Cuba Church magazine editors quit over 'divisions'

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Associated Press

Posted on June 12, 2014 at 12:05 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 12 at 12:07 PM

HAVANA (AP) — The former editors of an influential Roman Catholic magazine in Cuba resigned because its critical coverage caused controversy and tensions among the faithful, they said in a letter that circulated Thursday.

Roberto Veiga and Lenier Gonzalez, who for about a decade led editorial coverage of Espacio Laical, said the magazine's "socio-political profile" led to tensions that affected both them and Cardinal Jaime Ortega.

"For that reason ... it was not morally right to continue leading a publication that provoked divisions within the ecclesiastical community itself, where there are the positions of those who believe the Church should not meddle 'in politics,'" Veiga and Gonzalez wrote in the letter, which Gonzalez emailed to The Associated Press. It also appeared on several websites.

"We came to understand the impossibility of maintaining the editorial line of the magazine Espacio Laical as it has been," they said.

The government and the Communist Party control nearly all media in Cuba, and Espacio Laical, which publishes news and commentary in print and online, is a rare exception.

The magazine has run a number of tough analyses of President Raul Castro's economic and social reforms. It publishes both pro-government and critical articles, with contributing authors from inside and outside the country.

Word of the editors' resignation emerged this week when an email they sent to colleagues appeared online.

In the missive they said they had been "freed" from their positions — using a Spanish word that in Cuba is often a euphemism for "dismissed."

On Wednesday the director of Espacio Laical, Gustavo Andujar, issued a sharply worded statement saying they not been fired but rather submitted their resignation May 2.

Veiga and Gonzalez acknowledged that they had in fact resigned, and regretted that their ambiguous language was misinterpreted.

"It moves us that a private communication for friends ... should become a matter of concern for so many men and women inside and outside of Cuba," the letter said. "We also regret the aggressive and disproportionate tone of the message from Gustavo Andujar."

Veiga and Gonzalez said it was the third time in the last two years that they had submitted their resignation.

On the two previous occasions, Ortega did not accept it and the editors ended up staying on "out of consideration for him."

This time, Ortega signed off on their resignation.

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Peter Orsi on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Peter_Orsi

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