A reader in Spain passes on this open letter to Pope Francis by a Cuban Catholic called Maria Victoria Olavarrieta. Read the Spanish original here. The Google Translate version is below:
Cuban Catholics, since the protests began in Cuba, are waiting for you to raise your voice. It hurts a lot that while they repress the people who took to the streets asking for freedom, you have words to congratulate Argentina’s triumph in the Copa América, talk about plastic waste in the seas, but have not made a public prayer for the dead, the detainees, the disappeared and all those who are frightened in their homes throughout our country.
In the seas of Cuba, Holiness, in addition to plastic, lie the remains of the many Cubans who have drowned trying to escape from the great prison that the Castros turned my country into.
Our church has been persecuted, threatened, watched, penetrated by state security agents. At the moment we have a missing seminarian, Rafael Cruz Débora. If the Cuban bishops are afraid to speak out, to stand on the side of the people, I understand them, we do not know the threats that have been made to them, but you, with the immunity that your hierarchy confers on you, can speak up and defend us.
Yesterday, in Havana, they tried to recruit a young man who had already completed compulsory military service, to train him to beat up protesters. They entered his home, threatened him in front of his parents and because the boy refused, they made him sign a letter saying that he did not go where the revolution needed him, and warned him that when all this happened, he would go to prison.
That was yesterday, today they are being dragged away, without asking anything. Parents with children of military age are terrified.
You told young people: … “Fight for your dreams, but dream big, don’t stop dreaming.” Young Cubans who were born in dictatorship, who have been indoctrinated, educated in atheistic schools, in a one-party society, who have grown up, some eating and dressing with the help of their families in exile and others in utter misery, they are dreaming of seeing their country free. You invited them to dream, and now that they are being killed for shouting their dream, you are silent.
You asked your shepherds to smell like sheep. Of the Cuban priests who have openly sided with the people, some are being beaten by the police, detained and silenced by their bishops who fear for their lives. And about the government’s harassment of the bishops, you who are the Pope should know more than I do.
How it hurts, Father, the Cuban nuns and priests with whom I have been able to speak that you look the other way. Today a Cuban nun told me that she could not conceive that you did not have a few words for Cuba at this time when the whole world is talking about the abuses of the regime. And very quietly, her voice cracking with pain, almost as if speaking to herself, she whispered: “Someday he will have to confront the Lord.”
Holiness, you know the message of the Virgin of Fatima. Communism must be very bad, when among all the bad things in the world, our Mother wanted to leave instructions on how we could prevent that evil from spreading throughout the world.
I have had many Venezuelan students, and I have seen the suffering of their parents because you kept silent when the students were murdered in the streets of Caracas. People are starving in Venezuela and you do not publicly condemn those responsible.
Blood has run in Nicaragua, and the Pope talks about everything, but you have no opinion about the crimes of the dictators of these three sister tyrannies.
Holy Father, Christendom does not need a social leader or a diplomat. We want a Pastor, a firm stone where the church can be sustained. The vicar of Christ on earth must not discriminate against his sheep. The sheep victims of communist regimes, we feel like we are their black sheep.
You always ask us to pray for you. I ask you to pray and act so that no more people die in Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba.
I would have liked to write to you in a different tone. In all my articles where I mention you I have always defended you. But today I want to be the voice of Cuban mothers, who are watching their children go hungry, who do not have medicine, I want to present the pain of the grandmothers whose grandchildren were shot shouting “Long live Christ the King”, the shame of the parents who cannot support their children with the fruit of their work and live badly waiting for the remittances sent by their relatives abroad.
I present the torture of political prisoners, the hatred of brother against brother that the Castros sowed, the elderly who saw the family they created depart and died without ever seeing their children and grandchildren again.
It cries out to heaven that this July 13, at the same time that we remembered the children, women and men who died drowned in the tugboat “13 de marzo” that the Cuban government sank in the high seas, we had to cure, without having anything, the wounds that the police and their dogs caused to peaceful demonstrators in many towns and cities of Cuba.
We Cubans feel abandoned to our fate. In 62 years we have not been able to free ourselves. Today we are facing an armed force, without leaders and even now, orphans of the Pope.
Pope Francis, forgive me if I have offended you, but I have had to choose between the respectful acquiescence due to a bishop and the defense of the victims of communism. It hurts me to be told that you are a communist pope. Communism destroys the morals of the peoples, their religion, their hope.
Yesterday in Miami, four Daughters of Charity came out to protest in the streets, along with the people, some of them elderly. Sister Consuelo, from Mexico and Sister Elvira, Sister Reinelda and Sister Rafaela, Cuban. Among the people I heard people say: There is no Pope, but there are nuns! Christ is with us!
Help us, Father.
I keep praying for you.