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CNN: A neglected, weed-strewn field in a small Cuban town where there are more horses than cars seems an unlikely setting for a major shift in government policy.
Christian Today: Violations of religious freedom are increasing in Cuba, according to a new report released by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) today.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide Press Release: Yoaxis Marcheco Suarez, wife of Cuban Baptist pastor and religious freedom activist Reverend Mario Felix Lleonart Barroso, was arrested in the town of Remedios in the province of Villa Clara on 16 October.
The Christian Post: For the first time since the 1959 Revolution, the Republic of Cuba will allow for a church to be constructed in the Communist state.
Christian Today: “The advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has renewed its call upon the leadership of Cuba to improve religious freedom in the country.”
Common Sense (video embedded):Ted Cruz’s father Rafael was one of the many great speakers at the FreedomWorks “Free the People” Rally in Salt Lake City on July 5th.
NY Times: So Ms. Hernández was more than a little tickled when she became the first transgender person to be elected to public office in Cuba, a country whose government once viewed homosexuality as a dangerous aberration and, in the 1960s, packed gay men off to labor camps.
AP: Adela Hernandez, a biologically male Cuban who has lived as a female since childhood, served two years in prison in the 1980s for “dangerousness” after her own family denounced her sexuality. This month she made history by becoming the first known transgender person to hold public office in Cuba . . .
Christian Institute: A study from researchers in the US revealed 24 per cent of all abortions in Scotland occurred in the under-20 age group. Only Cuba had a higher proportion of teenage abortions, at 29 per cent of the total.
Turtle Bay and Beyond: Abortion is free in Cuba and it’s estimated that half of the children conceived on that island nation are killed before birth . . . With grown children leaving for the U.S. to find work, Cuba’s elderly increasingly depend on government support.
WorldNetDaily: According the Cuban government statistics, 60.2 percent of all pregnancies on the island end in abortion. This is the highest number of any nation in the Western Hemisphere. Other attempts at an empirical analysis of Cuban abortion show 130,000 live births with just less than 85,000 abortions in a typical year
Paul Kengor at Townhall: In short, this is an amazing turnabout. What’s going on? Why this sudden conversion by Castro and communist Cuba? Does this make sense? Yes, it does. The root of the answer, once again, is the Marxist/communist assault on marriage.
Christian Today: A delegation of Cuban church leaders has called on the US government to add Cuba to its Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) list as one of the world’s worst violators of religious freedom.
AFP on Yahoo: At least 43 Cuban dissidents have been arrested in areas near where Pope Benedict XVI visited last week, dissidents said Tuesday, as the United States urged their immediate release.
Sacramento Bee: After two papal visits, support is growing for the Roman Catholic Church among long-suffering Cubans. Yet support from the Communist Party that rules the island nation . . .
Catholic Culture: “However, as Cuba transitions, the Pope and the Church want a transition that is worthy of the Cuban’s aspirations, a transition worthy of man,” the archbishop quickly added. “To go from the ideological materialism of Marxism to a practical materialism such as that of many Western societies would not be worthy of man.”
AP: Pope Benedict XVI demanded greater freedom for the Catholic Church in Cuba during an unusually politicized Mass before hundreds of thousands of people Wednesday . . .
AP: Thirteen Cuban dissidents have holed up in a Roman Catholic church in Havana to press for an audience with Pope Benedict XVI when he visits in two weeks . . .
Religion Clause: Cuba’s president, Raul Castro, gave a speech (full text) to Cuba’s Parliament (Legislature of the National Assembly of People’s Power) on Monday, reviewing economic and other developments in recent months. A lengthy section of his speech was captioned: “A Painful Indictment Caused by Errors in the Implementation of the Cadre Policy and Attitudes Toward Religion.”
Christian Today (May 6th): Christian Solidarity Worldwide has expressed concern over the detention and interrogation of three Protestant pastors by Cuban authorities over the weekend.
The Independent: That 79-year-old Raul Castro, who has effectively run the country since late 2006 because of a stomach infection that nearly killed Fidel, was appointed as first secretary of the party surprised no one. However, the choice of Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, who fought alongside Fidel to overthrow the US-backed Fulgencio Batista in 1959, as his deputy and Ramiro Valdes, 78, as his number three quashed hopes that a new generation of Cuban leaders could take on senior roles.
Reuters: “The Cuban Communist Party has moved forward the election of new leadership to a congress in April where longtime party leader Fidel Castro is expected to step down, sources close to the party said over the weekend.”
Associated Press: “President Barack Obama plans to loosen Cuban travel policy to allow students and church groups to go to the communist country, the administration announced Friday.”
Reuters: “The United States defended its human rights record on Friday from criticism from foes including Cuba and Iran, who called for it to close Guantanamo prison and investigate alleged torture by its troops abroad.”
Vancouver Sun: “The Roman Catholic Church will open on Wednesday its first new seminary in Cuba in more than half a century in a further sign of its improving relations with the island’s communist-led government.”
Catholic.net (zenit.org): “The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will send a delegation of its Church of Latin America Subcommittee to Cuba in recognition of the new seminary to be opened in early November.”
National Catholic Register: “Welcome to Cuba and the careful existence of the Roman Catholic Church. It’s a healthy Church — functioning in a terribly unhealthy country . . . ‘The Catholic Church in Cuba is absolutely the only national institution functioning independently from the regime. No other organization survived the revolution,’ observed a 30-year-old seminarian in Havana.”
