Around The World: Castro Dies, But Restricting Religious Freedoms Doesn’t

Cuban dictator Fidel Castro died on Nov. 25 at age 90, but his complicated legacy of severely limiting human rights, including religious freedom, still lingers in Cuba today.

Castro, whose Communist Party started allowing non-atheist members to join only in 1992 despite rising to power in 1959, was no believer in freedom of religion. Since his rise to power following the Cuban Revolution, he significantly restricted the rights of religious groups in Cuba.

Those restrictions fell hard on the Roman Catholic Church in 1961 despite Castro’s Catholic upbringing. Religiously affiliated properties all around the country were confiscated by the Cuban government without any compensation, and hundreds of religious leaders were expelled from the island nation.

Castro’s religious restrictions were wide-reaching, and not much changed in that century under his leadership until the 1990s. It wasn’t until 1998 that Cuban Jews were legally allowed to hold public services or import religious materials such as kosher food.