Pro cessions Pre sent
returning to the streets, 1998–2012
The Virgin needs to visit her people in the street.
Archbishop Adolfo Rodríguez- Herrera
In the months following Pope John Paul II’s January 1998 visit, the
Cuban government began to selectively allow religious pro cessions in
the streets for the first time in almost forty years. Archbishop Adolfo
Rodríguez- Herrera (d. 2003) of Camagüey, the prelate quoted above,
emphasized, during our August 2001 conversation, what he described
as the “grand pastoral importance” of the street as the location for
the Virgin’s encounter with the Cuban public.1 This concluding chap-
ter examines the post-1998 reinstatement of street pro cessions for the
Virgin, which occurred in fits and starts over the de cade that followed,
according to the vagaries of party leadership in each of Cuba’s then
eleven provinces. With the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Cuba in 2012,
the Virgin was again brought to Santiago’s Revolution Plaza for a pon-
tifical Mass attended by thousands. On this occasion, after the Mass, His
Holiness followed the Virgin back to her mountaintop shrine, signal-
ing that Cuba’s patron saint was indeed recognized among the world’s
signature Marian advocations.
“Respeto” and Cuba’s “Generation Y”
Some older Cubans and Catholic clerics with whom I spoke feared
that participation in renewed religious pro cessions would have per-
manently lost its appeal after so many de cades of dormancy, that
dissidents would take advantage of (aprovechar) these events to stage
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