Castor José Devesa Álvarez

* 1973

  • “For me the 11th of July was a moment of enlightenment... this is my reflection on it after giving it a thought. Cuba was enlightened by the spirit of God that made the hearts of the people open up. Who are you really with? And the truth was clear... Later, people would tell me: 'Father, we know who the people from the State Security are, where they come from... on the streets and even inside the church. '// The bishop then asked me to speak clearly to all the other priests in my diocese about what had happened. And surely there were people in the church who couldn’t comprehend that a priest was there. However, I still think... as a pastor I have to always aim for peace... but there can only be peace if there’s justice, freedom, and charity.”

  • “I remember this old lady, using her walker… (shows the way she shouted). The young people were on the street and the older ones on the sidewalks. The old people looking like resurrected dead bodies. // I met a few of the protesters that were going to the demonstration, and I shared my concerns with them... 'What’s going to happen when the night comes?’ And the night didn’t mean when the sun goes down and it’s dark. The night meant when the person in charge says that we have to attack and at that moment I... the difference was, when we went from fists and arrests to the use of weapons. // Then the boys started to pick up sticks and stones. I started to take the sticks and stones away from them. 'We can't, it can't be like this...' So, they would say: 'They have sticks, it’s man for a man, they have sticks, let's continue for if they are there with the sticks."

  • “Every day when I went to sleep my mom would go with me and pray. Our Father, Hail Mary, with God I go to bed, with God I rise, with the Grace of God and the Holy Spirit. Sometimes when I would have nightmares she would come and tell me: ‘Let’s pray together.’ And I would say: ‘Mom, I thought…’ And she knew what I thought. And I noticed that after we prayed, the nightmares would be gone. And so, then I logically started to tell her: ‘I think we forgot to pray before going to bed tonight.’ And maybe at school I had a conversation with this kid who also had nightmares and I told him: ‘That is because you didn’t pray “Our Father” before going sleep last night.’ And the teacher heard it or maybe the kid told her, so she called my mom that would then tell me: ‘My son, you can’t be talking about God at school.’ That seemed weird to me. ‘But if they ask you directly you also can’t deny him, because Jesus said that whoever denies him on earth, he will also deny them in heaven.’ And so, I would go to school with a constant fear of being caught saying something religious. I felt like a weirdo. They would say that religion is the opium of the people, and that we were obscurantists (anti-intellectual). That in a certain way we can’t be scientists, that we do not believe in science… which didn’t make much sense for my classmates when they later saw me studying at the technical school in Camagüey crazy about mathematics and I would tell them: ‘You must be blind if you think that I am an obscurantist while I love mathematics.’ I remember that in high school our teacher once asked: ‘Is anyone religious here?’ We were 42 in class and only 3 of us raised their hand. I raised my hand with a fear that they would break it. // I would go read the Bible at the technical school of Camagüey... I would go to the bathroom and bring sheets. I would stand in front of the toilet as if I were urinating, the sheet covering the Bible and standing there like this I had time to read.”

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    Camagüey, Cuba, 01.01.2023

    duration: 01:16:18
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The night didn’t mean the absence of light...

Padre Castor José Devesa Álvarez
Padre Castor José Devesa Álvarez
photo: Post Bellum

Castor José Devesa Álvarez was born half a century ago in a town called Camagüey and from a very young age he leaned to the Christian faith. With years, his devotion grew stronger and today, he’s a priest, known amongst the people of Cuban’s third largest city as Father Castor. The person who played an important role in introducing Castor to religion was his mother, who used to pray with him before sleep and she would take him to church on Sundays. She was also the one who warned him to not talk about his faith too much at school, saying it could bring them trouble. Because of that, his childhood and teenage years were marked by a constant fear that someone will find out about his faith. To avoid problems, he would read bible secretly in the bathrooms. Despite all the effort he made to hide his faith, he didn’t feel happy living a lie. Based on that he decided to stop paying attention to what he can or cannot say, which lead to his expulsion from the University of Oriente, where he studied math. At the beginning of the ‘90s, in the middle of a social economic crisis known as the Special Period, Castor was not able to continue his studies. Even though the Apostolic Nuncio and a Spanish Ambassador tried to find a way for him to study abroad in Madrid or Barcelona, he did not obtain permission to leave the country. Over the years Castor was growing closer to the dissidents in Camagüey. This resulted in his participation in the demonstration of the 11th of July 2021. Father Castor was injured by the police there and ended up in jail. After he had seen the violence against other participants in the protest, he decided to be a witness in the case of several of the detained youths, many of whom received long prison sentences. Father Castor is active on social media, where he is dedicated to spreading the faith and denouncing the crimes of the Cuban regime. He has been arrested several times.