Pope Francis plans to meet with Cuba's president and its priests, its young and its sick, its churchgoers and its seminarians as he travels around the island starting Saturday. But not its dissidents.
The absence on Francis' agenda of any meeting with the political opposition has sparked bitter critiques from dissidents who say they feel let down by an institution they believe should help push for greater freedom in Cuba.
"He should exert more pressure," said Antonio Rodiles, head of the hardline group Estado de SATS. "In many cases political systems have come under international pressure that has resulted in change, and that's what needs to be happen with Cuba."
We understand that Pope Francis will talk to Dictator Raul Castro about freedom in Cuba.
Are you kidding me? Pope Francis plans to remind Raul Castro that his country is not friendly to dissidents, freedom or even religious liberty?
As I hear from Cubans in the island, there were many who put a lot of faith on Pope Francis. They thought that the intervention of The Pope would put pressure on the Castro regime to make changes, from freedom of the press to more tolerance of the Catholic Church.
In the meantime, the regime has arrested 50 of "Las Damas de blanco", or the ladies who dress in white and march every Sunday after mass for the release of political prisoners.
It's hard to believe that Pope Francis will not meet with these ladies. They are not violent. They are devout Catholics. They are the wives and mothers of political prisoners.
As a Catholic, let me say that I'm very disappointed with Pope Francis. Maybe Pope Francis should read about Pope John Paul II's trip to Poland in 1979.
We understand that the Pope can not get involved in domestic politics. At the same time, is it too much to ask the head of the Catholic Church to say something about Cuban Catholic women arrested and harassed after mass?
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