SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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THE VISIT OF HIS HOLINESS POPE JOHN PAUL II TO CUBA: AN ASSESSMENT OF ITS IMPACT ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN CUBA
SUBCOMMITTEE ON THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
MARCH 4, 1998
Printed for the use of the Committee on International Relations
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BENJAMIN A. GILMAN, New York, Chairman
WILLIAM GOODLING, Pennsylvania
JAMES A. LEACH, Iowa
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois
DOUG BEREUTER, Nebraska
CHRISTOPHER SMITH, New Jersey
DAN BURTON, Indiana
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida
CASS BALLENGER, North Carolina
DANA ROHRABACHER, California
DONALD A. MANZULLO, Illinois
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California
PETER T. KING, New York
JAY KIM, California
STEVEN J. CHABOT, Ohio
MARSHALL ''MARK'' SANFORD, South Carolina
MATT SALMON, Arizona
AMO HOUGHTON, New York
TOM CAMPBELL, California
JON FOX, Pennsylvania
JOHN McHUGH, New York
LINDSEY GRAHAM, South Carolina
ROY BLUNT, Missouri
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCKEVIN BRADY, Texas
LEE HAMILTON, Indiana
SAM GEJDENSON, Connecticut
TOM LANTOS, California
HOWARD BERMAN, California
GARY ACKERMAN, New York
ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American Samoa
MATTHEW G. MARTINEZ, California
DONALD M. PAYNE, New Jersey
ROBERT ANDREWS, New Jersey
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
SHERROD BROWN, Ohio
CYNTHIA A. McKINNEY, Georgia
ALCEE L. HASTINGS, Florida
PAT DANNER, Missouri
EARL HILLIARD, Alabama
WALTER CAPPS, California
BRAD SHERMAN, California
ROBERT WEXLER, Florida
STEVE ROTHMAN, New Jersey
BOB CLEMENT, Tennessee
BILL LUTHER, Minnesota
JIM DAVIS, Florida
RICHARD J. GARON, Chief of Staff
MICHAEL H. VAN DUSEN, Democratic Chief of Staff
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Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere
ELTON GALLEGLY, California, Chairman
CASS BALLENGER, North Carolina
MARSHALL ''MARK'' SANFORD, South Carolina
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey
DAN BURTON, Indiana
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida
JAY KIM, California
ROY BLUNT, Missouri
KEVIN BRADY, Texas
GARY L. ACKERMAN, New York
MATTHEW MARTINEZ, California
ROBERT E. ANDREWS, New Jersey
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
CYNTHIA A. McKINNEY, Georgia
BRAD SHERMAN, California
VINCE MORELLI, Subcommittee Staff Director
PAUL BONICELLI, Professional Staff Member
DAVID ADAMS, Democratic Professional Staff Member
HOLLY FEIOCK, Staff Associate
C O N T E N T S
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Thomas E. Quigley, Policy Advisor, Latin American and Caribbean Affairs, U.S. Catholic Conference, Department of Social Development and World Peace
Dr. Jorge Dominguez, Professor, Center for International Affairs, Harvard University
Mr. Leonardo Viota-Sesin, Treasurer, Institute for Democracy in Cuba
Mr. Shawn Malone, Associate Director, Cuba Project, Center for Latin American Studies, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University
Mr. Rafael Penalver, Attorney, Penalver & Penalver
Mr. Thomas E. Quigley
Dr. Jorge Dominguez
Mr. Leonardo Viota-Sesin
Mr. Shawn Malone
Mr. Rafael Penalver
Additional material submitted for the record:
Two statements of the U.S. Catholic Conference on Cuba submitted by Mr. Quigley
Three issues of OriginsCNS Documentary Service submitted by Mr. Quigley
Letter of December 14 to The Most Reverend John Clement Favarola submitted by Mr. Penalver
''Religious Repression in Cuba'', written by Mr. Juan Clark, Ph.D. and submitted by Mr. Penalver
''CRECED'', a summary of the Catholic exile community, submitted by Mr. Penalver
THE VISIT OF HIS HOLINESS POPE JOHN PAUL II TO CUBA: AN ASSESSMENT OF ITS IMPACT ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN CUBA
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 4, 1998
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCHouse of Representatives,
Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere,
Committee on International Relations,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 1:52 p.m., in room 2172, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Elton Gallegly (chairman of the Subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. GALLEGLY. [presiding] At this time, I would like to open the hearing and call the witnesses forward.
Today the Subcommittee begins its hearing for the second session of the 105th Congress by assessing the impact of perhaps one of the most historic events of this decade, the papal visit to Cuba.
On January 21, some 40 days ago, His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, landed on Cuban soil and for the next 5 days engaged in a whirlwind tour of the island nation presenting at least 11 speeches and homilies delivering messages of hope, religious tolerance, family values, moral courage, social justice and human rights to the Catholic faithful of Cuba and calling on them to renew their faith in, and support for, the Catholic church.
The Pope's trip, which included visits to four cities and two meeting with Fidel Castro, was covered by over 3,000 international media representatives and drew mass crowds of Cubans wherever he went, including an estimated 250,000 at his farewell mass in Havana.
While the Pope's trip was pastoral in nature and addressed traditional church issues such as family, morality, Christian education and the need for more priests and nuns to administer the faithful, he did not hesitate to criticize the Cuban Government for its lack of religious tolerance, its human rights violations, its prohibition on freedom of association and the regime's ongoing efforts to make political prisoners out of those practicing freedom of expression.
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC While the general consensus seems to be that the Pope's visit was positive in its objective of renewing the faith of the Catholic population, it is not likely that the visit will produce immediate or far-reaching political change in Cuba, beyond a tolerance for more open religious activities or the occasional release of prisoners from jail.
Nor did the trip seem to give the Castro regime the new international legitimacy sought by Castro.
What was most evident, however, was that the Pope's visit did confirm that the people of Cuba are ready for change, however slight, and that the apparent emergence of a reinvigorated Catholic church, if real and long-lasting, could provide a catalyst for social, economic, and political change in Cuba.
Our hearing today will attempt to assess the impact of the Pope's visit on both the future of the Catholic church as the spiritual leader of Cuban Catholics and its potential to serve as an agent for social, economic, and political change in Cuba.
I want to welcome our distinguished panel here today and look forward to their testimony.
But before recognizing our witnesses, I'd certainly like to refer to our Ranking Member, my good friend from New York, Mr. Ackerman, if he has any opening remarks.
Mr. ACKERMAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. As you stated, and as we know, a few short weeks ago, Pope John Paul II completed a historic visit to Cuba. By any reckoning, this visit has improved the atmosphere in which the church works and has increased the space in society available to the church.
In the runup to the visit, the Castro regime relaxed certain restrictions on the church. The church was granted permission to conduct open-air services and processions. Lay workers were allowed to go door-to-door to inform parishioners of the visit and the church had access to media for the publishing of the Pope's Christmas message in Granma by allowing a televised speech by Cardinal Ortega, and by providing at the last minute, live coverage of the papal masses.
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC While these steps are welcome, there is much in Cuba that remains unchanged. The State Department's Human Rights Report on Cuba notes that other significant barriers to religious freedoms remain. For example, Cuba continues to enforce a resolution preventing any Cuban from selling any computers, fax machines, photo copiers, or other equipment to the church.
The government requires churches and other religious groups to register with the provincial registry of association to obtain official recognition. And the government continues its harassment of private houses of worship, evicting residents from homes used for worship.
The question is, can the small gains afforded to the church be sustained. Even as Castro released prisoners in response to the Pope's request, others have been arrested. The pattern of release and arrest is one that we have seen before and it is not a good omen.
In his departure address, the Pope spoke extemporaneously about the falling rain. He quoted Isaiah, ''Rise up o' heavens from above, and may clouds rain down justice.'' The reference is to the Persian army's seige of Babylon where the Jews in exile hoped the ultimate defeat of Babylon would deliver them to Palestine.
The Pope's use of this quote clearly suggests that he sees Cubans as exiles in their own land. But it's hoped that the Pope's visit is the beginning of Cuba's delivery from freedom. Last in response to requests from the Pope, Castro has released a significantI guess I said that already.
It was important that we underline that, Mr. Chairman, I'm sure.
Let us hope that this is the beginning of the delivery of the Cuban people from exile in their own land, and I look forward to the testimony of our witnesses.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Thank you very much, Mr. Ackerman.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Anyone else have an opening statement? Roy? Mr. Menendez?
