On May 10, 2021, a group of 34 organizations and individuals penned a letter to Cuban Ambassador Lianys Torres Rivera calling for the repeal of Legal Decrees 349 and 370.
GLA, along with 33 other activists, artists, academics and NGOs, joined the International Religious Freedom Roundtable (IRF Roundtable) to express concerns over the egregious and continued violations of freedom of religious belief (FoRB) and other fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and assembly in Cuba.
Legal Decree 349, which came into effect in 2018, gave the government further control over artistic expression and activities in Cuba.
Legal Decree 370, adopted in 2019, gave the government the authority to fine citizens for publishing content on social media that was interpreted as "critical of the Cuban government or the situation in the country."
Both of these laws raised alarm amongst Cuban artists, academics and journalists who feared the legislation would eliminate freedom of expression in Cuba and extend government control over individual Cubans who express opinions and beliefs online through personal social media accounts.
Individual fundamental human rights do not exist in isolation; freedom of religion or belief, especially, overlaps with many other basic human rights. It is worth noting that the right to "freedom of thought, conscience and religion," "to freedom of opinion and expression," and the right "to peaceful assembly and association" sit side by side in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Articles 18, 19, and 20."
“Freedom of religion, expression, and belief are fundamental rights that no government or political party can violate or take away from the individual,” said Jason Poblete, President of the Global Liberty Alliance. “The future of Cuba is up to the people of Cuba, no one else. As the people of Cuba chart their tomorrow, Cuban officials must respect fundamental rights," added Poblete.
The letter also called for the repeal of both Legal Decree 349 and 370, and the cessation of all harassment, threats, arbitrary detentions and violence against Cuban civilians. Above all, it was emphasized that Cuban citizens who wish to peacefully exercise their freedom of religion, expression and assembly should be able to do so without fear of physical retribution by the Cuban government.
The full letter, sent to Amb. Torres and others can be read below.