Religious leaders in Cuba have come under intense pressure from government officials to ensure their congregations vote ‘yes’ in the referendum on a new constitution, scheduled for 24 February.
There are concerns that the current draft of the new constitution significantly reduces protections for freedom of religion or belief (FoRB), as well as notably separating and weakening references to freedom of conscience. CSW has documented a steady increase in FoRB violations over the past decade. High ranking communist party officials summoned Christian, Yoruba and Masonic leaders in Santiago on Tuesday 12 February to confirm that they and their congregations would all be voting to adopt the new constitution. Religious leaders in towns and cities across the island have told CSW that they have been summoned to similar meetings throughout the past week.
One church leader told CSW that “all [the CCP leaders] wanted was to intimidate us because they thought that we were going to openly promote a no vote. In my eyes, it was a meeting to attempt to pressure us, I think they are very worried.”