Religious freedom in Cuba under attack
Unless you are the Catholic Church in Cuba and have that special "working relationship" with the vile Castro dictatorship, all other churches on the island are subjected to almost constant harassment and repression by Cuban State Security.
Threats to religious freedom in Cuba
Events in the first quarter of 2013 point to an ongoing trend of a broader political crackdown on religious freedom in Cuba, while reported violations tripled in 2012.
That's according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide's (CSW) latest report on religious freedom in Cuba.
Religious freedom violations reported to CSW in 2012, many involving dozens of people at a time, rose to 120 compared to 40 in 2011.
CSW said in a news release that those numbers do not include the hundreds of devout Catholics who were arrested, sometimes with force, and arbitrarily imprisoned during the week of the Pope's visit, in order to prevent them from attending any of the scheduled masses or other events.
After a period in which it appeared that the government was moving towards more subtle and refined pressure on church leaders, CSW said 2012 saw a return of the use of more brutal and public tactics.
For the first time in years, CSW received multiple reports of violent beatings of Protestant pastors in different parts of the country.
In one particularly troubling case, CSW reported, Pastor Reutilio Columbie of the Shalom Christian Center, a Pentecostal church in Moa, Holguín Province, was left with permanent brain damage.
That was following a violent attack as he traveled from his home to the provincial capital to file a legal complaint against local Communist Party officials, who had illegally confiscated a vehicle owned by and licensed to the church.
The government has in general moved away from issuing lengthy prison sentences to political dissidents. CSW said it now uses a strategy of frequent, temporary arbitrary detention without charge; a tactic increasingly used against religious leaders and Christians who are prevented from attending Sunday morning services.
CSW said there were also increased reports of threats of forced closure and demolition of church buildings, as well as confiscation of property. They were often ordered by the Office of Religious Affairs (ORA), an arm of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party, and which has authority over all religious groups and associations.
Discrimination against Christians continues to be a problem, and children are particularly vulnerable.
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