For years the corrupt United Nations has offered a platform for the murderous socialist dictatorships in Cuba and Nicaragua to whitewash their religious persecution. But the victims are now speaking out. No amount of propaganda from these vile regimes can hide the stories and the cries of their innocent victims.
Cuba, Nicaragua can no longer whitewash their religious freedom violations
For authoritarian states around the globe, the United Nations has sadly long served as a place where they can whitewash or deflect the world’s attention from their human rights abuses.
We see this in the cases of Cuba and Nicaragua, whose dictators have worked assiduously to manipulate the UN system to their advantage. This is especially so true of Cuba, which currently sits on the UN Human Rights Council.
Cuba’s diplomatic corps at the UN not only frequently engages in underhanded and even juvenile tactics to deflect or block attention from its regime’s abuses, but its also consistently obstructs the body’s human rights mechanisms when it seeks answers.
For example, in recent years, Cuba has responded to official UN communications sent by independent human rights experts by rejecting all allegations and obfuscating the issues. In addition, Cuba refused to allow the previous UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, to visit the country to assess religious freedom conditions, despite numerous requests to do so by the mandate-holder.
Last week, during the 54th session of the Human Rights Council, my organization, Outreach Aid to the Americas, the UK-based freedom of religion advocacy organization Christian Solidarity Worldwide, hosted an event highlighting the experiences of two prominent victims of these authoritarian dictatorships.
Félix Maradiaga, a Nicaraguan opposition leader and former presidential candidate, and Enrique de Jesús Fundora, a Cuban pastor, shared their harrowing testimonies of the ongoing and severe abuses perpetrated by Cuba’s Communist Party and the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua against the faith community.
Maradiaga was jailed in 2021 along with six other presidential candidates for the supposed crime of challenging Ortega at the ballot box. Félix spent 20 months in the notorious El Chipote prison, where he was often prevented from being visited by his family and was denied access to a Bible. (He is a devout Catholic.) Félix was one of 222 Nicaraguan political prisoners freed in February and, like others, was stripped of his citizenship and property, and forcibly exiled to the U.S.
In Cuba, evangelical Pastor Fundora spoke out in support of those imprisoned unjustly, including many faith leaders, for participating in the historic mass protests of July 11, 2021. He and his church provided material support to families of the prisoners and for these acts, Cuban officials gave him and his family one week to leave Cuba or face imprisonment for “sedition and criminal incitement.”
The testimonies of Félix and Pastor Fundora are supported by the facts. Numerous studies demonstrate that Cubans either have been targeted or know someone who has been targeted because of their faith or religious activities. In our 2022 survey of Cuban leaders of diverse religions, an overwhelming majority said they suffer acts of state repression monthly or even weekly, that the government limits religious freedom rights in violation of constitutional guarantees, and that the state prevents churches from carrying out social services.
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