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HAVANA, CUBA – On Sunday, July 11, 2021, in a town outside Havana, people spilled into the streets and marched peacefully and enthusiastically, calling for freedom and chanting “Patria y Vida” (“Homeland and Life,” the title of a hit song released by pro-democracy Cuban hip hop artists earlier this year and a twist on the Cuban Communist Party slogan “Homeland or Death”). They shouted in unison, “We are not afraid!” The demonstration was recorded and shared live via social media by participants and onlookers and, within hours, similar protests involving thousands of people sprang up in cities and towns across the island, according to an article in Christianity Today.
When, at the age of twelve, at the time of the Russian revolution, I first heard the Communist principle that Man must exist for the sake of the State, I perceived that this was the essential issue, that this principle was evil, and that it could lead to nothing but evil, regardless of any methods, details, decrees, policies, promises and pious platitudes. This was the reason for my opposition to Communism then — and it is my reason now. I am still a little astonished, at times, that too many adult Americans do not understand the nature of the fight against Communism as clearly as I understood it at the age of twelve: they continue to believe that only Communist methods are evil, while Communist ideals are noble. All the victories of Communism since the year 1917 are due to that particular belief among the men who are still free.” – Ayn Rand, “Foreword,” We the Living
Communist Cuba heads the list of the “Poverty Index in Latin America” recently published by DatoWorld, with an estimated 72% of its population living below the poverty line, as reported by ADN America.
The island, which has governed by the Castro communist regime since 1959, far surpasses the rest of the countries located in the top five in the indicator: Venezuela (50.5%), Honduras (48%), Mexico (41%) and Colombia (39.3%).
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The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released a policy update on Cuba in 2020 that is a stark reminder of how precious our liberties are. The faithful have faced severe trials for decades in Cuba, but tensions rose dramatically a year ago, noted Intercessors For Prayer.
The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) is a missionary organization that serves persecuted Christians in the world’s most difficult and dangerous places to be a Christian.
Despite the change in leadership in 2018, churches in Cuba face unrelenting pressure from the government, which remains committed to communism’s atheistic ideology and views churches as a threat to the revolution begun by Che Guevara and Fidel Castro in the 1950s. Cubans are poor, and the government seeks to control every aspect of their lives.
In April 2021, Miguel Diaz-Canel was announced as Raul Castro’s successor as first secretary of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party — the first time the country has been governed by someone other than a Castro since the revolution. Then in July 2021, Cubans protested their deteriorating living conditions and called for an end to dictatorship.
Unlike the overt violence Christians faced during the Communist Cuban Revolution, more subtle methods of persecution are now used by the Cuban government, largely out of concern for its global reputation. Christian leaders are often summoned by government officials for questioning or detained up to 48 hours to pressure them, and churches are demolished by hired gangs so the government can deny responsibility.
Legal church buildings are seized, and no new church buildings have been legally built in the country since the revolution. Many believers meet in illegal house churches, often extensions of the pastor’s home or shaded structures in the backyard of a family’s home. Churches continue to grow through active evangelistic activity, but some believers have never owned a Bible because of government oppression.
Though great strides have been made in Bible distribution, access remains restricted. In 2017, Cuba allowed the purchase and sale of Bibles only to members of the ecumenical Protestant church organization, but most Christian literature remains illegal. There are no Christian bookstores in Cuba.
VOM Pray for the Christians in Cuban global prayer guide.
Open Doors local partners strengthen the persecuted church in Cuba through Bible distribution, livelihood projects, biblical training, leadership development projects, care and support for children and pastors’ families, and socio-economic development.
Folks, pray daily that God will intervene and topple the Cuban regime and set the people free.
“Despite harsh and inevitable government reprisal, independent church leaders have emerged as Cuba’s most powerful — and respected — civil-society activists for freedom of religion and belief and the intersectional rights of expression, assembly, association, education, nondiscrimination, privacy and due process.” – Teo Babun, CEO of the Christian ministry EchoCuba
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