March 21, 2012
Michael Putney, The Miami Herald
Pope Benedict, we learned the other day, has commissioned a personal cologne. That seems more than a little effete, but he’ll need it in Cuba to mask the stench of political, civic and social repression.
Take, for example, the new ban on demonstrations by the Ladies in White. Or the appalling conditions in Combinado del Este prison, which we saw last week thanks to a brave dissident who smuggled in a camera and prisoners who risked beatings, solitary confinement and additional time by talking about the unspeakable conditions in which they’re held.
I don’t expect Pope Benedict to visit a Cuban prison, but he surely could pray during his masses in Santiago and Havana for all Cuban political prisoners and others who’ve been killed, harmed or harassed by the Castro brothers. Ideally, he’d hold a private meeting with some dissidents who’ve been imprisoned for demanding basic human rights: speech, press, assembly, religion and movement. Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet, Martha Beatriz Roque or Jorge García Pérez Antunez could fill him in on what it’s like to live without them. So could Berta Soler and the Ladies in White. Will the pope meet with them? I hope so, but doubt it. Nor do I expect USAID worker Alan Gross to be freed because the pope requested it...