Santeria priests call for change in thinking in Cuban gov’t, society

Havana, Jan 2 (EFE).- The Yoruba Cultural Association of Cuba, which traditionally releases a letter of forecasts for the coming year, this year emphasized the need for a “change in thinking” by the communist island’s authorities and within “the base” of society, given the “new times” the economy is experiencing.

During a press conference on Monday to provide more details regarding the Yearly Letter the organization – Cuba’s main body of Santeria priests – released on the weekend, Rancell Montero, the association’s vice president, emphasized that this “change” is needed for the “development of new socio-economic outlooks” in Cuba.

“We’re still not prepared and all the necessary conditions are not there for that change. And that ranges from the country’s leadership itself to the base,” Montero said, when asked about the matter by EFE.

The island is the only state with a communist system in Latin America and for the past two years has been going through an aggravated economic crisis that is translating into shortages of goods, high inflation and the partial dollarization of the economy.

In their Yearly Letter for 2023, the Cuban Santeria priests – known as “babalawos,” warned that a “change in thinking” is needed to develop new socio-economic outlooks for society but they provided no further details about what they meant.

In recent years, the Cuban government has implemented economic reforms that have allowed for the entry of new private sector actors into the economic mix but it has maintained monopoly control of foreign trade.

“We’re going to find new elements and this requires thinking about the new times with another type of vision and it requires preparing the country’s entire economic infrastructure, so that it may be adapted to that need for develop that we have under the current conditions,” Montero said.

The prophesies of the oracle of Afro-Cuban religions are contained in the document, and the babalawos are also forecasting natural disasters from hurricanes, ocean disturbances and overflowing rivers that will cause both economic and human losses.

They predict an increase in violent criminal activity and robberies and recommend that precautions be taken to safeguard both individual and state-owned property.

The priests expressed concern over the aging of the Cuban population, which is being left with a depleted cohort of young people due to the massive exodus of citizens of child-bearing age over the past year and the resulting decline in the island’s birth rate.

They also predicted an increase in alcohol consumption among the public, a situation they say will create social problems, adding that the dangers associated with this should be publicized more.

For 2023, the babalawos also recommended once again making preventive health measures a nationwide priority to limit the spread of infectious diseases.

Syncretic cults like Santeria, which came to Cuba with African slaves during the colonial epoch, transmit their knowledge via the oral tradition in prayers, rites, conjuration, magical formulae, chants, dances, sacrifices and liturgies.

Prophesy is one of the most important practices in Santeria.

EFE –/bp

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