Religious Freedom in Cuba. Report (2023)

This report presents the key findings from the second study conducted by the Social Rights Observatory (Observatorio de Derechos Sociales – Cuba) on religious freedom in Cuba. The collected sample for this study is more extensive compared to the previous one, covering all 15 provinces of Cuba (Isla de la Juventud was excluded); aditionally, numerous questions have been expanded or modified to improve the interpretation of previous study results and to consolidate and update the data reported in early 2022.

This report shows the perceived lack of respect and guarantee for religious freedom or belief in Cuba. The Cuban regime persists in employing surveillance and control systems to restrict or persecute any public expression, especially political, by individuals who uphold civic commitments aligned with their faith-based values. Furthermore, respondents report that the actions and social influence of religious entities or congregations are restricted.

For instance, 68% of the individuals interviewed acknowledge that they know someone who professes a religion and has been harassed, repressed, threatened, or interfered with their daily life due to reasons related to their faith. More than half of interviewees declare that religious leaders or groups have been frequently prevented from carrying out their work. This is done by denying or imposing conditions to issue permits, especially for activities involving believers or specific sectors of the population such as the construction or repair of temples, worship, processions, or other events in public spaces.

The Office of Religious Affairs of the Cuban Communist Party plays a fundamental role in the violation or limitation of these rights. As indicated, 68% of believers in this study consider that this Office violates or represses the rights of religious leaders and other members of religious groups.

The survey’s findings align with the continuous reports from the Cuban Observatory of Human Rights (OCDH) and other organizations which highlight specific cases and denouncements of repression. This extends beyond private lives and emphasizes the importance of exercising these rights in public spaces.

Upholding freedom of religion or belief is a vital element of human rights. Consequently, churches and their followers possess the potential to offer valuable solutions to address the profound systemic crisis prevailing in Cuba. In particular, they can make a pivotal contribution to shaping Cuba’s future by leveraging their charitable, educational, and civic expertise.