Regardless of what their report says, I find it hard to believe that Cubans were “optimistic” Raul Castro would be any less ruthless or vicious than his older brother Fidel. I sense that perhaps there is a little projection taking place here combined with a gross misunderstanding of the pernicious and licentious relationship between the Cuban regime and the Cuban Catholic Church.
Persecution Overshadows Cuban Leader’s Pledge on Religious Freedom
01/17/2013 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Christians in Cuba were optimistic when Raul Castro took over from his brother, Fidel Castro, as the country’s supreme leader in 2009. But three years later, their hope has turned into disillusionment.
There were 120 reported violations of religious freedom in this communist nation in 2012, while there were 30 in 2011, says a report by the Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CWS).
Church leaders in the city of Santa Clara have condemned the government’s refusal to allow Trinidad First Baptist Church access to its bank accounts with funds amounting to about $27,000. The accounts for the historic local church were frozen two years ago, the London-based group reports.
In a separate incident, leaders of the Apostolic Movement, the fast-growing unregistered network of Protestant churches, recently complained against an order to destroy church property. The order contradicts written permission for its construction by another government agency.
In yet another incident, a decorated retired military officer and his wife, who suffers from thyroid tumors, had their electricity cut off by the authorities last October. Church leaders believe it is because their son is a worship leader.
Other incidents include repeated fines, arbitrary arrests and detention, consistent harassment from state security agents, refusal of permission to participate in Christmas services and the severe and tragic beating of a pastor that resulted in permanent brain damage.
The targeting of Christians by authorities goes against the hopes Raul raised after the leadership change.
Christians had survived decades of religious discrimination and persecution. But since Raul took over about three years ago, they began to see unprecedented changes in the nation’s relationship with religion. The younger Castro, who is the world’s longest-serving defense minister, promised to move away from the old communist policies towards a progressive future that made more room for religion. He even eased some restrictions on personal freedoms by lifting bans on mobile phones and home computers, and has promised to consider allowing Cuban citizens to travel abroad as tourists.
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