April 7, 1997
Where Catholic equals dissident By Mary Murray
HAVANA, Cuba Aida Sarduy recently turned 43 but
she easily looks a withered two decades older.
She is thin and bent and has an agitated look in her
eyes when she speaks about her life as a practicing Roman
Catholic in officially atheist Cuba.
Sarduy knew she was courting misery 17 years ago when
she decided to relinquish her membership in Cuba's Young
Communist Union in order to practice her religious beliefs.
Fired as a hostess in a government-run restaurant
catering to visiting dignitaries, it was the last time she
would ever hold public employment.
"Survival then became a struggle," she said,
and she admits that has made her "amarga"
"I went from just being a Catholic to also being a
dissident," she said.
Sarduy uses the platform of the church to speak out
against Cuba's communist government. She dedicates her time
soliciting food, clothing and money from fellow parishioners
for the families of political prisoners. Although she has
never been jailed for her dissidence, her house was targeted
in 1993 by dozens of pro-government neighbors holding an
Even though she believes "human suffering is part
of life, paving the path to heaven," she has gone to
the American Mission in Havana three times over the years to
request permission to leave for Miami. She says she has been
denied because she can't prove recent persecution. So she
has just about given up on the idea of leaving Cuba.
Instead Sarduy hopes for a miracle that will change
Cuba to her liking. And she is not alone in her pleas,
although wishes do vary.
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