By Cuba Team
WFPSC’s Cuba Team had the pleasure of participating in the annual national gathering of Cuba’s Student Christian Movement (MEC in Spanish) this past April 19-22nd. Our partner organization on the island, the Centro Memorial Martin Luther King, organizes its work to promote emancipatory values under two networks: Popular Educators, and Ecumenical. MEC is a member of the ecumenical network, which activates faith communities throughout Cuba to build a more just society.
Jae Hubay and Natalia Fajardo, Cuba Program Co-directors, traveled 14 hours with MEC members from Habana, picking up others along the way to Santiago, at the other tip of the Island. Hosted by the San Lucas Episcopal Church, the taller (gathering) served as an opportunity “to reflect about the dreams and challenges of today’s Christian and ecumenical communities,” according to MEC. The event featured a workshop using popular education to analyze the current Cuban political and religious context.
Through the lens of individual experiences of imagined people, we got to think about how social inequities create advantages for some while making it harder for others to succeed, and the role that churches play in offering a tangible transformation in people’s reality, both through sharing the gospel of liberation and offering material support.
This year MEC celebrates 63 years of existence, resistance, and resilience. A spiritual highlight of this event was a liturgy led by our elders, Pastors Marcos Figueredo, Hermes LaBastida y Gisela Perez, all of whom were involved since MEC’s early stages. Pastor Gisele reminded us that Cuban society has gone through ups and downs since its beginnings, and commitment and faith have brought strength and perspective during the most difficult times.
Soothed by their wise words, music from Pastor Marco’s guitar, and the heavily-felt presence of the love that new and senior members alike have for this movement, we climbed la Gran Piedra, a geographical formation with beautiful views of the Sierra Maestra mountains (where independence movement and 20th-century revolutionaries trained and strategized) – a major landscape contrast to the mostly lowlands of the rest of the island. We closed the taller with the release of 2023’s Agenda Latinoamericana, a now traditional planner full of essays and exercises for social movements, “a manual to guide the creation of another world.”
We discussed the definition of resilience, our ability to bounce back, to adapt, and to evolve in the face of uncertainty, attacks, and an ever-changing planet – to rely on our faith, organizations & communities. The gathering was a living, palpable example of MEC’s resilience, building community and hope amidst some of the most challenging conditions Cuba has faced in recent history.MEC believes God made us humans not just to survive, but to thrive. The members of the Student Christian Movement fight every day to get us all there.