A Blessing For Cuba And A Gamble For Fidel

The hearty hymn bursts from Havana's waterfront Church of Our Lady of Regla, the Black Virgin of Cuba and patron of seafarers: "Sing Hallelujah to the Lord!" The faithful at Our Lady of Regla cram the pews, the aisles, and the cobblestone drive that leads down to the bay. The jubilance of churchgoers tonight contrasts sharply with the mood during my previous visit, at the time of the 1994 raft crisis. Then, the altar was lined with candles for loved ones among the 30,000 Cubans who had set out for Florida on flimsy, homemade craft. The priest that day sought to comfort his hushed parishioners, to mitigate despair.

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