The bishops’ statement supporting Ortega highlighted that the campaign to discredit him not only criticizes the cardinal’s complex pastoral performance, but it also, the statement said, attempts to “abort” any effort toward an understanding and dialogue pursuing a calm, beneficial solution to Cuba’s human rights conflict.
In Santa Clara, Fariñas, winner of the European Parliament’s 2010 Sakharov Award, said that it has been Ortega who discredited himself by the nature and direction of his actions.
“His attitude against peaceful opposition is shameful,” Fariñas said. “Ortega should act as a friend of God and not of Castro’s regime.”
Ortega has met several times with Castro. He has interceded before him on behalf of the Ladies in White, as well as of more than 130 political prisoners released in 2010 and 2011.
Berta Soler, leader of the ladies’ group, rejected the idea that the opposition wants to damage Ortega’s image and seeks to prevent any effort toward a dialogue dealing with the current Cuban situation.
“I am sure that there is no such campaign to discredit, much less against the church,” Soler said in Havana. “The Ladies in White do not wish to discredit the cardinal and are not going to do it. All we ask now is to listen to us and to give continuity to the Catholic doctrine.”
The letter from the bishops was released Friday afternoon by Orlando Márquez, spokesperson of the Archdiocese of Havana.
After some critics accused Ortega of aligning himself with the Cuban government, two Catholic magazines defended him in May. The president of the Cuban Parliament, Ricardo Alarcón, also joined in and referred to the criticism against Ortega as “vulgar attacks” and “insidious campaigns.”
ALLEGIANCE IN DOUBT
Dissident Andrés Carrión said that Ortega has “radicalized” a situation that should be fluid. Carrión was the man who screamed “Freedom!” and “Down with communism!” as well as other anti-Castro slogans on March 26, shortly before the pope’s Mass at Antonio Maceo Square in Santiago de Cuba. “We have no interest in launching a campaign of lies or discredit,” Carrión told El Nuevo Herald. “In any event, I believe that Ortega should be closer to the oppressed and more distant from the powerful and the dictatorship.”
Dagoberto Valdez, a renowned activist and director of the digital magazine Convivencia, opted to put aside the controversy. He said that there are other issues that deserve attention. “Now the most important issues are the problems in Cuba and its government’s inefficiency to solve them.”