Associated Press: “Spain’s foreign minister predicted Wednesday that Cuba’s release of dozens of political prisoners could eventually lead to a thaw in U.S. relations and the lifting of a decades-old embargo against the Communist-run island.”
Associated Press: “President Raul Castro has startled the nation lately by saying about one in five Cuban workers may be redundant. At the work site on Obispo street, those numbers run in reverse. It’s a common sight in communist Cuba. Here, nearly everyone works for the state and official unemployment is minuscule, but pay is so low that Cubans like to joke that ‘the state pretends to pay us and we pretend to work.’ Now, facing a severe budget deficit, the government has hinted at restructuring or trimming its bloated work force.”
Findlaw (AP): “Cuba has promised the Roman Catholic Church it will free 52 political prisoners, slashing the number held by nearly a third in what would be the communist-led island’s largest release of dissidents since Pope John Paul II visited in 1998.”
BBC: “Cuba’s communist authorities are to free at least 52 political prisoners, say Catholic Church officials in Havana. … Agreement to release the prisoners came after talks between Mr Castro and Church leader Cardinal Jaime Ortega.”
AP: “Cuba and a top Vatican official expressed optimism Wednesday that landmark negotiations between the church and Raul Castro’s government will continue and indicated they could produce more breakthroughs on the treatment of dissidents and political prisoners.”
AP: “The Obama administration is warning more than a dozen states, including perennial rogues Iran, North Korea, Cuba and Myanmar, of possible sanctions for failing to do enough to fight human trafficking.”
AP: “Cuba and China are more peaceful than the United States, according to a global peace index published Thursday. The report, which says the world is becoming a more violent place, was prepared by the Sydney, Australia-based Institute for Economics and Peace . . . ”
Miami Herald: “Raúl Castro’s talks with the Catholic Church on political prisoners have sparked hopes, skepticism and assertions he’s taking a risk by recognizing the church as a mediator in Cuban affairs.”
Breitbart (AP): “Cuba’s Roman Catholic cardinal says the country is in one of its worst crises in recent times, with its people demanding political and economic changes sooner rather than later.”
Yahoo News (AP): “Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro on Thursday declared passage of American health care reform ‘a miracle’ and a major victory for Obama’s presidency, but couldn’t help chide the United States for taking so long to enact what communist Cuba achieved decades ago.”
AP: “Gonzalez is living proof of a small but remarkable transformation for the rugged revolution of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and a band of ever-macho, bearded rebels, who long punished gays and transsexuals – but now are paying for sex changes.”
Jill I. Goldenziel, Sanctioning Faith: Religion, State, and U.S.-Cuban Relations (2009). Journal of Law and Politics, Vol. 25, p. 179, 2009. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1562014
“What explains the Cuban government’s sudden accommodation of religion? Drawing on original field research in Havana, I argue that the Cuban government has strategically increased religious liberty for political gain. Loopholes in U.S. sanctions policies have allowed aid to flow into Cuba from the United States via religious groups, tying Cuba’s religious marketplace to its emerging economic markets. The Cuban government has learned from the experience of similar religious awakenings in post-Communist states in Eastern Europe and has shrewdly managed the workings of religious organizations while permitting individual spiritual revival. By allowing greater public expression of religious faith, the Cuban government has opened the door to religious pluralism on the island while closely monitoring religious groups to prevent political opposition. As the Obama Administration has already begun to ease U.S. sanctions on Cuba, these recent changes in Cuban law may allow the U.S. to promote political change in Cuba through religious civil society institutions.”
Escambray: “Mary Guinn Delaney, advisor of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Regional Office on HIV/AIDS Education for Latin America and the Caribbean, said today in this capital that Cuba is a paradigm in sexual education.”
Washington Post: “The operations are covered by Cuba’s universal health care system, even though some have protested the decision to allow them – either because of general opposition to the procedure or due to its high costs for a developing country with economic problems.”
Associated Press: “Cuba’s Roman Catholic cardinal will read a Christmas message on state television for the second straight year, another small sign the once officially atheist communist government is warming to religion.”
AP: “Pope Benedict XVI said Thursday there are growing signs of religious freedom in Cuba and that there is an opportunity for reconciliation between the communist nation and the United States.”
Christian Post: “Comprehensive evidence within the document details a sharp rise in religious liberty violations in the country, especially against the independent churches, noted the human rights watchdog.”
Jurist: “The US Department of the Treasury on Thursday lifted travel restrictions and restrictions on money transfers between Cuban-Americans and their families in Cuba.”
Boston Globe (AP): “A planned trip to Cuba this week by a U.S. religious freedom watchdog group has been canceled after the Cuban government did not issue visas to the delegation, the group said Monday, even as the Obama administration moved to ease sanctions on the communist nation.”
CNA reports: “Experts from the National Office of Statistics and of the Latin American Center for the Elderly said this week that Cuba has one of the oldest populations in Latin America and that by 2020 there will be more …
The Archdiocese of Havana’s magazine, Palabra Nueva, has published an article questioning the Cuban government’s promotion of homosexuality through norms that allow the changing of one’s identity, sex-change operations and the eventual legalization of homosexual unions.
The proposed legislation would recognise same-sex unions, along with inheritance rights. It would also give transsexuals the right to free sex-change operations and allow them to switch the gender on their ID cards, with or without surgery.
The Becket Fund provides an update on Cuba’s actions and other International Religious Freedom issues around the world: 1. Australia: Private School Fails to Accommodate Sikh Student 2. Cuba: International Rights Treaties Signed “With Reservations” 3. Russia: Police Harass Methodist …