What does persecution look like in Cuba?
Cuba's government is the main reason Christians face persecution. Anything deemed to be in competition with the Communist Party of Cuba is squeezed, and this includes the Christian faith. Church leaders or believers who speak out against human injustice or political corruption—or who dare to criticize the regime—risk interrogation, arrest, smear campaigns and even prison sentences.
Authorities can also target churches. Because churches require registration to be legal, the government can deny the registration or simply ignore the application of some religious groups, forcing these churches to operate illegally. This gives the government an excuse to shut them down whenever they please. In these cases, the government then imposes penalties on churches, including fines, the demolition of buildings, church closure and the confiscation of property.
Churches permitted to register with the government do so under extreme scrutiny and monitoring. All churches are monitored in Cuba, and may be infiltrated by citizens sympathetic to the regime and/or State security agents. Registered or unregistered, churches continue to be open for worship throughout Cuba—but only as long as the government allows it. As soon as a leader or a Christian is deemed to be anti-government or anti-revolutionary, the response is swift and harsh.
Who is most vulnerable to persecution?
Christians who lead unregistered churches or who are compelled by their faith to speak out against the regime are most at risk in Cuba.
Meet "Pastor Angel"
"What bothered me the most was the mockery from my schoolmates; they did it because they knew I was a Christian, and my father had been sent to labor camps for being an evangelical pastor. It was unbearable. Some teachers not only joined the mockery but also hit me; they imposed harsh and undeserved punishments on me. That is how I grew up."Pastor Angel, an elderly church leader in Cuba
What has changed this year?
The Cuban regime continued its policy of squeezing followers of Jesus this year, especially those who supported or participated in the 2021 protests, and those who were outspokenly opposed to the new Family Code approved in September 2022. Parliamentary elections were held in March 2023, but they were in no way free or fair—instead, these elections were used to prop up the Communist government. Many Cuban Christians are afraid to speak out against this kind of corruption or simply believe it won't make any difference. Communism has ruled Cuba since 1959, and with it, the pressure on believers has remained steady.
What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Cuba?
Open Doors local partners strengthen the persecuted church in Cuba through Bible distribution, livelihood projects, biblical training, leadership development projects, care and support for children and pastors' families, and socio-economic development.
How can you pray for Cuba?
- The church in Cuba is growing, despite the severe restrictions. Ask God to protect and strengthen church leaders in Cuba from harassment or pressure from the government.
- Pray that Cuba’s leaders would allow churches to meet openly and legally. For Christians who must meet in house churches, ask God to help them to be wise and for their fellowship to glorify Him.
- Pray that Cuban believers would have the courage and wisdom to stand up for their Christian convictions.
Dear God, we ask You to be with our sisters and brothers in Cuba. We pray especially for those who speak out against the injustice they see in their country—thank You for giving them boldness and Your heart for justice. We ask You to protect them and help them to know You love them. We also pray for those who lead churches, that you would help them navigate the tension of daily life and ministry. We ask these things in Jesus' name, Amen.