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Cuba : 622 religious freedom violations recorded in 2023

Christian Solidarity Worldwide launches a report on Cuban government “hardline tactics”, amid recent protests on the island due to the food and public services crisis.

FUENTES Evangélico Digital AUTOR 5/Evangelical_Focus HAVANA 01 DE ABRIL DE 2024 19:20 h
Photo: [link]Persnickety Prints[/link], Unsplash, CC0.

According to a report by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), 622 cases of violations of freedom of religion or belief were documented in Cuba in 2023, as well as a return of “hard-line tactics”.

That affects “religious groups of all types, including Afro-Cubans, Jehovah's Witnesses, Protestants and Catholics, registered and unregistered associations, even some that belong to the Cuba Council of Churches (CCC)”.


Harassment of political prisoners

CSW also reports systematic violations of the UN's minimum standards for the treatment of political prisoners, who are denied the right to keep a Bible or other religious literature or even to receive visits from a spiritual leader.

CSW names several religious leaders imprisoned during and after the protests of 11 July 2021. The list includes Protestant pastor Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo, whose detention has just been deemed arbitrary by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

In early March, Maridilegnis Carballo, his wife, explained on Facebook that her children had also been harassed at school. Afro-Cuban religious leaders Loreto Hernández García and Donaida Pérez Paseiro, are also mentioned.

“All reported consistent violations of FoRB and other human rights in prison”, points out CSW.

According to the Christian organisation, “religious leaders and their congregations who attempted to respond to the humanitarian needs, which have become increasingly acute in many parts of the island, were harassed, fined and, in many cases, saw the aid they were trying to distribute confiscated”.

Furthermore, “those considered by the Cuban government to be dissidents were repeatedly and systematically blocked from attending religious services, usually through short-term arbitrary detentions”.

A pastor who was threatened and remains anonymous said that “all I am doing is my pastoral work, and my work is a commandment from the Lord. I will continue to do this work, even if it means I have to go to prison”.


Protests on the island

The report comes amidst protests of thousands of Cubans who took the streets of several cities on Sunday 17 March to demand food and electricity, demonstrations considered similar to those of 11 July 2021, as reported by the international media.

The situation is so critical that the Cuban regime, unable to deliver milk to children under seven, has asked the UN World Food Programme for help for the first time in 65 years of communist government, the world press said.

“While many Cubans have seen no other option than to go into exile, there remain many who, even in the face of threats, harassment, and the possibility of imprisonment, continue to speak out against injustice and up for those in their communities who are suffering”, concludes the report.

You can read the full report here.


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