THE COUNTERREVOLUTIONARY ADVENTURES OF THE U.S. INTERESTS SECTION IN THE PROVINCE OF PINAR DEL RIO
Some things just happen by chance, but some others have absolutely nothing to do with "chance".
It was by mere chance that the Granma editorial dated May 16, which had been sent to press in the evening of May 15, coincided with certain events. That is, almost at the same time, 8:30 p.m., in the premises of the Daughters of Charity, across the street from the Catholic Episcopate in Pinar del Río, the Polish Embassy Political Counselor Mr. Krzysztof Jacek Hinz, accompanied by layman Dagoberto Valdés, a Polish translator and even a singer of the same nationality, opened the same anti-socialist, pro-capitalist, and neo-liberal exhibition that the Polish Senator we already know, Mr. Zbigniew Romaszewsli, had opened at the San Juan de Letrán church on May 7.
The Senator arrived in Cuba on May 2 for "a scientific and technical exchange between our country and Poland". The works exhibited, as well as several explanatory brochures in Spanish, including Spanish versions of the songs by this strange Polish troubadour --who arrived on May 4 as a tourist--, all of them of an anti-socialist political nature, were smuggled into the country through the Polish embassy.
It has been known that on April 23, on board Iberia Airlines flight 6625 from Warsaw via Madrid, load manifest 3097, 13 packages, with a total weight of 470 kilograms, under bill of lading 080-5212 3131, entered our country via the Polish embassy diplomatic pouch. The cargo, with invoice number 45268 was delivered to Polish citizen Krzysztof Jacek Hinz on April 28, 2000. In compliance with international conventions, this type of cargo, invoiced as diplomatic pouch, is not checked. This is how the materials for the exhibition entered the country.
Not a single word was said about it nor were contacts made with any Cuban cultural institution or authority. This counterrevolutionary action has been characterized by the introduction of objects in violation of Customs laws, the abuse of diplomatic immunity and the conspiratorial methods employed.
As is already known, the Senator's wife and the translator arrived on April 27, and the Senator himself and another Polish citizen, Piotr Kielanows, arrived five days later. Destination? A convent open to the public. Participants? Counterrevolutionary ringleaders; diplomats from former socialist countries, members or members-to-be of the "glorious" NATO; and some others among those most directly involved in the anti-Cuban plot orchestrated in Geneva. There were some that quite possibly were invited by mistake or just to fill the room. Anyway, the many comings and goings and the interesting content of these peoples’ meetings had already been addressed and so it had seemed that the show would end.
The surprise came when the venturesome conspirators, emboldened by what they considered a success at San Juan de Letrán, decided to party on in Pinar del Río, under the auspices of a sacrosanct institution whose director believes that its mere name can cause the greatest fear in the bravest Cuban revolutionary: the Civic and Religious Training Center, located in a place adjacent to the Catholic Episcopate in Pinar del Río.
Anyone familiar with the person in charge of the aforementioned center may understand that what could seem like chance was no chance at all.
In response to Granma’s denunciation of the Polish embassy counterrevolutionary activities, the priests of the Pinar del Río diocese issued a respectful and cautiously drafted statement addressed to "All Seminarians, Nuns and Faithful Lay persons of the Pinar del Río Diocese." Its main paragraphs read as follows:
"As many of you already know, Granma newspaper published today an editorial where mention is made of our Bishop, Monsignor José Siro González Bacallao, Mr. Dagoberto Valdés Hernández, and the Civic and Religious Training Center.
"All of you can fully attest to the apostolic zeal of our Bishop and of all our bishops, and to their permanent concern for the wellbeing of the Nation. Any person that comes to them [...] is welcomed in their homes. We are in communion with our Bishop and appreciate his work in the service of Church and Homeland.
"You also know that Dagoberto Valdés Hernández, director of the aforementioned Center, is a man of uncompromising integrity and love for his country, a layman faithful to the Church.
"Let us pray so that all Cubans undertake to embrace attitudes of dialogue and healthy coexistence.
"May 16, 2000."
The letter was sent to international press agencies that same day through the office of the Cuban Episcopate.
Actually, in its editorial, Granma did not hold the Bishop of Pinar del Río or any other Bishop accountable. The editorial simply posed the following question on the three hours conversation the Bishop held with the Polish emissary on May 16: "What did they talk about during such a long conversation? No one knows."
Considering that Senator Zbigniew Romaszewski is a cynical agitator and a bitter enemy of Cuba and socialism, who came here to lecture on how to make counterrevolution, the question was most relevant.
