Situation of Catholics [CUB5969]

Please find attached a copy of an Information Request which contains information on Catholics in Cuba. The Human Rights Watch critique of the attached section of Country Reports for 1989 has not been published yet (it is expected to be published around July 1990). Also attached, please find a copy of "God gets another chance", in The Economist, 24 December 1988,
p. 53. Also attached, please find a copy of "La persecution religieuse", pages 9-10 of Cuba en 1988: La Condition des Droits de l'Homme, published by the President of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights (CCPDH).

According to the Conference of Catholic Bishops in Ottawa, as stated in a telephone communication on 28 November 1989, a relative improvement in relations between the government of Cuba and the Catholic Church has occurred over the last years, including occasional exchanges of views between the Cuban Conference of Bishops and government officials. The Conference expected the Pope to visit Cuba in 1990. The Ottawa Conference of Catholic Bishops had no reports on changes in the government policy of restricting employment for practising Catholics and allowing Catholic gatherings to take place only inside churches.`Americas Watch, as communicated to the IRBDC by telephone on 26 April 1990, indicated that efforts are apparently being made by both the Cuban Government and the Catholic Church to improve relations in preparation to a possible visit to Cuba by the Pope in the near future. However, reports have been received regarding the arrest in early 1990 of three church workers (exact denomination of their religion or church was not known by Americas Watch on this date) who were also leaders of a movement under the name of "Liberación" (liberation), which apparently worked for improving living conditions, including human rights. Americas Watch also indicated that human rights reports from Cuba have become increasingly difficult to obtain in recent months, in part because of the recent arrest of eight human rights activists, and because the human rights groups in Cuba have not been allowed to operate.

In a more recent telephone communication with the IRBDC (8 June 1990), Americas Watch indicated that the Pope's visit has apparently been postponed until 1991 or later, and that a new "wrinkle" in relations between the Cuban government and the Catholic Church was caused by a recent speech by Fidel Castro in which the Church was strongly criticized.

A representative of the National Association of Cuban-Canadians in Ottawa stated on a telephone communication with the IRBDC on 6 June 1990 that the Pope's visit to Cuba has been indefinitely postponed as the Cuban government is concerned about a recently increasing religious fervour.

Additional corroborating information for the above statements could not be found among the sources currently available to the IRBDC.