Cuba: The Priest, the Levite, and the Good Samaritan

Photo taken from the internet

For many people throughout the world Sundays are not only a day of rest but also of worship.  Traditionally, Sundays are the days in which believers of Christ’s Gospel attend mass in their respective temples.  In Cuba, Sundays have become just another day of violence, in which not even churches provide protection for the persecuted, due to fear of any sort of repercussion on behalf of those in power, or simply because they do not care.  This report, with declarations from the Cuban dissident and human rights activist  Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, should have been published a few days ago.  But because his phone was blocked by the authorities of the dictatorship, it took longer than usual to record.

The Ladies in White have been victims of violence on countless occasions since they formed.  In the Eastern region of the country, they have recently been victims of a ruthless operation on behalf of the dictatorship, with the sole purpose of intimidating them and impeding them from peacefully marching.   On the 17th, 24th, and 31st Sundays of July  as well as the 7th Sunday of August, the violence has been going overboard and numerous women, as well as children, elderly, other dissidents, and neighbors who have joined in solidarity have suffered fractures, beatings, arrests, and the list goes on and on.  The most recent case, on August 7th, something happened which Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia considers to be the same situation as that narrated in the Parable of the Good Samaritan of the Bible.

That Sunday, before the accustomed beating and mob repudiation attack was carried out against these women dressed in white, they all tried to assist mass in the cathedral of Santiago de Cuba.  “There wasn’t a priest in the cathedral, so there was no mass held.  However, a nun and a religious figure, who neither I or the women know his name, spoke some words“, tells Jose Daniel Ferrer.  Upon stepping out of the temple the women noticed functionaries of the government dressed both in civilian clothes and in uniform, threatening them.  Seeing this, the women went back to see the nun and the religious person and they denounced the fact that there were aggressors waiting for them.   “The man responded in a foul manner, telling the ladies that they could not be there.  He asked if they had been attacked, and they responded by saying that they hadn’t.  He responded by telling them to get out of the temple, that he would be watching“.  The women were kicked out of the cathedral.  According to Ferrer, “they had barely stepped out of the temple when the man and the nun slammed the door on them, nearly shutting it on their heels“.

What happened afterward was a mob repudiation attack against the home of Jose Daniel Ferrer, threats, stonings, and a savage beating of neighbors and fellow activists which interceded for the women.  In this case, the images speak for themselves:

These photos were made public by Luis Enrique Ferrer, exiled brother of Jose Daniel, on his Facebook account.

During this whole time, no religious figure interceded for the victims, proving the comparison with these events and the story of the Good Samaritan.  In this parable, perhaps the most popular one of the Bible, Jesus explains the significance of love for your fellow human beings:

‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c]and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

   36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

 37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

   Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” [Luke 10:25-37]

The attitude of the religious Cuban who slammed the door of his temple to defenseless women demanding human rights and democracy “does not reflect the behavior expected of someone who follows Christ“, assures Ferrer Garcia.  “Comparing this to the parabola we can see that the nun and the ‘religious’ man did not act as good Samaritans.  In fact, they acted more like the priest and the Levite who saw a fallen man, victim of violence, and just left him thrown there on the road“.  In this case, those who behaved as Good Samaritans were the neighbors of the dissidents who received beatings, stonings, and violence for doing what was right and trying to defend the oppressed.

According to the dissident, “the political police used its mechanisms of pressure and coercion to pressure these people to act this way“.  Although it is shocking to know that there can be people who are supposedly ‘of faith’ that can lend themselves to blackmail, apathy, and violence, it is not unheard of under dictatorships.  Ferrer explains that, “In Poland, for example, there were about 30 or more priests who were working together with the political police because of blackmail, because of fear, or other reasons.  When Cuba is free and the national archives are opened, the list of priests, nuns, pastors, and other religious figures who were at the service of the dictatorship will be very long“.  But it is also important to point out that in Cuba, there have also been men of faith who have stood next to the suffering people, names like the recently deceased Pedro Meurice, like Jose Conrado, Mario Barroso, and many others.

Jose Daniel finalizes his declarations warning that the political police, together with the Communist Party, are pretending to care for the people in that region of the country, with double intentions of course.  This weekend (Aug. 12th-14th), explains Ferrer, “they have announced that there will be a two day party- on Saturday the 13th in celebration of the dictator’s birthday, and Sunday simply because it is the day when the Ladies in White march“.  The dissident adds that “they have promised two days of celebrations with alcohol, music, entertainment, etc.  They are giving the people this weekend what they never do otherwise“, just like in the times of Rome when emperors would give the people ‘food and circus’ to distract them and focus their energies away from protesting against those in power.  “They do this to go against all the effects being produced by the opposition with their activities in this town and in surrounding areas“, affirms Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia.  And according to him, as well as to the Ladies in White, despite closed doors, insults, beatings against them and friends and dissidents, they will keep assisting mass and marching peacefully because they do have faith.

Cuba: The Priest, the Levite, and the Good Samaritan

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