News / Americas

Cuba's Catholic Church May Restrict Rare Forum for Open Debate

FILE - A woman walks past closed doors at the Church of Our Virgin of Charity in Havana March 14, 2012.FILE - A woman walks past closed doors at the Church of Our Virgin of Charity in Havana March 14, 2012.
x
FILE - A woman walks past closed doors at the Church of Our Virgin of Charity in Havana March 14, 2012.
FILE - A woman walks past closed doors at the Church of Our Virgin of Charity in Havana March 14, 2012.
Reuters
The resignation of two editors of an outspoken Roman Catholic Church magazine in Cuba threatens to stall what had been a thriving political dialogue inside Cuba and a rare forum to challenge the ruling Communist Party publicly.
 
The former editors of Espacio Laical magazine, Roberto Veiga and Lenier Gonzalez, used the Internet to promote debate on political issues such as the need for a multi-party system, internet expansion, reintegration with the diaspora and the strengths and weaknesses of reforms under President Raul Castro.
 
They quit last week after 10 years on the job, saying in their resignation letter it was because of pressure from inside the Church hierarchy, not the government, from people who did not want the Church to get involved in politics.
 
While small by Latin American standards, the Cuban Catholic Church is by far the largest and best organized force on the Caribbean island with a different ideology than the Communist Party.
 
Church and state

Now Church insiders and diplomats fear conservative bishops from the Cuban provinces are attempting to reverse the course of Cardinal Jaime Ortega, a moderate who is scheduled to retire soon and who had improved relations with the Cuban state.
 
Although Ortega helped open space to criticize the Cuban system, a faction within the Church was skeptical about striking a bargain with Cuban authorities given past repression.
 
“I hope this doesn't signal a historic mistake by the Church at a critical moment for Cuba,” said a European ambassador who follows Church politics and supports Ortega's policy.
 
An East European diplomat had a different take, stating any cooperation with the government was useless and only gave it credibility.
 
The magazine, which is sponsored by the Archdiocese of Havana, had proved uniquely able to bring to the discussion Cubans from various political persuasions on and off the island and sponsored forums in Havana that drew a mixed political audience, from government supporters to opponents.
 
It had a run of just 4,500 issues but a larger and more active presence online. Most intellectuals, artists and academics have some access to the Internet while the general population does not.
 
“It's always hard to say, but no one is indispensable,” the magazine's recently appointed director, Gustavo Andujar, said in a brief statement about the editors’ resignations. “Espacio Laical will continue with a new team.”

Concessions

Espacio Laical and its editors had become more outspoken after the cardinal brokered the 2010 release of most political prisoners and forged a tactical alliance with Castro, supporting his reforms in exchange for more visibility in state media and other minor concessions.
 
Church insiders said the former editors and recently appointed director were often at odds due to the latter's efforts to tone down the magazine.
 
The director, former editors and the Havana archdiocese had no further comment.
 
Veiga and Gonzalez said their work had provoked the ire of those “who think that the Church should not get involved in politics and those who believe that it should not provide space to all actors in Cuban civil society.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

More Americas News

Vazquez Sworn in as Uruguay President

Oncologist, 75, previously held presidency from 2005-2010; he takes leadership role from highly popular Jose Mujica, also of Broad Front Coalition
More

Venezuela: Arrested US Pilot Was Spying

Nicolas Maduro says American was caught with 'documentation'; US Embassy offers no comment
More

Video US, Cuba Make Progress in Restoring Diplomatic Ties

Friday's session focuses solely on opening embassies in Washington and Havana as quickly as possible
More

Mexico Arrests Drug Lord 'La Tuta'

Mexican federal police captured Knights Templar drug cartel leader Servando 'La Tuta' Gomez, one of the country's most wanted fugitives
More

Embassy Reopenings Top Americans' List in Cuba Talks

Cuba has said it will be linking embassy issue to whether US drops it from State Department's list of sponsors of terrorism
More

Argentina Passes Bill to Revamp Spy Agency After Prosecutor's Death

President Cristina Fernandez says new state security body will be more accountable but government opponents say legislation does little more than change name of spy agency
More