On Perspectives

Against the Current, No. 8, March/April 1987

Samuel Farber

ALAN WALD’S “Some Perspectives on the FSLN” (ATC #7) cites an FSLN member in Juigalpa, Nicaragua, as saying “that her fears about a lack of political democracy in Cuba were assuaged after a Cuban Jehovah’s Witness stayed at her house and assured her that there was no political repression in that country.” (8)

Jehovah’s Witnesses have been strongly repressed by the Castro regime. Their temples or “Kingdom Halls” have been shut down, their public ministry is forbid­ den as is the printing or importation of their religious literature.

What is worse, a considerable number of Witnesses have been sentenced to prison, and sometimes physically maltreated there. Cuban Witnesses were among the groups who were sent to the UMAP compulsory labor camps in the mid-sixties (these camps have been described in some detail in the documentary Improper Conduct). More recently, they were, along with gays, common prisoners and other undesirable “scum” (escoria), among the thousands who were deported through the port of Mariel in 1980. There, they joined the much greater number of Cubans who volunteered to leave the country at that time (altogether, some 130,000 people left in about two months).

Even Fidel Castro himself has acknowledged that because of their “special characteristics,” Jehovah Witnesses have had “problems with the Revolution.” (Fidel Castro y la Religion. Conversaciones con Frei Betta, Mexico: Siglo Veintiuno Editores, 1986, 214).

Given the government’s total control of who is allowed to travel outside the country (e.g. even stalwart supporters of the regime cannot travel without leaving some family members back at home), it is most unlikely that a Cuban who admits to being a Jehovah’s Witness is sent on what the government calls an “internationalist mission” to Nicaragua. Even if by some bureaucratic snafu an authentic Witness did make it to Nicaragua, it is quite inconceivable that that person would go around proclaiming the virtues of political democracy in Cuba.

March-April 1987, ATC 8

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