Religion has been under attack in Cuba since Fidel Castro’s 1959 socialist revolution. 63 years later, the communist regime has never let up and instead has turned the screws tighter on Cuba’s faithful.
Cuban government clamps down more on religion
The Cuban government, long hostile to all forms of religious expression, is tightening down further on communities of faith in response to ongoing economic challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, a religious freedom expert reported.
“They must be overwhelmed by what’s going on to also want to persecute the faith community,” Kirk Dahlgren, a consultant and former USAID senior foreign service officer, said during an Aug. 2 webinar hosted by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. The event included a panel discussion and presentation of USCIRF’s new report on constitutional reform and religious freedom in Cuba.
“Normally, we think people who are faithful to be good citizens, but I think when it comes down to it, (Cuban leaders) feel threatened by faith leaders who all surveys show are much more respected than government officials,” Dahlgren said.
Cuban political and security leaders also view Christians, Muslims and other religious groups as the last vestiges of an independent civil society which has otherwise been banned by the Communist Party, said Dahlgren, a co-author of the USCIRF report.
Adopted in April 2019, Cuba’s current constitution provides fewer protections for religious freedom or belief than the previous 1976 document did, panelist and study co-author Javier Larrondo explained. “Its potential ability to protect religion from arbitrary and unlimited action by the communist party has disappeared in the new (constitution).”
Larrondo, president of Prisoners Defenders, said religious freedom is fragile in Cuba because the constitution is subordinate to party decrees and legislative actions. “The concept of constitutionality does not exist in Cuba at all. That’s why numerous laws have been enacted after the constitution severely limiting rights and despite being flagrantly contradictory to the constitution.”
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