Again this week, the regional blogosphere was dominated by talk of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Cuba. With reports of repression at an all-time high, Cuban bloggers were dismayed by the outcome of the trip.
Uncommon Sense, who is part of the Cuban diaspora, thought the papal visit was summed up by a photograph of the pontiff meeting Fidel Castro, which he republished on his blog, saying:
I read a transcript of Pope Benedict XVI's homily in Havana today, hoping to find something to convince me that His Holiness and the church he leads are on the right side of history, and on the right side in the struggle for freedom, in Cuba.
Unfortunately, there was little there to make me forget the message, intended and otherwise, in this photograph…
The photograph also offended others. In a guest post at babalu, Asombra said:
I’m sorry, but this grotesque travesty is deeply offensive, and if the Vatican cannot understand that, then it understands nothing, and nothing can be expected from it. Alas, I cannot believe this is a case of cluelessness.
This is a choice made by this pope to put Nero or Caligula before his victims, before the persecuted and the oppressed, before the millions that have suffered and lost so much at his filthy, bloody, evil hands—the same hands taken warmly in his own by Benedict. This has nothing to do with ministering to the marginalized, the outcast, the stigmatized and the socially undesirable. This is smiling at, catering to and fraternizing with the devil. If there was no way to avoid this abomination, Benedict should not have visited Cuba.
When Uncommon Sense posted a video of members of the crowd at the Papal Mass in Havana “[crying] out for ‘Libertad', he was firm in his opinion that:
The faithful have the final word.
The fact that the Pope was said to have discussed the issue of the country's dissidents with President Raul Castro was hardly salve to the wound of many bloggers – especially in light of reports like this one from Capitol Hill Cubans:
Just prior to this evening's Mass in Santiago de Cuba by Pope Benedict XVI, a courageous young Cuban screamed ‘freedom’ and ‘down with Communism.’
He was immediately detained by Castro's secret police and brutally beaten.
The blog also posted its view on the ability of the Pope to effect change in a post titled “Pope Speaks, Regime Answers”:
Pope Benedict XVI said today after praying at the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity:
‘I have prayed to the Virgin for the needs of those who suffer, of those who are deprived of freedom, those who are separated from their loved ones or who are undergoing times of difficulty.’
And the Castro regime answered, through the Vice President of the Council of State, Manuel Murillo:
‘In Cuba, there will not be political reform.’
There were other items of note in the Caribbean blogosphere this week, though…
Girl With a Purpose had her finger on the pulse of the country's local government elections, regularly posting updates and then final results: The governing People's National Party enjoyed a comfortable win, winning 147 of 228 divisions.
Over in Curacao, TRIUNFO DI SABLIKA took issue with what he called the disrespect being shown to Liberty Battle Park:
The organizational forces have done a good job at not maintaining the Lucha pa Libertat park.
Maybe after 14 years they will receive an ancestral enlightenment to plant 4/5 trees for the visitors. Or just maybe they would shine up the statue every 4 months, lick up the benches with paint. Put trashcans, clean up once a week?
Put some historical info placards for tourists and indigenous folks unfamiliar with the 1795 revolt. You know what I mean. Show respect. Honor. Make us feel you serious about your cultural consciousness business.
Trinidad & Tobago
In the twin island republic this week, the two political bloggers who questioned whether the political entity “Congress of the People” was still relevant continued their examination of the issues, here and here.
Barbados Free Press, meanwhile, continued lobbying for the cause of illegally held Cuban prisoner Raul Garcia:
43 days ago, Raul Garcia discontinued his ‘fast unto death’ on the word of Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart that he would be moved from his illegal imprisonment at H.M. Dodds Prison to a non-punitive facility. Garcia, naive fool that he is, took the bait and remains at Dodds… having lost his credibility and media interest. Worldwide interest in his case went to zero overnight. Only little old BFP keeps Mr. Garcia close to our hearts.
Listen folks: Raul Garcia has been held illegally according to Barbados’ own laws for over two years.
Is there not a shred of decency, of justice, left in our justice system, in our Parliament?
Finally, the case of Trayvon Martin continued to move regional bloggers from Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidadian diaspora fashion and beauty blogger Afrobella expressed her sadness by saying:
Every time I sit and try to write about Trayvon Martin, the words get stuck inside me. I have started and stopped this blog post so many times over the last week. It’s been so hard to know what to say because this case makes me feel so hopeless and so sad, and so afraid for the future of this country. I hate the comments I’m seeing online. I’m hating the slant of some of the coverage I’ve been reading. I hate that people are finding ways to say that Trayvon’s sartorial choices made him a deserving victim.
It’s all so heavy and ugly and upsetting. Not the kind of thing I like to write about on a blog that’s about beauty and positivity. So I will end this post with my hopes, regarding the outcome of this ongoing situation.
I hope that the murder of Trayvon Martin doesn’t lead to any additional violence.
I hope there is some form of justice and I hope it doesn’t take forever. The wheels of justice are already turning too slowly here.