Granma, which does not hesitate to expose the truth regardless the sensitivity of the issue whenever it is indispensable to do so, did not intend to criticize the Catholic Church, much less to lay the responsibility on the top leader of that Church in our country, Cardinal Jaime Ortega. That would have been truly unfair.
Neither do we have any reason to assume that the priests in the Pinar del Río diocese issued their declaration in bad faith or in complicity with the director of the Civic and Religious Training Center. We believe it was right for them to express their solidarity with their Bishop if they truly believed that his concern for the wellbeing of the nation and his work in the service of the Church were being questioned. However, Granma did not discuss this.
As to Dagoberto, we clearly stated that he is a consummate slanderer and a bitter enemy of our Revolution; this we sustain and reiterate unhesitatingly. Then, since the declaration indicates that he is ‘a man of uncompromising integrity and love for his homeland’, we are inclined to believe that most of those who signed it are unaware of the truth.
Aside from the Bishop, only six out of the seventeen practicing priests in the Pinar del Río diocese are Cuban; eleven are foreigners. Except for two Canadians who have practiced their priesthood in our country for a long time, the others arrived in Cuba twenty years after the triumph of the Revolution: a Canadian in 1979, a German in 1989; two Italians, two Colombians and a Spaniard in 1997; another Canadian and another German in 1998. They probably know very little about the history of Cuba and about the Yankee neo-colony established after the intervention and occupation of our country, which was removed by the Revolution in 1959.
They probably know very little about the Revolution and about our people’s heroic struggle against the blockade, the dirty war, the mercenary invasion, the Missile Crisis and these 41 years of constant harassment and destabilization. Also about the people's truly patriotic and internationalist feats, notably, their contribution to the defeat of the apartheid regime and their amazing resistance to the mightiest power in history. Our people have endured with dignity and honor a special period which is not over yet, something no other country on Earth would have endured.
The authors of the said declaration must certainly be lacking enough elements of judgement if they describe a gross agitator at the service of the aggressors and historic enemies of Cuba as a good patriot and an upright man. They simply do not know him, just as they do not know about the dirty and treacherous work of other ringleaders like him.
Granma has enough information to prove that the man lacks any moral integrity but it will rather unmask his "uncompromising love for his homeland" by resorting to some of the abundant data available:
On November 12, 1999, two weeks before the kidnapping of Elián, El Nuevo Herald, the mouthpiece of the Cuban-American mob, which makes no mistakes in choosing its collaborators, reported the following: "We hereby announce the addition of a group of distinguished personalities to our section Opiniones, some of whom are already being published. With a frequency ruled by the circumstances under which they live, El Nuevo Herald will publish the views of Gustavo Arcos, Elizardo Sánchez Santa Cruz, Osvaldo Payá and Dagoberto Valdés."
Everyone knows that such privilege is only granted to notorious ringleaders of factions that for years have been in the service of imperialism, who are living on the abundant resources they receive in the most diverse ways, including awards, juicy fees in payment for anything they write against Cuba, funds from international agencies designed by the United States and its allies to promote the struggle against socialism, and funds directly from the American budget received by those who in our country live or hope to live from the lucrative business of counterrevolution.
On April 26 last, officials James P. Doran, First Secretary and Consul of the U.S. Interest Section in Havana and CIA operative, and Lawrence N. Corwin, First Secretary for Cultural Affairs and the Press, traveled to the city of Pinar del Río in the morning.
At 10:30 a.m. they visited the Provincial Center of Visual Arts in Pinar del Río.
At 11:30 a.m. they visited the house of a well-known painter from that province.
At 12:30 p.m., another painter's house.
At 1:20 p.m. they picked up Dagoberto at his home.
At 1:30 p.m. they had lunch.
At 3:00 p.m., Dagoberto took them on a visit to his Civic and Religious Training Center and its printing workshops set up in a premise next to the Episcopate where he gave them several copies of his counterrevolutionary materials.
At 4:30 p.m., they visited the house of a third painter.
At 6:00 p.m. they returned to Havana.
We have avoided any mention of the painters’ names for they had no connection with Dagoberto's counterrevolutionary actions.
During their visits, they spoke to the painters and the youth at the Provincial Center for Visual Arts in tempting poses about invitations to travel to the United States and exhibiting their painting at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana. They actively walked right through the heart of fine arts in Pinar del Río.
