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“Let the dictators go!” Cubans ask virgins and orishas

Thousands of Cubans, many dressed in yellow, accompanied “Cachita”, the Virgin of Caridad del Cobre, on Thursday to ask for help in the face of the misfortunes that the dictatorship has caused the country.

“Things are so bad today that the town needs it a lot,” says Cristián Limia, a 23-year-old disabled man.
The traditional procession in Central Havana, which returned after two years of confinement due to the pandemic, has been preceded by the worst repression and economic crisis in three decades that caused the biggest protests in 60 years, which left some 1,500 convicted.

In his homily, Cardinal Juan de la Caridad García asked for “a particular prayer for the mothers of the young detainees.”

There were also serious explosions in a hotel and oil tanks, which left dozens dead, in addition to long power outages and many cases of dengue fever.

The image of this virgin, patron saint of Cuba, appeared floating in the sea on September 8, 1628 with the inscription: “I am the Virgin of Charity.”

She is represented in her yellow dress, with the baby Jesus in her arms and her boat with the three fishermen who found her at her feet.

“Cachita”, as her devotees call her, is also the orisha Oshún, one of the gods of the African Yoruba religion, widespread in Cuba and an example of the island’s religious syncretism.

The faithful also worshiped this week to the Virgin of Regla, syncretized in Yemayá, goddess of fertility and love.

  • Let the bad things go –

“Let the bad things go and good things may come!” asked Yira Planche dressed in blue on Wednesday, in front of the altar of Regla or Yemayá, patron saint of the Bay of Havana.

Looking at the sea, this 48-year-old laboratory technician says that “we are all asking for a lot of health, which we need”.

The Virgin of Regla arrived by ship from Andalusia on September 7, 1696. Her devotees built a temple for her in what is now the municipality of Regla.

The African stevedores settled on that site soon turned her into Orisha Yemayá, another Cuban Santeria deity. She is queen of the seas, patron saint of ships and fishermen. Now Yemayá is also the patron saint of rafters.

Many faithful wet their hands in the sea, dried them in their hair, and asked in silence.

About 5,400 illegal immigrants in rustic boats (rafts) have been returned by the United States since October 2021.

But about 60 have succumbed in the water since last October, according to figures from the US Coast Guard.

“For me, the Virgin of Regla is very wonderful because she has performed many miracles (…) everyone asks her, health for the children, mainly peace, tranquility for everyone,” says Francisca Maso, a housewife from 52 years.

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José Martí
José Martí
Nacionalista cubano, poeta, filósofo, ensayista, periodista, traductor, profesor y editor.

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