In Honor of John Paul II
The Frustrated Trumpeters of Jericho
11 April 2005
[Introduction by Walter Lippmann – This commentary about the death of the Pope and the way Cuba has responded to it, by describing him as a fighter for peace, and rejecting the notion that he was responsible for the fall of socialism in Eastern Europe, took up most of the front page of the print edition of the daily Granma, and was also very prominently displayed on the front page of Juventud Rebelde as well. Those who haven't been able to overthrow the Cuban revolution in over forty years of trying, and who now are welcoming the Cuban counter-revolutionary terrorist Luis Posada Carilles to the US where he's officially applied for asylum, are trying to overthrow on paper what they've not been able to overthrow in the real world. Those further interested in this topic may also look at a selection of Cuban and international media reports on this issue which are now assembled at http://www.walterlippmann.com/pope.html]
We Cubans have paid sincere homage during these days to John Paul II, recognizing in him - beyond any differences - his qualities as a tenacious fighter for peace, justice and solidarity with the dispossessed of the world.
Our people have affectionately recalled his pastoral visit in 1998, during which we were able to corroborate his noble character and numerous points of agreement in his social and humane thinking with important principles that have always been defended by the Revolution.
That was a historic visit, not only because it was the first by a pope to Cuba, but also because of the exceptional circumstances surrounding it, which allowed a clear demonstration of John Paul II's sincere sentiments of friendship in visiting Cuba, as our president had affirmed with absolute certainty.
Carried away by the erroneous belief that the Pope had been the deciding factor in the collapse of socialism in Eastern Europe and the USSR, the Revolution's enemies believed that his visit to Cuba would be like a burning sword that would annihilate socialism in our homeland. [In the speech Fidel spoke a lot about the fact that it was not the Pope but their own internal contradictions that brought down the Eastern European socialist countries. - WL]
The empire, obsessed with this small rebel island that had not fallen in surrender when others were no longer able to resist, and which it has subjected to the most cruel and inhuman blockade without being able to break it, believed that the Revolution would not withstand that test and that "the last bastion of communism" would be sunk.
Its peons in the anti-Cuban mafia did everything possible to sabotage the visit and present the world with an image of an anti-religious country with no freedoms, ungrateful in the face of the Holy Father's gesture.
A NOTIMEX dispatch from nine years ago, on December 10, 1996, reflected the ridiculous attempts of those who were mortified by the Pontiff's visit and hoped to use it for their spurious interests, with the following words: "US legislator Robert Menéndez said today that the Cuba government is to put obstacles in the way of certain aspects of Pope John Paul II's upcoming visit to the island, in order to reduce popular attendance at the planned mass events.
"In a chat with members of the Society of the Americas, the Democratic representative affirmed that President Fidel Castro's government was utilizing the intimidation of workers and other methods to discourage shows of support for the Pope.
"According to Menéndez, Democratic representative for New Jersey, the government has not sufficiently publicized the Pope's visit among the population and is threatening some workers with being left jobless if they attend the mass events. [This, of course, was the opposite of what happened; people were not only urged to turn out in massive numbers, which they did, regardless of their religious beliefs or atheism, but also admonished to be respectful no matter what he said; that there were to be no catcalls, jeering, responses to any of his remarks. -KW]
"Menéndez, a hard-liner in US policy toward Cuba, was addressing an audience of some 20 academics, businessmen and economists regarding his perception of the general situation in Cuba. He defended the Helms-Burton Act and its extraterritorial nature; (...) and stated that it is the most successful tool in the history of his country's policy toward Cuba."
It was not just a matter of stupidities and blatant lies like that of this spokesman for the anti-Cuban mafia. As Fidel explained during his televised appearance last Thursday, maneuvers to politicize the pope's visit made their way to our territory.
After Cuba's generous response to the incessant entreaties of three US congressmen, brimming with "devotion" to the Holy Father and ready to observe the effects of the blockade on the Cuban public health system, these individuals, headed by Roger Noriega, then assistant to the reactionary Senator Helms, arrived in Cuba during the Pope's visit, their true objective being to hinder that historic event.
Their visit to the Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba prior to the mass that he was to give in that city is clear evidence of the perfidious behavior of these "devil's messengers." [This summary leaves out the reference to the fact that the Archbishop -- an outspoken critic of Cuba's socialist revolution and its president -- had reported Noriega's attempts to suborn him to the Cuban Communist Party's ideology department head, saying he would not act against his own people. It seems that even conservative clerics in Cuba draw the line somewhere. -WL]]
The enemy tried everything. Its purposes were desperate and clear. They dreamed that the Cuban Revolution "would tumble down like the walls of Jericho when the trumpets sounded," Fidel affirmed this past Thursday.
That certainty was confirmed by the Clinton government's "Iron Lady," who at that time was secretary of state and knew better than anyone else the secrets of US policy. What did Mrs. Madeleine Albright say just six days ago, when the Pope's body had not yet been laid to rest? A dispatch from the ANSA agency dated April 5 reveals everything:
"The United States hoped that Pope John Paul II's visit to Cuba in 1998 would contribute to eroding the Havana government in the same way that the Pontiff's influence in his native country, Poland, collaborated in the fall of the communist regime in Warsaw.
"When asked if the government of President Bill Clinton hoped that John Paul II would publicly "reproach" Cuban President Fidel Castro during his visit, Albright admitted that in Washington, they were very anxious to see that happen."
" ... 'we had great hopes that a reaction similar' to that experienced within Polish society would occur, Albright said."
Once again, the "assassins of revolutions" missed their shot with Cuba. They underestimated the Pope, his intelligence, his character, his thinking. Once again, they disregarded our people, their talent, their political culture, their revolutionary spirit.
The pope "did not come with trumpets or any intention to destroy the Revolution," as Fidel explained in his most recent address. The Cuban people, for their part, demonstrated the best of their hospitality, their appreciation of the Pontiff's important qualities, and bestowed on the Holy Father one of the most extraordinary visits of his long pilgrimage throughout the world.
The Revolution emerged the stronger from that challenge, while the trumpeters of Jericho continue to writhe in their ineptitude and desperation.
While others hypocritically knelt before the unburied body of the Pope, who denounced them for opening the doors of war, we Cubans feel ourselves with the moral authority that comes from our just tribute to the man who fought so much for peace and solidarity among human beings, to the religious leader whom, from lofty concepts of justice and ethics, unhesitatingly opposed the blockade and the economic war against our people.
To honor, honors!
Message written by Cuban President Fidel Castro Ruz in the condolence book
To Pope John Paul II
Rest in peace, indefatigable battler for friendship among the peoples, enemy of war and friend of the poor.
The efforts of those who wanted to utilize your prestige and great spiritual authority against the just cause of our people in their fight against the giant empire were in vain.
You visited us in difficult times and could perceive the nobility, solidarity of spirit and moral valor of the people, who welcomed you with special respect and affection because they could appreciate the goodness and love of human beings that prompted your long pilgrimage over the Earth.
Before returning to Rome you said that the restrictive economic measures imposed from outside the country were unjust and ethically unacceptable. That earned you forever the gratitude and affection of all Cubans, who today pay you a merited tribute.
Your leaving pains us, unforgettable friend, and we fervently desire that your example will endure.
Fidel Castro Ruz
April 4, 2005