At the time indicated above, the officials from the U.S. Interests Section had lunch at the Rumayor Restaurant with Dagoberto Valdés and one of his cronies called Vázquez Díaz, actually his partner in the traffic in works of art. Needless to say that the menu was paid for in dollars, in fact, it was not very expensive: $27.90, barbecued chicken and beer included. Lunch took about one and a half-hour. There were about 60 customers at the restaurant. The room was noisy. At the table where the officials and their companions were sitting there was euphoria and satisfaction, and at times the conversation was kept at the lowest possible voice.
Granma has irrefutable evidence of everything that was discussed there. Dagoberto, who did most of the talking, extolled himself in every way possible. He urged the U.S. Interests Section officials to work with the intelligentsia and offered his support to that end. He defined his behavior as an open war against the government and the State. He recalled his traditional contacts with the U.S. Interests Section officials and his close links with officials at the Czech and Polish embassies, as well as with several counterrevolutionary groupings. He stressed the importance of relations with international non-government organizations, with special emphasis on the Konrad Adenauer, a favorite instrument of the German and European reaction. He spoke about a weakened Presbiterian Church in Cuba and even had the nerve to suggest to the Yankee officials --as if they owned that denomination-- the appointment of a person with views similar to his to lead that church. He also talked about the publication of a daily newspaper in his Civic and Religious Training Center with the assistance of foreign organizations and requested support for Catholic magazines holding positions similar to his.
It is amazing that in his discussions with the American officials, this Catholic layman ranted and raved against Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino, but that would warrant an additional analysis.
Finally, he talked about and suggested some political strategies to be pursued by the United States. He said that if the blockade were lifted and the Cuban Adjustment Act were removed, the Revolution would collapse. Although his intentions were wicked, this was the only positive element in his obnoxious conversation.
The U.S. Interests Section officials were ecstatic. Those were the sweetest words they had heard after five months of thundering mass demonstrations and marches on their Interests Section and throughout the country. Here was this man saying such a string of nonsense to a CIA agent and the American officials, who had received instructions to act with extreme caution given the tensions built around the case of Elián, limited their responses to monosyllables or resorted to body language.
The attitudes assumed by the director of the Civic and Religious Training Center of Pinar del Río are shared only by a few, albeit influential, members of that diocese. Several honest priests definitely oppose them.
Cardinal Jaime Ortega, who usually claims for his Church a maximum of prerogatives many of which have been positively considered by the revolutionary government --as it is the case with other religious denominations-- is opposed to such provocation by the hotheads who intend to use the Catholic Church as a counterrevolutionary instrument, oblivious to the consequences that could have.
The extreme care with which the Cuban authorities and our own Party considered and supported the Pope’s visit to Cuba cannot be forgotten.
The Daughters of Charity, whose premises were used for the exhibition, did not want to be a part of this political mishmash. They are most respected and appreciated in our country for their selfless and truly humane work carried out, like that of other female religious orders, in hospitals, senior citizens’ homes, centers for disabled people and other similar institutions. They were imposed the exhibition with absolute disregard for their feelings.
It is also known that Rome objects to this strategy of provocation and confrontation with the Revolution which, as a matter of fact, is today ideologically and politically stronger than ever and will continue to grow even stronger in the future.
The May 16 Granma editorial carried confusion to the ranks of the plotters. For a long time they had received nothing but praise, honors and dollars.
The Polish ambassador, who had been left out from those plans, was wise enough to cancel the exhibition without our Foreign Ministry requesting it. He is a professional and serious diplomat who had nothing to do with the machinations and childish attitude of Krzysztof Jacek Hinz, the Political and Cultural Affairs Counselor and main accomplice of the extremists in Warsaw and Cuba.
On May 18, between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., José Siro González Bacallao, Bishop of Pinar del Río celebrated a mass at the see of the Order of the Daughters of Charity attended by 75 people, among them some of Dagoberto’s collaborators and faction members.
Before the mass began, the Polish officials read a statement indicating that they had decided to withdraw the exhibition due to the editorial published by Granma newspaper on May 16, and that they wished to celebrate the Pope's birthday --which was exactly on that date-- avoiding any trouble.
The Bishop of Pinar del Río ratified that the mass was to honor the Pope's birthday and the closing of the exhibition of Polish posters. Following the religious ceremony, he apologized for what had happened and expressed his appreciation to the Polish officials for their visit to the province.
Then, the Bishop lamented that they could not continue with the exhibition and thanked the "brilliant and transparent lecture delivered by the Polish Senator in Pinar del Río."
That was the end of the Polish adventure in Pinar del Río, but the old Yankee adventure still goes on.