A Catholic priest, Father Castor Álvarez, was arrested and jailed after being beaten in Camagüey while defending a group of young protesters on Sunday during the many protests of the communist government in Cuba.
It has been confirmed by ACI Prensa that the priest has been held at the police station in Montecarlo. He is being accused of public disorder. On Monday, July 12, the communist government announced they would be holding Ålvarez on various charges for 96 hours.
The Archbishop of Camagüey, Wilfredo Pino Estevez, made an effort to see the jailed priest on Monday morning, according to sources related to the Church in Cuba. Estevez was allowed to return to the police station later on Monday afternoon. According to the source, there were also young Catholics from Camagüey and even Florida still being detained.
Lay people, religious sisters, and priests held a peaceful demonstration demanding the priest’s freedom at the police station at 8:00 a.m. Monday morning. ACI Prensa was told by Father Rolando Montes de Oce of the Camagüey Archdiocese that “there are, in fact, several elements that help to understand” where the protesters are coming from.
Reasons for the Protests
“The economic situation in this moment is complicated, and it has aggravated much more with an economic maneuver that the government made at the beginning of the year, called economic reordering or something like that, that in the end has made life much more difficult. Inflation is huge and basic necessities like food have become very difficult to get. There is a very bad situation of material poverty.”
Along with the economic crisis, Father Montes de Oca says there has been great suffering throughout Cuba due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We are in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. There is a lot of information about people dying, people that do not receive medical attention. Hospitals are collapsing. We see images of sick people in corridors, even on stretchers on the floor.”
The priest continued, “There is a tremendous lack of medicines. Many people do not have a pain reliever. For instance, there are no aspirins. We are not talking about high-end drugs. Nobody has them. They are practically non-existent, sometimes they aren’t even in hospitals.”
While the country is suffering, “the government has denied that there is a collapse at the medical level, saying that everything is under control. Meanwhile, reality says something completely different.”
Reliving the Past
“It is a situation that takes us Cubans back to a period of crisis, which is a kind of national trauma, the special period in the years 1992, 1993, and 1994, in which there were blackouts for many hours. Blackouts now occur almost daily. This and the heat of Cuba and mosquitoes make weather almost unbearable.”
The priest says this is all “part of the explanation” of the protests that took place on Sunday “practically throughout the country.” He continued, “there has been a lot of pressure inside the pot, and this has exploded. This that is happening in Cuba is unique, at least in the last six decades. I’m 40 years old, and I had never seen something like this: all the protests and all the violent repression of the government.”
“The president has spoken on national TV and has said that the order to fight has been given, and we are ready for anything. He has obviously blamed the United States for the whole situation Cuba is going through, and he has said that we must go against these protesters with everything,” Father Montes de Oca said. He continued, “And yes, there has been a lot of violence against the protesters who were peaceful.”
Jeffrey Stevens is a published author and is currently earning his second degree in theology from Aidan University. His writing career has focussed on living the Christian faith, mixed with some sports writing from time to time.
Jeffrey regularly writes on his personal website and blog, “The Catholic Wordsmith.” In addition, he’s written articles about his faith on websites such as Big Pulpit, Catholic 365, Catholic Stand, and Joshua’s Outpost. As a sports writer, Jeffrey has written articles that have been published on Sports Illustrated, ESPN, and Bleacher Report.
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