Human Rights in Cuba

Time To Change

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Repression of Religious Minorities / Wendy Iriepa and Ignacio Estrada

Translator: M. Ouellette, Wendy Iriepa and Ignacio Estrada

The levels of intimidation and repression of religious on the

island are the highest since 1980, according to a report by Christian

Solidarity Worldwide, published in May 2012.

Their report documents a total of forty religious freedom violations in

different regions of Cuba and compares them to those from previous years.

Benedict XVI's visit to the island in March 2012 caused a strong display

of security which prevented defenders of and pro-democracy

activists, many of them practicing Catholics, from attending the events

of the papal visit. Because of this, hundreds of Cubans were jailed or

imprisoned in their own houses through harassment.

The report highlights the case of people like the Lady in White Caridad

Caballers, who was regularly prevented from attending religious

services, especially Sunday mass. Her family has been the victim of

verbal and physical abuse and, in spite of relying on the support of

religious leaders in their community, some family members have not been

able to make their first communion.

The report illustrates the pressure that the government exercises over

some religious groups to expel leaders who are not in agreement with the


Many congregations belonging to the Western Baptist Convention have been

threatened with church closures and the confiscation of vehicles and

other goods.

They mention the case of pastor Omar Gude Pérez, who was condemned to

six and a half years in and was freed in 2001. He is prevented

from leaving the country in spite of the fact that the United States has

granted political asylum to him, his wife, and his children.

Marriage of religious groups works to disclose the of the

Apostolic Movement, a network of churches constantly attacked by the


The report highlights an increase in physical aggression against

pastors, as well as the brutality used. The pattern repeats in every

case: victims have been leaders of small denominations that don't have a

support network and are found in isolated places.

Local security agents are responsible for the beatings, but since they

have never been investigated, it is suspected that they rely on the

backing of the government.

Last week, Cuban religious leaders gave testimony before the

Congressional International Religious Freedom Caucus in the United

States and members of the United States Commission on International

Religious Freedom, and prepared a petition to include Cuba on the list

of Countries of Particular Concern in relation to religious freedoms,

according to the Capitol Hill Cubans .

Translated by: M. Ouellette

June 25 2012

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