Mr. MENENDEZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, the universal declaration of human rights guarantees among other rights the right to practice religion. Ironically, not only is Cuba a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it, in fact, was the genesis of the idea for the declaration.
It was Cuba's ambassador under President Grau at the Seventh Plenary meeting of the U.N. General Assembly who presented a motion to adopt a declaration on the rights of man and a declaration on the rights and duties of nations which served as the genesis for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was adopted in 1948.
''Do not be afraid,'' Pope John Paul II told the Cuban people. ''No ideology can replace his,'' meaning Christ's infinite wisdom and power. The Pope's message can only be interpreted as a papal rebuke of Castro's nearly 4 decades of tyranny. That autonomy can serve as an opening. Pope John Paul II's appeal on behalf of the church could provide that much-needed spark not only for freedom of religion, but for freedom. And yet, as we sit here today, the spark of opportunity present by the Pope's papal visit is passing, in my view, in absence of world attention. The Pope has returned to the Vatican. The media, for the most part, has gone home. The Cuban people have resumed their daily lives. I'd like to give you a brief feeling for life in Cuba since the Pope's visit. Since the Pope left Cuba, Castro has had himself re-elected, and would underline that ''re-elected,'' to a fifth term as President, and has reaffirmed his commitment to the revolution in one of his 7-hour tirades before the parliament. Since the Pope's visit, 31 Cuban dissidents have been or will soon be prosecuted for political crimes. Life in Cuba has gone on much as usual. The Pope's visit did achieve a measure of success for religious freedom, but without the continued oversight of the international community and the media, in short order, that success will recede and the opportunity for further change could be lost.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In closing, I'd like to quote an article written by Tom Carter in The Washington Times which accurately describes how the absence of attention, particularly by the media, has allowed Castro to operate in an unmitigated fashion.
He said, ''We knew Nelson Mandela's name long before he was released from South African jail because reporters made his name known. All over the United States and Europe, people prayed in synagogues and churches for the release of Russian dissidents from Soviet imprisonment or exile.
''For most of the last 25 years, the western press has championed the universal rights to free speech, press, association and religion. Reporters made heroes out of people willing to stand up to totalitarian governments on the left or the right.
''Amnesty International lists 600 prisoners of conscience currently rotting in the Cuban gulag. So why, with over 3,000 American reporters credentialed to cover the Pope's visit to Cuba was there so little news from those opposed to Mr. Castro's Communist parade?''
He concludes, ''In Cuba, the Wei Jinsheng's, the Nelson Mandela's, and the Andrew Sakaroff's, are disappearing for lack of international attention.''
I hope, Mr. Chairman, that we won't let this historic opportunity and all of what it means for the potential change, not only for religious freedoms that Pope John Paul II has accomplished, but also for freedom itself to go by the wayside for lack of attention of those people within Cuba who are trying to make the Pope's message come true: ''Do not be afraid.''
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. GALLEGLY. I thank the gentleman from New Jersey. The gentleman from the 24th District of California, Mr. Sherman. Do you have any opening remarks?
Mr. SHERMAN. For once in my life I'm speechless.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Well, it's kind of refreshing.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Laughter.]
And I say that with great admiration.
With that, we'll open the hearing, and call on our first witness, Mr. Thomas Quigley, policy advisor, Latin American and Caribbean Affairs, U.S. Catholic Conference, Department of Social Development and World Peace. Mr. Quigley.
STATEMENT OF THOMAS E. QUIGLEY, POLICY ADVISOR, LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN AFFAIRS, U.S. CATHOLIC CONFERENCE, DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT AND WORLD PEACE
Mr. QUIGLEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I wish to thank you and the Committee for giving us an opportunity to reflect on the visit of Pope John Paul II to Cuba.
And I also thank and commend you for H. Res. 362, the House Resolution ''Commending the visit of His Holiness, Pope John Paul II to Cuba.'' It expresses very well many of the perceptions of the visit, and concerns shared also by the leadership of the Catholic church in this country.
My prepared testimony consists first of some observations about the goals and expectations of the visit as expressed prior to the Pope's arrival; second, some comments on the visit itself, highlighting a couple of the more striking aspects; and third, a review of the post-visit statements of the Pope and the Cuban bishops.
With your permission, Mr. Chairman, I'll read an abbreviated form of the statement and ask that the entire text be included in the record.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Without objection, all the statements today will be made a part of the record of the hearing.
Mr. QUIGLEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
What expectations were lifted up prior to the Cuba visit? In his New Year's address to the diplomatic corps, accredited to the Holy See, the Pope summarized his goal for the visit as offering the ''Opportunity to strengthen not only the courageous Catholics of that country
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. ACKERMAN. Could you just pull that microphone a little closer?
Mr. QUIGLEY. I'd be glad to.
Mr. ACKERMAN. Thanks.
Mr. QUIGLEY. ''not only the courageous Catholics of that country, but also all their fellow citizens in their efforts to achieve a homeland ever more just and united, where all individuals can find their rightful place and see their legitimate aspirations realized.'' It was to strengthen and hearten the long-suffering people of Cuba.
And in their pastoral letter last November, the Cuban bishops wrote, ''The Pope comes to announce to today's Cuban the truth about Jesus Christ and the human person so that we might have hope.''
Giving hope to the Cuban people, especially giving heart and encouragement to the faithfuls, all of whom have suffered in various ways throughout these last decades was an often-cited theme. The Pope was coming, as the posters that appeared all over the cities proclaimed, as messenger of truth and of hope.
Bishop Emilio Aranguren, the secretary of the bishops' conference and one of the key organizers of the visit offered some five expectations or hopes for the Pope's visit: First, to be able to preach Jesus Christ openly; second, to feed the hope of the people as they face the future; third, to help the country recover its ethical values, personal, familial and social; fourth, to gain recognition of the church's threefold mission in society, that of public worship, of prophetic voice and of service to the needy; and finally, fifth, to foster reconciliation among all the Cuban people, on the island and in the diaspora. Each of these themes was to be reflected again and again in the discourses of John Paul II.
From the very beginning, on arrival at Jose Marti airport, the Pope sounded the themes of hope, freedom, mutual truth, social justice and peace, and used the phrase that would become emblematic throughout the visit: no tengan miedo, be not afraid.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It was the same phrase with which he had begun his pontificate 20 years ago: ''Do not be afraid to open your hearts to Christ.'' It was to reverberate among the many thousands who came out to pray with him at each of the four open air masses.
''May Cuba, with all its magnificent potential,'' he urged, ''open itself up to the world, and may the world open itself up to Cuba, so that this people, which is working to make progress and which longs for concord and peace, may look to the future with hope.''
It is no exaggeration to say that seldom if ever before has Cuba so opened itself to the world and the world to Cuba as during those 5 days. Whether the weeks and months that follow will demonstrate the fulfillment or the frustration of that prayerful plea is what, I presume, lies at the heart of these hearings.
Without prejudice to the unknowable future, and the possibility of a reversal of the religious gains, evidently achieved before, during and immediately after the papal visit, one can and should acknowledge the concessions made by the State in order that the visit might succeed. The government allowed for the first time, many things that had been proscribed for over 30 years: open air services and processions with the statue of Our Lady of Charity in every diocese; door-to-door visitations by thousands of active lay Catholics to tell their neighbors about the upcoming visit; the issuance of a number of visas for foreign clergy and religions to come to work in Cuba; publication in Granma of the Pope's Christmas message to the Cuban people; and reestablishing Christmas, at least for that year, as an official holiday; granting Cardinal Ortega a half-hour on national TV and at the last minute, allowing all of the papal masses to be carried live and uncensored.
It was the first time that so many things happened for the first time. It was even the first time that Cubans saw their President wearing a business suit in Cuba.
But, it is important to stress this, the stirring and eloquent words of Holy Father, while so dramatic as they were being heard in the context of this extraordinary event, were not, in fact, being said in Cuba for the first time. So much of what the Pope said, on the family and the challenges confronted by today's society, on the breakdown of basic moral values, on the need to extend and respect people's freedom and human rights, on restrictions imposed on the Cuban people from within and from abroad, on the need for reconciliation within the Cuban family on the island and with the Cubans of the diaspora, all of these have been central to the Cuban church's message to its people for over a decade.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Among the several pastoral letters and exhortations issued by the Conference of Catholic Bishops in recent years, probably none is more significant than the 1993 pastoral letter, ''Love Hopes All Things.'' There can be found much of what the Pope was later to say.
