Fidel Castro and the WT
There was a question regarding the legal status of the WT, here is some information on that:
3. (C) The religious leaders explained that the Jehovah Witnesses have rapidly expanded since 1994. They stated that in 1996 there were 70,000 practitioners in Cuba, and that since then the number has grown to 90,000. The number is far greater than is cited in several studies of religion in Cuba. There has been a steady increase despite the fact that the community has lost many members through emigration. Jehovah Witnesses are frequently approved to travel to the US as refugees. The organization has not petitioned the government to be officially recognized as a religion. They are not a member of the state sanctioned Council of Churches. Because of doctrinal differences the organization does not get involved in ecumenical efforts. The leaders presented that they have a minimum amount of friction with the government. The members steer clear of any involvement in politics. They are not allowed to establish individual "Kingdom Halls" as places of worship. They said that their members hold regular meetings and bible study classes without difficulty in private homes throughout the island. Some of these residences can accommodate several hundred people. The leaders said that even without having official status as a legal gathering, the local authorities have given verbal permission to hold the meetings. The leaders indicated that they are very respectful of their neighbors and the meetings have not been the subject of complaints.
Now that President Obama will be visiting Cuba it seems like a good time to go back to the early days of the Revolution and the WT.
Before the Castro takeover the WT Branch in Cuba was very well organized, the Branch Overseer was Cecil Goff a very able administrator. There was a core of missionaries with a lot of experience; names that come to mind are Harry Duffield, Salvino Ferrari, William Simpkins and a few more. Some local brothers were also very well trained and did an excellent job in taking care of the spiritual needs. It seems proper to name them, like Humberto Hernandez, Orestes Ibanez, the Fayad brothers and many native Cos.
The first impact of the change in government was the loss of the American Brothers, some of them were assigned out of the country and the remaining group was eventually expelled. After that initial event no major change was felt, Humberto Hernandez a native brother who was a Gilead Graduate took over as Branch Overseer and together with the fine core of local brothers did a very fine job in keeping the continuity of the work.
As the political climate was changing a lot of the better qualified brothers started leaving the country, this included many of the COs and Congregation Servants with lots of experience; so every day the bench was becoming thinner and thinner. Eventually the Branch Overseer Brother Hernandez departed due to medical reasons and another local Gilead Graduated Brother Juan del Rio took over as Branch Overseer.
By that time about five of six years into the Revolution, very dark times were in the future of the JWs internally and externally; they were going to face harsh persecution from the outside and a lot of chaos and confusion from the inside.
Good for now, will follow up in the near future.
when the proselytizing and meeting activities were suppressed there was a legal challenge from the WT, this was american style.
I noticed that their anti-communism Awake! articles were american style.
Concentration camps, and torture. The society really hung them out to dry, like Malawi. (still on page 2).
This is heart-breaking. When I think of our Cuban community, they are lovely and warm people. Friendly, vibrant with a real lust for life. And trusting the Society - such betrayal! Sending those trusting souls 'into the lion's den'.
Sometime during the 70s a directive came from Brooklyn to open up on a certain day all the Kingdom Halls. This was a clear violation of the Government prohibition, and it was an act of civil disobedience in a country where those things are not tolerated.
As usual the WT is their own worst enemy.
1. Unbelievable. What visitors from the US. This was written in 2009, I believe? US citizens were forbidden to travel to Cuba. Perhaps WT executives were exempted for business reasons? Hmm, interesting.
2. Accounts of refugee seekers are markedly different from the PR of the WT representative.
3. Living under military surveillance. I've heard about what this is like, from my Syrian friends. A spiritual paradise, indeed. Jehovah's Happy People. NOT
Thank you for shining a much-needed light on the JW situation in Cuba.
[bold is mine]
They regularly receive visitors
from members from many countries, such as Belgium, Italy ,
Mexico and the US, and have an especially strong connection
with a group in Brooklyn, New York.
They also said that school authorities are
generally respectful when Jehovah Witnesses refuse to
participate in mandatory patriotic activities and allow
students to opt out of such activities based on their
religious convictions. They cited occasional friction due to
"overly zealous" school administrators and teachers. This statement is in striking contrast to the stories told by refugee applicants of persecution and humiliation of Jehovah Witnesses within the education system.
The leaders also said that neighborhood surveillance is at such a high level that the authorities know clearly who is a sincere practitioner of their religion, and who feigns these beliefs to avoid military service.
The wts has a habit of stirring up people to be disobedient to local laws. There have been many such situations. I fear that if there is a big conflict occurs say out of the ARC the British inquiry and then eventually a similar inquiry in the US the gb will find some issue to cause great distress about. This wont hurt the gb one tiny scrap but they don't give a fig what happens to the r&f as long as it diverts all attention to the 'new' cause.
The ARC have been advised of this.
This is very interesting. I visited Cuba last July. How do you have so much insight in the situation?
As you can see I am not ready to post my picture yet, with regards to the past this is the result of my personal experiences. More current information comes from relatives and friends still close to the situation. Incidentally, the majority of friends mentioned by name have already departed.
Later on I will input some information about the negotiations in the 90s between the Government and the WT that resulted in the relaxation of the persecution against the brothers.