EFEHavana

Members of Cuba's internal opposition complained on Tuesday that Pope Francis did not mention the matter of human rights during his just-completed pastoral visit to the island, but they acknowledged the positive aspects of his messages in favor of reconciliation, unity and forgiveness.

The leader of the Ladies in White, Berta Soler, and former political prisoner Jose Daniel Ferrer criticized the pontiff for not referring in his sermons and speeches to the situation of basic rights in Cuba.

"We really know that he is not the liberator of Cuba, that the pope came as a missionary of compassion and to deal with the rapprochement of the Church with the government, that he said very nice words in his homilies, but did not mention respect for human rights and freedom," Soler told EFE.

Ferrer, the coordinator of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, commented in a similar manner, lamenting that there were no "clear pronouncements" in the "pale" papal homilies, while "today between 80 and 100 arrests of activists occurred in Santiago de Cuba and nearby towns to prevent their attendance at the event involving Francis."

Ferrer said that three members of his group remain in custody in Havana after on Sunday they broke through the security cordon and approached Pope Francis shortly before the Mass he celebrated on the Plaza of the Revolution.

"We haven't heard the term human rights from any quarter and we regret that the pope has not spoken in a direct manner about the difficult situation Cuba is experiencing in that regard," he said.

Despite that, however, former political prisoner Marta Beatriz Roque said that Francis's visit is going to make "contributions," as occurred with those of John Paul II in 1998 and Benedict XVI in 2012.

"There are people in the exile community who would have loved to hear the words human rights, repression, policy, but (the pope) was very intelligent because he has great facility to express himself and he knew how to fulfill the objectives he brought with him for this visit," she added.

Roque, Soler and independent journalist Miriam Leiva were arrested for a few hours on the first two days of the papal visit when they tried to attend the events presided over by the pope in Havana and to which they had been invited.

Leiva told EFE that, although she could not meet with the pope, she felt it was "very positive" that she had been invited to do so because "it was a way of paying attention to and listening to the opposition in Cuba."

"The pope had the pastoral objective of giving his message of compassion and its importance is that he came to the people with love, reconciliation and forgiveness, which are very much needed in Cuba for the rescue of social values," she emphasized.