Cuba. On July 22, the leader of the Christian Democratic
opposition movement MLC (Movimiento Cristiano Liberación),
Oswaldo Payá, died in a car accident. Also in the car was
the Swedish Christian Democratic Youth League leader Aron
Modig, who survived the crash. For a long time, it was
speculated from abroad that the accident was a political
attack by the Cuban government on Payá. The government, for
its part, claimed that Modig was in Cuba to help with the
funding of the MLC and the creation of a Christian youth
organization. Both speculations were demented by all parties
involved, including: Courageous insisted that the car crash
was really an accident.
countryaah, a major topic of debate at the beginning of the year was
the sixth Inter-American Summit in Cartagena, Colombia, in
April, to which Cuba is not normally invited and which,
through a story of irony, was held the same week as the US
embargo on Cuba turned 50 years. No final document from the
meeting was ever issued, mainly because all countries except
the US and Canada wanted to include Cuba at the next summit,
which will be held in Panama 2015.
Pope Benedict XVI visited Cuba in March and held a mass
for hundreds of thousands of people at Revolution Square in
Havana. In his public statements, the Pope was cautious and
pragmatic, and he spoke of the need for both human rights
reforms in Cuba and an end to the isolation the country
suffered since the US imposed its embargo in 1962.
A week before the Pope's visit, the authorities had
launched an arrest campaign against Damas de Blanco ('Ladies
in White'), a group of relatives of imprisoned political
dissidents. 70 activists were arrested, but most were
released within two days.