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To many people’s surprise, in 1986 Fidel Castro performed an about face: After shunning all forms of religion just after the revolution, Fidel’s Communist party re-opened its doors to religion. Fidel probably sensed that Cubans’moods had changed, as had the mood round the world. Castro met Pope John Paul II in 1996, in Rome. Then that same Pope visited Cuba in 1998. Catholicism got a big boost after that. Ironically there was an onsliaght of Protestant missionaries after that visit as well – probalby more interested in evangelizing than in quelling communism. When the Soviet Union fell, (this started what we Cubans call the Special Period) the very distraught Cuban population turned outward for solace. More than likely our great and fearless leader just sensed that people needed something to turn to so he fed that need and allowed a loosening of religion. In general, openness to religion in Cuba seems to rise and fall with the times.

It is hard to quash religion completely. Even in Cuba. Even under Fidel.

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