Alfredo Fernandez

If only the pope would make a detour.

HAVANA TIMES, March 24 — The Cuban Catholic Church should take advantage of the work being done to dress up those streets in Havana along which the Pope will travel by making a detour in the Holy Father’s the route.

Such a change in plan could serve to alleviate many of the architectural problems that afflict Havana residents.

The “Pope-Mobile” will carry Joseph Ratzinger from the airport to the ecclesiastical office in the Miramar neighborhood where he will spend a night. Because of this, the streets along that route were re-paved and the facing of buildings painted.

The Pope, with that blessed aura that’s associated with him, could have contributed to the real possibility of fixing up the street named “La Calzada de Jesus del Monte” if that thoroughfare had been selected as part of his planned route.

That avenue, for its beauty and splendor prior to 1959, inspired the poet Eliseo Diego in 1948 to write some of the most important twentieth century Spanish language books.

10th of October St.

La Calzada de Jesus del Monte (these days referred to as October 10th Street) long ago lost any resemblance to the verse that Eliseo immortalized: “This is the place where it’s great to be.” Today it’s seedy. It’s a place where elderly Havanans pass by and recall its ostentation with nostalgia.

Cardinal Jaime Ortega has that immense capacity to get along well with everyone, his church, the government and dissents. Though he doesn’t always succeed, on this occasion it would have been good if he had appealed to the Cuban authorities to have the pope make the illogical detour, perhaps saying:

“Our Pope XVI has been seized by a psychological disorder — a legacy of those days when he belonged to the anti-aircraft services of the Nazi SS — which prevents him from traveling through open spaces. He can only journey through urban areas.”

Such justification would have opened the door to the repair of October 10th St., which — although cosmetic — is desperately required.

For more than fifty years it has been in the hands of a government that — used to “cleaning only where a mother-in-law would look” — has forgotten one of the most significant arteries of our national architecture.


Alfredo Fernandez

Alfredo Fernandez: I didn't really leave Cuba, it's impossible to leave somewhere that you've never been. After gravitating for 37 years on that strange island, I managed to touch firm ground, but only to confirm that I hadn't reached anywhere. Perhaps I will never belong anywhere. Now I'm living in Ecuador, but please, don't believe me when I say where I am, better to find me in "the Cuba of my dreams.

5 thoughts on “The Pope Should Take a Detour

  • For the record, Pope Benedict, Joseph Ratzinger, was never a member of the SS as the author incorrectly wrote above. He was drafted into the German anti-aircraft corps as Luftwaffenhelfer (air force child soldier) at the age of 15. He deserted as soon as he was able to and surrendered to US forces. He claims that although he was assigned to an anti-aircraft gun, he never fired it at the Allied bombers.

  • “…seized by a psychological disorder ” yeah, exactly. Which is how/why he became pope. *Snort*.

  • I think is a good idea of this young man, because the Catholic Church, one of the richest Corporation in the world, coul be move to donate millions of dollars to revitalize the Havana and other cities of the country.

    This youg man, should keep thinking in another such a good ideas, that promote that the richest people or Corporation in the world, knows what the USA Government Blockade had done to Cuba, in the last 50 and more years of obstructing the development of the country and their people.

    About his remark about the Jesus del Monte Avenue or Calazada de 10 de Octubre, I do not agree with him, because I used to study in the Instituto de Segunda Enzenanza de la Vibora, while living in one of the more poorest neighbohood in Havana, los Sitios, and the 10 de Octubre Avenue, was not consider the best and most beautiful place in Havana, prior to 1959, even respecting Eliseo Diego consideration,

    The idea of getting supportt to change the actual image of that important Avenue in Havana, is a good idea, but adittionally there are some other ideas, like create an ONG byt the young people of the country that live in that area, in order to raise funds to accomplish the noble and humanitarian idea and project of rebuilding it and then show it to the world, under the concept as follow: This is the remodelated Calzada de 10 de Octubre, thanks to the young people of this area, and even with the USA Government Blockade for more than 50 years against the country the people and the social-economic process.

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  • The number one detour destination should be Guantanamo. That is the world’s epicenter of human & civil rights violations & abuse. How the author can talk about detours without a mention of Guantanamo is strange and odd.

  • It would be nice if the Pope would take a driving tour throughout many parts of Cuba. I’m sure he would enjoy the scenic beauty of the coastal road to the west of Santiago de Cuba. But, without major repairs, I’m equally sure the Pope Mobile driver would find navigating that highway a very big challenge, or possibly impassible. ‘Lord knows’ (to use a common English phrase) that road needs work!

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