Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 1-5-2018


This paper will examine how the Batista and Castro regimes were able to impact the perception of Santería amongst the Cuban public. Santeria is a polytheistic religion practiced in Cuba that combines elements of Yoruba beliefs and Catholicism. Recently, Santeria appears to be experiencing a growth in visibility in Cuba. The syncretic religion and its visibility, has become of interest to examine and report on, amongst many media outlets. According to a Vice News article published as recently as 2014, the author dubs Santería as “Cuba’s New Religion”. The article describes Santería as a dynamic form of worship, with participation and a creation of a shared identity amongst all levels of Cuban society and other societies of practicing Latin American countries. In this paper, I plan to examine the perceptions of Santeria during the twentieth and twenty first centuries, and demonstrate these perceptions of Santeria have affected their visibility--or lack thereof.

I argue that it is a direct result of the influence of the Cuban government policies, specifically the regimes during the 20th century. The 20th century Cuban governance under both the Batista and Castro regime's distorted the Cuban people’s views on Santería, by implementing legislation which generated misinformation about the religion.

This paper will first introduce the religion of Santeria and examine its history as well as practice. Then, the paper will focus on the perceptions of Santeria over the course of the Castro and Batista regimes; and how their impact on these perceptions of Santeria. The goal is to show a causal link between government legislation and both negative and positive perceptions amongst the Cuban population to Santeria.

I will utilize both qualitative and quantitative methodology approaches when writing this paper. The qualitative evidence I will present will be academic journals, articles, and case studies that examine syncretic religion of Santeria and the policies of the Batista and Castro regimes. The dependent variable in this research is the perception of Santeria and my independent variable is the influence of the Castro and Batista regimes. Through the data presented in this work, the audience will be able to see a direct link between government influence and Cuban population’s perceptions of Santeria.