In 2016 Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) recorded 2,380 separate violations of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) in Cuba. At least 2,009 of these violations involved entire church congregations, and around 260 involved groups of women or activists arrested to prevent them from attending Mass.
This is a slight increase on the 2,300 cases documented in 2015 – a record high at the time. The spike can be attributed to the fact that 2,000 Assemblies Of God (AOG) churches were declared illegal in 2015, a ruling which still stands. By comparison, CSW reported 220 FoRB violations in Cuba in 2014, 180 in 2013, 120 in 2012 and 40 in 2011.
The brutal and public strategies used by the Cuban government to target religious groups, identified in CSW’s 2015 report, continued throughout 2016. These include public and arbitrary arrests, beatings, and interrogations in contexts such as going through airport security. CSW also received reports of more subtle tactics, including the spreading of disinformation about religious leaders.