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Published: Wednesday July 2, 2014 MYT 3:21:17 AM
Updated: Wednesday July 2, 2014 MYT 3:22:30 AM

Cuban editors, pressured to leave magazine, announce new venture

HAVANA (Reuters) - Two editors who helped turn a Roman Catholic magazine into a rare forum for open debate in Communist-ruled Cuba, then resigned under pressure this spring, announced on Tuesday that they will launch a new forum to air a broad range of views.

Roberto Veiga and Lenier Gonzalez said their new project would be called Cuba Posible. No start date was given for the venture, which they said would be primarily online.

The editors resigned from the church magazine Espacio Laical this spring, citing pressure from inside the church and raising concerns about one of the most dynamic, non-official areas of public discourse in a country where authorities monopolize the media, leaving little space for critical voices.

Besides the printed magazine, Espacio Laical published on the Internet and sponsored forums for public debate. The church said it will become less political and put more emphasis on culture and the arts.

Veiga and Gonzalez said they intend to create "a project of transitional change for our country," citing the words of a priest who inspired them, the late Monsignor Carlos Manuel de Cespedes.

It would not be a political party or platform, but rather open to a wide range of viewpoints, Gonzalez said in a separate statement.

They also promised to promote "the responsible exercise of freedom" and "the continuous design of a democracy that is each day more complete," in addition to education, the arts and better Cuban relations with the United States, Europe and Latin America.

"There are always fears referring to censorship, but we are not overly worried about it," Gonzalez said, adding they would operate much as they did for 10 years with Espacio Laical.

"We are here to serve, to help and be brothers, not to polarise or destabilise," Gonzalez said.

While with Espacio Laical, Veiga and Gonzalez used the Internet to promote debate on political issues such as the need for a multiparty system, Internet expansion, reintegration with the diaspora and the strengths and weaknesses of reforms under President Raul Castro.

They quit this spring after 10 years on the job. Their resignation letter said they left not because of government pressure but due to pressure from people inside the church hierarchy who did not want the church to get involved in politics.

While Cuba's Catholic church is small by Latin American standards, it is by far the largest and best organised institution on the Caribbean island with a different ideology than the Communist Party.

(Editing by David Gregorio)

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