The Religious Freedom Digest – May 2021

18 Catholic Orders Publish Open Letter to Provincial Authorities

At the end of last month, 18 Catholic religious orders published an open letter to the authorities of the province of Camagüey decrying the desperate economic situation and the lack of fundamental rights, in particular the freedom of expression, that afflict Cubans. The letter states: “The vast majority of the people do not feel confident and free to express what they think…” This letter adds to the steady stream of actions and declarations made by Cuba’s Catholic community, which has demonstrated a renewed boldness in speaking out critically concerning the island’s many woes. You can read the letter here.

State Department Releases 2020 International Religious Freedom Report

On May 12, the U.S. State Department published the 2020 Report on International Religious Freedom, which documents the state of religious freedom in nearly 200 countries. Concerning Cuba, the report demonstrates how the Cuban government’s practices toward religious individuals and communities fall short of its own constitutional and international commitments. The report draws heavily on reporting by organizations such as CSW and OAA.

Concerning Nicaragua, the report found that “Catholic clergy continued to report the government denied them access to prisons following the 2018 prodemocracy uprising.” The report also states that U.S. diplomats in the country continued to raise concerns with the Nicaraguan government “regarding restrictions on religious freedom in the context of broader repression.”

Looking Ahead…

Next week, the “Libres en Fe” (Free in Faith) series will release the video “Religious Freedom and Education in Cuba.” Drawing on history and current events, the video will demonstrate the Cuban regime’s violations of religious freedom and freedom of conscience by allowing only state-run education and socialist indoctrination. This and other videos on religious freedom in Cuba can be viewed here.

OAA circulates multi-faith advocacy letter urging the Cuban government to approve the request of UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief Ahmed Shaheed to visit the island (June)