Much of the letter is a searing indictment of the breakdown of moral values, social harmony and material sufficiency that the Pope referred to in his visit. Even the justly praised welcoming remarks in Santiago de Cuba by Archbishop Pedro Meurice who chided those who confuse the Nation with one political partyla patria con un partidoor the nation's culture with an ideology, all this was already part of the discourse of the Cuban bishops when they singled out the ''closed and omnipresent quality of the official ideology, which leads to identifying terms which cannot be made synonymous such as homeland and socialism, nation and government, Cuban and revolutionary.''
What was new in 1998 was the reception such remarks received from the authorities. After the 1993 pastoral there were not-so-veiled threats, charges of treason circulating in some of the Cuban media. No longer, it seems, is that the case, illustrated best by the farewell extended to the Pope by President Castro when he warmly thanked the Pope, ''for every word you have said, even those I might disagree with.''
Following the visit, the Pope spoke on January 28 of ''this unforgettable papal visit'' and directed special recognition to President Castro and the other authorities who made it possible, and to all who gave him such ''a moving welcome''.
He spoke of the people having become ''reconciled with their own history'' and the visit as ''a great event of spiritual, cultural and social reconciliation that will not fail to produce beneficial results on other levels.''
The Pope summed up by asking, ''How can we not acknowledge that this visit takes on an eminently symbolic value due to the unique position that Cuba has occupied in world history in this century ... This visit of the Pope came to give voice to the Christian soul of the Cuban people.''
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In the February 12 message to all the people of Cuba, ''Open Your Hearts to Christ,'' the Cuban bishops also thanked those who cooperated to make the visit a success, ''From the highest authorities of the country who treated the Holy Father with exquisite care to the humblest workers.''
The bishops noted the ''marked social nature'' of much of the Pope's discourse including his reference in Havana to the ''social gospel'' and his frequent treatment of themes such as justice within and among nations, and his reference to the challenges posed by today's ''neoliberal capitalism''.
References to freedom were frequent; indeed a word search of the homilies comes up with 53 occurrences of libertad, a word that was chanted repeatedly from the thousands in the plaza on Sunday. ''In the same line of his social teaching'', the bishops further recall, ''in referring to the restrictive economic measures imposed on Cuba from outside, he called them clearly unjust and ethically unacceptable.''
The bishops end their message by citing reasons for hope, including the recent pardons granted by the government to a good number of prisoners, and the re-established or strengthened relations with other countries that followed the visit. These are already some of the genuine reasons for our having confidence in the future, say the bishops.
The U.S. Catholic Conference, Mr. Chairman, has also expressed its hope and a measure of confidence that the several concessions made by the Cuban authorities, before, during and after the visit, bode well for other improvements within Cuba. Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, speaking for the Conference, has taken note of these concrete steps and urged that there be reciprocal steps taken by our Government. I would ask, in closing, that the two recent statements of the Conference on Cuba be included in the record.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Quigley appears in the appendix.]
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GALLEGLY. Thank you very much, Mr. Quigley. As you've noticed, our colleague from Florida, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, has arrived, and if there is no objection, I'd like to give her an opportunity to have an opening statement before we move on with the rest of our witnesses.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for this opportunity. I had a very important scheduled appointment to be with my daughters in their recitals this morning, and so I had to stay at home, and I thank you for the opportunity and I thank the panelists for being with us, especially pleased to see a constituent of my district, Rafael Penalver, here with us today. And thank you for scheduling him, Elton.
As I pondered about this hearing and focused on the aftermath of the Pope's visit, I was reminded of two things, both relating to His Holiness, Pope John Paul II.
First, I recalled his statement following his visit to Cuba when he said, ''I wish for our brothers and sisters on that beautiful island, that the fruits of this pilgrimage will be similar to the fruits of that pilgrimage to Poland.'' With these words, he further fueled the parallels being drawn between his homeland of Poland and my native homeland of Cuba.
And this leads to the second item I recall, the Pope's book entitled, ''Crossing the Threshold of Hope.'' While the Pope's visit has helped to initiate that journey toward hope and faith for the Cuban people, we must now cross that threshold of raised expectations about the Pope's visit and enter the realm of reality.
We cannot allow ourselves to be fooled by the mastermind of global public relations, Fidel Castro. We cannot base our decisions and opinions solely on the coverage provided during the Pope's visit, or the reporting taking place in its aftermath. The fact is that the coverage of the pontiff's visit left much to be desired. Reporting of isolated references superceded coverage of the Pope's message on the rights of man, the dignity of man, the respect for human rights, freedom, civil liberties. There was no coverage of those detained by the Cuban State security agents during the Pope's mass in Havana. Cubans detained for exerting their freedom of expression by crying out, ''We want justice and freedom,'' and for shouting, ''Down with Fidel.'' There was scarce coverage of political prisoners and human rights activists on the island, and while we all hope and pray that the Pope's visit to Cuba in January 1998 will mirror his momentous visit to Poland in 1979, the facts negate this expectation. The roles, strength and significance of the Catholic church are dramatically different and less in Cuba than it was in Poland. Also, the internal opposition, the leadership of the dictatorship, the status and the nature of the external support, are all different.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The fact is that the Castro regime has not changed nor will it. Let us not be fooled by cosmetics and temporary staged shows of so-called cooperation. The systematic strangulation of the Cuban people continues. While the Castro regime may release 70, 80, 100, prisoners today, not all prisoners of conscience, State security forces will tomorrow jail 700, 800, 1,000, others who had the courage to stand up to the oppression, to exert their rights as human beings and children of God. Those who on a daily basis, even before the Pope's visit, heard the call, ''Be not afraid,'' as our witness just pointed out.
Castro treats political prisoners as trinkets, tokens to be bestowed on visiting dignitaries. Whenever I hear of a VIP going to Cuba to meet with Castro, I think, well, at least a few brave souls will leave the squalid jail cells to rejoin the 11 million others who are enslaved on the island. But before the dignitaries' planes touch base back home, a few others will take their place in the jail cells of the recently released. Mas cosas cambian, menos que cambia, the more things change, the more they remain the same in Cuba.
We must all remember that while the outside appearance of Fidel Castro may change, the evil inside does not, nor will it ever. Despite crossing the threshold of hope and optimism, the shadow that is the reality of the Castro regime continues to loom over the Cuban people, keeping them in darkness as they search for the light of faith, as they search for the promise offered in the homilies of the Pope.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for this opportunity.
Mr. GALLEGLY. I thank the gentlelady from Florida. And our next witness is Dr. Jorge Dominguez, professor at the Center for International Affairs at Harvard University. Professor.
STATEMENT OF DR. JORGE DOMINGUEZ, PROFESSOR, CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, HARVARD UNIVERSITY
Dr. DOMINGUEZ. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee. It's genuinely a pleasure to be with you this afternoon.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think it is worth beginning these remarks by repeating a very important phrase that has just been mentioned by Representative Ros-Lehtinen, and before by Congressman Menendez and my fellow panelist. ''Be not afraid.''
I was at that open air mass in Havana, and fear was part of that crowd. The area where many of us entered that plaza was surrounded by people who looked and probably were thugs. And it really takes a while for the phrase to sink in. So those messages plastered all over the city, be not afraid, no tengas miedo, helped the organizers of the mass to develop this crowd and to empower them to participate in a liturgy that for many of them was really quite unusual.
The sense that I had, Mr. Chairman and Members, is that this was not, for the most part, a Roman Catholic crowd. At least where I was, at the moment of the Roman Catholic mass where the ''Our Father'' is supposed to be recited, overwhelmingly those around me had to read it. That prayer would be known to someone who has been participating in Roman Catholic masses, but was clearly not familiar enough to those who were around me.
What is striking, therefore, is that these people were serious, that they were engaged, that they wanted to participate in this event and that they wanted in some sense to free themselves from the fear and to open their lives to different possibilities.
It was a crowd, at least in the area where I was, that was not overly political. On the other hand, it was a crowd quite responsive to each and every one of the Pope's remarks with regard to church-State relations, and with regard to atheism. When the Pope reached the word, ''liberty'', the crowd around me broke out chanting for several minutes, libertad, libertad. It was a crowd that clearly understood that they were witnessing something that was quite different from the experiences in which they had lived.
