March 20, 2012
Carlos Alberto Montaner, The Miami Herald
In 1998, John Paul II went to Cuba. At the time, practically a generation ago, Fidel Castro ruled and the situation, as always, was very critical. John Paul II was the first pope ever to visit the island, and the whole of society welcomed him with a mixture of illusion and fear.
He reputedly had been greatly responsible for the end of the communist tyrannies of Eastern Europe and a secret hope flickered that his presence might unleash a process of change. That was the illusion. The fear, of course, was generated by the government’s repression.
Fourteen years later, Pope Benedict XVI will travel to Cuba. Has anything changed? Yes, it’s a different country and another generation, but it’s also the same government, now presided over by Raúl Castro, while Fidel, decrepit and ill, amuses himself guiding the world through the Internet, wrapped in an odd-looking sports sweatsuit. The fundamental difference is that there is no longer any hope that the wretched fate of that society will change...