Cuba & Christianity
Cuba conjures up romantic notions, it is an stunning Caribbean island, and it is increasingly a hugely popular tourist destination, with fascinating history and culture. However it has a troubled past, and a difficult present.
Cuba was first visited by Europeans when explorer Christopher Columbus landed on October 28, 1492. It became a Spanish colony, and was converted to Catholicism. It was fought over by the Spanish & British, until it gained its independence in 1902. As a favourite destination for wealthy Americans during the years of prohibition in the 1920’s, it saw huge investment and gained a wild reputation. But gross inequality and the poor working conditions of the majority of poor Cubans set the scene for the events which dominate Cuba to this day.
Since Castro’s 1959 revolution, Cuba has oppressed Christianity. Many church leaders were jailed, and all church meetings were infiltrated. Christians lived in fear. Through those dark years very few people would admit to being Christians. Rarely would people discuss their faith in public. Yet as the Soviet bloc fell, so did its financial support for Cuba’s brand of socialism. Castro was forced to seek other sources of income, and his hard line on Christians had to be modified as a result.
It is still a difficult place to be a Christian, but the fact that it is no longer a closed country has allowed Cuba para Cristo to support and resource churches and church leaders. The church has grown beyond recognition in the last decade. Statistics are hard to come by, but many thousands of Cubans have come to faith. You can read an interview with a Cuban pastor who has experienced the changing situation over the past thirty years.
OpenStreetMap has an excellent map of Cuba.