Just posted to our site, a Web only reflection from Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, who accompanied the pope on his recent trip to Cuba:
The demise of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s caused great collateral damage in Cuba. With Soviet subsidies gone, so much fell into disrepair, so many became desperate.
Ubiquitous billboards remind you that society needs socialism, that socialism is the answer to all hopes and concerns. "¡Mas Socialismo!" "¡Socialismo hoy, mañana, y siempre!"
Yet, socialism has left so many on the margins of society in Cuba. Socialism has led to the control of peoples' lives, restricted their freedoms and caused people to seek a better life elsewhere.
I was expecting to hear discontent from the people, more anger and resentment, but I encountered little of that. It was as if one does not talk about what is not going well. You endure, wait things out. After all, those in charge are elderly and time will leave them behind. "Poco a poco" things will change.
Cubans are industrious people, proud, poised for change. They have lived through hard times, but they remain hopeful, buoyant.
Walking the streets in Santiago and Havana, I met beautiful people going about the business of living, difficult as it is with little opportunity to work and few chances to advance. I saw children pedaling rusted bicycles. Most of the cars were out of the 1950s. Somehow their owners keep them running. I walked by neighborhood stores that had little on their shelves. The cupboards are empty. For the ordinary Cuban life is tough, especially for the elderly and the very young.
Read the rest here.