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  • Followers of the Afro-Cuban religion Santeria attending a procession of the Virgin of Regla in Regla, a worker's district in the port of Havana.

    Followers of the Afro-Cuban religion Santeria attending a procession of the Virgin of Regla in Regla, a worker's district in the port of Havana. | Photo: Reuters

Published 3 January 2016

Millions of Cubans are strongly influenced by the yearly prophecy of the leaders of the religion with roots in West African culture.

Cuba’s Santeria priests have prophesied a spike in migration and global unrest for the coming year in their annual religious forecast.

Millions of Cubans are strongly influenced by the yearly prophecy of the leaders of the religion with roots in West African culture, brought to the Caribbean island by slaves.

This year, the babalawos, or official association of priests, envisioned that there would be an “explosion” in migration and "social unrest provoked by desperation," Reuters reports.

The annual forecast applies to the world as a whole and includes cautions to world leaders.

"The predictions of Ifa (divination system) warn world leaders that if no action is taken, we may lead our people to a massive migration provoked by different things, desperation among them," priest Lazaro Cuesta told a news conference in Havana.

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While evading specific examples, Cuesta explained ambiguously, "When you are in your room and it's really hot, desperation makes you run out of the room. If we give you an air conditioner, you stay put."

"I can be living in a hot room and I don't leave running because it's my room," Cuesta said. "I'm living alongside everyone else in Cuba, and I'm not leaving.”

Professor Niurka Mola, 50, holding a doll symbolizing the goddess of the sea Yemaya in her home in Havana. August 7, 2015. The prophecies of the Afro-Cuban religion Santeria 2016 speak of an explosion of migration and social unrest. Source: Reuters.

The babalawos went on to predict that 2016 was a year for higher foreign investment and agreements between nations, without mentioning concrete details.

Santeria is influenced by the Roman Catholicism in its worship of certain saints, while also focusing on creating relationships between humans and great, but mortal, spirits, known as Orishas.

Religious practises of Santeria include rituals of drumming, singing and dancing, as well as animal sacrifice.

In last year’s prediction, the babalawos forecast stronger ties with the United States, prophesying a period "of hope for all the world," which would lead "our Cuban brothers" in the U.S. to "avoid being victims of the walls that separated us ... Those walls collapsed to create a bridge."

The priests also predicted epidemics, conflicts and environmental catastrophe.

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