Miami-Havana Santeria wars

Seems like both sides in the Cuban political divide are atempting to co-opt Santeria, which is definitely bad news for the doves and chickens of Miami and Havana. Apparently neither the Fidelistas or the anti-Fidelistas are playing to the animal-rights constituency. From an Aug. 4 Reuters account, dateline Miami:

After Cuba announced on Monday that Castro had stomach surgery and put brother Raul in charge, Rigoberto Zamora, a babalawo, or priest, of what he calls Yoruba, the African name for Santeria, performed a fact-finding ritual.

After sacrificing a couple of black hens and a rooster to satisfy the hunger of the gods, he got the word from them: Castro is already dead; he died on Monday.

“We were astonished by such good news. It made us happy because politically we are against Fidel,” said Zamora, who left Cuba in 1980 and lives in the Miami neighborhood known as Little Havana.

The news from the gods was not all good. It turns out that Castro’s demise will be followed by three months of intense fighting before peace is restored, he said.

While Cuban-Americans in Florida beseeched the gods to kill Castro, in Cuba the same gods were asked to make him well.

“We are praying for him because it’s a very painful situation for everyone,” said babalawo Guillermo Diago in Havana.

Members of the Yoruba Cultural Association of Cuba said they were collecting money to buy animals to sacrifice for Castro’s health.

“Our position is to follow the plans of the gods, which are to understand and support the decisions taken by our maximum leader,” the group said.

Santeristas are not the only religious types preoccupied with Castro’s future.

In Miami’s Roman Catholic churches with heavily Cuban congregations, priests spoke about the events in Cuba and urged patience.

But Little Havana shopkeeper Maria Vazquez, who sells toilet paper imprinted with Castro’s image and T-shirts with anti-Castro messages, said, “We are praying every night that he is dead.”

“It’s probably not the Christian thing to do, but it is very human,” said Vazquez, who fled Cuba with her family when Castro took power 47 years ago and longs to return.

See our last post on Cuba.