Cuban Government Blocks Aid From Religious Groups in Wake of Hurricane Irma

Che Guevara mural on dilapidated wall, Havana, Havana, Cuba. (Getty Images)

After Hurricane Irma battered the Caribbean, aid poured in from around the world. Like many other island nations, Cuba took a direct hit from the category 5 storm and suffered widespread damage. Sadly, because of Marxist policies, aid workers have a difficult time getting needed help to the impoverished country. If an aid organization has ties to a religious organization, forget about it. The communist country would rather their people starve to death than accept aid from a religious organization.

Not long after Hurricane Irma left Cuba devastated, the Miami Herald reported on the difficulties that relief organizations face in sending aid to the island nation. In the report, the Herald highlighted how after Hurricane Matthew hit Cuba the year before, “the Miami Archdiocese asked for donations of canned food, rice and beans, cash and help with transporting goods to both countries.”

Predictably, yet sadly, “Cuba didn’t want the food donations from the archdiocese or Baltimore-based Catholic Relief Services.”

A year later, and after the much worse Irma, exiled Cuban Pastor Mario Barroso “is warning that the communist government has taken action against missionaries for trying to provide humanitarian support to those who have been victimized by Hurricane Irma.”

In an email exchange published on the Christian Post, Pastor Barroso explained, “The communist system controls everything; and requires that all aid must [be authorized] and deliver it. This limits the chances that the Cuban people will be helped in the same way that other countries can be helped.” He added, “Attempts by churches to help Cuban citizens are viewed with suspicion by the authorities. The regime always tries to subtract the prestige and influences of the churches among the population. From Cuba, I have been warned of threats and even arrests against believers who have only wanted to help.”

“In relation to Hurricane Irma, we met two missionaries who belong to the group called ‘Caminos de Victorias,'” Barroso explained. “They were detained for a whole day and then released. Many times, the victims are afraid to declare for fear of further reprisals. The regime threatens religious organizations through the [Office for Religious Affairs] that controls everything. The totalitarian state does not accept the role of the churches and limits its action. The social action of the churches is not to the liking of the authorities.”

“In each disaster, there are testimonies of people [who are] arrested and threatened,” he continued. “But the regime would never prosecute anyone for this. However, the regime is able to invent other false charges to bring innocent people to prison.”

According to Pastor Barroso, large amounts of aid money have flowed into the pockets of government officials in Cuba. While the citizens suffer, the government invests foreign aid dollars into the tourism industry that is owned by the Cuban government. Barroso writes, “The government has a monopoly on everything, including the possibility of helping the victims. It is totalitarian power.”

Hoarding aid for their own personal gain while watching the citizens of their country suffer is despicable. Likewise, denying aid from religious organizations is an act of injustice and oppression that God condemns in the Bible. When you hear progressives in this country misusing Bible verses to support their agenda, keep in mind that Cuba is their real touchstone and not Jesus.