President Miguel Diaz-Canel
Since 1959, Cuba has been governed by the Communist Party, which seeks to control the church according to its Communist ideology. The government reacts harshly against opposition voices and demonstrators, and so when church leaders or Christian activists criticize the regime, they face arrest, closure of their churches or businesses, prison sentences, and harassment by the government and its sympathizers.
New churches are often denied registration, as the authorities want to control and limit the church’s influence—forcing many churches to operate illegally. This leads to the imposition of penalties, such as the complete refusal to issue licenses, heavy fines, confiscation of property or even the demolition or closure of churches, including house churches. The government controls all media and restricts access from the outside world, so it is very hard for Christians to communicate widely in the country.
“Government officials have joined some of the WhatsApp groups the churches have set up, and they do so to monitor our activities.”
Persecution in Cuba continues to worsen. Last year, Cuba was just outside the top 50 countries on the World Watch List (at 51), and the previous year it was 61. The continued rise is the result of highly restrictive measures against churches deemed to be opponents of the regime—especially non-registered Protestant churches. The COVID-19 crisis has been used as a pretext to hinder church and community activities, monitor church leaders, make arbitrary arrests, confiscate private property and impose extortion fees. Christian leaders from different denominations were among those arrested during anti-government demonstrations in July.
Church leaders and others who speak out against the Communist regime are most vulnerable to persecution in Cuba.
Open Doors partners strengthen the persecuted church in Cuba through Bible distribution, livelihood projects, biblical training, leadership development projects and socio-economic development to increase the self-reliance of the church.