Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega Dies at 82

Jaime Ortega (r) with Raul Castro.  Photo:

HAVANA TIMES – Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega, who played a key role in the thawing of relations between Cuba and the United States, died on Friday aged 82, the office of the archbishop of Havana said.

Ortega, who was the archbishop of Havana from 1981 to 2016, helped to stage secret negotiations between representatives of Cuba’s then president Raul Castro and those of then US president Barack Obama.

The talks led to diplomatic relations being re-established and embassies being reopened in 2015 after decades of confrontation.

Cardinal Jaime Ortega (r) with Barack Obama in Havana in March 2016.

Ortega also acted as an intermediary between the Castro government and that of Spain’s then premier Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who secured the release of dozens of Cuban political prisoners in 2010.

Ortega helped to organize three papal visits to Cuba: John Paul II in 1998, Benedict XVI in 2012 and Francis in 2015.

“As we think of Cardinal Jaime today with gratitude and joy, it is an encouragement to us to know that he will remain among us, accompanying us with the memory of his kind smile, his clairvoyant intelligence,” the archbishop’s office said.


2 thoughts on “Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega Dies at 82

  • July 26, 2019 at 2:33 pm

    R. I.P.

  • July 26, 2019 at 1:33 pm

    An interesting claim that Ortega played a key role in the negotiations between Raul Castro and Barack Obama. I can’t recall him visiting Canada where the meetings were held between the two governments. I recall similar claims about the Pope playing a key role – quite a cast of claimants! The Government of Canada has always remained discretely quiet about the arrangements made for the meetings held in their offices. Actually Pope Francis made not one but two visits to Cuba. During the second one, he met with the Patriach of Moscow and All the Russias Orthodox Church (Putin’s man) – providing an opportunity for the latter to display a few of his numerous fancy hats.

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