Cuba: Chilean delegation visits for Young Communists celebration

A Chilean delegation with leader Camila Vallejo visits to celebrate anniversary of the Union of Young Communists, and first Good Friday observed since 1960s.

Camila Vallejo visits to celebrate anniversary of the Union of Young Communists

The visit of Camila Vallejo Dowling, former leader of Chile’s student protests, dominated Cuban news this week. Vallejo visited Cuba as part of a Chilean delegation of young Communists to attend celebrations for the fiftieth anniversary of the Union of Young Communists of Cuba.

The Chilean delegation also included Karol Cariola, secretary general of the Chilean Young Communists, and Luis Lobos, an executive member of that organisation.

As part of the celebrations, Vallejo met with leaders from other Latin American young Communist and student groups, including leaders from the Continental Organization of Latin American and Caribbean Students, and the University Student Federation. Vallejo also visited various Cuban university campuses and gave talks on the ongoing student protests in her country.

On Wednesday the delegation was received by Fidel Castro for a three-hour meeting. Following the meeting, Cariola and Vallejo gave an interview to state media blog Cubadebate in which they expressed their enthusiasm about the meeting and their respect for Fidel.

At the end of their journey, the Chilean delegation met with Cuban singer and poet Silvio Rodríguez in Havana, with whom they discussed impressions of their visit, and great Chilean poets.

Vallejo’s visit attracted a great deal of criticism both within Cuba and Chile. In an article for Chilean press, dissident blogger Yoani Sánchez criticized Vallejo’s comments that police violence is less extreme in Cuba than in Chile.  Government spokesperson Andrés Chadwick qualified Vallejo’s praise of Fidel  Castro—whom Vallejo called a ‘great visionary,’ and qualified his ‘Reflexiones de Fidel’ as a ‘roadmap’—as ‘backward.’

In a letter posted to Cubadebate, Vallejo addressed critiques of her visit, stating ‘Cuba is not perfect, and Chile does not need to follow its lead.’

First Good Friday observed since 1960s

As Pulsamérica reported last week, the Cuban government announced the first observance of Good Friday since the early 1960s at the request of the Pope.

Giving mass in Havana, Archbishop of Havana Cardinal Jaime Ortega gave a call that Good Friday be observed with ‘forgiveness and reconciliation.’ Ortega’s sermon was broadcast on a national educational channel. Later that day, the same channel broadcast footage of Pope Benedict XVI overseeing the Stations of the Cross in Rome.

Some at the service expressed hope that the observance would become permanent. However, religious authorities expressed concern that many Cubans used the new holiday for as an excuse for a vacation out of town rather than for religious observance.