By Diego Lopez Marina
A group of Cuban priests signed a letter addressed to the Cuban authorities Wednesday urging them not to use violence against marches protesting the island’s communist government planned for Nov. 15.
“We don’t want to see police beating and mistreating their own people again. We don’t want blood spilled again, we don’t want to hear gunshots again. No, because that’s not the way that will take us to the Cuba that we need and that we all want,” the priests said in their Nov. 10 letter posted on Facebook.
“Those of us who signed this letter are Cubans, Catholic priests called to be shepherds of our people, we want only the good of our country, we want a Cuba where justice, freedom and peace reign,” they said.
“While it’s true that no Cuban should raise his hand against his compatriot for the mere fact of thinking differently, much less the police who by vocation have the duty to set an example of good citizenship to the entire population, who exist to take care of citizens and protect public order.”
“Don’t hit the protesters because both you and they live amid so much scarcity and misery. Don’t slander them as mercenaries, because both you and they have fathers, mothers, friends, acquaintances, who gave everything for an ideal and who today have nothing. Don’t stop them from marching peacefully because both you and they want to live without fear of speaking your mind, without fear of being watched,” they wrote.
A “Civic March for Change” has been announced for Nov. 15, a peaceful demonstration in several cities of Cuba that seeks to repeat the protests which took place across Cuba July 11-12.
The marches are a grassroots movement not promoted by any particular group or organization on the island.
The priests who signed the letter, some of whom are in Cuba, are Alberto Martín Sánchez, Castor Álvarez Devesa, Alberto Reyes Pías, Rolando Montes de Oca Valero, Lester Zayas Díaz, Jorge Luis Pérez Soto, Jorge Luis Gil Orta, Fernando Gálvez Luis, Kenny Fernández Delgado, Ramón Rivas, Danny Roque Gavilla, José Conrado Rodríguez Alegre and Deacon Maybgl Gómez Hernández.
Bishop Manuel Aurelio Cruz, an Auxiliary Bishop of Newark, also signed the letter. A Cuba native, Bishop Cruz fled the country for the US as a child with his parents in 1966.
Communist rule in Cuba was established soon after the conclusion of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, which ousted the authoritarian ruler Fulgencio Batista.