One important theme of this visit is to recall the history and background of the Catholic church in Cuba. It had been weak before the revolution. In public opinion surveys conducted by the Roman Catholic bishops in Cuba in the 1950's, only one out of every four Cubans attended church on Sunday once a month. Only one out of every six marriages was formalized in a Roman Catholic church. It was a Roman Catholic church weakened before the revolution, weakened by the immigration, and weakened yet again by a government repression which was quite harsh.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In the early 1990's specifically, there has been a religious revival. This religious revival affects Roman Catholicism, which is our subject today, but it also can be witnessed with regard to other communities of faith. This religious revival is associated, as Tom Quigley just indicated, with a much greater willingness and frequence on the part of the Roman Catholic bishops in Cuba to speak out, to criticize specific government policies, and to address issues in the nation's larger culture.
It is, therefore, important to think of the Pope's visit to Cuba as an accelerator. It is not a meteorite from outer space. The Pope's visit is likely, I believe, to have a wider impact precisely because it comes in the wake of, and it is building on, this experience of personal and collective transformation.
The visit took place in the context of the Roman Catholic church where, to be a Roman Catholic in decades past, even in recent years, has entailed severe risks; it has entailed in some instances death, destruction, and abuse. This is a Roman Catholic community deeply committed to its faith. That minority of Cubans who choose to identify as Roman Catholics are indeed best described, borrowing a phrase from a different religious tradition, as having been born again. They really do understand the risks to themselves and to their families, from doing what they're doing, and yet they choose to engage and commit in that way. The Pope's visit, therefore, has strengthened these commitments, and widened the space, limited though it still is, for the Roman Catholic church to engage in its activities, in the ways that Tom Quigley just indicated. I am sure that other witnesses will elaborate.
Thinking then about the aftermath of the Pope's visit, I believe that one sees in Cuba already an experience similar to what the Roman Catholic church had in former-Communist Europe and in dictatorships in Latin America as well. The church is beginning to spread its wings and to provide an umbrella, to provide elements of protection for a wide variety of activities that occur under its sponsorship, not all of which are explicitly religious. So the archdiocesan magazine from the Archdiocese of Havana, for example, has been publishing regularly articles on the Cuban economy that are quite critical about Cuban Government economic policies. There is a variety of parish groups throughout the Archdiocese of Havana, which is the one I know a little better, that now have discussions of films, some of which may have religious components, but many of them are wide discussions of social and political circumstances. What has become possible through this premier institution in civil society is to enable Cubans to meet each other independent of the government. To enable Cubans, independent of the government, to talk to each other about issues that matter to them, allowing them to connect in other ways as opportunities may arise.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The church in this aftermath, we should all remember, remains organizationally quite weak. There are not enough priests in Cuba to be able to staff most churches in rural areas. There are not enough priests in Cuba to staff many churches in cities and towns. There are not enough priests in Cuba to staff a wide variety of organizational activities that would be significant for further transformation.
The final point that I'd like to make is that the experience of these religious changes of this religious revival in the early 1990's and of the Pope's visit, should be seen in a wider context as the State weakens and loosens its grip over the circumstances of Cuban society. That weakening of the grip of the State over Cuban society was evident clearly in the early 1990's with the growth of the scope and participation in illegal markets. That weakening of the grip of the State in Cuban society has also been evident in the greater opportunities for intellectuals to speak their mind even when the government attempts to repress them, they make sure that they can survive and can come back. Indeed, this weakening of the grip of the State is even evident in the most sensitive of all issues, the role of human rights groups and opposition groups. It is not news that the Cuban Government oppresses human rights and opposition activists. That is damnable, it has been done for a long time, it continues to occur.
The news in the 1990's is that the government can no longer succeed. When human rights activists or opposition activists are jailed, or otherwise harassed or beaten up, others rise to take their place. And when opposition groups are disbanded, new ones are created to advance the cause of human rights and the creation of an alternative political vision of the Cuba of today and tomorrow. It is in this context that the religious revival ought to be seen and the Pope's visit should be understood. Whether one is looking at areas of religion or the economy or the ordinary lives of citizens, or even areas of human rights and oppositions, Cubans today are beginning to take charge of their lives. Cubans today are collectively and individually beginning to seize the future and turn it around toward a Cuba that will be more responsive to the values that they hold dear and the hopes that they wish to make a reality.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Dominguez appears in the appendix.]
Mr. GALLEGLY. Thank you. Mr. Viota-Sesin.
STATEMENT OF LEONARDO VIOTA-SESIN, TREASURER, INSTITUTE FOR DEMOCRACY IN CUBA
Mr. VIOTA-SESIN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Congressmen, for the opportunity of being here today and bear on this very important issue for those of us who were born in Cuba and certainly others that feel that this is an important measuring stick in the future of this island so close to the United States, both geographically and in its history.
The visit to Cuba by the Pope marks what I think is an era of potential change on the island. The 5-day visit which attracted millions of Cubans to the different venues and the positive and affectionate response with which they received the Pope and his message marks it as an unequivocal success.
It is this different message delivered by this messenger and the reception and responses from the multitudes that will mark the importance and ultimately affect his visit.
The willingness of His Holiness to be engaged on the Cuba issue on behalf of his church, but also the broader message that he espoused has publicly identified him as public and future participant in other Cuban-related issues, including although not limited to, an expanding role for the Catholic church in Cuba. The attraction and popularity shown to the Pope by the people will also serve to legitimize these future aspirations by the Catholic church.
This newfound popularity is, of course, as far as we're concerned, a very welcome development for several and different reasons.
First, a logical product of the Pope's visit is an expansion of the role of the church. We must measure this new role realistically lest frustration and disappointment set in, in the future. The Catholic church in Cuba had been persecuted from the beginning of the Castro dictatorship, as Dr. Dominguez just outlined. It passed through a period of marginalization, and only recently has the church begun to assert a new, more involved role. But because this emergence is a recent phenomenon, the church is, once again as Dr. Dominguez pointed out, in a very weak condition, and the process in which it is involved is still in its infancy stages, and, quite frankly, the church's new role is yet undefined.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The church will clearly continue to expand in its mission of providing humanitarian and mostly medicines and food aid to those in great need. It is possible that as a result of these successful efforts, other religious denominations will seek to also expand on their own roles with the Cuban society, protected by the veils of this new legitimacy that's created through the Catholic church's efforts.
Since the Catholic church is not in the process of expanding its proselyte base as well as the number to tender to its expanding flock, it is to be expected that other religious denominations can, and probably will, do so as well. Launching, then, new persecution efforts against say, Baptist ministers will be heretofore more difficult for the regime as they've done in the past against individuals like Orson Vila or the past persecutions against Jehovah Witnesses throughout the island.
If, in the short run, the Pope's visit fuels a revitalization of religious participation, then this is a welcome development. The institutional, ethical, and moral framework that religions provide, mainstream or not, is one alternative to the ones we've known up to now, the revolutionary ethic. The value systems espoused by religions in general will continue to advance in response to the exhaustion of ideology experienced by the regime in the aftermath of the demise of Marxism and the lack of an alternative message to the officiation ''socialism or death'' slogan.
Expecting the Catholic church in Cuba to be the sole agent of change, I don't think would be very realistic, even if it were its preference. At this initial stage, quite frankly, that church cannot and probably will not be aggressive enough to demand changes in other spheres of Cuban society. It must now demonstrate a non-antagonistic character in order to continue to impress governmental officials that it is not interested in confrontation with the authorities, and can be trusted to be a reliable intermediary.
But the Catholic church's crucial role in creating these additional spaces in Cuba should receive our encouragement and support, for it is both a necessary and desirable objective of our policy, whether for the short-term effects or the longer-range formation of future leaders of the country.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC However, we cannot and we should not rely on the Catholic church to be the sole agent of change. Even in the wake of the Pope's visit, potential agents of change are coming and will continue to develop from all walks of life, religious or not.
In Cuba, there is an emerging civil society comprised of independent journalists, economists, academicians, physicians, labor leaders, attorneys and just plain common ordinary folk. Cuba's certain but deferred transition to democracy will depend on the advance of all of these groups. Because of the deterioration of the Cuban economy and the pressure being exerted on the Cuban Government by the international community to implement concrete changes, there now exists an opportunity for the opposition movement to become permanently established in Cuba. This establishment in turn, will serve the ends of a peaceful transition to democracy and lay the foundation for the future of civil society in Cuba.
This policy is also consistent with the Pope's ultimate message. The Pope sought to bridge the abyss that has separated the two important components of the Cuban nation. By calling on both to work together, the Pope's ulterior motive was clear: The need to heal Cuba's divided nation. That message, Congressmen and Congresswomen, has not escaped those members of the Institute for Democracy in Cuba, whom today I represent before you.
