Cuban church leaders statement on US aggression towards 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

in Cuba.

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

"Augusto Cotto".

Rev. Nerva Cot, Canon of the Episcopal Cathedral.

Mr.Joel Suárez Rodes, General Coordinator of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Memorial Center.

Rev. Erelio Martínez García, Vice-President of the Christian Reformed

Church in Cuba.

Ms. Rhode Tabares Espinosa, National President of the Christian Students


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