By NAN Contributor
News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Fri. Aug. 19, 2016: The Obama administration has warmed to Cuba in the past year or so but that does not stop them from pointing out the issues still wrong with the way the Caribbean nation’s government of Raul Castro is running the country.
The US State Department’s latest religious freedom report slams the Cuban government for harassing, detaining and restricting “travel for outspoken religious figures, especially those who discussed human rights or collaborated with independent human rights groups.”
In its latest the ‘International Religious Freedom Report for 2015,’ the US State Department says the Castro government “often detained and threatened a Baptist pastor and religious freedom activist as well as members of his congregation.”
The pastor, according to the US, claimed that Cuban state security officials detained younger members of his congregations and threatened imprisonment if they continued their activities.
Some independent evangelical churches also reported that government authorities closely monitored and detained, for unspecified periods of time, their leadership and members of their families.
Pastors and members of these groups, according to the US, claimed they were often prevented from attending some church events and told to cease all religious activity. One evangelical organization also reported in May that state security forces threatened to harm its leader, his family, and members of their church.
The pastor of the evangelical organization said officials had confiscated religious materials from his home and had not returned them.
“Many religious leaders stated they exercised self-censorship in what they preached and discussed during services,” the US report states. “Some said they feared direct or indirect criticism of the government could result in government reprisals, such as denials of permits from the ORA or other measures that could limit the growth of their religious groups.”
Still the US admits “there were no reports of significant societal actions affecting religious freedom” in Cuba.