One of the criticisms I received about by otherwise non-controversial book (after which this blog is named) was my support of those 'nasty and repressive' communists in Cuba. How could a Priest support such an 'atheist' state?
I was ordained to the priesthood by Miguel Tamayo, a Cuban Bishop, and so I actually try to stay better informed about the country than simply reading 'The Mail' or listening to the BBC (which today, to mark the 55th anniversary of the revolution, did a facile feature on the cost of new cars in the country) For Christians, Cuba has a strong faith history and still provides inspiration for many theologians of liberation.
The Cuban revolution in January 1959 not only saw the end of US backed dictator Fulgencio Batista, but it heralded over half a century of effective resistance to global capitalism. It has meant that excellent education, good health and the economics of sharing has been a reality for the Cuban people and for hundreds of millions of people worldwide influenced by the ongoing revolution.
There is no perfect government, Cuba has it's flaws. As I read Fidel's autobiography, even he admits the errors made in the name of communism. These problems cannot be explained away by the left simply as fallout from the vicious US economic blockade of Cuba, or as an inevitable reaction to the terrorism dished out by anti-Castro forces. However, the economic and political errors of the Cuban government are dwarfed by its huge humanitarian achievements, it's international contribution to poverty alleviation, and it's profound critique of the horrors of global capitalism and US imperialism. For these reasons, I celebrate 55 years of struggle and hope, and raise a glass of Havana Club rum to the Cuban people.
In this coming year, let us try to be better educated about the successes of this small but determined island. Join the Cuba Solidarity Campaign. If you can afford it, visit Cuba. Drink Cuban rum (Havana Club) not right wing anti-Cuban terrorist supporters like Bacardi.
Above all, let us remember that the world around us is one that we have the power to recreate, we do not have to simply accept the solutions given to us by the political and economic elite. Cuba shows us that unbridled capitalism does not have to be the only path. Communists and Christians can unite behind the economics of sharing and the belief in a better future for all of humanity.