Nearly 1,000 acts of oppression against religious freedom recorded in Cuba in 2023

Imprisoned Yoruba priest Loreto Hernández García and constantly arrested and harassed Catholic dissident Berta Soler

From our Bureau of Great Surprises with some assistance from our Bureau of Socialist Tolerance and Compassion

Surprise! Who could have ever expected this bit of news? A socialist utopia doesn’t normally behave like this, does it? Isn’t Cuba a model society for those in the U.S. who care deeply about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion? Oh, this NGO report must be a big fat lie. No, no, no. Cuba would NEVER try to stifle religious freedom.

No. This must be far-right extremist propaganda. Cuba is all about freedom of expression and religious diversity. And –best of all — Cuba has also totally abolished racism. Yes, this is why more American colleges and universities should send their students to Cuba, so they can return home all fired up to create an identical utopia..

Loosely translated from Marti Noticias

The Cuban Observatory for Human Rights (OCDH), in its 2023 report on religious freedom in Cuba, recorded at least 936 violations committed against individuals “publicly identified as religious as well as against others who regularly or sporadically attend religious services as an expression of faith or civic commitment,” the report says.

In this regard, Yaxis Cires, Director of Strategies at OCDH, denounced in a conversation with Martí Noticias that “the Cuban regime continues to use its apparatus of control and surveillance to limit or persecute any public expression of faith, mainly in the civic sphere.”

Cires cited the constant harassment by the Cuban political police against members of the Convivencia Studies Center, at least four of whom were summoned for questioning during the past year, as happened to Dagoberto Valdés Hernández, director of said center, and Yoandy Izquierdo Toledo.

He also mentioned the precarious situation of the Yoruba priest and political prisoner Loreto Hernández García. According to the OCDH activist, this is a “persecution,” as the religious leader is not provided with “adequate medical attention or nutrition commensurate with his ailments,” to the point that he had to be urgently hospitalized due to his fragile health.

“The denial of religious assistance to certain political prisoners (…) and also the arbitrary detention of Mrs. Ailex Marcano, mother of the political prisoner Ángel Jesús Véliz Marcano,” who was arrested for attempting to meet with Cardinal Beniamino Stella during his visit to Cuba.

“We have documented other summonses, threats, or impediments to attending mass, mainly against the Ladies in White,” Cires said, referring to the female organization created on the island in 2003, in the wake of what became known as the Black Spring of Cuba, whose members are arrested and fined every Sunday when they try to reach churches to pray for political prisoners.

These allegations, Cires warns, are made “precisely in a context where recent days have seen prohibitions on processions during Holy Week in some localities of the country after the last protests on March 17 and 18.”

In the report titled “Second Study on Religious Freedom,” published by OCDH in June 2023, respondents stated that “having a political stance based on their faith” (59%) and “speaking publicly about their faith” (45%) are sufficient reasons to suffer harassment by the regime, and furthermore, 68% of believers consider that the Religious Affairs Office of the Communist Party of Cuba violates or suppresses their rights.

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