Statement from religious leaders of Cuba
Campaign News | Wednesday, 23 April 2003
Havana, April 23, 2003
Havana, April 23, 2003
To the churches, councils of churches, church leaders, ecumenical
organizations and non-governmental organizations of Christian inspiration.
Brothers and sisters-
As disciples of Jesus Christ, like those walking to Emmaus, "the things
that have happened" have increased the need for accompaniment of That Third
Pilgrim who, using to Scriptures, "beginning with Moses and continuing with
the Prophets", gives light to our minds and brings passion to our hearts,
in the midst of a renewed encounter with the community of faith and with
the people, where God has placed us as the Church.
In the last few weeks we have witnessed with deep pain and concern how the
US Government and its President have unleashed an unnecessary war of
destruction and occupation of Iraq that caused anguish, suffering, and the
death of thousands of civilians. The President of the United States did
this without taking into account the clamor of the overwhelming majority of
international public opinion, and of the leaders of many churches,
including those of his own denomination, not listening to honest voices
from his own people, and without acknowledging the United Nations and the
norms of international law. What is truly worrisome is, above all, the
behavior of the United States as a hegemonic superpower, without control or
boundaries of any kind.
On the other hand, we have observed how the current US administration has
increased hostilities towards Cuba by including it on the list of nations
that sponsor terrorism and unjustly accusing it, only a few months ago, of
manufacturing biological arms. All of this worries us. At the same time,
in recent statements, the US ambassador in the Dominican Republic, Hans
Hertell openly stated that the intervention in Iraq is "a very positive
sign and is a very good example for Cuba". He also mentioned that the
actions in the Arab country were just the beginning of "a crusade of
liberation that will cover all countries in the world, including
Cuba". Furthermore, the Secretary of Defense of the United States,
responding whether there would be a war against Cuba answered: "Not for
now." The groups of the extreme right wing located in Miami are asking the
Bush Administration for a naval blockade, and at the same time are taking
to the streets with the slogan: "Iraq now, Cuba later."
All of this, together with the events of the last few days: the hijackings
of two airplanes and a boat, and other failed attempts, as well as the
activities of the head of the US Interests Section in Havana who fosters
groups that receive the financing, support, and protection of the US
government, and who personally organizes opposition political parties give
reason to suppose that a state of opinion is being created, through the
mass media and the propaganda of the groups of the extreme right wing in
the US, favoring military aggression towards Cuba, to implement the same
"preventative strike" policy and actions for a "regime change" that was
actually what they did in Iraq.
We believe that we find ourselves in a moment of serious threat for the
security and integrity of our nation. We also believe that what is
intended is to find pretexts to launch another war of aggression. A policy
of undeclared war, of a reinforcement of the blockade, of subversion and
provocation, of instigated terrorist acts and stimulated massive illegal
migration, with the intention of creating favorable conditions for a
military intervention has been unfolding before our eyes.
We as the Church not only have the responsibility to look after our
congregations and parishioners, but also to fulfill the mission that God
has called us to carry out in our motherland. We try to act, as a Church
of Jesus Christ, with a sense of responsibility and discernment, by
providing pastoral accompaniment to the people we are a part of and with
which we share these difficult times.
We are determined to carry out our evangelizing and prophetic mission by
criticizing all that, in our judgment, is poorly done, so that we may
contribute to the betterment of our society. We have done this as well on
this occasion, making use of the spaces of dialogue with our people and our
authorities that have always been open, not only to the Cuban Churches, but
also to brothers and sisters everywhere that have accompanied us all these
In the same way, as part of this evangelizing and prophetic mission, we
attempt to give testimony of the signs of The Kingdom amongst us, of the
life and the hopes in Jesus Christ that, first of all, consists and will
always consist of defending and proclaiming Truth and Justice.
We deeply regret the violent acts of the last few weeks and we feel, in the
love of Christ, compassion for the people that were detained and condemned,
as well as for their families. We are open, as we do with other people
that have been imprisoned, to give them spiritual comfort, as an imperative
of the Gospel.
