Karen Lee Wald provides these points of
clarification regarding adherence to Roman
Catholicism on the pearl of the Antilles.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Karen Lee Wald" <kwald@...>
To: "Walter Lippmann" <walterlx@...>
Sent: Wednesday, July 31, 2002 3:30 PM
Subject: Re: 60% catholic
That's not true. The Catholic Church claims 60%
(rather than the 4% who actually go to their church
regularly) based on the number who BAPTIZE THEIR
CHILDREN. But all those who practise the Afro-Cuban
religions baptize their children in the Catholic Church,
and then go about their own religious practices.
The Catholic Hierarchy considers them Catholic only
when it is convenient for them to inflate their numbers.
There are probably also others who are neither
Catholic nor santeria practitioners who baptize their kids
"just in case".......:)
You should clarify this for your readers.......
(Unlike any other would-be refugees from
third world countries, Cubans know that
the Cuban Adjustment Act guarantees a
green card to any of them after a single
year of residence in the U.S. Call this an
"express-lane affirmative action policy"
for Cubans who would like to leave.)
Posted on Tue, Jul. 30, 2002
23 Cuban Catholics defect in Canada
Group left Mass as pope preached
BY LUISA YANEZ
Using Pope John Paul II's Sunday Mass as a cover, at least
23 Cuban pilgrims defected during the World Youth Day
celebrations in Toronto over the weekend, eluding Cuban
They remained in hiding Monday for fear they would be forced
back to the island, and Canadian supporters said their
numbers might grow.
The defectors are being sheltered in safe houses by the
Cuban-Canadian Foundation, a group of Cuban exiles led by
human rights activist Ismael Sambra.
The group of Catholics plans to seek political asylum,
arguing that they face persecution for their religious
beliefs in communist Cuba, their supporters said Monday.
''Freedom to express religious and political ideas -- this
is what they seek,'' Sambra said of the pilgrims, whom he
described as professionals in their 20s.
About 200 Cubans traveled to Canada, according to media
reports, after Fidel Castro issued 11th-hour approval.
Sambra, in a telephone interview, wouldn't give further
details on the defectors until the other visiting Cubans
leave Canada today, except to say that others might join the
Sambra said his group did not persuade the Cubans to leave
their delegation. ``They came with their own plans. . . . We
did not invoke them to leave the delegation. I want to make
Joe Garcia, executive director of the Miami-based Cuban
American National Foundation, which is assisting the
Canadian exile group, said of the defectors: ``They don't
feel safe coming out until the entire Cuban delegation
returns to the island.''
CANF will help provide attorneys for the men and women as
they prepare to file their claims for political asylum
claims in Canada.
''We have offered them any help they need,'' said Omar Lopez
Montenegro, who works with the human-rights branch of the
THE PROCESS NOW
Rejean Cantlon, spokesman for Canada's Citizenship and
Immigration Department, said he could not comment on the
defected Cubans since no formal applications have yet been
If they were to apply for refugee status, the Cubans would
see immigration officials in about a month, when a decision
would be made on their eligibility to apply. If rejected,
they would be sent home.
Sambra said he feels there's a good chance Canada will allow
the defectors to stay.
Despite a friendly relationship between the governments of
Cuba and Canada, in recent times Canada has routinely
granted requests for political asylum filed by Cuban
''Canadians are beginning to get an idea of how things
really are inside Cuba,'' Sambra said. ``I think they will
be allowed to stay with no problem.''
Rep. Lincoln Díaz-Balart sent a letter on behalf of the
Cubans to the Canadian ambassador to Washington as well as
to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. He also contacted Otto
Reich, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere
Affairs and the senior U.S. diplomat responsible for Cuban
Díaz-Balart's message to Canadian officials: ''Protect those
young people. Don't force them back to Cuba,'' he said.
The congressman called the episode an embarrassment to Cuba,
whose religious leaders had boasted that defections were
unlikely during the visit. It comes on the heels of last
week's arrival in Miami of Alcibiades Hidalgo, a one-time
high-ranking Cuban official.
Hidalgo, 56, has served variously as the manager of the
office of Raúl Castro -- Cuba's defense chief, the regime's
number-two official, and President Fidel Castro's brother
and designated successor.
The defections of Hidalgo and the Cubans in Canada are
''proof that the Castro regime is worse than ever,''
Díaz-Balart said. ``It demonstrates that no matter how many
assurances are given, that people are not going to willingly
want to return to totalitarianism. I'm sure there were more
who would have liked to stay.''
It remained unclear Monday how members of the faith group
managed to elude the security police, but they slipped away
while the Pope preached to the masses. Garcia and
Díaz-Balart said they both had heard rumblings of possible
defections during the visit.
''We knew that a few were going to try to stay, but the
number grew,'' Garcia said.
The defections were officially announced Monday in a somber
statement issued in Havana by Orlando Marquez, head of the
Cuban Catholic Bishops Conference, who returned from Canada.
''As of this morning, 23 young people have broken off from
the delegation with the intention of not returning to
Cuba,'' Marquez said. ``I have been informed that this
development has embittered the rest of the delegation.''
The official Cuban media had not reported on the defections
as of Monday evening.
Most of those defected are from the dioceses of Pinar del
Río in western Cuba, and Santiago de Cuba, on the island's
Some of the youths were ''assisted by family members who
traveled from the United States, and others did so
individually, leaving goodbye notes,'' Marquez said.
Garcia said a New Jersey exile related to one of the
defectors is in Canada, but his role in the defections, if
any, is unknown.
''I don't think any exiles from Miami have gone to Canada,''
This past Wednesday, Guantánamo Bishop Carlos Balandrón said
in Toronto that the size of the relatively large Cuban
delegation was a goodwill gesture from President Fidel
Castro toward the church. The Cuban delegation included four
bishops and several priests and nuns.
Nearly 60 percent of Cubans consider themselves Catholic but
less than 4 percent actively practice the religion under the
government of Fidel Castro.
Herald staff writer Carol Rosenberg and staff translator
Renato Pérez contributed to this report, which was
supplemented by Herald wire services.
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