A largely overlooked column by human rights advocate Armando Valadares raises questions about the initiative of Pope Francis toward the “island-prison” of Cuba.
In early January, Valladares, who spent 22 years in Castro’s prisons and went on to write a highly influential book about it, says the recent opening to Cuba by the West is part of an “Obama-Francis axis” that he calls a “spiritual-political axis which… will now provide the repressive apparatus of the Cuban regime with rivers of money and favorable publicity.”
He says Pope Francis and President Obama are merely replacing the Soviet Union, then Venezuela, and finally Brazil as Castro’s financial enablers.
Two days after the simultaneous December 19th announcement by Rome, Washington, and Havana of the diplomatic rapprochement, Valladares reported a Cuban Coast Guard boat “began ramming a boat fleeing Cuba with 32 people on board, including seven women and two children, to sink the frail craft.” Valladares called it “a brutal action by a regime that feels back up by powerful allies. A criminal event so seriously damning for the Castro regime would deserve a worldwide outcry of repudiation but was hardly noticed…”
He said the event wasn’t even notice by “churchmen who should imitate the Good Shepard by being ready to give their lives for their sheep.”
Valladares, who served as U.S. Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission under Presidents Reagan and Bush, charges that the “most serious and tragic aspect of this agreement” between the US and Cuba, “falls upon Pope Francis, its most eminent architect and mediator.”
But, he says, “This is not the first time that Francis takes measures that objectively favor the political and ecclesiastical left in Latin America… For example, he personally attended the World Meeting of Popular Movements held in Rome from October 27 to 29. It gathered 100 revolutionary world leaders, including well-known Latin American professional agitators.” Valladeres called the meeting a kind of “beatification of these Marxist-inspired revolutionary figures…”
Valladares also points to Francis’s overturning the suspension of the Nicaraguan priest Miquel D’Escoto who had been the Foreign Minister of the revolutionary Sandanista regime, “a leading pro-Castro figure in liberation theology.”
Where Valladares might be described as a man of the right, a man of the farthest left sees the same thing in Francis and approves.
Richard Greeman, a writer for the Marxist website New Politics, wonders if “Catholicism is the new communism.” He describes his years, after the Second Vatican Council, working in Latin America, participating in the rise of “liberation theology.” He says, “Liberation theology Catholics were consistently more revolutionary than Leftists of all stripes.”
After that, though, came the dark years for Greeman, “John Paul II put the Church firmly back on the side of the privileged” and Benedict XVI was even more “reactionary… turning the clock back on women and reproductive rights…”
He celebrated the rise of Francis: “I didn’t dare dream [that] Pope Francis would have called a World Meeting of Popular Movements… There, in the presence of Bolivia’s radical President Evo Morales, Francis declared that ‘solidarity with the poor is the very grounding of the Gospels’ and that ‘agrarian reform is not only a political need, but also a moral one.” Greeman says these are “the words of a popular leader reaching out to his base.”
Judith Marshall, one of the Canadian delegates to the meeting with Francis, writing inLinks International Journal of Socialist Renewal, said, “Pope Francis was a central force in creating this gathering in Rome,” and, “As the newly installed head of a major institution of the global establishment, Pope Francis has arguably made the Papacy the most radical and consistent voice in pointing to the profanity of global inequality and exclusion.”