Faith and Hope
Photo Courtesy of Miami Herald
Lech Walesa is in Miami this weekend as part of a U.S. tour. I'm sure he feels quite at home amongst the large number of dedicated anti-Coummunist, pro-freedom exiles. Last Thursday he spoke to a gathering of about 200 people about Cuba's future post-castro. The speech was well-covered by the South Florida news media, and he even appeared on local Spanish TV that evening.
I will link to the Miami Herald coverage of Walesa's speech, not because it article was great (it's actually quite mediocre), but because of one revealing comment at the end. It comes from Jaime Suchlicki, head of the University of Miami Institue of Cuban and Cuban-American Studies:
''There is a lesson to be learned from Poland,'' said UM Professor Jaime Suchlicki, who heads the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies. ``In Poland three factors coalesced: Solidarity and its labor movement, the Catholic church and U.S. support.''
In Cuba, only one factor is present, which is U.S. support of dissidents. The other two are missing. The biggest missing factor I believe is the Catholic Church. It's not because the Catholic Church has any special powers to produce change that other churches don't, but because of the faith and hope that a solid, unified belief can inspire.
There's no doubt that Pope John Paul II had a huge influence on the Catholic Church in Poland, and on the people themselves. They had faith in their belief, they had a strong figurehead in the Pope, and their belief never wavered despite decades of Communist rule.
When the same Pope John Paul II visited Cuba in 1998 and spoke his words of inspiration, many including myself felt that the same could happen in Cuba. Hope would catch on like wildfire and the regime would be toppled. That obviously didn't happen.
Which leads me to think...why couldn't the Pope's words of strength and solidarity inspire Cubans across the island?
I think it has a lot to do with the lack of faith Cubans have. castro has done an excellent job of stripping many Cubans of all belief in a higher being. I'm not saying that one has to believe in God in order to feel motivated to be free, but people typically draw inspiration and strength from a strong faith in God. Most of the dissident leaders in Cuba have a strong faith, they need it in order to forge ahead despite the constant obstacles they face.
But where's the faith of the Cuban people? Decades of atheistic rule have essentially wiped out any semblance of organized faith that existed before castro. The Catholic Church and other denominations have made strides in the last several years, but when the regime continues to crack down on houses of worship to this very day, that's a clear sign that castro is in no mood to let God back into the lives of ordinary Cubans.
I'm not blaming the Cuban people for this lack of faith I describe. The regime relies on overwhelming fear to oppress it's people. That is its driving force. Any average person would easily succomb to it. If Cuba had a strong religious figure like Poland did with John Paul II, things would probably be different.
However, I can't help but imagine that if Cubans today had one-half of the faith that Lech Walesa and the people of Poland had 25 years ago, castro would be gone by now.Posted by Robert M at February 11, 2006 01:14 PM | TrackBack
Babalu Blog: Faith and Hope