A five-day visit to Cuba by Vatican Foreign Minister Archbishop Dominque Mamberti, which ended on Sunday, has raised hopes that more political prisoners will be released and the Catholic Church’s recent prominence will continue, dissident and church leaders say.
“Really, we are very optimistic about the visit because there could be more releases of our family members. This visit has been very positive,” said Berta Soler, a leader in the dissident group “Ladies in White,” whose husbands and sons are political prisoners. (Photo: Archbishop Mamberti visits a Havana school with a portrait of late rebel leader Ernesto “Che” Guevara on the wall, June 18, 2010/Enrique De La Os)
In joint appearances, Cuban officials and Mamberti repeatedly used words like “cordial,” “respectful” and “on the rise” to describe Cuban-Vatican relations, which have improved in the past decade after years of discord following Cuba’s 1959 revolution (here in English and in Spanish).
“The visit of Mamberti showed the favorable level and development of relations between the State and the Catholic church in Cuba,” the Communist Party newspaper Granma said on Monday. Mamberti’s trip was preceded by the release of one of Cuba’s estimated 190 political prisoners, and the transfer of 12 others to jails closer to their homes.