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Priest beaten, arrested amid Cuba protests

Father Castor Álvarez was beaten and arrested in Camagüey while he was defending young protesters amid protests of Cuba’s communist government on Sunday.

Protests took place across the island July 11.

According to information confirmed by CNA’s sister agency, ACI Prensa, the priest is being held at the Montecarlo police station in Camagüey, accused of public disorder.

It became known July 12 that the government wants to process the priest for 96 hours for various charges. According to a source related to the Church in Cuba, Archbishop Wilfredo Pino Estevez of Camagüey “tried to see him this morning. He was called later when he was in the Archdiocese so that he went back to the police station”. The source also said that young Catholic people arrested yesterday from Camagüey and Florida, nearly 30 miles northwest of Camagüey, “are still imprisoned”.

Priests, religious sisters and lay people scheduled a peaceful demonstration from 8:00 a.m. July 12 before the police station to demand the freedom of Father Álvarez.

Father Rolando Montes de Oca, a priest of the Archdiocese of Camagüey, told ACI Prensa that “there are, in fact, several elements that help to understand” the origin of the protests.

“The economic situation in this moment is complicated and it has aggravated much more with an economic maneuver that the government made at the beginning of the year, called economic reordering or something like that, that in the end has made life much more difficult,” the priest said.

“Inflation is huge and basic necessities like food have become very difficult to get. There is a very bad situation of material poverty,” he said.

Father Montes de Oca also said that besides the economic crisis, there is great suffering because of the COVID-19 pandemic: “We are in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. There is a lot of information about people dying, people that do not receive medical attention. Hospitals are collapsed. We see images of sick people in corridors, even on stretchers on the floor”.

The priest also said that “there is a tremendous lack of medicines. Many people do not have a pain reliever. For instance, there are no aspirins. We are not talking about high-end drugs. Nobody has them. They are practically non-existent, sometimes there aren’t even in hospitals”.

Read more at Catholic News Agency

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