HAVANA Jan 3 Priests offering New Year's
prophecies from Cuba's Afro-Cuban religion urged old Cold War
foes Havana and Washington to continue rebuilding relations, and
forecast that detente would bring economic benefits in 2015.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro
announced last month they would move to renew diplomatic ties,
potentially paving a way to end decades of hostility.
Many on the Caribbean island eagerly await the annual
forecast from the Santeria religion, which is practiced by 3
million Cubans and uses animal sacrifices to contact Yoruba
deities originally worshiped by slaves brought over from Africa.
This year the priests, known as babalawos, predicted more
conflicts between nations worldwide, the deaths of religious and
political leaders, ecological strife and storm surges, as well
as fatalities from inter-generational struggles.
One of the priests, Lazaro Cuesta, said building bridges for
dialogue was key for the coming 12 months.
"All those who are involved in that, in all aspects of life,
are called to victory," Cuesta told a news conference in Havana.
"Those who put up walls and break down bridges are doomed."
The priest said the ruling deity, Baba Eyiobe, is applauding
the rapprochement announced on Dec. 17 by the U.S. and Cuban
Cuesta said Baba Eyiobe was telling world leaders,
particularly those in Washington and Havana, "to use their heads
as a fundamental basis for relations, their own intelligence,
and not to be influenced by the past, nor by circumstances
created by some ill-intentioned people."
He added: "God wants the dialogue to continue for everyone's
The Santeria priests said one of the slogans for 2015 chosen
by the faith was: "Wisdom is the force that moves the Earth."
They also prophesied that 2015 would offer economic benefits
thanks to the Cuba-U.S. talks, but gave no other details. Cuba
said in December that it expects GDP growth of 4 percent in
2015, following years of economic slowdown.
(Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by David Adams and Gunna