"In Cuba repression is the order of the day" CubaNet

the activist Catholic Leonardo Fernandez Otano public this Thursday a letter sent to Pope Francisco in which he asked for solidarity with the hundreds of citizens who remain detained in Cuban prisons for exercising their constitutional right to peaceful demonstration.

Fernandez Otano, former coordinator of the Archipelago group, refers in his text to the reasons that led to the popular protests of July 11, among which the lack of food, basic products and high prices stand out.

Otaño explained to the pontiff that in Cuba “repression is the order of the day, in all its possible expressions”.

In the letter, written on July 16, 2021, he also tells about his experiences, lived on July 11, when “between blows they took out his Cross”.

“I can tell you knowingly all the violence and injustices that are happening today in Cuba. (…) Do not abandon us”, wrote Otaño.


Havana, July 16, 2021

Dear Pope Francis:

During his visit to Cuba in 2015, I spoke to him on behalf of young Cubans at the September 20 meeting outside the Félix Varela Cultural Center. Today I write to you really desperate.

Holiness, several lay Catholics and hundreds of citizens remain in Cuban prisons detained to this day, for exercising their constitutional right to peaceful demonstration. We are good kids, we have had to bear the cross of insults, blows, isolation cells and the fear of our parents.

On July 11, Cuba said enough is enough to state authoritarianism, we don’t have food, they sell us basic items in euros and at European prices. For having a different criterion we can be beaten, expelled from our jobs or defamed on public television. In Cuba today repression is the order of the day, in all its possible expressions. Holiness we lose faith, we need your help, a paternal word from you can be the salvation of hundreds of young people who will end up in Cuban prisons.

Help us Holy Father. I was arrested last July 11, between blows they took my Cross (the central essence of my life, you can’t imagine how much I suffered), but in the face of so much hatred I only prayed to God and our Mother of Copper. I can tell you with full knowledge of all the violence and injustices that are happening today in Cuba.

In my cell there was a minor, to defend him I went to an isolation cell, so much cruelty towards a 17-year-old adolescent can ruin his life. Believe me, I am writing like a desperate son to my tender grandfather, asking for his help, out of charity, Pedro does not abandon us. Then it may be too late, because a prison implies suffering for hundreds of families and young people who will lose all their hope.

A hug from a young man awaiting criminal proceedings, under house arrest and who little by little loses his hope because of so many tears. Waiting for your blessing.

Leonardo M. Fernández Otaño

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