The Scriptures also call us to a prophetic and pastoral understanding of
those who govern and watch out for the destiny of our country, that in this
dangerous and dramatic the situation have implemented the laws to the most
Almost at the same time as the legal processes against people accused of
activities at the service of a foreign power and linked to the US Interests
Section in Havana, the hijackers of a passenger boat were tried, and three
of them were sentenced to death. Some of the powerful international mass
media have not adequately differentiated the nature that distinguishes the
two events, causing confusion in no small number of people. To honor the
truth we must say that the nature of the crimes was of a different
character and thus received different legal treatment and different sanctions.
We reject the death penalty and are deeply sorry that by implementing it
the moratorium that has been maintained by the Cuban government, in
practice, has been broken. This we have said to the authorities. We
identify ourselves with the pain of the families. Life is a gift from God
and nobody has the right to take it.
We recognize the extreme seriousness of the crimes of piracy and terrorism,
especially for the children, women, the elderly and sick people who were
victims of the hijacking, and we also recognize the implications of this in
the context where these events took place.
Dear brothers and sisters, we live in highly dangerous times. All of us
who love Life, Peace, and Justice, must act with wisdom and love in order
to try to avoid the disasters that besiege us.
Our sense of responsibility stops us from joining the campaign led by some
mass media that respond to the interests of the superpower that wants to
dominate the world. This is, in essence, a symphony for war. The
evangelic wisdom demanded by the current times leads us to believe that the
transnational media agencies have turned a genocide into a holy war; that
they have tried to hide the real and dramatic consequences of the war
against the Iraqi people; and that they never echoed the clamor of people
and institutions of good will, including the general rejection to the
war. Now they desperately gather statements of all those who have given
their opinion, sometimes honestly, sometimes not, about the recent events
in Cuba, in order to contribute to a climate of favorable opinion for their
interests, and deny the God of Peace that we confess to.
From our Cuban reality, and as Christians who try every day to proclaim
and to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our country and in the midst of
our people, we call all our brothers and sisters in the world to a pastoral
reflection and discernment of the Spirit about the dangers that besiege the
Cuban people. We also call you to continue accompanying us with your
understanding and your prayers, and to work together to warn the government
of the United States about the unpredictable consequences of military
aggression towards our country. We are open to welcome and receive you
into our congregations, and willing to reflect together biblically and
theologically under the direction of the Holy Spirit, and under the light
of "the things that have happened between us".
Let us pray and work together for Peace!
Dr. Reinerio Arce Valentín, President of the Cuban Council of Churches(CCC).
Ms. María Yi Reina, First Vice-President of the CCC
Rev. Obed Martínez , Vice-President of the CCC.
Ms. Rhode González Zorrilla, Vice-President of the CCC.
Rev. Pedro Jiménez Celorio, Vice-President of the CCC.
Rev. Miguel Marcial Hernández, Executive Secretary of the CCC.
Rev. Esther Quintero Labrada, Secretary of Organization of the CCC.
Rev.Pedro Mayor, Treasurer of the CCC.
Rev. Orestes González Cruz, President of Honor of the CCC, Vice Moderator
of the National Synod of the Presbyterian Reformed Church in Cuba.
Honorable Canon Oden Marichal Rodríguez, Former President of the CCC and
Rector of the Episcopal Parish "Fieles a Jesús".
Rev. Dr. Pedro Triana, Director of the Study Center of the CCC.
Rev. Raúl Suárez Ramos, Director of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
Rev. Dora Arce Valentín, Moderator of the National Synod of the
Presbyterian Reformed Church in Cuba.
Rev. Dr. Ofelia Ortega Suárez, Pastor of the Presbyterian Reformed Church
Rev. Juan Ramón de la Paz, Dean of the Episcopal Cathedral "Santísima
Rev. Raimundo García Franco, Director of the Christian Center for
Reflection and Dialogue.
Rev. Estela Hernández Márquez, Pastor of the "William Carey" Baptist
Church, Director of the "Juan Francisco Naranjo" Center, and Director of
the "Frank Pais" Brigade.
Dr. Sergio Arce Martínez, Retired Pastor of the Presbyterian Reformed
Church in Cuba, Emeritus Professor of the Matanzas Evangelical Seminary of
Rev. Carlos M. Piedra López, Director of the Ecumenical Information Center
Rev. Nerva Cot, Canon of the Episcopal Cathedral.
Mr.Joel Suárez Rodes, General Coordinator of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Rev. Erelio Martínez García, Vice-President of the Christian Reformed
Church in Cuba.
Ms. Rhode Tabares Espinosa, National President of the Christian Students