Cuba's Protestant churches intend to play an important "intermediary" role in what are expected to be imminent years of change and transition within Cuba, according to the new general secretary of the Cuban Council of Churches (CCC).Speaking on April 19 at a public forum at New York's Interchurch Center, three days before federal officials seized Elián González from his Miami relatives to reunite him with his father, Reinerio Arce singled out the González case as an example of how churches in Cuba, working with ecumenical partners in the US, had been able to bring Cubans and Americans together amid continuing hostility between Washington and Havana.During the initial stages of the custody battle over the six-year-old Cuban boy, the CCC and the US National Council of Churches had worked together as intermediaries, boosting efforts to unite Elián with his father."The church has been the only bridge between Cuba and the United States," said Arce, adding he that expected the role to grow in coming years. "Churches will continue to have an important role in the transformation of Cuban society."Part of that role would be acting as a "bridge" between the two governments and between the Cubans in Cuba and those in the United States, Arce said. The Elián case demonstrated, he said, that much reconciliation would be needed."We have to begin to address what our relations will be after the [US economic] blockade is lifted," he said, adding that US churches should still work towards ending the blockade. "We need to begin a dialogue, to prepare for the future," he said.Asked by ENI what specific role he saw for the churches, Arce said the González case offered a model because the councils of churches in both countries had worked together ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.