“Evangelism for me doesn’t live just within the four walls of the church. Our faith doesn’t just free us from the eternal consequences of sin. It also makes us free here on earth, and that brings us into conflict with a totalitarian regime that restricts our freedoms.” Pastor Mario Felix Lleonart, founder of a Baptist church in the town of Taguayabón, in the province of Villa Clara, Cuba.
The quote above was the expression of Pastor Mario Felix Lleonart in 2019 during the process of changes to the Constitution by the Communist Party in Cuba. A process without any political opposition in a one party political system that have been imposed after decades of indoctrination and control by a totalitarian government.
In 2019 the people of Cuba voted in approval of a Constitutional charge that make socialism “irrevocable” on the island and establish the Cuban Communist Party officially as the “supreme guiding political force” in the state and society. With no other opposing voices that the religious community the changes to the Constitution were approved with a outstanding majority.
Catholic bishops argue that “the free practice of religion is not merely the freedom to have religious beliefs but the freedom to live in conformity with one’s faith and to express it publicly.” In response to the religious opposition, Mariela Castro, a daughter of the former President Raul Castro and a member of the Constitutional Assembly, shared a post on her Facebook page calling the church “the serpent of history.”
The fight against the religious community in Cuba is nothing new. After the revolution, the Catholic Church was subject of persecution that was perpetually over the years of a political relationship of Cuban’s government with the Soviet Union. The years post-Soviet relationship the government of Cuba was more open to the religious community as a way to gain a good relation with Western countries. The Catholic Church and Protestant community relative resugence was observed, but the trend has changed in the last years ending with a total control and persecution of religious beliefs in the Island.
International community, and Human Rights organizations are raising their voices in favor for a religious freedom in Cuba. According to an analysis by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), “The new constitution does guarantee religious freedom and freedom of conscience. Under the previous constitution, however, those provisions were tied together. In the new version, they are separated, and the freedoms are not defined as clearly as they were before.” However, the wording in Constitution is establishing that the new normative makes socialism “irrevocable” on the island and establish the Cuban Communist Party officially as the “supreme guiding political force” in the state and society.
Pastor Lleonart initial activism against the government repressive measures had a counterproductive outcome. He started a Christian Blog to express his thoughts but his children began suffering the consequences of his activism, then Pastor Lleonart and his family sought political asylum in the United States.