Klaus Hart Brasilientexte

Aktuelle Berichte aus Brasilien – Politik, Kultur und Naturschutz

„Cuba: The state and church in partnership“ – Brasiliens wichtigster Befreiungstheologe Frei Betto. „Violence against women“. „Barbaritycracy“.

How to understand that the Cuban State, a socialist country, could accept the mediation of the Catholic Church in the freeing of prisoners of conscience, as political prisoners are called in that country? The central figure in this process is Cardinal Jaime Ortega, 73, archbishop of Havana. An able negotiator, he had in the past been a victim of leftist sectarianism which, under the influence of the Soviet Union, stimulated religious persecution.




 While a seminarian in the 1960s Ortega was sent to an “ideological re-education” camp. In spite of this, he never showed resentment nor did he ally himself with those who turned their backs on the Revolution. The leftist period of the Cuban Revolution – publicly rejected by Fidel – froze Church-State relations. Between 1964 and 1981 bishops and authorities did not speak to one another. When I first met Fidel in 1980 he proposed that I mediate the resumption of dialogue. In the following year I participated in the Episcopal conference in Santiago de Cuba where I offered the proposal. The bishops received it as a positive sign. A short time later Fidel held an audience with them. In 1985 the Cuban leader consented to a long interview with me on the religious question published under the title “Fidel and Religion”. The book caused an impact on the population, whose religiosity possesses a strong syncretic root, a mixture between Catholicism and African traditions. This was the first time a communist leader in power touched on the subject of faith in a respectful way, even admitting that his religious education had improved his character. In a country of 11 million inhabitants, 1.3 million copies of the book have been published so far. According to a Cuban bishop, the book “removed fear from Christians and prejudice from communists”. In 1986 the Church promoted the Cuban Ecclesial Encounter, a local version of a mini council for outlining new pastoral directives.The understanding between Church and State was suddenly interrupted by the fall of the Berlin Wall. Cardinal Law from Boston, when preaching a retreat to the bishops, insisted that the domino effect of the fall of socialism would not spare Cuba and that the bishops, like the Polish episcopate, should take on the role of new Moses’, capable of leading the people to democracy… In January 1990 Fidel came to Brazil for President Collor’s inauguration. I met him in Brasilia. I insisted that the dialogue should continue and, soon afterwards, I arrived in Havana to interview Jaime Ortega. It was the first and only time I found him pessimistic. He did not believe that the government had good intentions. Perhaps he was expecting the Revolution to end shortly.Cuba was not hit by the neo liberal hurricane which devastated Eastern Europe and a series of circumstances favoured the visit of Pope John Paul II to the country in 1998. Fidel invited me and a group of theologians including Leonardo Boff, to advise him during the Papal visit. Our role was to “decipher” ecclesiastical language and protocol.The success of the visit – the Pope did not condemn the Cuban regime, as Bush had wanted, and praised its social conquests – and the empathy which was created between Fidel and Woityla, re-opened the channels for dialogue. However, Fidel, because of ill health, gave up the command of the government in 2006 and Raul Castro took over.I intensified my visits to Havana in order to deepen the religious question with Raúl and Caridad Diego, the head of the Office for Religious Matters (a kind of Ministry of Faith). It was decided to commemorate, in March 2010, the 25 years since the launching of “Fidel and Religion”. All the practising religious denominations in the country were invited. Raúl was present and lamented that no Catholic bishop attended the event.That evening we dined together. We talked of the Catholic Church’s pastoral action with the prisoners and of how the Revolution could only gain with the liberation of prisoners of conscience who are not accused of bloodshed or of terrorist actions.   On May 10 Raúl Castro met with Cardinal Jaime Ortega for the first time. The conversation lasted five hours. The Archbishop asked that the prisoners be transferred to places closer to their families and showed the Church’s willingness to collaborate towards giving them an amnesty. The government considered that it was worth while betting on the cardinal’s proposal thus avoiding extremist gestures of great international repercussion such as hunger strikes taken to the last consequences.Jaime Ortega is not at all progressive, nor is he anti communist. His role as pastor is to create conditions which favour the evangelization of the Cuban population. He knows that humanitarian initiatives such as the freedom of prisoners not only reinforce the Church’s prestige, but, above all, are witness to a deep fidelity to the Gospel and at the same time are proof of the Revolution’s tolerance.What both the Church and the State most hope for now is that Obama will free the five Cuban prisoners who since 1998, in the USA, have been accused of espionage. This is the condition for the return to positive dialogue between Washington and Havana, taking into account the suspension of the blockade imposed by the USA on Cuba.

