Ahead of pope’s trip, the Vatican says U.S. Cuba embargo is useless

March 16, 2012

(People wait as children are baptized near a poster of Pope Benedict in a catholic church in the village of Marti in the province of Matanzas in central Cuba, around 160 km (99 miles) east of Havana March 10, 2012. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan)

The Vatican on Friday condemned the U.S. embargo against Cuba ahead of Pope Benedict’s trip there next week and said the pontiff was willing to meet Fidel Castro.

“The Holy See believes that the embargo is something that makes the people suffer the consequences. It does not achieve the aim of the greater good,” Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said.

“The Holy See does not believe it is a positive or useful measure,” he said in response to a question at a briefing about Benedict’s trip to Mexico and Cuba from March 23-28.

The embargo, which marked its 50th anniversary last month and which Cubans call “the blockade”, is still the cornerstone of U.S. policy toward the Caribbean island 90 miles from Florida, although it has failed to meet its primary objective of undermining Castro’s communist government. Read the full story here.

Police removed 13 Cuban dissidents from a Catholic church they had occupied for three days in an attempt to get Pope Benedict to press for change during his upcoming visit to the communist island, the Cuban press reported on Friday.

Church spokesman Orlando Marquez said in a statement published in Communist Party newspaper Granma that police were called in on Thursday after repeated efforts to persuade the dissidents to vacate the church in central Havana had failed. “Cardinal Jaime Ortega directed the corresponding authorities to invite the occupants to abandon the Church of the Virgin of Charity,” Marquez said.  “The 13 occupants were invited to leave the temple and they offered no resistance,” he said.

Read the full story here.
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