Church-State Relations Favor Freedom of Religion in Cuba

"I think there is a possibility to be heard, to express our thoughts openly and honestly, which is important and makes it easier to exercise the right to religious freedom as established in the Constitution," Izquierdo told Prensa Latina.

He added that there are sectors, above all abroad, that are determined to offer an image that differs from reality.

"Cuban-American reactionary sectors try to show that relations between the Church and the Government are fatal, describing one or the other as opportunistic, thus ignoring the existing dialogue," the religious leader said in Havana.

There are rules to be followed in Cuba as in any other place in the world, which guarantee the development of society, and they are not an obstacle to good relations in a country with such a religious diversity, regardless of differences or criteria, the pastor added. The Reformed Presbyterian Church in Cuba has a baptized membership of 12,000 people, distributed in 50 congregations, mainly in the western and central regions of the country.

Like Izquierdo, Georgina Garcia, grand secretary of the Order of the Knights of Light, noted the ties between that fraternal association and the State.

"There is understanding, we can dialogue without any problem and reach an agreement," Garcia explained to Prensa Latina. She said that the Order, which began its work in Cuba over a century ago, has 2,500 members and 42 lodges.

The general director of the Buddhist-lay organization Soka Gakkai of Cuba, Joannet Delgado, said the situation in the country is favorable for the development of the freedom of religion.

"Soka Gakkai, an institution with a consultative status at the United Nations, enjoys the Government's support and we do not have limitations to do our work of building values in society," she noted.

Delgado pointed out that the relation between the Buddhist organization, represented in 192 countries, began more than 15 years ago, when its international president, Daisaku Ikeda, visited Cuba.

"At the time, Ikeda met with the leader of the Revolution, Fidel Castro, and then Minister of Culture Armando Hart, who is an honorary member of Soka Gakkai," she said.

Religious leaders and Cuban authorities meet regularly at different levels, including the regional one.

At the latest meeting, held in February, Vice President Esteban Lazo and Communist Party officials talked with Protestants, Evangelists, Russian and Greek Orthodox representatives, Buddhists, Muslims, believers of religions of African origin, spiritualist centers, fraternal associations and the Hebrew community, among other institutions.

link to original report by Prensa Latina