*Frei Betto is a writer, author of the novel “Um homem chamado Jesus” (A Man Called Jesus) (Rocco )www.freibetto.org – twitter: @freibetto.


He is a Brazilian Dominican with an international reputation as a liberation theologian. Within Brazil he is equally famous as a writer, with over 52 books to his name.  In 1985 he won Brazil’s most important literary prize, the Jabuti, and was elected Intellectual of the Year by the members of the Brazilian Writers’ Union. Frei Betto has always been active in Brazilian social movements, and has been an adviser to the Church’s ministry to workers in São Paulo’s industrial belt, to the Church base communities, and to the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (MST).In 2003-2004, he was Special Adviser to President Lula and Coordinator of Social Mobilisation for the Brazilian Government’s Zero Hunger programme.



Frei Betto*

The heinous crime involving Bruno, the goalkeeper for a Rio soccer team (according to denunciations, his girl friend was murdered, her body was dismembered and thrown to dogs) is the tip of the iceberg of a recurring problem: male aggression towards women.

Between 1997 and 2007, according to the Map of Violence in Brazil/2010, 41,532 women were murdered in the country. This means 4.2 victims for every group of 100,000 inhabitants, well above the international average. Espirito Santo is the state with the highest index: 10.3 women murdered for every 100,000 inhabitants.

The University of São Paulo Violence Centre identifies the murderers as being husbands and ex husbands who cannot accept the termination of a relationship. Added to the strong component of misogyny (aversion to women), is the male chauvinism of men who consider themselves as owning their partner and are thus the absolute masters over her destiny.

The Central Services for Women (telephone 180) received 95% more denunciations during the first five months of 2010 compared to the same period last year. More than 50,000 women denounced verbal and physical aggression. Most of the women are black, married, between the ages of 20 and 45 with a high school education. The majority of the aggressors are men between 20 and 55 who also have a high school education.

It is believed that the increase in denunciations is owed to the Maria da Penha Law which increases the rigour of punishment for aggressors and was sanctioned in 2006 by President Lula. In spite of this advancement, it would appear that most Brazilian homes are real houses of horror. Women are humiliated, badly treated, beaten, often living as virtual prisoners and semi slaves doing domestic work. This does not include the cases of pedophilia and sexual aggression of children and adolescents by their fathers.

Violence against women results from various factors, starting by the omission of the victims themselves who, depending emotionally and financially on the aggressor, or in the name of preserving the family, keep quiet or are dominated by fear of the effects of a denunciation. Added to this is the matter of impunity.  Eliza Zamudio, the former girl friend of Bruno the goalkeeper, had gone to the Women’s Defence desk at the police station but her complaint had not been taken seriously. Public authorities rarely assure protection to the victim or are quick to punish the aggressor.

Violence against women does not take place merely in interpersonal relations. It is wide spread by the merchandising culture in which we live. One need only see the variety of television advertisements which make women the pornographic bait for consumerism.

Stop before a magazine stand and check the diversity of “butcher shop” photography! Look at the female roles in comedy programmes. Now, if woman is reduced to her buttocks and physical attributes, treated as a “chick” or a “broad”, shown as a mere object for male pleasure, how can we expect her to be respected?

In the last few years our schools have introduced sex education to the curriculum. It is generally restricted to notions of bodily hygiene in order to avoid sexually transmittable diseases. It does not deal with affection, love, alterity between the partners, of family as a life project or of the unquestionable dignity of the other which includes homosexuals.

There still are families where parents either maintain the taboo of not talking about sex and affection with their children or think it best to go to the other extreme, “generalised freedom”, with no boundaries, which encourages the precocious eroticization of children and promiscuity amongst adolescents, made worse by cases of unexpected and undesired pregnancy.

Where are the women’s’ movements? Where is their indignation before the various forms of violence against them?

Sports clubs should, as businesses and religious denominations do, demand that their athletes have a code of ethics. Then, perhaps, sudden fame and too much money will not turn the heads of idols with feet of clay…

„Barbaritycracy“: http://www.hart-brasilientexte.de/2010/09/05/brasiliens-zeitungen-eine-fundgrube-fur-medieninteressierte-kommunikations-und-kulturenforscher/


Dieser Beitrag wurde am Montag, 06. September 2010 um 02:35 Uhr veröffentlicht und wurde unter der Kategorie Kultur, Politik abgelegt. Du kannst die Kommentare zu diesen Eintrag durch den RSS-Feed verfolgen.

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