MP David Anderson provides an update on freedom of religion or belief in Cuba:
Cuba’s new President, Miguel Díaz-Canel, has indicated that the country’s new constitution, which will be voted on in a referendum in February 2019, will more accurately reflect “the now and the future of the nation”.
Cuba’s existing charter has not been replaced since 1976 and is what “enshrined” Communism in Cuba after Fidel Castro’s revolution in 1959.
A non-denominational group of Christian leaders put forward a petition earlier this Fall, appealing for greater protections of religious freedom in Cuba. In it they note that Cuba’s draft constitution removes the terms ‘freedom of conscience’ and does not offer protection against ‘Cuban bodies and authorities’ that interfere with religious minorities’ activities. Cuba’s Office of Religious Affairs has been a major source of interference. The Christian leaders have brought forward the following proposals, which would abolish this office:
(66) “The Cuban State guarantees the churches and religious institutions the freedom to manifest their religion or belief and to do so individually and collectively, in public and in private, and the right to teach and practice the corresponding worship and to independently observe their principles and faith.”
(67) “The Cuban government, its bodies and authorities will abstain of interfering with the internal life of religious associations, and of creating organizations to control them.”
Time will tell whether or not the petition will be adopted into the new constitution.
Significant challenges lie ahead as there has not been any indication that Cuba will be moving away from its one-party socialist system. Under this system, religious freedom will still be greatly restricted.
Read my office’s report from August 31, 2018 for more about religious freedom in Cuba.