The Communist government of Cuba has sent back a shipment carrying 17,000 copies of the New International Version Bible, saying it would only allow Bibles in the King James version.
Mission Network News reported on March 26 that starting 2016, the Department of Religious Affairs Cuba sent a shipment of NIV bibles by Christian ministry Biblica back to Miami, Florida.
This denied shipment would have been Biblica’s third to the country. It also would have brought the total number of Bibles that Biblica sent to Cuba to 50,000.
On paper, Cuba lifted its ban on printing new Bibles in 2015, the Christian Post says.
“The Cuban government is not giving permission for the NIV Bibles to enter the country, as it prefers older translations,” Esteban Fernández, executive director of the publishing house for Latin America, is quoted as saying.
“We think that we need something really strong, easy to go from the head to the heart of the people,” Fernández explains.
“And while there is nothing wrong with this Bible version, the fact of the matter is that the audience reading these Bibles have changed. They need the same message these older Bibles give, but they need it in terms they understand,” he added.
Biblica, The International Bible Society, was founded in 1809 and is the worldwide copyright holder of the New International Version of the Bible, licensing commercial rights to Zondervan in the United States and to Hodder & Stoughton in the UK
Mission Network News said many Cubans still have to share a Bible with six people.
Fernández said, you can see tears in the eyes of Cubans when they receive a copy of the Bible.
In January, the Christian Post reported about the arrest and imprisonment of a Cuban Christian rights activist who was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison late last year after authorities raided his home and confiscated Bibles and crucifixes.
Misael Diaz Paseiro, a dissident who is a member of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo Civic Resistance Front, was charged with “pre-criminal social dangerousness.”
The Cuban government amended its Constitution in 1992, declaring it a secular state, instead of an atheist state, partially allowing religious activities. The number of Christians has been growing since then.
Cuba has been governed by a one-party state since authoritarian Marxist leader Fidel Castro, who died in November 2016, overthrew the U.S.-supported dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in 1959.
While the Communist regime showed some signs of economic and political reforms after Castro allowed his brother, Raul Castro, to succeed as president in 2008, repression continues.
According to Open Doors USA, about 57 percent of Cubans are Christian and they face constant government surveillance and infiltration.
Biblica is currently looking into other methods of legally sending these Bibles to Cuba, reports show.