Vatican News Agency Fides Faults Castro for Backsliding

We Hoped for a Change, Says Article

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ROME, APRIL 29, 2003 ( The Vatican agency Fides says it feels betrayed by the attitude of Cuban President Fidel Castro.

In a 13-line article published today, the news organ of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples takes the Cuban leader to task for his recent repressive moves.

The article comes on the heels of the letter sent on behalf of John Paul II to Castro expressing the Pope’s distress over the wave of repression, including death sentences, in the island nation.

«We must say that we hoped for change, we hoped that ‘El Maximo’ would have the courage to open Cuba to democracy,» begins the article, which carried the initials of the news agency’s editor, Luca De Mata.

Castro showed promised by welcoming the Pope in 1998 and recently authorizing the building of a new convent for the Brigidine Sisters, the article states.

«We hoped, although the news we received did not speak of hope,» it continues. «We hoped and we were wrong, holding our breath for something to happen.

«In this way perhaps we gave the regime the impression that its leader was covered by our silence … but it was not a covering, it was only charity, it was offering him a chance to walk toward the rediscovery of his dignity.»

«But Fidel is using the fist of his salute against those demanding justice for the people, for the most elementary expression of democracy such as dissent,» the article says.

«The closed fist of Fidel, full of the flies of rhetorical populism whose buzzing filled the gulags with cadavers, continues to strike defenseless people,» the Fides article concludes.

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