Cuban exiles express anger to Cardinal

FROM PHIL DAVISON

in Miami

A year in one of Fidel Castro's forced labour camps in the Sixties did not shake the faith of a priest called Jaime Ortega, now Archbishop of Havana and Cuba's only Cardinal. But it perhaps taught him that discretion is the better part of valour.

"No politics, no personal attack questions, please," he urged reporters here during the first visit to the US by a Cuban church leader since Mr Castro's 1959 revolution. He meant, of course, no personal attacks on the Cuban leader.

It was a tall order, particularly for virulently anti-Castro Cuban-American journalists who wanted to know why the Catholic Church was not more outspoken against the Communist leader. But the jovial 58-year-old Cardinal fielded questions well. "The church is not the opposition party," he said.

Cardinal Ortega's visit, in which he preached reconciliation between Cubans at home and in exile, was a huge event for the one million exiled Cubans who live in the Miami area. They gave him the warmest of welcomes but were divided over what to make of the visit.

After he called, at a Mass, for "turning the other cheek, Cuba is in need of a brotherly hug," an anti-Castro activist, Gladys Perez, said: "We can't turn the other cheek to a dictator and assassin like Castro." Others shouted "Viva Cuba Libre" (Long live a free Cuba) as the Cardinal left the Mass.

As always, there was suspicion over the Cuban President's motive in allowing the Cardinal to visit the US. Was Mr Castro simply seeing the way the wind was blowing - as Communism falters, church attendance is rising fast in Cuba - or was he trying to manipulate Catholics for the sake of his own survival?

The visit came at a time of disillusionment, anger and protest here over President Bill Clinton's policy switch ordering all Cuban balseros (boat people) picked up by the Coast Guard to be returned to the island.

Many Cuban-Americans complain that they were kept in the dark over what they call a "secret" Clinton-Castro deal. There have been massive anti- Clinton protests in Miami, which have angered non-Cubans. Anti-Cuban- American slogans have been painted, and countless letters to newspapers have expressed the sentiment: "If you want rid of Castro, what are you doing here?''

When two Cuban exiles went on a hunger strike outside the Miami Herald newspaper building, half a dozen non-Hispanic men quickly staged a counter- protest, gobbling down spare ribs within aroma-wafting distance of the fasters. Some Cubans who fled during or just after the revolution said the latest anti-Cuban sentiment reminded them of their early days here.

Most of the protests were organised by Ramon Saul Sanchez, leader of an exile group called the Cuban National Commission, who says he is trying to encourage civic unrest on the island to undermine the Communist leader. He believes the best bet is a Polish-style Solidarity movement.

Mr Sanchez's policies run counter to those of the best-known exile leader, Jorge Mas Canosa of the Cuban American National Foundation, who favours the violent overthrow of Mr Castro, with US help.

At stake is the island's post-Castro course. While Mr Mas Canosa publicly denies seeing himself as future Cuban President, he clearly assumes he and his group would play a major role. Mr Sanchez believes the Cubans who stayed, and suffered, should be left to decide their future. That goes down well on the island, where many fear Mr Castro's fall might be followed by an equally repugnant dictatorship - wealthy exiles from Miami.

Suggested Topics
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
arts + entsBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
people
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features playground gun massacre
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Lead Application Developer

£80000 - £90000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: I am current...

Senior Networks Architect

£65000 per annum + 15% Pension, Health, Travel & Bonus: Progressive Recruitmen...

SAP BW/BO Consultant

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP BW/BO CONSU...

Hydraulic Power Pack Design Engineer

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: I recruit for contract mechanical design...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices