Priest Says Church in Cuba in Position to Propose Transition From Communism to Free Society

Father Reyes, who often reflects on Facebook about the current situation in Cuba, said the population is crying out for ‘the end of communism and the arrival of freedom.’

Cuban flag.
Cuban flag. (photo: Unsplash)

Only the Catholic Church in Cuba is in the position to lead a dialogue and propose a transition from communism to a free society, Father Alberto Reyes of the Archdiocese of Camagüey recently told the Spanish newspaper El Debate.

In recent months, the economic and social situation has worsened in Cuba, where according to an October 2022 report from the Cuban Observatory for Human Rights (OCDH), 72% of the inhabitants “live below the poverty line and only 14% expect their personal situation to improve in the near future.”

The deterioration of the Cuban economy is not recent, and the population’s discontent was reflected in the July 2021 protests in various cities that were strongly repressed by the regime and with various demonstrations throughout the past year.

In addition, thousands of Cubans continue to see emigration as a way out of poverty. According to the United States Customs and Border Protection, 6,817 people from the island arrived in the country in March, raising the total number to 135,090 for fiscal year 2023, which began in October 2022.

“Since the very same year 1959 [when Fidel Castro and his men took power] we are an island in flight, where more and more people see emigration as the only possible solution, and we helplessly witness the progressive absence of those with whom we have grown up; we feel that there is no room for hope here. When over and over again we hear that there is no one to change this, hope is shattered in our souls,” the priest told El Debate in an article published April 15.

Father Reyes, who often reflects on Facebook about the current situation in Cuba, said the population is crying out for “the end of communism and the arrival of freedom.” However, the government seeks to prevent “more images from getting to the outside” that show the international community the discontent among its citizens.

The Cuban government “has more than demonstrated its inability to build a society that is not only prosperous, but one capable of responding to the most basic aspirations of the human being,” the priest commented.

Although in recent decades there has been an improvement in the official relationship between the communist regime and the Church (during the first years of the revolution the government confiscated property and expelled priests and nuns), religious freedom on the island is not complete, Father Reyes pointed out in a Facebook post.

For example, the priest has had to pay a price for his criticism of the communist regime and his denunciations by becoming one of the members of the Church most harassed by State Security, with warning calls, threats of being put on trial, and “acts of repudiation,” the regime’s term for acts of violence and or humiliation toward critics of the government.

Nevertheless, Father Reyes said that he is grateful to the Catholic Church, “which spoke to me about eternal life, but which continually reminded me that this earthly life was not simply a ‘requirement’ of that eternity, that God loved both human and heavenly life.”

Regarding the future of Cuba, the priest pointed out that “there is no turning back now,” because Cubans have seen the true face of the members of the regime, “who for years spoke to us day by day like a drumbeat about how much they loved us and wanted our good.”

“Now we know that it was all a lie, and that neither hand nor voice wavers when it comes to proclaiming destruction and death, and inciting the war of brother against brother in a fight whose wounds perhaps may never heal.”

Father Alberto Reyes has emerged as a critical voice against the extreme poverty and repressive actions of Cuba's police state.

Cuba’s Government Shuts Down Priest’s Peaceful Protest

The Office of Religious Affairs of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba “manages the different aspects of religious life” in the country, as noted in the 2023 Religious Freedom Report of Aid to the Church in Need.