The economic crisis in Cuba during the 1990s, known as The Special Period in Time of Peace, which emerged after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and The Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, led to a new reconfiguration of the religious scene. Today, all faiths have a place.
During those times, religion became the last rung of the ladder, thanks to which many people sought and found hope and strength. Thus, worship experiences, imported or not, emerged in society.
“Previously, many disciplines were unknown and coexisted isolated from one another. Forbidden or not, they always remained as forms of resistance and, in some cases, spaces of conspiracy”, theologist Luis Carlos Marrero Chasbar tells the press, who admits that the internet, communications, educational processes and intercultural exchanges are currently determining factors in their knowledge and understanding.
Marrero Chasbar explains how researchers grouped worship experiences under the name “New Religious Movements”.
That list brought together beliefs as diverse as Islam, Reiki, New Age, variations of Buddhism, Neo-Pentecostalism, ministries, some forms of spiritualism and Santería.
In the expert’s opinion, they broke, to some extent, the characteristic dogmas of the traditional religions in Cuba: Catholicism, historic Protestantism, the rule of the Orishas, to name a few; while, historically, their various preferences had an impact on the shaping of nationality.
“Some emerged from the natives, as in the case of the indigenous identities, and others came later to the country, like the Hare Krishnas or the Gnostic church. They derived from unions, fragmentations and syncretism, conditioned from the changing social reality”, he said.
It’s no wonder, he pointed out, that some Cubans declared themselves Tainos, Yucatec or Mixtec; others gather in Old Havana to study the Mayan Old Book Popol Vuh or take part in celebrations devoted to the Andean concept of Pachamama or Earth Mother.
According to the Centre for Psychological and Sociological Research, the scenario of great openness towards the outside world led to new names and currents that generated attraction, rejection and conflicts; as well as changes in discourse, leadership, liturgies, practices and proposals for assuming life from faith.
In addition to this, Marrero Chasbar says, these customs were brought to the island by tourism, internationalist missions, students from Latin America, Asia and Africa and, as a result, what sociologist Pierre Berger named “cognitive contamination” happened.
“It’s no longer possible to have a pure and traditional ethos as the Puritan ethic was in the past. These times show a common house in which everything is interconnected: school, family, politics, professions, values, church and, of course, religions”, he says.
The specialist indicates that these religious expressions took on Cuban cultural patterns and not vice versa.
Nevertheless, they keep certain rites and costumes, characteristic to each region, undergo a process of Cubanisation and readapt costumes and worship to our climate and economic reality. (PL)