Tuesday, August 13, 2019
This recent opinion in the Miami Herald gives a great summary of recent events in Cuba related to religious liberty. Cuba's Office of Religious Affairs continuously denies Cuban citizens the right to worship freely.
Despite claims that it respects freedom of religion and belief, the Cuban government views religious advocates as problematic “counter-revolutionaries.” Through its Office of Religious Affairs — the main perpetrator of religious repression in Cuba — the government treats religious activists like common criminals. It divides the faith community by including a few in its tightly controlled Cuba Council of Churches, while treating others as troublemakers.
Last year, Catholic and Protestant religious leaders and followers called for stronger protections for freedom of religion and freedom of conscience to be included in the new constitution before it went to public referendum. Church leaders bravely united to expose the Cuban government’s efforts to water down previous constitutional guarantees of freedom by initiating two petitions, one signed by 180,000 Cuban citizens.
The Cuban government is retaliating. Last week, the Office of Religious Affairs canceled the National Catholic Youth Day, even though all permits were granted. Catholic priest Jorge Luis Perez said the arbitrary cancellation affected more than 3,000 young people’s spiritual retreat.