Cuba’s bishops say Raul Castro’s reforms not enough
POSTED: 11 Sep 2014 06:36
In a country with a centrally planned economy where opposition political
parties remain outlawed, the Church is the only sizeable non-state actor
that has an ongoing dialogue with President Raul Castro’s government.
And in its Pastoral Plan for 2014-2020, the first such document since
Argentine-born Pope Francis’s papacy began last year, the bishops were
The government’s limited “economic reforms have not jump-started the
economy in such a way that all Cuba’s people can feel,” the document
reads in part.
During the more than five decades that the Communist government has been
in power, health care, education and sports “experienced major progress”
but are now “stagnant and in some cases in decline,” the document said,
referring to what the government sees as its key achievements.
Castro – who replaced his brother, longtime president Fidel Castro who
stepped aside in 2006 for health reasons – has ruled out the idea of any
And on the economic front, he has refused to embrace market economics as
China or Vietnam have. Instead, the former military chief has cut the
government payroll and allowed more categories of self-employment.
But the cash-strapped economy depends heavily on Venezuela’s economic
aid, and has no access to international loans. Most Cubans earn the
equivalent of US$20 a month.
“Despite the changes there have been,” the bishops said, “we sense that
many citizens urgently want deeper and more appropriate reforms
implemented to solve pressing problems generated by their being
overwhelmed, plagued by uncertainly and worn out.”
While not aggressive, the document is more frank than some in the past
which came as bishops were planning visits to Cuba by former and more
conservative popes John Paul II in 1998 and Benedict XVI in 2012.
The new document broached the issue of political opening saying that
many Cubans want their state to be “less bureaucratic and more
Some “others who do not accept that way of thinking … are confusing
the meaning of nationhood with an ideology, or with a party,” the
“Dialogue among the various groups that make up our society is the only
path toward achieving and maintaining social transformations that happen
in Cuba,” the bishops said.
While Cubans’ everyday concerns have begun to emerge in the island’s
state-run media and many political prisoners have been freed, new
dissident arrests and violent attacks against them “continue to be
worrisome and not constructive,” they added.
The bishops also reiterated longstanding opposition to the US trade
embargo against Cuba in place for more than four decades.
Source: Cuba’s bishops say Raul Castro’s reforms not enough – Channel