During Pope Francis' visit to Cuba, there was a great deal of rhetoric about reconciliation.
It's a favorite talking point of Cuba's Cardinal Jaime Ortega, Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski and others who seek to distract from the real problem facing the Cuban people -- the lack of freedom.
From 1959 to this very day, each generation of Cuban exiles has consistently opened their homes, schools and businesses to the most recent group of arrivals -- irrespective of their previous social status or political beliefs.
As a matter of fact, such unity and solidarity has been the secret of the Cuban exile community's success.
Free Cubans throughout the world know, understand and practice reconciliation.
The backward concept of "reconciliation without freedom" has sadly served as a convenient ruse for the Castro dictatorship itself.
After all -- if free Cubans throughout the world know, understand and practice reconciliation -- then what is truly being advocated is reconciliation with a regime that continues to murder, torture and imprison innocent people (even during Papal visits).
Thus, it's disingenuous -- and counter-productive -- to talk about reconciliation without freedom.
Even the 20th century's greatest proponent of national reconciliation, South Africa's Nelson Mandela, stressed:
"Only free men can negotiate; prisoners cannot enter into contracts."
That's why national reconciliation in South Africa took place pursuant to the end of apartheid.
In Germany, it took place pursuant to the collapse of the East's police state.
So why is Cuba the only case in which reconciliation is disingenuously argued before freedom -- as if Cuba's problem was among its people, rather than with its dictatorship?
In his epic 1963 Encyclical Letter, Pacem in Terris ("Peace on Earth"), Pope John XXIII identified the essential conditions for peace in four precise requirements of the human spirit: truth, justice, love and freedom.
That is precisely what the Cuban people seek.
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