- Title: Cuba's Santeria priests offer some solace as country faces difficult year
- Date: 2nd January 2020
- Summary: VARIOUS OF FAITHFUL DURING CEREMONY
- Embargoed: 16th January 2020 23:16
- Keywords: New Year predictions Santeria
- Location: HAVANA, CUBA
- City: HAVANA, CUBA
- Country: Cuba
- Topics: Religion/Belief,Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA005BUHD4CN
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Priests from Cuba's Afro-Cuban Santeria religion offered some solace Thursday (January 02) to anxious worshippers facing relentless U.S. sanctions, government austerity measures and shortages.
In their annual prophesy the priests, known as babalawos, announced the year would be under the divinity of one of Santeria's most powerful and protective deity's, Oshun, the goddess of beauty, purity, fertility, love, and sensuality.
The ritual-filled religion, which fuses Catholicism with ancient African beliefs brought to Cuba by slaves, is practised by millions of Cubans, many of whom eagerly await guidance from its annual forecast.
Cubans coped with sporadic fuel, food, transportation and pharmaceutical shortages last year as key-ally Venezuela sunk further into crisis and the Trump administration reversed a short-lived detente and piled new sanctions on top of the decades-old trade embargo.
Washington is threatening more sanctions this year and Cuban authorities have warned austerity measures will stay in place and economic growth will be a meagre, at best.
The Letter of the Year warned against increased crime and epidemics and the disintegration of the "traditional Cuban family due to promiscuity, lack of authority and loss of values", among other threats.
The Santeria priests recommended tolerance, patience, good behaviour in general, as well as avoiding too much pork or breeding pigs in inadequate spaces.
Santeria followers have believed their gods were on the side of the Cuban revolution ever since a white dove landed on the shoulder of late revolutionary leader Fidel Castro during a victory speech in Havana.
(Production: Nelson Gonzalez, Anett Rios, Paul Vieira)
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