Monday, May 7, 2012

"The Cardinal's limits," and Radio Marti's

Radio Marti last week published and broadcast an editorial, “The Cardinal’s limits,” that asserted that Cardinal Ortega is involved in “political collusion” (contubernio) with the Cuban government and shows a “lackey attitude” toward it. 

The editorial, signed by the station’s director Carlos Garcia, has been removed from the Radio Marti website (it used to be here) but is still circulating on the Internet (here, for example).

Garcia began by writing that the station was “obligated” to give an opinion given the importance of recent comments by Cardinal Ortega and the debate they have caused.

His first complaint was that Cardinal Ortega spoke with “disrespect and arrogance” toward 13 Cubans who occupied a Havana church just before the Pope’s visit in an attempt to pressure the church to get the Pope to see them. 

While in Boston recently, Ortega called the group “delinquents” and people of “a low cultural level,” a comment that is certainly fair game for criticism.  I don’t know what either of those things, even if true, has to do with their actions.  I thought the church was on solid ground in its actions and statements at the time – it heard their grievances and vowed to pass them on, it said they were not welcome to occupy and disrupt a place of worship, and it eventually had them removed. 

Garcia’s second complaint is that Cardinal Ortega commented that the late Archbishop Roman of Miami counseled him not to use the word “reconciliation” from the pulpit in Miami, and this somehow “tarnishes the memory” of Archbishop Roman.  To me, that sounds like a smart tip.  Garcia went on to give his view on reconciliation: “When you concern yourself with your brother giving him food, caring for his health with medicines and caring for his physical and spiritual needs as el exilio does with the needy people of Cuba, it is not necessary to ask for reconciliation.”

Garcia went on to say that “there is no national church” and to explain the hierarchy within the Catholic church.

The kicker: “Please, Cardinal Ortega, be faithful to the gospel you preach.”

From today’s Herald story:

“It is a criticism of the two statements made by the Cardinal,” said García-Pérez, a Cuban-American lawyer. “But more than that, we wanted to explain that there is a hierarchy within the Catholic Church and it’s universal, not national.”

He emphasized the editorial was not removed from the website of Radio and TV Martí in reaction to controversy that had arisen. “It’s not something we want to be pounding all the time, we put it up for two days and then took it down,” he said.

Radio Marti is a U.S. government instrument, part of the Voice of America.  It has already given voice to critics of Cardinal Ortega, which is fair, and it’s good journalism because those critics are part of a debate that deserves to be covered. 

An editorial in the name of the station is another matter. 

Voice of America editorials speak for the U.S. government.  Radio Marti editorials aren’t presented that way, but listeners could hardly be blamed if they were to interpret them as speaking for the Obama Administration and wondering why, of all the possible lines of criticism against Cubans who are independent of the government, it chose to voice this one.


John McAuliff said...

Radio and TV Marti have no other function than to provide jobs for Cuban American hard liners. They should no longer be subsidized by taxpayers. Let the old guard in Miami carry its own propaganda costs.

This disgraceful attack on Cardinal Ortega is one more instance (like the Summit of the Americas and Alan Gross's incarceration) of the Obama Administration paying a price for its fear of directly confronting the special interests that have crippled US-Cuba relations.

John McAuliff
Fund for Reconciliation and Development

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Peters,

This editorial is merely part of the campaign against the Cardinal because the Cuban Church has chosen the role of mediating between the hierarchy of the Cuban totalitarian government and the opposition in order to promote peaceful reforms that would eventually favor a democratic transition in the island.

The right wing opposition groups would like to convert the Catholic church in the island into an organ of the opposition and are resentful of Cardinal Ortega because he does not have this orientation.

The Catholic church in Cuba is not responsible for the weakness of the opposition groups and cannot substitute them.

It has come out in favor of democratic reforms and the allowance of free enterprise in the island and has petioned the government for the freedom of political prisoners and for the right to carry out peaceful political protests and freedom of expression.

It has never been opposed to peaceful political protests but maintains that the place for such activities is not within churches.

Present criticism against Cardinal Ortega is a way to pressure the church to change its present posture and take a harder position against the Cuban government which the Church does not believe to be its role nor in the long run interests of the Cuban people.

The church above all would like a peaceful resolution of the Cuban crisis and believes that its present role is the only way to work in favor of that goal.


Anonymous said...

ONe has to consider Radio Marti to be a voice, direct or not, of US policy towards Cuba. They're entitled to their opinion, thankfully it's not taken seriously in Cuba. Just another example of why the US should butt out of Cuba's affairs -- because no matter what they do it will be criticized by the taxpayer funded ideologues at Radio and TV Marti. Let the Cubans get on with the emerging relationships themselves, what business is it of this ridiculous and expensive propaganda arm of the US govt.