Letter from Padre Jose Conrado to the First Secretary of the Cuban
Communist Party re the Victims of Hurricane Sandy in Santiago de Cuba
Posted on June 29, 2013
Mr. Lázaro Expósito
First Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party in Santiago de Cuba
I am writing to you in your capacity as the highest political authority
in our province of Santiago de Cuba. I am aware that, given the
hierarchical structure of the Church, by rights it is not for me to
undertake this effort, but rather for my Archbishop, Mons. Dionisio
García, and I have repeatedly suggested that he do so. But following the
dictates of my conscience, and from a basic sense of personal
responsibility toward our people, on the eve of my perhaps definitive
separation from the people of Santiago de Cuba whom I love so much, I am
addressing this letter to you.
In recent months we have experienced the tragedy of a people who have
lost everything or almost everything they had to survive: as you know
more than a hundred thousand Santiago de Cuba families have been
affected by Hurricane Sandy. We have watched with amazement the delivery
of aid for our people from so many countries.
And with amazement we watched how this aid was sold for hard currency,
or at inflated prices, in flagrant violation of the the intent of the
donors who gave it freely. We have received information from reliable
people who have followed the trail of the transports and have seen how
this aid, above all the roofs, were stored in State or military
warehouses, while the population was informed that these materials had
already been exhausted.
With amazement we have seen government or military installations
repaired in record time, while the people continue without roofs over
their heads, with their houses uncovered.
We are witnesses to the frustrations of the people, to their desperation
and helplessness, to a voiceless and threatening silence that makes us
think that at any moment they could explode with an uncontrollable and
justified rage, which could have dire consequences for the coexistence
of our citizens.
Many times, on going to offer them our humble aid, almost all of it sent
by other Cubans on the rest of the island, poor as the victims
themselves, we have heard, "You are the only ones who remember us, the
only ones who have assisted us"!
Mr. Secretary, the people perceive you to be an honest man, who works
hard to fulfill his obligations and who cares about the people. We have
also heard that corruption and incompetence surround you on all sides
and, much to your dismay, hinder your work. All of this saddens and
As a priest, I have renounced having my own family. Along with some of
my colleagues, when our families, parents and siblings decided to
abandon our country, we decided to stay to serve our people in their
misfortune. These people are our family: our parents, our children, our
brothers and sisters. We live for them and we are willing to die for
them. If today we raise our voices, at whatever risk it might entail,
including being misunderstood, it is to seek a solution to so much
misery and pain, and because we are not inclined to stare at the bulls
from the other side of the fence, but to commit ourselves and to help
with all our strength.
I ask in the name of God, in the name of truth and justice, and calling
on your true patriotism which I do not doubt, that you seriously
investigate what has happened and quickly remedy it.
Padre José Conrado
I also ask that you yourself communicate with the president of our
country, General Raúl Castro Ruz, so that, with the full weight of the
State, repairs can be undertaken on so many totally and partially
destroyed homes, something so important for these families affected by
Hurricane Sandy. The call to the solidarity of our people you have
already demonstrated in your generosity and ability during the hurricane
and in the face of its devastating destruction. Thus, we make possible
the Nation José Martí dreamed of, "with all and for the good of all."
Padre José Conrado Rodríguez
Translated from version appearing in Penultimos Dias
26 June 2013
Source: "Letter from Padre Jose Conrado to the First Secretary of the
Cuban Communist Party re the Victims of Hurricane Sandy in Santiago de
Cuba | Translating Cuba" -