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Worthy Christian News » Christian Persecution » Christian Persecution - Americas » Cuba » Cuba Detains Over 20 Christians In New Crackdown, Activists Say

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HAVANA, CUBA (Worthy News)– Baptist Pastor Mario Felix Lleonart Barroso and his wife, Yoaxis, were part of the 23 Christians detained by Cuban police in Santa Clara, said Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), a major religious rights group.

They were picked up by police Sunday morning, June 26, and released five hours later, after the service had ended, CSW told Worthy News. The worship service at the Santa Clara Methodist Church was held in support of Pastor Toranzo, who was reportedly removed from his position by the Methodist Bishop Ricardo Pereira Dias, because of his refusal to deny pastoral support to human rights activists and members of the political opposition.

Pastor Toranzo is the second high-profile pastor in Santa Clara to step down or be removed this year because of government pressure in the Communist-run island, according to church observers.

GOVERNMENT PRESSURE

Baptist Pastor Homero Carbonell issued a statement at the start of 2011 saying that he and his church had come under "severe government pressure" because of his refusal to expel families of political prisoners from the church, CSW said.

Pastors Carbonell and Toranzo were reportedly also involved in a cross-denominational citywide march on Easter Sunday in 2010 which drew thousands and angered the authorities. "We strongly condemn the official pressure on church leaders in Cuba to deny pastoral support to certain members of their congregations because of their political affiliations," added CSW’s Advocacy Director Andrew Johnston.

"We call on the Cuban government to cease their interference in the internal affairs of religious organizations and in particular to uphold the right of religious leaders to minister to all regardless of their political beliefs," he said.

The Santa Clara Methodist Church has publicly urged the bishop to reverse his decision and church leaders of all denominations in Santa Clara have reportedly appealed to the Methodist hierarchy in support of Pastor Toranzo. There is general agreement among church leaders in Santa Clara that the Bishop’s decision was made because of intense government pressure, CSW said.

The group claimed that it has received reports from sources in Cuba confirming similar pressure on leaders in other denominations. "There have also been reports that the authorities are making increased use of short-term detentions as opposed to long spells in prison, a tactic which CSW believes is being deployed to deflect international attention from the ongoing harassment of pastors."

NO COMMENT

Cuban officials have not yet commented on the latest developments. This year Cuba released the last of 75 dissidents, including Christians, who were detained in the 2003 crackdown.

The move following a ground-breaking deal brokered by the Roman Catholic Church in which Cuba's President Raul Castro agreed to free the remaining 52 inmates.

The Cuban government denies however that it as ever hold political prisoners and considers dissidents as "mercenaries financed by the U.S."to destabilize the government.

Read more about the Christian Persecution in Cuba.

5 Comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

  • George Whitten
    3 July 2011 at 8:52 am - Reply

    We need to continue to pray that the spiritual walls over Cuba fall so the gospel will have the power to transform this nation from the inside out!  When communism finally collapses in Cuba, then we'll have a window of opportunity just as the church had when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.

  • Works and Faith in Action
    3 July 2011 at 5:43 pm - Reply

    Christianity….the unstoppable force. PTL!

  • Holguin
    4 July 2011 at 1:59 am - Reply

    I have spent a great deal of time in Cuba,six months a year for the last fourteen years.I have no idea if this piece is correct or not.the only thing i am sure of is,not everybody tells the truth when it comes to Cuba.Many inteligent people have different views and sometimes opposite views.My view is,just because it is in the media or on the internet does not make it so.

  • Aussie
    11 July 2011 at 9:59 am - Reply

    I have been to Cuba, I think the end of Communism there would be a disaster and that it would bring millions of people into poverty… Democracy doesnt work, Communism doesnt work, but right now, for the people, Cuba has a good thing going…. be careful what you pray for…

    • George Whitten
      11 July 2011 at 10:32 am - Reply

      … we need to pray for the salvation of those in Cuba — and an open door to the gospel will never be allowed under communism!

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