.- An analyst of the Cubanet news agency said this week that despite efforts by the Castro regime to portray itself as open to religious freedom, no such freedom exists in Cuba. âYou cannot speak of religious freedom in the Cuba of today. The certain freedom that exists to exercise some religious practice is far from authentic religious freedom,â said Jorge Ramon Castillo in an article entitled, âIs There Religious Freedom in Cuba?â
âIn Cuba there is no religious freedom. Its a sad reality that surprises many because of the successful manipulation carried out by the regime through its sophisticated, sometimes subtle, propaganda machine in order to confuse it with freedom of worship,â Castillo wrote.
The Cuban analyst looked back at the countryâs history and noted that the âlack of religious freedom began with the revolution in 1959. The Catholic Church was the religious institution most attacked by the revolutionary horde that came to power.â
Castillo recalled that âa considerable number of priests and religious were detained and later expelled from the country,â âall of the Catholic centers of assistance and schools were closed,â while âthe anti-clerical nature of the new revolutionary government blossomed, resembling the position of other revolutions in relation to the Catholic Church and religion.â
âIn a subtle way the government harassed those who declared themselves to be believers and had them expelled from their jobs and schools. They could not aspire to attend college,â Castillo noted. Thousands, he explained, were recruited into a government work program that âbecame a sort of concentration camp for seminarians, Jehovahâs Witnesses, believers, hippies, and any other person considered useless by the socialist system.â Castillo recalled that even Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino, Archbishop of Havana, was once sent to such a camp.
According to Castillo, âfrightened by the prevailing ideology, millions of Cubans abandoned their beliefs and declared themselves to be atheists. Those who declared themselves to be believers condemned themselves and their families to the harshest of ostracisms.â
Castillo maintained that only âduring the 90s, after the communist collapse in Eastern Europe did the regime have to implement some social, political and economic measures that it would certainly have never granted.â
âChristian denominations separate from Catholicism began to gain favor due to their elite leaders aligning themselves with the regime. Protestant pastors today enjoy seats in the National Assembly. Their unconditional support of the socialist system came to light when they took part in the litigations surrounding Elian Gonzalez,â Castillo noted.
âThe Catholic Church had to await the visit of Pope John Paul II in order to make certain gains that could never be compared to what the Church had before the revolution,â he explained.