The need is great. In fact, our Institute's main project, Somos Uno, in its infancy state now, seems to stress precisely that message of the Pope, that we are one and that we want to show solidarity without brethren in the island.
The Pope offered a message of hope for the Cuban people. He sought to calm ordinary Cubans' fears, showed compassion for their plight and encouraged them to have the strength to prevail in the search for individual freedom in a just and equitable society. The organizations that form the Institute believe just as fervently in these same postulates.
When the Pope stood in front of the Cuban people to deliver this message that touched the yearnings and aspirations of Cubans on the island and in the exile community, he was talking to us as well as our compatriots on the island.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I am here today to echo the Pope's message and to recommend, as a good friend would suggest to me, that the same vigor and dedication that have been seen in efforts to isolate Castro be dedicated to the task of building solidarity between the Cuban people on the island and in exile.
The opening created by the Pope will remain but a small opening unless more and material assistance is conveyed to all the civil and opposition groups who are the agents of changes. This will certainly help to amplify the Pope's message.
We in the Institute have been trying to do our part with our limited resources. The Somos Uno publication has been circulating within Cuba and several groups, including relatives of imprisoned opposition members, received periodic help from the Somos Uno project. With the help of a grant that the Institute will be receiving in the future pursuant to Section 109 of Helms-Burton, we will do significantly more at this critical period.
We are by no means alone in these efforts nor are we the only organization to receive support under Section 109. We are hopeful though, that the heightened interest within our community to extend moral and material support to individuals and independent groups within Cuba, particularly since the Pope's visit, will allow the Institute and its programs, and similar efforts by others to gain increasing support from within the community.
One final point, Fidel Castro no doubt believed, and may still believe, that his modest concessions to the church will serve to prolong his regime. Of course this calculation on Castro's part led to reservations and concern within the exile community. It is always a cause for suspicion when Castro is willing to make any concessions in an exchange. Some had feared that the Pope's visit would facilitate Castro's goal of gaining international legitimacy of his regime. But I think that instead of that, it is now clear that his visit gave support to the legitimate aspirations of the Cuban people. Already, this past February 24, 1998, during activities to commemorate the shooting of civilian planes by Castro's Air Force, the political police arrested 20 opposition members whose intent was to drop flowers along the Malecon seawall in Havana to remember the fallen compatriots.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And so it goes.
This is the Pope's message for our community and the United States alike. If we wish to follow through and help complete the work that the Pope has begun, it is not good enough to stand firmly opposed to the tyrant. We must stand firmly in solidarity with his victims with both moral and material support.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Viota-Sesin appears in the appendix.]
Mr. BLUNT. [presiding] Thank you, Mr. Viota-Sesin. Mr. Malone.
STATEMENT OF SHAWN MALONE, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, CUBA PROJECT, CENTER FOR LATIN AMERICAN STUDIES, SCHOOL OF FOREIGN SERVICE, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY
Mr. MALONE. Mr. Chairman, first of all, I'd like to thank you for the opportunity and privilege of offering the Committee some thoughts on the role of the church in Cuba and the prospects for the church contributing toward a better future for the Cuban people, a goal I think we all share.
In order to cover such a large topic in such a short amount of time, I would like to follow the structure that you set out in your letter of invitation which will also hopefully provide the most useful information for you.
The first question that you posed there, is whether the Pope's visit was successful in terms of gaining new freedoms for the church.
I think a solid understanding of this issue should focus on the concept of conditional gains. The church has not gained any new guaranteed freedoms from the papal visit. It has, however, gained greater space and a higher profile in Cuban society, both of which are very important.
Most significantly, the church has made tremendous gains in public visibility through the visit and those gains are truly irrevocable. Although publicity on the island was less than hoped for in the preparatory stage, the church has never had a profile higher on the island at any point in history, even before the revolution.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In short, the mere presence of the Pope with all the accompanying fanfare led to two important achievements: First, an image of the church as a serious national network; And second, an increased familiarity among the population with Catholicism and not just with the Pope himself.
Both of these gains are significant and, as I said, irrevocable in the long term.
Regarding the church's more tangible gains from the visit, I think it's more useful to talk about greater space than greater freedoms as the latter may incorrectly imply, a permanence or guarantee that doesn't exist. With a few notable expectations, very few State concessions to the church have been followed up by legislation making those permanent. On the contrary, most of the ''freedoms'' that the church currently enjoys are still considered privileges rather than rights in the minds of the Cuban Government.
Since specific examples will hopefully illustrate this point, I won't go into great detail because this ground has largely been covered by previous speakers, but one example is that the government did grant 59 new visas for priests and nuns to come into the country to work. That's an important concession for a church that's severely understaffed, but clearly, the continued presence of these workers depends on the periodic renewal of their visas, which is at the discretion of the government.
The church also gained greater access to the media during and prior to the visit, but again, despite those unprecedented steps there is no guarantee or agreement for future media access to the media by the leaders of the church.
The ability to hold public religious activities is another example of a condition gain. As was mentioned before, the Pope did manage to hold all four of his masses in large public arenas and they were televised nationally. But, again, those concessions were made on a case-by-case basis and the prohibition on open-air activities remains on the books.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The church has expressed impatience at having to request permission in areas that it considers inalienable rights, but it has also indicated satisfaction with the case-by-case progress. It's important that we maintain that balance in our analysis as well.
Mr. Chairman, your letter of invitation subsequently asks whether the church will continue to make gains in the future. I think we have several reason for optimism, a few of which have been cited already. Foremost is the fact that the gains have not been solely due to the Pope's visit, only to be lost when he left. While he was certainly instrumental in accelerating the pace of change, the Pope's visit came within the context of a process that's been developing over at least a decade. The Pope, therefore, leaves behind an extremely capable and experienced group of Cuban bishops who not only initiated this process but will be remaining on the island to continue it.
Although I pointed out earlier that past gains have been tentative, I don't think this is necessarily a reason for discouragement or disappointment. In addition to being unrealistic, a more radical style of change may actually be undesirable.
I spoke with many average Cubans while I was on the island in January for the Pope's visit and time and time again, people told me, ''I never thought I'd see the day,'' referring to all the events that were taking place. I think those developments are overwhelming when people think of how things have been over the past 30 or 40 years.
After decades of government-sanctioned discrimination against believers and general opposition to religion, many have difficulty processing the government's public embrace, their public turnaround on religious freedoms. I think society needs some time to absorb and contemplate those changes.
Within the government, there are also anecdotal indications that the opening for the church has gone as far as possible without generating a backlash among the hardliners. Conservative members of the Politburo and Council of Ministers are reported to have opposed the visit from the beginning and were allegedly infuriated by critical remarks from Archbishop Meurice of Santiago. If that's the case, and we don't know that it is, but there is reason to at least consider it, there is surely strong pressure on the government to keep the church in line, and immediate push by the bishops could trigger new restrictive measures.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In sum, it's natural that there would be a trial period for such a time of truly radical change. And such a period may be necessary, both to allow society to absorb these changes and to prevent a backlash from people who are opposed to them.
Following from the above, the space available to the church will depend to some degree on the balance of power within the Cuban Government and, in turn, on the various factors influencing that balance. Despite Fidel Castro's very strong influence over events, there are, in fact, hardline and reformist sectors within the party and the government. To the extent that hardliners are able to maintain a state-of-siege mentality in which uniformity and conformity are the priorities, the church's divergent views are more likely to be presented as dangerous and intolerable. If so, its new-found space could very likely be threatened and its proposals of change could be rejected.
Without commenting specifically on U.S. policy which I know is not the topic of this hearing, I would like to point out that confrontational rhetoric from the government's enemies often does provide justification for hardliners to maintain the state-of-siege mentality.
Your final question, Mr. Chairman, is whether the church will actively promote change in Cuba. It's very important to note that the church will not promote change in such a way that it becomes a force of direct opposition. On the contrary, the church's progress still depends heavily on civil relations with the government.
Future gains for the church will likely depend on corollary gains for the State. Even as the church presses for space and criticizes restrictions, it has clearly decided to work within the system in seeking win-win arrangements that allow the government to claim victories as well.
Lacking the strength to successfully pressure the government for change, the church will instead have to rely on persuasion in winning future concessions. In doing so, it must demonstrate that such concessions are not against the interests of the government.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So this is not a church that is either willing or able to pressure the government to act against its will.
To conclude, I want to point out that rather than actively promoting change, the church is taking steps to ensure that the process of change that does occur will be peaceful. When we look at the demands the church is making, we should see them in the context of the church trying to build a foundation to influence future change in a positive direction.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Malone appears in the appendix.]
Mr. GALLEGLY. Thank you, Mr. Malone. I know there'll be some questions for you and the others later.
STATEMENT OF RAFAEL PENALVER, ATTORNEY, PENALVER & PENALVER
Mr. PENALVER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and it's indeed an honor to be before this Committee. I wish to thank all the Members, you particularly, and my Congresswoman, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, for this invitation.
I think this Committee is in the right course in examining the impact of the papal visit to Cuba. The papal visit was, above all, a show of solidarity by the Vatican and Catholic churches throughout the world with the suffered Cuban church. It was a recognition to a people who endured in their faith, despite the persecution of a Communist Government that tried to extinguish the church.
I can never forget, for example, when in 1961, I was a fourth grader at a private school in Havana and it was a day that Castro's militia people took over that school. And they came and they took the crucifix that we had prayed to all our lives, and they said to us fourth graders, close your eyes and ask God to bring you an ice cream. And all of us did. Of course, there was no ice cream. They took that crucifix that meant so much to us, they broke it, threw it to the floor, it shattered into pieces. And then they told us, now we all are going to work through the revolution for the ice creams and everything else we want in life.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC That's the kind of penetration, the degree of repression that this government placed on that Catholic church. In 1961, there were 670 priests in Cuba, and 245 religious orders. The church operated 263 elementary and secondary schools. That same year, hundreds of priests, nuns and religious were expelled from Cuba aboard the ship Covadonga. Today, there are only 200 priests in Cuba, and whereas the population back in 1961 was 6.5 million, the population in Cuba today is 11 million. So that shows you the degree of repression, the severity of this government against the church.
Part of the reason why we are here today, and I wish that you'll take this point into account, is precisely because of the pressure that the Cuban people, both in Cuba and in exile, have continued to maintain on the Castro regime over all these years coupled with the U.S. policy toward Cuba and the actions of international human rights organizations.
This pressure, this constant pounding is eroding Castro's totalitarian control over the Cuban people. Had it not been for that pounding, had it not been for that pressure, the Pope would never have been allowed to go to Cuba, and the Catholic church would not have been able to stage the limited expressions of freedom that some people are so happy and giving Castro so much credit for when, in fact, he just allowed the minimal expression of religious tolerance.
I think the papal visit was also a recognition of the close to 2 million Cuban Catholics who abandoned all of their earthly belongings just to give their children the chance to live in the environment of freedom, and chose the difficult course of exile.
Notwithstanding the suffering and separation from family and friends, they're remained true to their faith and to their homeland. Despite the passage of the years and the comfort and opportunities offered by this generous country, Cuban exiles continue to long for their homeland. Day by day, they continue the pounding for freedom and human rights for their country.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think we are really at an important crossroads right now. The moment is right for Catholics on both sides of the Florida Straits to take bold steps to help each other. We must be bold but not naive. If we are naive in the steps that we take, we will end up further legitimizing the Castro regime and prolonging the suffering of the Cuban people.
I would like to place for the record, two documents. One is a document entitled, ''Religious Repression in Cuba'', authored by Dr. Juan Clark, which is a detailed account of the history of the church in Cuba from 1961 to the present. The second is a book entitled, ''CRECED'', which is a summary of the Catholic exile community. Over 5,000 Catholics participated in putting this document together in 17 countries around the world. And finally a document, a copy of the letter that hundreds of Cuban exiles sent to Archbishop John Clement Favarola earlier this year, asking for the cancellation of that cruise ship, the luxury cruise ship that was going to be sponsored to Cuba. If that could please be added to the record, I would appreciate it.
Mr. GALLEGLY. With unanimous consent, we'll add the two documents. We'll have to check with the parliamentarian and see if we can put the entire book in the record, but we'll certainly keep it. The Committee staff will accept the document under any circumstance. If we can, we'll put all documents in the record.
[The abovementioned documents appear in the appendix.]
Mr. PENALVER. I appreciate it, Mr. Chairman.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Chairman, perhaps, if I might, if Dr. Clark has a summary statement of that book if the parliamentarian gets back to us saying he can't publish the entire report but perhaps if there's a summary statement of it we can ask Dr. Clark to provide one for the Committee because I have read that book that Dr. Clark has produced and it's quite extensive with very important research he has done. It's a definitive work on religious persecution in Cuba, and I would like it to be reflected somehow in the record. If not, I can understand the amount of volume that it would take up.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. PENALVER. I have also brought a copy for each of the Members of the Committee, of all of these documents and books.
Mr. BLUNT. Good, and I think we can direct our staff to seek a summary of the book if it's not possible to put the book in, and that's a great addition to what we're talking about here.
Mr. PENALVER. I think it's important that we do not confuse the concept of religious freedom and tolerance of cult. They're very different concepts. Right now, what you're seeing in Cuba is a tolerance of cult. Castro is allowing priests to say Mass inside their churches even though the persons who attend those Masses continue to suffer persecution.
The Cubans enjoyed 5 days of religious freedom over this past 38 years. Those 5 days in which the Pope was in Cuba were exceptional in every way. Cuba presented to the world an image that is not the normal situation in Cuba, with people being able to assemble freely, with masses being held outdoors, with the news media being able to freely travel the country. The moment the media left Cuba, Cuba went back to its old ways, and right now, there are priests that are complaining of repressive measures being taken to parishioners who attend masses, the prohibition of any kind of outdoor masses, and so forth.
So, I think we should be very careful before we start praising Castro for his ''gifts'' to the Cuban people, including the ''gift'' of celebrating Christmas for the first time and for a one-and-only time in this past 38 years. The key is, again, to continue the pressure.
The final point is the release of the prisoners. Castro is trying to get recognition from all over the world for having released, ''over 300 political prisoners in response to the Pope's request.'' That statement is false.
Castro refused to release the most prominent political prisoners in the Pope's list and instead substituted their names with other lesser-known individuals. We do not know if those other individuals were incarcerated for political or for criminal activity. And of those in the so-called list of 300, 106 of them had already been released prior to the Pope's arrival in Cuba. So, here again, take issue, look at the numbers, look at the facts, before we accept Castro's statement on the release of the prisoners.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The papal visit, I think, has left the Catholic church in Cuba a strengthened position and with the support and solidarity of the universal church, the church can play an important role in the future.
Besides the government, the church is the only national organization in Cuba. Its structure of parishes, dioceses and provinces, makes it particularly effective. The church is now in a position to play a major role in any effort toward democracy and national reconciliation in Cuba. Its success will depend on how well it can serve the interest of the Cuban people, bringing them not only extended religious freedoms, but more importantly, how it can champion the cause of political freedoms for the Cuban people.
Perhaps the times has come for the Cuban church to pass from a state of cautious survival to one of bold crusader. Interestingly enough, the crowds gave their most enthusiastic response to the words of Archbishop Pedro Meurice of Santiago de Cuba when he spoke out strongly against the Castro regime.
My final words to this Committee are, the Catholic bishops of Cuba called for national dialog in 1993 and Castro ignored that call. Perhaps at some point soon, the bishops will make another call for a national dialog, and if Castro again ignores them, the bishops might be in a position to proceed with a dialog that will include all segments of Cuban society, both inside Cuba and in exile, and bring forth the dream of a free Cuba without Castro. That has to be our goal.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Penalver appears in the appendix.]
Mr. GALLEGLY. [presiding] Thank you very much, Mr. Penalver.
At this time, we'll allow our Members some time to ask a few questions. And I'd like to start out by asking Professor Dominguez: Why did the Castro regime, in your opinion, offer so much freedom to the Pope and the Catholic church, both in the preparation for and during the visit? And similarly, why did he seem to exhibit such tolerance of the Pope's criticism of the regime, when in the past he had denounced the Cuban bishops for making similar comments? Could you give us some kind of personal assessment of that?
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Dr. DOMINGUEZ. My sense, Mr. Chairman, is that there was an implicit bargain between President and Pope. On Castro's side, he was focused on short-term objectives. He believed that the Pope's visit to Cuba would lead to the Pope's public criticism of U.S. policy toward Cuba. I think he also believed that allowing the Pope to visit Cuba and allowing the variety of activities that have been described this afternoon, would make it easier for the Cuban Government to counter the claims that it does not violate human rights. It's saying something like, what do you mean there's no religious freedom in Cuba; the Pope came and engaged in any activity that he wished.
I think that on the Pope's side, he went as Mr. Penalver just said, quite eloquently, to express solidarity with Roman Catholics in Cuba, to pray with them. The Pope also in the past has criticized policies of isolating Cuba, so for him to make those remarks in Cuba was not a cost. My guess is that the Pope's bet is not unlike what I described in my remarks: there has been an ongoing process of social change, quite independent of anything the Cuban Government may wish. Certainly not something permitted or allowed by Fidel Castro before. And that in the medium to long term, the Pope's visit would make it more likely that this ongoing process of social change would strengthen, that Cubans would feel freer and more empowered to act on their own and according to their consciences.
And that, I think, is the bet. It's a bet between a short-term objective by President Castro, a longer-term objective by the Pope. In order to reach his objectives, Castro had to let the Pope come in, and my own bet is that he will prove in the long term to be wrong.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Professor Dominguez, it would appear that, at least in my estimation, and I'm sure that your assessment is more than likely accurate as it relates to Fidel Castro's motivation, it does not appear to have worked quite the way he had hoped. Would that be your assessment?
Dr. DOMINGUEZ. I agree. I think that the degree of engagement, participation, seriousness and commitment that was demonstrated by Roman Catholics and others, and many who were not Roman Catholic, is well beyond anything that either the government or the church expected. So, already in the short term, I think there is important news.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GALLEGLY. Thank you very much, Professor. With Mr. Blunt's concurrence, I would defer to my good friend from Florida, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Roy.
I wanted to ask any panelists who wanted to respond about the possible response from the Clinton Administration in the aftermath of the Pope's visit. There has been some discussion in the press about calibrated steps that the Clinton Administration is now prepared to take because of this phenomenal change that has taken place in Cuba which, as I said, and some of you alluded to, is really nothing more than a cosmetic change. If he frees 20, he'll jail 200 the next day.
But because the Clinton Administration is always looking for any excuse that will do to try to lift some of the economic sanctions, this is as good an excuse as any, and so there has been talk of resuming direct flights from Miami to Havana, and other calibrated steps that according to legislation that we passed, if Castro reforms then we're supposed to reform in kind.
Would you comment on whether you think that such calibrated steps are merited, especially in light of the issues of the political prisoners he freed and what Mr. Penalver had stated, some fact about whom those prisoners were and the circumstances of their release?
And also in light of the fact that upon their release, however limited that might have been, Robina and others in Cuba said, don't be fooled, nothing has changed, everything will continue the same, which was not a very subtle message to the general population about what they could expect if they were to speak out in favor of democracy and human rights.
So, if any panelists would care to comment about the Clinton Administration response, whether it's merited and other thoughts you might have. Mr. Penalver.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. PENALVER. Well, I always hear talk about the external embargo of the United States on Cuba. I would like to hear more about the internal embargo that Castro has on the Cuban people. And the external embargo of the United States toward Cuba should not be lifted unless we have certain and verifiable and concrete openings in the internal embargo that Castro has on his people
I think this should be a time for us to ponder how to assist the Cuban church on ways that it, the church, can receive food and medicines perhaps, and distribute them directly by the church, not by the Cuban Government. And those would be the only steps that I would consider. I think it would be a grave mistake at this point to open the path to travel to Cuba.
I would hate to see my countrymen in Cuba subjected to the type of exploitation on the part of American tourism that they are currently being subjected to on the part of European tourism, where Europeans are organizing sex tours, and everything of that nature, to Cuba.
We cannot provide Castro with financial support. The opening should be one of people to people, church to church, organization to organization, but not one that provides Castro with direct benefits such as the proposed lifting of travel restrictions would have. That would be a wrong response at this stage.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Thank you. And other panelists?
Dr. DOMINGUEZ. Yes, I'd like to agree with two things that Mr. Penalver said in his opening remarks. One is with regard to political prisoners. He said, after all, it is a small number and the Cuban Government can arrest many more to replace those that are released. I think that is an important statement to keep in mind.
But I'm sure that Mr. Penalver and all the Members of the Committee and those of us in the audience would agree that we ought to cheer, nonetheless, whenever political prisoners are freed. I think this is also an important recognition.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Penalver also said that he hoped that there would be greater bonds of solidarity between Cubans in Cuba and Cuban Americans in the United States, and I also celebrate that statement.
My own view, I'm not sure if he would agree, but my own view is that those instances when Cuban Americans, Representative Ros-Lehtinen's constituents, have been able to visit Cuba and actually engage and participate and talk to others have been among the most important ways to express that solidarity and to weaken the capacity of the government to frighten and intimidate ordinary Cubans.
So if I were to recommend a change, motivated by your question, I would allow more of your constituents, talented, energetic, dynamic as they are, and Spanish speakers, to visit their friends and relatives and to express face to face that solidarity and support.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Thank you so much.
Mr. QUIGLEY. Thank you. The changes that have been made, whether they're phenomenalI don't think they arebut I do think they are more than cosmetic. At least the view of the church here seems to be that they are good beginnings which need to be built upon rather than treated cynically. Therefore, if they are, in fact, steps, concrete steps that the Pope called for, it would seem that some concrete steps on the part of the U.S. Government, some reciprocity, would be also useful to at least test the waters.
One very simple thing that has troubled some of us for quite some time, since it was first put into effect by the President, is the ban on direct flights, which as you know, seriously impedes the work of Catholic Relief Services and other groups that send humanitarian aid, which this Administration and the government approves of, to the people of Cuba, to Caritas. Having to stop in Third World countries and pay the landing fees and so on, increases their cost by a third to even more than a third. That's something that at the very least, in the view of the church in the United States, ought to be seriously reconsidered.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Whether we go further with changes such as lifting the ban on the sale of food and medicine, as current legislation in the House and the Senate both call for, should at least be the subject of wide discussion and debate, a good dialog among the American people, including within, especially, the Cuban community in the United States.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Thank you so much.
Mr. Chairman, I'm not going to ask another question because I know the time is short and we'll begin voting on the floor. I just wanted to point out that next Thursday, March 12, marks the anniversary of Helms-Burton, the anniversary of signing the bill into law, and another anniversary of not complying with the law and certainly this is an important piece of legislation. We certainly hope that one day the Clinton Administration will finally treat it as more than a historic document and actually implement the provisions of the bill. All of those provisions. Some have been, and others have not. It's a good document, Congressman Menendez' addition of the assistance to the people of Cuba once we have a free and democratic Cuba, certainly one of the most important elements of that bill.
And I know that we'll be celebrating that anniversary, but sadly celebrating as well because we know that it's not been complied with, and we hope to keep the Administration's feet to the fire until it becomes a reality rather than just a historical document.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. GALLEGLY. I thank the gentlelady from Florida.
And I would just like to apologize to our witnesses and to my colleagues for my having to run in and out here. We have a very important markup in the Judiciary Committee. And when you have several balls in the air, you just try to do your best. And I appreciate your indulgence and the support of the Committee up here to work with me.
I would also like to remind my colleagues that as soon as we conclude the hearing, we have a very brief, one bill, that we need to mark up, and I just appeal to you to stand by after we conclude, just to mark that up quickly.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So, with that, I will defer to my good friend from New Jersey, Mr. Menendez.
Mr. MENENDEZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. First, I want to thank all of the panel for their testimony, which I read as well as listened to as you're presenting it, and it was very balanced testimony overall. And I appreciate your insights. And I just have one question, and that is, do we think that we would have had Pope John Paul II visit Cuba but for the U.S. embargo on Cuba?
After so long a period of time in which the Vatican has sought to visit Cuba, that the reality of the possibilities of this visit, are they not manifested by, I think it was Dr. Dominguez who in his analysis of what each side risked and/or gave in the process, suggested that for the Castro regime, it was the ability to have a world figure, a State visit as well as a religious visit, but a world-renowned figure, moral authority, who would, on Cuban soil, condemn the U.S. embargo on Cuba knowing that that is the church's position as it relates to all embargos. It opposes the embargo on Iraq, a country that has biological and chemical weapons. It opposed sanctions in South Africa as it related to Apartheid. It has a moral position on that.
But for the embargo, would Castro had taken even the risk that he took? He wouldn't have needed it.
I'm wondering if you have any thoughts about this.
Dr. DOMINGUEZ. Yes. I think the Pope's visit to Cuba illustrates the importance of thinking as carefully as I know you have over the years about this issue. I agree with the implication of your question, that it was coercion on the Castro Government that in the end led President Castro to agree to invite the Pope to Cuba. I think you're absolutely right in your implication.
The other aspect is that coercion alone would not have brought about some of the changes that we have witnessed. And the Pope's policy, which is one of direct engagement, also illustrates that this type of behavior is important to accelerate the change that is already taking place in Cuba.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So my urging to you and to other Members of the Committee would be: we know that U.S. policy is, and in important respects in my judgment, should continue to be, coercive. I think the opportunity now is to think what other things might be done of a non-coercive way to facilitate the speeding up of the social changes that Cubans themselves are undertaking.
Mr. PENALVER. If I may, I agree with Dr. Dominguez. I think the pressure cannot be let go at this point. You would never have had the Pope visiting Cuba had it not been for the pounding, as I say, the pressure of the Cuban people in Cuba, the Cuban exiles, the Members of Congress, the Administration, that have kept the pressure.
And we would be sending a very wrong signal at this point if, with the minimal steps that Castro has taken, and again, going back to Dr. Dominguez' analysis, for the short-term benefit that Castro was seeking, the church was seeking a long-term goal, just as it did back in the last century when the church established the San Carlos Seminary, and there it planted the seeds of Cuban independence through the works of Father Barilla.
The church is looking at a similar situation here. The Pope has planted the seeds. It's going to take perhaps a while, it might take a few months, a few years, for those trees of democracy and freedom to grow, but the ultimate outcome is that truth will prevail. And I feel that we should maintain the pressure, and let the Cuban people within Cuba know that we are here to help them, to assist them in any direct way that we can, bypassing the government. But, again, not in a naive way that is only going to provide money and ammunition for the Castro regime to continue to fund his repressive mechanism. That has to be the distinction.
Mr. MENENDEZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Thank you very much, Mr. Menendez. Mr. Blunt.
Mr. BLUNT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Dr. Dominguez, what do you expect to be the position of the church in Cuba a year from now?
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Dr. DOMINGUEZ. My guess would be that this ongoing process of change that the Pope's visit has accelerated will give both ordinary Roman Catholics and the bishops in Cuba greater courage to press the political limits that particularly Mr. Malone's remarks indicated. These limits have been loosened to some degree, but formally remain in place.
There is another risk. I could well imagine that the Cuban Government may sometime in the months ahead signal to the Roman Catholic church not to step out of line, to arrest a priest, almost on any pretense.
The balance in the future will be to what extent the government will be willing to take these repressive steps, and to what extent will the bishops and ordinary Catholics persevere. My ongoing bet on the basis of what I've witnessed, especially in the 1990's and in this visit is that there is a degree of courage from ordinary Roman Catholics and from the bishops that's really quite remarkable. Much, much beyond anything I have witnessed before. And the willingness to take risks for what they believe has risen substantially. The risks are very real. The government can be and has been very repressive, but the willingness to stand up for what they believe I think has risen dramatically.
Mr. BLUNT. Do you think there is any reasonable view that would lead Castro to try to reverse this now, or do you anticipate that the church will get increasingly stronger? Agreeing with your thought that certainly could send a signal to the Roman Catholic church that this is not, that they shouldn't take too much for granted here, but is that likely, do you think? Do you think it's likely the church will continue to strengthen its position?
Dr. DOMINGUEZ. Let me comment slightly by analogy. The Cuban Government's policies with regard to the economy in the 1990's have been marked by processes of advance and retreat. There have been instances when something has been authorized and then it has been pulled back. I would expect that this too would be evident over the course of the next year, the timeframe about which you're asking. That the Cuban Government will, quite deliberately, attempt to pull back some of this religious opening.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Malone made reference to hardliners in his statement. They obviously are chomping at the bit to try to pull it back. That is something for which all of us need to be watchful.
All I am trying to indicate is that it's not really an analysis, Congressman. It's my gut that tells me that the willingness of bishops and ordinary Catholics to stand up and resist is unprecedented as compared to the past.
Mr. BLUNT. Mr. Malone, you mentioned, I think in your written testimony, that you thought it would be a real mistake for the United States to step in in a very supportive way to support the church, that it would be the kiss of death, I think was the term, for the advances of the church there. Do you extend that to the church in the United States as well as any government action that would encourage this?
Mr. MALONE. No, on the contrary. The church community in the United States up to this point has had a very positive effect on space for the church in Cuba in terms of its ability to press both sides for more openness, precisely because they are removed from the U.S.-Cuba tit-for-tat that so often goes on at the governmental level.
Regarding the danger of the United States strongly supporting the church in an official capacity, it fits very closely with what we've seen in the Cuban Government's de-legitimization of the dissident community. The most frequent charge that's levied against the dissidents in Cuba is that they're manipulated by the United States and that they're too closely tied to U.S. interests.
So that is a very real danger as we contemplate our position on developments regarding the church in Cuba.
Mr. BLUNT. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. GALLEGLY. I thank the gentleman from New Jersey.
And I want to thank all of our distinguished witnesses today, and again, please accept my apologies for the way I've had to conduct this meeting.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But I think it was very insightful, and as Mr. Menendez said, very balanced. And we'll continue to look to you folks as a resource as we move ahead on this issue in the future.
And, again I want to thank you all very much for being here, and we'll conclude the hearing at this time.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Chairman.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Yes.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. If I could just make one statement.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Surely.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. I know that some of the panelists referred to the dictator, Fidel Castro, as the President, and I just wanted to point out to any members of the audience who might not be aware of it, that Cuba does not have a democratic system of government and he's the President in his mind only.
Mr. PENALVER. Of course he was just re-elected unanimously.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Yes, that's right.
It's amazing, I know. I think more people voted now in the city of Miami.
Mr. PENALVER. If I can
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. We dig them up from the grave and he's got them voting in jail.
Mr. PENALVER. If I can just follow up on Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen's statement.
I think that at some point the United States and the world community is going to have to confront the fact that there is no way to really work or hope for Castro to behave, and that our policy should be one of supporting the Cuban people in Cuba to get rid of Fidel Castro. And I think at some point we have to confront that and make that the public objective of American policy.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. And what's amazing, if I might add, is that the person who doesn't allow, doesn't give much ammunition to those who support him, the Castro apologists, is Castro himself, while they so desperately try to do spin control as to the things that he says, he cares so little about the overtures that they make that whenever they say, let's have a dialog, he's says dialog for what.
Mr. PENALVER. Ms. Ros-Lehtinen.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Let's have elections, elections for what. So he doesn't even help the people who want to excuse him so very badly, and as we saw in the videotape when he invited a groups of folks for the great debate a few years ago, and then he videotaped them in the reception line, some who said: Thank you, Mr. Castro, for all that you've done for my people, you've been like a great teacher to me. And then he sells that tape to the Miami media for anything from $100 to $3,000, and before these folks, the Castro apologists landed in Miami, already the video was on the 6 o'clock news. So he doesn't' even help the people who want to do the best spin they can on his behalf. He cares so little at all of these Castro apologists. Time and time again, even when he frees prisoners, he says nothing will change. So he doesn't ever care about world opinion, yet all around him are folks who want to bring him into the OAS, who want to let him be a part of this international human rights organization. It's just so shameful to see all of these Castro apologists doing their best spin.
Mr. PENALVER. I agree. One final point. I do think that we have to give credit to President Clinton for having so far withstood the pressures on him on the modification of the present law on Cuba. And I hope that he continues with thatthat he enforces what has not been enforced, and that he continues to stand for the maintenancethe continuationof the present embargo.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. And related to that part of Helms-Burton that we were talking about earlier, that has a real ray of hope for the long-suffering Cuban people.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MENENDEZ. If the gentlelady will yield.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Menendez.
Mr. MENENDEZ. I would just ask the staff to get me a copy of testimony that was elicited today because I think this is the first time I have heard someone from Miami actually suggest that there's anything good that the Administration has done in this regard.
So this is a historic moment.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Well we do hear it. Whenever you come to Miami, we get to hear that.
Mr. MENENDEZ. I'm happy to seeas I said, this is a very balanced panel, and I really would like a copy of this testimony. I'm going to ask Mr. Penalver to sign it for me when
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. If I had known that, I would've gotten another witness, Mr. Menendez.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Again, thank you all for being here today, and I thank the Members for being here as well. So with that, we'll conclude the hearing.
[Whereupon, at 3:24 p.m., the Subcommittee adjourned subject to the call of the Chair.]
A P P E N D I X
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