Truman State University Spring Break trip to Cuba
Introduction to the Martin Luther King Center (March 11)
We met with a coordinator of the Martin Luther King Center in Havana, a member of Baptist church, who knew of CMLK through its socio-theological work, and studied in seminary in Matanzas. Previously studied theology at university. Take care of CMLK work in western part of country. Recently began as staff member of center.
CMLK founded April 25, 1987, emerges out of Baptist church. Pastors influenced by liberation theology & ecumenical movements. The Baptist church in western Cuba was a very fundamentalist church, founded by Southern Baptists. Involved in worker-student Baptist movement, not just enclosed in church but comes out to society. Out of this emerged idea to create a center with a more contextualized theology and more social participation. Began working with christian churches, and popular education. CMLK incorporated this methodology, worked w/ other orgs.
1990s: 5 programs:
Learning from church & popular leaders, and people work in local environments. Create meeting spaces for popular educators. 2009 gather popular educators together. A way to organize the work. Taught popular education to local govts, and created a MA program in the university on popular education. broad: sports, education, etc. Work with church as collaborators.
2012: founded Red Ecuménica fe por Cuba. Transform Cuba
Communication & solidarity team
Relations with social movements in LA. That was entry point. CMLK sends people to train w/ movements in other countries, and movements also send people to center for formation. Have one person from popular organizing network working in ES with FMLN, MST in Brazil. Also Argentina, Uruguay, Peru, Guatemala, Haiti. CMLK was one of mediators in Colombia peace accords.
Arrival of Baptist church in Cuba with US intervention. US baptists divide N & S. Northern baptists worked in eastern Cuba, and Southern in west. 2 different Baptist conventions in Cuba w/ 2 different theology. Eastern was more progressive, and worked with triumph of revolution (worker student). Frank País was PK & Sunday school teacher. Western were more fundamentalist, but Ebenezer worked to change social environment. Were viewed poorly by other churches. Late 1980s: expelled 4 pastors from western convention because they were too radical. Founded Fellowship of Baptist Churches of Cuba, and formed new org. Always had this social perspective. Neither convention trained women leadership, but fellowship was first to ordinate women (and continues to be only one that does so). Others remain fundamentalist. Fellowship shares value of revolution.
Baptists also believe we have a responsibility to society. Although Cuban revolution declared itself materialist, we continued to work to serve people. Raúl Suárez member of national assembly. Intervened in congress against death penalty.
Raúl Suárez found white church in Black neighborhood, with German hymns. Started working in community. Fidel told people in Brazil that he wishes that religious people in Cuba were like them. Bad relations between church & Govt, esp. what Catholic church was doing. People supporting achievements of Cuban revolution. Suárez Was president of council of churches, led to 1992 declaration of cuba as secular state. Not related to pope coming to Cuba.
Baptist Worker Student Organization (late 1970s). Volunteer work. Social responsibility. Share experiences. Now Frank País brigade so that coordinating body didn't die, and received name as homenaje to País.
Became an association to have legal status. Different groups have similar organizational status. Doesn't know why it is association & not cooperative—maybe cuz coop is productive. Horizontal relations.
Anays: Media: relations between govt & people.
Rita: do you think a better world is possible? And that people working together can build a better world? To leave a better world for our children? From theological perspective, build a kingdom of god here. Good people need to be sensitive to pain, and pay attention to others. Good will actions. When i approach others, i understand them better. Need to break thru myths. Two people (not govts) have a lot to share. Exchange & enriching in spontaneous process. Influence of Cuban salsa in US jazz. Influence on both sides.
Blockade is more than embargo. Blockade when you cut off supplies to a country. Role of WFP.
Suárez visit to Nicaragua and saw WFP stopping of invasion, and told people that if WFP had been in Cuba the Bay of Pigs invasion would not have happened. The beginning of relation btwn WFP & CMLK in struggle for justice. Goal is education & to understand each other. We are the spokespeople to communicate this approach & stop policies. Because US also needs Cuba, from a different perspective.
Marianao founded by people working in harbor, and were largely black people. Suárez worked to help & organize community. cMLK recognized as doing good work. Pastoral body fostered horizontal relations. Not homophobic, even queer ministers.
Relations btwn China & Cuba. Cuba sees itself as heterogeneous. Aboriginal, Spanish, African + Chinese influences. Havana as a Barrio Chino. Sociological perspective. Doesn't see a Chinese invasion. When Cuba signs an economic agreement, it defends its sovereignty. Mixed company is also 51% cuban & 49% foreign. Relations with chinese have always been respectful.
CMLK funding:mostly European foundation.