Regina Cano

Watchtower Magazine. Photo: scottkelum.flickr.com

They say discrimination is still something common in this day and age; but the moment you stumble upon it in a concrete form, a shiver runs up your back.

Strongly evident in the 1970’s was the separation established between the Cuban movement to build a socialist society and groups like the Abakuas (a secret Afro-Cuban sect that originated during slavery) and the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Each current ran along its own path.  At that time these religious associations were considered to be posed against the revolutionary aims that had united the Cuban people under a single ideology.

Rumors were spread that the Abakuas (or “ñáñigos”) abducted children, and pamphlets were circulated explaining the so-called prohibitions of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Such efforts rejected all the diverse forms of Cuban religion.  These days we take it for granted that religious believers receive much better treatment and that they can openly express their belief in God.  In fact, this actually does occur in the cases of most believers and with the more popular belief systems.

However, I just talked to a Jehovah’s Witness who I’ve known for years, having been neighbors.   He told me about what happens to his children at school.

These children —raised in the same neighborhood as others, playing the same games and going to the same elementary and junior high schools— are now they’re trying to figure out what they’re going to do in life as future professionals.

The 16-year-old was suspended in his last year of high school for not attending the class on national defense.  The fact is that he doesn’t approve of fomenting war.

Similarly, the 15-year-old was not accepted into the program to become a teacher, but nor was she allowed any other option.  This girl is seen to by a group that gives “special assistance to minors,” which means that she’s considered a teenager who is at-risk, risk of becoming involved in wrongful or illegal activities, mainly because of her behavior.

Jehovah’s Witnesses have more than a few detractors in the world, and Cuba is no exception.  The organization is often criticized for its door-to-door preaching, its low credibility (believing in the resurrection of its members with the coming of the Armageddon) and for not allowing blood transfusions, though this can mean the saving of a life – at least according to the way we see it.

They are considered insistent and unrelenting by the rest of the population and the government.  They do not embrace our national symbols or participate in elections (what person should decide on the lives of others?), and they are opposed to war.

But people!  The truth is that we don’t know what future road a social being will take as they grow, despite their moral or religious circumstances or background.  To impede their full development because they don’t think the same as us, or because they don’t hold our same assumptions about reality, I find atrocious.

It’s not astonishing to discover —in Cuba— people who are masters at judging the situations of others.  They impose their interpretation of the truth.  They determine that they have the right to decide on the fate of another person and perhaps even punish them for being different, or they treat them as inferior.

The parents of these two youth trust in the laws of God and not in human’s laws, and what about us?


Regina Cano

Regina Cano: I have lived my entire life in Havana, Cuba – the island from which I’ve still never left, and which I love. I was born on September 9, and my parents chose my name out of superstition, but my mother raised me outside the religion professed by her family. I studied accounting and finance at the University of Havana, a profession that I’m not engaged in for the time being, and that I substituted for doing crafts, some ceramics, and studying a little English and about painting. Ah! – concerning my picture: I identify with Rastafarian principles, but I am not one of them. I wear this cap from time to time, but I assure you I just didn't have a better picture.

36 thoughts on “The Multiplicity of God

  • April 17, 2011 at 8:42 am
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    How does the Cuban government treat conscientious objectors of military service?

  • April 9, 2011 at 12:38 pm
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    The Bible was written by man. Stories that were told and retold, written and rewritten often mistranslated and misinterpreted by man. Religions were designed by man. Some for empowerment, some for personal gain, some for the good of mankind. Regardless of your belief system, you should know inherently how to treat your fellow humans without judgment, but with loving kindness, compassion and caring. Any religion that denies you the right to explore other belief systems without the threat of harm is cult-like Jesus did not separate himself from thieves and prostitutes and criminal types but lived among them as an example. As should we all.

  • November 12, 2010 at 8:22 am
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    Blood transfusion to Jehovah Witness is like psychiatry to Scientologist

    (Mark 3:4) The Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” Jehovah’s Witnesses is a cult based on rules. God is about life and preserving it, because He is its author. This is just madness.

  • November 11, 2010 at 8:04 pm
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    First of all, a most excellent article. Fidel Castro stated once that people needed consolation, which is why he allowed religion to function. Needless to say, there are many who simply hate the Witnesses, as is seen by some of the comments here. All have their own idea, yet miss the real point. The standard for all Christianity is the Bible and what it says and stands for. It is the God of the Bible that says `Avoid blood` not people. It is the God of the Bible that says `Do things my way and you will prosper` not people. Some look at the flaws of people to justify why the Witnesses should be avoided, rather than accept that what the Bible says which stands above any criticism that is aimed at people who are trying simply to live by the standards of their Creator.

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