Spanian Catholics begin programme to aid Cuban refugees

Spanian Catholics begin programme to aid Cuban refugees

A group of Catholics established the Cobijo Project to welcome and assist their fellow countrymen in integrating into Spanish society in response to the growing number of Cubans moving in Madrid.

Father Bladimir Navarro, a priest from Camagüey who has been in Madrid for three years, together with fellow Cubans Glaisys Carbonell, Yanaika Lafuente, Lázaro González, Ronald Bolaos, and Jany Gálvez Garca, founded Cobijo.

The logo of the project features a silhouette of Our Lady of Charity, the patron saint of Cuba, in the colours of the Cuban flag.

Fr. Navarro told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language sister news agency, that “Cobijo originated as an act of Divine Providence.”

Since arriving in the Spanish capital, the priest believed that “God was urging me to welcome others who, like me, came from Cuba with just what they are wearing.”

The property where Cobijo works is situated in Alcobendas, on the outskirts of the Madrid metropolitan area, and was rented to a woman at a generous price and completely equipped.

Fr. Navarro said that the group received the key by August 1st.

“A young Cuban guy started living there, and a week later, we already had a married couple from Serbia with a one-and-a-half-year-old child, and then we took in another young lady; we’ve now taken in five people.” As a result of divine providence, Cobijo started in this manner,” he said.

The priest told ACI Prensa that although many Cubans continue to pursue direct emigration to the United States, the number of Cubans migrating to other countries has increased in recent years.

“They abandon everything and go through various routes, passing via Nicaragua, Serbia, and Moscow. These three countries do not need a tourist visa. “As a result, people move, risking everything on treks that might last for months and use expensive routes,” he said.

Nevertheless, he said that occasionally people incur debt, “since in order to do this sort of voyage, they must borrow a great deal of money, sell their homes and all their possessions, and arrive in Madrid with nothing.”

Fr. Navarro said, “We are seeing one of the greatest migration surges Cuba has ever had.”

“The Cubans that are emigrating are quite destitute. They came here extremely depressed, with the intention to start a whole new life, but the Cuban people are very joyful, very ambitious, and quite gregarious, and communism has taken all of that from us.”

“They travel to these nations with the intention of assisting their family members who remain in Cuba,” he added.

Given this fact, the priest indicated that the Cobijo Project’s three guiding principles are “welcome, change, and transmit.”

“The first thing we do when a Cuban comes from Russia, Serbia, or Spain is to provide them a warm welcome. We provide him with shelter, a home, and a family.

Yanaika Lafuente, a member of the Cobijo organising committee, and “my spiritual support as a priest” provide psychological assistance to the migrants.

For Cubans arriving at Cobijo, “we assist them with registering as Madrid residents, asking political asylum, and other health-related processes.” Also, the process of sending children to school, which we conduct via Diocesan Cáritas, as well as assisting them in their job hunt and assimilation into Spanish society,” the priest continued.

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