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Human Rights in Cuba

April 30, 2003
by Raymond L. Flynn

Pope John Paul II publicly released a letter that the Vatican sent to Fidel Castro a couple of weeks ago expressing dismay at Cuba's crackdown on political dissent.

The pope personally appealed to Castro to show leniency with dissidents recently given harsh prison sentences and denounced the execution of the men who seized a ferry to reach the United States.

The letter, which was signed by the Vatican Secretary of State Angelo Cardinal Sodano, stated in part, "The Holy Father felt deeply pained when he learned of the harsh sentences recently imposed on numerous Cuban citizens. And even, for some of them, the death penalty." Thus far, Castro has not acknowledged the letter.

Speaking at a political luncheon in Boston and also later on MSNBC national television on Saturday, I said, "Castro has a human rights record of shame. He has oppressed and persecuted many Cubans including those in the Catholic Church and priests whose only objective was to teach the world about God." The U.S. Government and the international community have closed their eyes to this injustice and terror in Cuba for forty years.

Cuba sits only ninety miles off the United States coast, but it continues to be one of the world's worst violators of human rights. When you see what has been happening in Cuba these many years, you have to be concerned about whether we have lost our moral compass. Our government policy of looking the other way when is comes to human rights abuses must be changed. When members of the U.S. Congress visit Castro in the future, they should demand that the Cuban leader recognize and respect the God given rights of all individuals. Our policy in Cuba has been a failure. Economic boycotts and expanding business opportunities have not worked.

Pope John Paul II has been a clear and consistent moral voice on human rights issues throughout the world, but the international community must be equally committed.

American Catholic Alliance is a leading national organization committed to human rights and religious freedom throughout the world.


Raymond L. Flynn is the National President of American Catholic Alliance, former Mayor of Boston and U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican. He is also a Contributing Editor to Catholic Online.

He can be reached at (617) 269-0909.


Catholic Online CA, US
Raymond L. Flynn - Contributing Editor, 661 869-1000



Human Rights, Cuba

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