01/02/13 - ABC News - AfroCuban Priests Prescribe Santeria
A body of top Afro-Cuban priests recommended Wednesday that Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez seek their help as he recovers from his fourth
recent cancer-related surgery.
In their annual New Year's forecast known as the "Letter of the Year," the
Santeria priests, or "babalawo," expressed hope that Chavez would ask for
their assistance in getting well.
"I hope, God willing, that he decides to knock on the door of a Cuban
priest and that God will allow for the possibility of this individual to
do something for him," said Lazaro Cuesta, one of the "babalawo."
"Whichever house he knocks upon, I expect he will receive the help he
requires," Cuesta said.
He said priests had not performed a ceremony in Chavez's name, because
they only do so if asked.
Chavez has been convalescing in Cuba since his operation last month for an
undisclosed cancer. The secrecy surrounding the precise nature of his
ailment and treatment has led to speculation about his health, which
Venezuelan officials characterize as "delicate."
Santeria, a blend of Roman Catholicism and the African Yoruba faith, is
followed by many in Cuba, where about a third of the island's 11.2 million
people are of African descent. Each year thousands look for the priests'
"Letter," which is obtained in a ceremony in October and released around
the new year.
In their message for 2013, the priests predicted mass discontent and
social uprisings if nations do not "change their ways" and help those less
"If the different governments of the world ... do not seek an equilibrium
and some comprehension in terms of this subject, it is possible that
things could end in a strong conflict," Cuesta said.
The priests have a mixed track record despite keeping their predictions
Last year they warned that the world could see more earthquakes. But after
devastating temblors in 2010 (Haiti) and 2011 (Japan), the Earth's
tectonic faults were relatively gentle to humankind in 2012, killing just
768 people around the globe - far below the 342,000 quake deaths during
the previous two years, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
However, the priests did predict correctly that the world would not end in
apocalypse upon the conclusion of a Mayan calendar cycle on Dec. 21, 2012.
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