The Archbishop of Havana Receives the Ladies in White
The leader of the Ladies in White (Damas de Blanco), Berta Soler, and María Cristina Labrada Varona, representing the women's movement, met on Wednesday morning with the Archbishop of Havana, Juan de la Caridad García Rodríguez.
Soler informed DIARIO DE CUBA that the discussion went ahead in spite of extreme vigilance exercised by the political police "since they left the national headquarters in Lawton until they arrived at the Archbishopric."
"The PNR’s Car 09 was following us from our departure until we reached the Archbishopric, but, thank God, we arrived and had a one-hour meeting with the archbishop," Soler explained.
"We transmitted our concerns to him, and the problems that we are facing with regime forces, which have prohibited us from participating in any masses in the country, not just on Sundays," she explained.
"We offered him the names of the State Security agents who promised to block us from churches across the country. We explained the new modus operandi they have adopted against us to undermine and dismantle our movement, and the fines that are imposed on us just for not carrying our IDs," she added.
In this regard they spoke to the prelate about the need for the Catholic Church to speak out against these human rights violations, but, above all, against the attack being perpetrated on the religious freedom of the Ladies in White."
"He was very receptive and told us that he was going to do everything in his power, and ask the Cuban Government to hold a meeting with the opposition, and establish a dialogue, but that has not happened. He left the door open for another meeting,” said the leader.
"We conveyed to him our hope that by a future meeting he would have some kind of answer."
Monsignor García "gave us each a family Bible, dedicated it to us, and blessed us. We went way optimistic. The change has been terrible. Juan was very amiable, very kind in response to everything we told him. There were even smiles," she concluded.
Juan de la Caridad García was named the metropolitan archbishop of Havana in May of last year, succeeding Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino.
At his investiture ceremony he identified the poor, the elderly, prisoners and the marginalized as the primary targets he wished to aid through his mission.
He recently called for socialism, and not capitalism, to progress in Cuba and in another statement condemned abortion as "the first violation of the human rights." He also reiterated some traditional appeals made by the Catholic Church before the State, such as access to the country's schools and jails, and its regular presence in the mass media.