Misael Diaz Paseiro, a Christian rights activist, was arrested last year on charges of “pre-criminal social dangerousness” by the Cuban government. He is a member of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo Civic Resistance Front.
Authorities forced their way into Misael’s home where they confiscated two Bibles, crucifixes and rosaries. He was badly beaten by Cuba’s political police on November 4, 2017.
Watchdog Christian Solidarity Worldwide reported that Misael was told by the police:
“Misael, in addition to being a counter-revolutionary, you are also a Christian,” the police said.
“You should look at us, we are revolutionaries and we don’t believe in your God. Our god is Fidel Castro.”
Upon his arrest, Misael was reportedly denied basic rights in prison, including the right to see a priest and to have a Bible. Because of his mistreatment in prison, his wife Ariana López Roque went on a 19-day hunger strike.
According to CSW, Cuban authorities also prevented a pastor from visiting Misael’s wife during her 19-day hunger strike. She only ended the hunger strike when she was assured that her husband’s rights would be respected while he was in prison.
Mario Barroso, a Cuban pastor and rights activist told the Christian Post that it was not uncommon for people in Cuba to invoke the name of Fidel Castro.
“Invoking Fidel Castro in Cuba helps cover acts of corruption and even crimes. This proves that the followers of [Castro as a God] are not really so adept as Fidel himself but rather at the benefits that are covered by invoking him,” Barroso said.
“Deep down they are imitating Fidel with this behavior since Fidel Castro was like that too: an opportunist, a blackmailer.
“So the believers in Fidel Castro act in the image and likeness of their god, Fidel. They are faithful followers of the evil example of their god.”
The Cuban regime is oppressive toward people who subscribe to organized religion. Cuban Christians are especially vulnerable, as the government has launched a nationwide crackdown against churches and has either seized or demolished 1,400 church buildings. According to the government, the religious structures have not been registered and are therefore illegal.
The war of the Cuban state against religious institutions intensified palpably in 2017 and continues today in various guises. The seizure of Bibles and imprisonment of local pastors and rights activists are but two instances of the religious crackdown in Cuba. There have even been reports of Christians being dragged away as they arrive or leave church.