Oral Statement delivered on the 39th Session of the Human Rights Council during the General Debate of the Universal Periodic Review.
The ECLJ would like to draw this Council’s attention to the unacceptable status of religious freedom in Cuba, where Christians face severe and multiple restrictions while Article Eight of the Cuban Constitution professes that the “state recognizes, respects and guarantees freedom of religion.”
The Cuban government completely controls the education system and refuses to allow any Christian community or institution to set up schools; parents can’t even home-school their own children. This constitutes a continuous violation to thousands of families who would prefer to avoid state-controlled schools that teach communist ideology.
Attempts to provide alternative education are effectively repressed. For instance, Pastor Ramón Rigal in Guantánamo obtained a license from an international Christian school to educate his children at home. The government arrested him and his wife Adya on February 2017, accusing them of “acting against the normal development of a minor”. He was sentenced to one year in prison.
It is also very difficult for priests and missionaries to obtain visas as the Office of Attention to Religious Affairs acts as an anti-religious freedom body.
Since 1959, the Government reluctantly authorized the construction of only a few churches and none of the multiple religious properties confiscated during these years of open persecution have been returned; nor have any of the affected organizations received any compensation.
President Miguel Diaz-Canel said in April this year that the communist revolution in Cuba “carries on and will carry on.” It is time to recognize that communism is incompatible with human rights.