for the second consecutive year
HAVANA TIMES – The government of Raul Castro declared today a public holiday in Cuba on March 29, (Good Friday) the second time this has occurred on the island in half a century
The first time the holiday was observed took place in 2012, shortly after the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Cuba in March of that year.
This is the second religious holiday celebrated in decades, the first being Christmas starting in 1998, permitted by Fidel Castro after the visit to the island of Juan Paul II that same year.
Cuba had been declared atheist after the triumph of the revolution in 1959 and ceased to celebrate the Catholic festivities.
The church hierarchy has recovered considerable space on the island since the 90s. Nowadays cardinal Jaime Ortega is allowed at times to broadcast religious messages on Cuba’s national TV.
The church is also allowed to publish two current events magazines, the only two non-official publications allowed to circulate regularly on the island.
Under Raul Castro’s presidency the Cuban government and Catholic Church negotiated in 2011 the release of scores of political prisoners, arrested in what was dubbed the Black Spring in 2003.
The Catholic Church has also had numerous properties returned to it and was allowed to build a new seminary on the outskirts of the capital.