Prayer vigil for Cuban people held in WNY

Bishop Manuel Cruz called for support for those suffering under Communist rule

The Archdiocese of Newark held an emotional prayer vigil in support of the Cuban people, who are suffering from an ongoing humanitarian crisis.

In Cuba, throngs have taken to the streets against the current administration of President Miguel Díaz-Canel. The country has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and residents are protesting the Communist regime’s handling of the crisis as the Cuban economy collapses.

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Praying for Cuba

The service was led by Auxiliary Bishop Manuel Cruz on July 18 at St. Joseph of the Palisades Parish in West New York.

Cruz was joined by Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, Archbishop of Newark; fellow auxiliary bishops Gregory Studerus and Michael Saporito; Bishop Kevin J. Sweeney of the Diocese of Paterson; and dozens of clergy from throughout the Archdiocese of Newark and the Diocese of Paterson.

The service was a show of solidarity for Cubans currently protesting economic hardships and social injustice.

“The Cuban people, helpless as they are, are being massacred by the tyranny of the Cuban regime,” said Cruz. He was born in Havana and spent his early years in the island nation.

All who spoke during the bilingual service prayed that the people of Cuba are delivered from oppression and given the freedom, dignity, and basic human rights they deserve according to the Catholic faith.

“Today, we say Enough is enough to that genocide,” Cruz said. “We need to break the silence and be heard.”

Bishop Manuel Cruz calls for an end to Cuban tyranny.

Numerous community members made their presence known, loudly cheering and applauding throughout the vigil. Many waved flags and carried signs with messages like “Free Cuba Now.”

To read the full transcript of Cruz’s speech in English and Spanish, go to Watch the livestream of the prayer vigil at

Marching in the streets

After the service, hundreds of people marched through the streets of West New York in a show of support for those suffering under the Cuban regime. This is the second recent such event in North Hudson.

On July 13, thousands of people gathered for a rally and march for Cuban freedom from Braddock Park in North Bergen to Town Hall in WNY.

At that rally and march, dozens of elected officials spoke in support of the Cuban people, including State Senator and North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco, State Senator and Union City Mayor Brian Stack, State Assemblyman Pedro Mejia, State Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez, West New York Mayor Gabriel Rodriguez, Guttenberg Mayor Wayne Zitt, Hudson County Commission Chairman Anthony Vainieri, and Hudson County Sheriff Frank Schilliari, among others.

Both Sacco and Stack called for U.S. military intervention. Rodriguez reiterated his support for the Cuban people, and Zitt echoed calls for democracy in the Communist nation.

“The United States must get involved,” Stack said. “It must get involved with military action. All the words from the president on down are great, but we need to see military action. It should have happened 60 years ago. We need to take the dictatorship out of Cuba.”

For updates on this and other stories, check and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at

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