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The Obama-Francis Axis:
Conjuring Confusion over Cuba

Armando F. Valladares
Cuba, my homeland, just completed 56 years of martyrdom under a nefarious Communist Revolution. Before this gigantic drama and tragic anniversary, hardly a voice of outrage is raised throughout the world over a situation that cries out to Heaven to be heard.

Year after year many governments rend their garments at the UN condemning the so-called US “external embargo“ and send messages of greeting to the Castro tyrants. But not a word is spoken about the regime’s implacable “internal embargo” against the 12 million inhabitants of the island prison.

We are witnessing one of the greatest examples of a publicity sleight of hand in History: a regime that for decades was the spearhead of bloody revolutions in Latin America and Africa and still has ideological umbilical cords throughout the three Americas, whose deserved image as an aggressor has instead become a mendacious image of a victim.

Silence in face of oppression

Countless times international aid has been given to the Cuban regime that has allowed and continues to allow its survival. There was the huge financial backing of the Soviet Union until its collapse; of Chavez in Venezuela until it recently fell apart; and of the Lula-Dilma regimes in Brazil which also finds itself now with emptier coffers.

Francis Obama meeting

The Cuba deal: already under discussion at Francis' meeting with Obama in March 2014 at the Vatican

And now the unexpected Obama-Francis “axis” surges in the Americas. A sui generis spiritual-political “axis” that, regardless of the intentions of its high personages, will provide rivers of money and lend prestigious publicity to keep afloat the repressive apparatus of the communist regime.

On December 19, two days after the announcement in Rome of the restoration of diplomatic relations between the US government and the Cuban dictatorship, Castro’s Coast Guard, presumably in international waters, rammed against a boat carrying 32 persons fleeing from Cuba - including seven women and two children - and sank the frail craft.

Those Cubans were simply seeking freedom and trying to break the infamous “internal embargo” that Castro's tyranny has imposed on the people.

Masiel Castilian González, a woman who survived the attack and whose husband drowned, narrated by phone later: “We were screaming and crying out for help because the boat was sinking. But they ignored us. Instead, they continued charging against our boat. Some persons jumped into the water and others stayed aboard as the boat sank.”

cuba refugees boat sinks

Cuba's Coast Guard rams and sinks a boatload seeking to flee the island-prison

“They knew there were children aboard, but continued to charge against us. They didn’t care,” she said. It was a brutal action on the part of a regime whose back is covered by powerful allies.

This criminal act committed by the Castro regime deserved a global outcry of repudiation, but it was generally ignored by the international press, Western governments, advocacy groups for “human rights” and, pain of pains! - by ecclesiastics who should imitate the Good Shepherd, ready to give His life for His sheep.

On December 31, a repressive wave was released against dissidents who simply planned to meet in the Plaza of the Revolution in Havana, to coincide with the 56 years of Revolution. This illustrates well, should there be any doubt, the real disposition of the regime.

The betrayal of Francis

In the United States, many specialists have documented how the almost unconditional support of the US government for the Cuban regime harms the cause of freedom on the island, whose inhabitants are still at the mercy of tyrants. Consequently, harsh criticism is made of President Obama (cf. “Cuban dissidents blast Obama's betrayal”, “Obama gives the Castro regime in Cuba undeserved rescue“).

However, few analysts point out the most serious and tragic aspect of the recent accord: the responsibility that falls on its most eminent inspirer and mediator, the Pontiff Francis.

ringleader Herandez Raul Castro

Raul Castro triumphantly embraces released Cuban Five leader Gerardo Hernandez

On December 17, the same day of the announcement of the restoration of diplomatic relations, Francis, along with reaffirming his mediating role, also welcomed the US release of some “detainees” - without even hinting that the communist system in Cuba continues to subdue not just “some“ but 12 million Cubans.

It is extremely painful to say, but the boot with which Castro continues to crush Cubans on the island now has the highest ecclesial endorsement.

We must remember that these “detainees” were actually Cuban spies prosecuted and convicted by the State Justice system for complicity in the murder of members of the Miami-based anti-communist group Brothers to the Rescue, as well as plans to introduce explosives in Miami to carry out terrorist acts.

Therefore, the ringleader of the “detainees” (called the Cuban Five) had two life sentences.

This is not the first time that Francis, independent of his intentions, has taken actions that objectively favor the political and ecclesiastical left on our Continent.

For example, at the World Meeting of Popular Movements that gathered in Rome from October 27-29, 2014, 100 revolutionary world leaders met, including known Latin American professional agitators.


At the Vatican Francis gives his blessing to 100 communist agitators from around the world

Francis himself assisted at it, his presence giving a kind of public “beatification” to these Marxist revolutionaries, the sui generis “blessed” of an “upside down church” that opposes the social doctrine of the Church defended by previous Popes (cf. “El Papa saluda y bendice,” L'Osservatore Romano, Oct. 28, 2014; “Francisco, ‘beatificación’ publicitaria de revolucionarios y ‘vendaval’ social,” Destaque Internacional, November 2, 2014).

I have commented on other occasions of similar incidents, as whenFrancis overturned the “suspension a divinis” of the infamous Maryknoll priest from Nicaragua, Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann, former Sandinista foreign minister and one of the most pro-Castro figures of Lliberation Theology. D'Escoto was suspended by the Vatican in 1984 for his involvement in the persecution of Catholics during the first Nicaraguan Sandinista government (cf. “Francisco, pro-Castro and confusion”, Armando Valladares, August 6, 2014).

Unfortunately, with regard to Cuba and Latin America, the words, deeds and gestures of Francis are directly or indirectly favoring the oppression of the Cuban people and the leftward shift of the Continent. In this respect, we find ourselves facing a pontificate marked by confusion and even chaos, with disturbing consequences for the political, social and Christian future of the Americas.

As a Catholic and a former Cuban political prisoner who spent 22 years in Castro's dungeons – my faith strengthened hearing the screams of young Catholics who died from the “firing squad“ shouting “Viva Cristo Rey! Down with Communism!” - I must admit the perplexity, anxiety and deep feelings raised by the events described above. This is the most painful situation possible because it regards the bonds to the Holy See.

However, as I have noted on other occasions, the faith of Catholics must remain intact and even strengthened before these dilemmas because, in political and diplomatic matters, even Popes are fallible. And there is no obligation for Catholics to accept these words and deeds to the extent that they stray from the traditional line adopted by the Church in relation to Communism.


Blason de Charlemagne
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Posted January 9, 2015

Armando Valladares is a writer, painter and poet. He spent 22 years in political prisons in Cuba. He is the author of the bestseller Against All Hope, which recounts the horror of Castro's prisons.

He was US ambassador to the to the UN Human Rights Commission under the Reagan and Bush administrations. He received the Presidential Citizens Medal and Superior Award of the State Department. He has written numerous articles on the collaboration of the Church with Cuban Communism and the Vatican “Ostpolitik” towards Cuba.

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