Religious persecution in communist Cuba has increased since July 11 protests

Evangelical pastors Yéremi Blanco and Yarián Sierra were detained for two weeks after joining the protests in Cuba on 11 July 20221. / Photo: Protestante Digital.

Since the massive protests in Cuba last July, the Castro dictatorship is brutally cracking down on dissent, especially on the religious who refuse to worship the State.

Cuban democracy activist Yoe Suarez explains in Evangelical Focus:

‘11J’: A turning point in the repression of evangelicals in Cuba

Clashes with the State and punishments of Cuban evangelicals have increased in recent years, but without a high number of imprisoned pastors. Until 11 July 2021 came.

On 11 July 2021 in Cuba, thousands of people of all kinds took to the streets with various demands. It was, so far, the greatest display of the power of civil society in this totalitarian country, where the Socialist State tries to control its citizens as much as possible.

It is impossible to know who exactly the demonstrators were, but some of them are part of the growing community of evangelical or Protestant Christians, who, according to a 2015 survey, represent around 7 percent of the population.

It was the case of Carlos Macías, who lived that day of large anti-system demonstrations in Cuba between two dilemmas. The first was related to his vocation: “to be a pastor of a historic denomination like the Methodist Church, under the stigma that Christians do not participate in politics, and at the same time to want to exercise my civil rights and freedoms as a citizen”, he said in an interview.

The other dilemma was “between the need to express myself and make use of freedom of thought” and “the fear of the consequences that this could have on a personal level”. In another time, as so many Cubans have always done, the pastor might have opted for self-censorship, for staying at home. But that 11 July 2021, known as ’11J’, something seemed to change.

In the battered streets of Jovellanos, Matanzas province, a crowd chanted freedom. The same was happening in more than 60 other localities all over the country. Carlos and his eldest son left the church house to join in. He understands that, as a religious leader, it is not his mission to call for a protest. As a believer, of course, he recognises “the right to participate in a demonstration demanding justice”.

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