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Persecution of Christians increases in Cuba

Despite the fact that more than 61% of Cuba’s population is Christian, they are facing increasing persecution from the Communist government.

The Communist Party’s goal is to supress religion and reduce the Church’s influence. Despite the change in leadership in 2018, authorities are committed to the atheistic views of communism and compel religious organisations. Miguel Diaz-Canel was announced as Raul Castro’s successor as first secretary of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party in April 2021. However, this did not improve the lives of Cuban citizens. Poverty, deteriorating living conditions and the increasing control of the Communist Party resulted in protests. Sadly, the repercussions were brutal. Police and security beat up protestors and arrested hundreds of people, including priests. 

The government used the Covid-19 pandemic to clamp down on Christianity. They imposed impossibly high fees on churches, confiscated Christian materials and disrupted their distribution of humanitarian assistance.

Authorities can arrest and imprison Christian activists or church leaders speaking out against corruption any time. They compile a database of churches and pastors considered ‘counter-revolutionaries’ and harass them on a regular basis. Christians do not have any freedom of thought on social issues. For instance, if the government passes new legislation on marriage, churches are forced to comply. If they don’t, church leaders are likely to be monitored and threatened by the state security agency. Government measures include arrests, abductions, arbitrary fines, close surveillance, denials of licenses and religious visas and physical and mental abuse.

The government can supress the registration of new churches or deny them to buy premises to meet legally. Many Christians gather illegally in unregistered house churches at the risk of being fined, have their property confiscated or have their church shut down. 

One of the affected members is Pastor Luiz, who has 30 years’ experience of missionary work. Although the government turned down his request to register a new church, the Pastor still continued preaching in different places. 

“We meet in my house’s garage and other homes around different neighbourhoods because, to this day, we do not have a church, not even the possibility of legally registering our church” he said.

The Communist Party made it difficult for Christians to get a visa to visit Cuban churches. It is considered a ‘suspicious activity’ if a Cuban Christian tries to visit believers in other countries. This affects international fellowship and makes getting Christian literature very difficult. Government officials interrogated an evangelical minister on the origin of several gifts he had received from abroad, including 20 Christian books.

Due to the increased violence and pressure, Cuba has risen ten places on the World Watch List. According to Mario Barrosso, a Cuban pastor who now lives as a refugee in the US, the government wants to reorganise churches by treating them as illegal entities. “‘Reorganisation’ can be understood as trying to maintain the power of the Communist party”.


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