 dissidents who were jailed in a 2003 crackdown on government opponents.

The pope's visit comes 14 years after his predecessor, John Paul II, made the first papal visit to the communist-run island.  The Roman Catholic Church has since grown to become the most influential institution next to the government.  Cuba was officially an atheist state from 1959 until a constitutional change in 1992 abolished atheism as the state creed and called for separation of church and state.  At that time, the Communist Party also lifted its ban on members with religious beliefs.

Cuba is the last stop on the pontiff's five-day Latin American trip that began last week in Mexico.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: sule sadik
March 29, 2012 10:15 AM
Is good to be good,pope said for what can give cubans more free hand,in the way the leaders were governed

by: NVO
March 28, 2012 4:20 PM
This RC Church is a CONFIRMED Amillennial/Replacement Theology church. Two doctrines based on and rooted in Anti-semitism. What a hideous church, and only a duped catholic would stay in that anti-semitic church. Run for your spiritual life in that den of lies. The RC Churchs beliefs and practices open up a host of theological problems!

by: Maria Jose
March 27, 2012 9:28 PM
Maybe the Pope's visit to Cuba can help with the Cuba's international relations because Many countries of America identified itselves with Pope's ideas.

by: NVO
March 27, 2012 7:23 PM
Jesus does predict a vicar in the sense of a replacement for His physical presence here on earth. This Vicar of Christ is not a pope!
The only biblical Vicar of Christ is the Holy Spirit. In claiming that the pope is the Vicar of Christ the RC Church rejects the sufficiency and supremacy of Christ’s priesthood and grants to the pope roles that Christ Himself declared would belong to the Holy Spirit. It is blasphemy to ascribe to the pope the title of Vicar of Christ! Good for you Cuba!

by: Mike
March 27, 2012 6:59 PM
It is very rare for a dictatorship to voluntarily relinquish power, and Cuba is no exception. The Castro family and regime stands to lose alot while the people of Cuba stand to gain a great deal. The Castro regime may lose power but it requires a general loss of support among the ruling-class (yes, Betty, they have one too!) The sooner the better for everyone!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs