Seeking pope’s help, Cuban dissidents occupy Havana Catholic church
Cuban dissidents occupied a Roman Catholic church in Havana on Wednesday in what a Church spokesman said was part of a broader orchestrated action to get Pope Benedict to press for change when he visits later this month.
Thirteen men and women who said they were members of obscure political parties went into the Church of Our Virgin of Charity in central Havana on Tuesday and refused entreaties from Church officials to leave, according a statement from the archbishop’s office in Havana.
It said similar incidents had happened in other churches in the country on Tuesday, but that elsewhere the dissidents had “abandoned the temples.”
Human rights activist Elizardo Sanchez said a group of 25 in eastern Holguin province was ejected from a church by the local archbishop and that in nearby Las Tunas dissidents were detained before they could occupy their target church.
“This has to do with a strategy prepared and coordinated by groups in various regions of the country. It is not a chance event, but well thought out and it appears with the purpose of creating critical situations close to the visit of Pope Benedict XVI,” the Church statement said.
The German-born pontiff will come to Cuba March 26-28 after a three-day visit to Mexico.