We would like to share about our time in Cuba and the system of government in that country that has kept so many without freedom — Communism.
History of Cuba: The most important and relevant portion of Cuba’s modern history is the Communist Revolution (1953 - 1959) led by Fidel Castro and supported by the famous communist revolutionary Che Guevara. This revolution, once accomplished, intensified the cold war between the U.S.S.R. and the USA and almost resulted in global nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. It was this cold war and strategic standoff that brought the world to the brink of destruction. Since the time of the Cuban missile crisis, until now, the United States has maintained a strict embargo on the nation of Cuba. Cuba, has thus been kept in a sort of time capsule and showed little progress since the early 1960’s. Even when you travel to Cuba today, you will see 1950’s cars trolling the streets as taxis. Horse carts and carriages are still in usage outside of larger cities, while mid 20th century architecture dot the skyline of Havana giving you the feeling like Cary Grant should be walking down the streets. The hardships of life for the people of Cuba are evident. A good job will pay a meager $40-50 USD a month. There are few foreign import/exports of goods and no economic advancements taking place. Cubans, for years, have desperately tried to escape the country by floating on homemade rafts to the US in the hopes of asylum. Communist Cuba is a dying system and one that should change within the next five years as relations with the U.S. begin to thaw. Fidel Castro, though still alive, is no longer active as the leader of Cuba, having transferred power to his brother Raul Castro in 2008. Times are changing, and as Cuba opens up there will be a need for more Gospel workers to share the good news in a place that has been cut off from the outside.
Systems of Rule: With the lack of economic development, personal freedoms and systematic control of government the obvious question is — why would anyone want this type of government or take part in a revolution for it? The answer to that question, is that people throughout history, tend to follow, unquestioningly, the appearance of authority and personal gain no matter the outcome. This blind loyalty exists in political, ideological and religious beliefs everywhere around the world. Communism became popular in Cuba because the ruling class, led by Batista, a brutal dictator, exploited the poor. This gave rise to the support of the Communist Revolution from many Cubans who suffered under the Batista regime. Communism, an ideology that preached wealth redistribution, the absence of social classes, and the rule of common ownership was highly appealing to those who felt they had none of those things. People championed the cause of Communism in Cuba because they wanted what they did not have and to redistribute the power and money to the common people. Sounds like a worthy cause on the surface to an average citizen, but here is where Communism meets a paradox. The basis of communism is to eradicate greed and make everyone equal. However, in order to achieve this, it must first appeal to the nature of greed in a person by telling followers: if you follow communism you will get more money and live a better life because it will be taken from the rich who oppress and given to you. So the appeal of communism for the average citizen is the greed for more, not the absence of greed. It is the I am owed more mentality. However, it is also important to note that in reverse the authoritarian regime of Batista, that was overthrown by Fidel Castro, was equally brutal and based on exploitative greed of the poor. It was two extremes fighting for control. So what happened when the communist won in Cuba — Did they free the people from oppression and usher in a utopia? No. They instituted their own absolute rule of authority and killed everyone in their way. They executed scores of political opponents who they deemed a threat and set about creating their own personality cults and false patriotism to maintain control. In the end, the Cuban revolution led to oppression and an economic catastrophe. Communism not only failed in Cuba, but in the early 90’s it failed in the Soviet Union showing the world that it is an unsustainable system.
Words of Caution: The reason for highlighting the Communist Revolution and the history of Cuba is that ideologies like communism have a way a sneaking back into our society. In fact, one of the presidential candidates for the U.S. in 2016 is a self proclaimed socialist. Many disenfranchised youth of America champion these type of politicians blindly on the promise of what sounds good, rather than what actually works. Moreover, bad ideologies now erode the church in order to make the message of the gospel more “socially acceptable”. But the problem with this thinking is the failure to recognize that we live in a socially corrupt society. A socially acceptable gospel will yield a corrupt false gospel. The church has to stand strong and honor the truth of the Gospel instead of letting the corrupted world change it. Blind loyalty to any cause or church that leads people down a path of what sounds appealing socially, but is not right, is the path of destruction. Matthew 7:15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”
When we traveled throughout Cuba we saw very kind and vibrant people looking forward to the future changes. Churches are few and far between, as only 5% of the population are born-again believers, so in the months and years ahead, there will be a greater need for more laborers. We are happy to be on the forefront of the Gospel coming into Cuba and know the Lord will bring about a true and lasting change very soon.