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Cubans look to Santeria for an escape from communism

With six decades under a dictatorship in Cuba that began with the irruption of Fidel Castro, citizens today experience an uncertainty about their future that goes hand in hand with the chaos due to the electricity crisis on the island, as well as other factors that are in detriment of his life. In other words, the Cuban people are tired, consumed by time and the repression that Castroism has been in charge of implementing for years. That is why today he seeks refuge in a particular resource: religion, specifically Yoruba.

A population that is at this type of crossroads today appeals to this resource, that of Santeria —a belief that mixes African and Caribbean culture with the Catholic religion— in its desire to have a clearer “panorama” of what could happen in the country. Those who turn to Santeria or Regla de Ocha, the Ifá Rule, or the Palo Rule —as it is also known— seek, from their perception, the solution of love problems, thus improving personal luck, magical protection and esoteric security.

Santeria gains prominence and interest today, as it happened in the Special Period. This occurs because it is perceived as “anesthetic” to the difficulties of life.

However, we must not forget that in Cuba today there is control of religions under various forms of repression. According to a report presented by the organization Prisoners Defenders, it is evident that at least 93% of those surveyed in its survey of leaders carried out on the island suffer some type of repressive act for religious reasons. This only includes Catholics, but also brings with it practitioners of Islam, Protestants and even followers of the Yoruba religion, which has also been controversial for its practices far from monotheism.

And it is that the document of Prisoners Defenders indicates that the “Communist Party defines itself as a supra-constitutional entity and superior political force leader of society and the State”, with that self-definition, the Castro regime’s awning “has arrogated full capacities to restrict freedom and religious worship arbitrarily without the legal capacity of opposition through the Office of Attention to Religious Affairs (OAARR), whose authority and operation emanate from and depend on the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba.

This is an alarm signal for those who follow religious behavior on the island, because through certain measures, the Communist Party is in a position to propose a configuration in the religions that may allow them to have a better management in what corresponds to the injection of his speech in the citizenship, that during this last year has also been more reactive before the communist regime.

Everywhere

“The Afro-Cuban religion is everywhere,” a practitioner confesses to the media. He also specifies that she “penetrates the jargon, the gestures, the imaginary, molds the national guapería, and even shapes the worst of Cubans, in a process where many elements come out to be replaced by others of disturbing origin.”

He even details that “people pray, seek answers, trust in the afterlife and consult all kinds of divinatory mechanisms to know how much longer they have to resist.”

Miguel Febles, a santero who relaxed the requirements to start in religion two decades ago, detonated in the multiplication of consecrations. To belong now is relatively easy. Applicants no longer have to certify that they are heterosexual, “wise”, a good son, father or husband, willing to advance in the study of religion, now everything from crooks to pimps are inside.

The diversity among the members and the desire to find answers through rites, spells and ancient languages ​​exposes Cubans to an esoteric limbo, considering that there are factions related to the regime that promote their permanence while avoiding persecution for replicating an “unofficial religion”. ”. Only the “independent” babalawos predict the imminent fall of Castroism but without a date, of course.

A business

Being part of this brotherhood costs. It is estimated that to become a santero in Cuba you need between 1,000 and 3,000 dollars. The amount covers a ceremony that lasts for a week and includes the sacrifice of a live animal, ritual dances and mixtures of sacred plants.

In Europe or the United States the cost ranges between 5,000 and 20,000 dollars. The disparity attracts foreigners or tourists who are captured by the orishas – spirits or gods that interact with human beings – to attract them to the “exotic” and Creole religion.

Internet is also a niche. The professor of Latin American Studies at Princeton University, Adrian López-Denis, assures that “Santería is becoming virtual and there are more and more businesses on the Internet. Most santeros today have a laptop where they study electronic books and access programs to become santeros. It is through these programs that interested people are learning now: Santeria 2.0 and, of course, they are marketing it.”

In their “Letter of the Year” -predictions for 2022- they invite us to “be attentive to plots in which several people come together to harm another”. With the protests that persist, it seems that they are right.

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José Martí
José Martí
Nacionalista cubano, poeta, filósofo, ensayista, periodista, traductor, profesor y editor.

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