By Worthy News Americas Services with reporting by Worthy News' Stefan J. Bos
The short film, recorded clandestinely early in 2010 and smuggled out of Cuba, shows Caridad Diego Bello, the head of the Religious Affairs Office of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party, explaining the government’s policies to crackdown on the Apostolic Movement, said advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), which released the footage.
"For years, church leaders of all denominations have complained of difficulties with Diego, particularly in receiving permission to repair old church buildings or build new facilities," CSW said in comments monitored by Worthy News and its news partner BosNewsLife Tuesday, January 18. "This is the first time, however, that video evidence has been published, showing Diego publicly admitting that the government is working to eradicate the Apostolic Movement."
In the video, Diego is believed to say that “…we are taking measures and will continue to take measures, the hands of our authorities will not waver, and I don’t do this in a manner of warning but rather to inform, so that the illegalities that groups like these are committing can be countered in every province and in every territory…"
The official also said there "are some would-be leaders of these type of organizations that have had been relocated from their homes, that have lost their temple. There are people that visit us that will no longer be able to enter the country again, there are people that have been fined for facilitating the violation of immigration status by foreigners in Cuba"
He also appears to confirm that the government has "confiscated literature because it has not entered the country via the appropriate channels, but rather under the table.”
Churches affiliated with the Apostolic Movement have documented consistent religious liberty violations over the past few years, including numerous cases of arbitrary detention of church leaders and the destruction of church buildings, CSW said.
The group said it also released a second video showing the site of the demolition of one of the largest churches linked to the Apostolic Movement in Santiago de Cuba.“Religious leaders of all denominations told CSW earlier this year that the Apostolic Movement has been singled out for intense persecution, said CSW’s Director of Advocacy, Andrew Johnston.
“This video is confirmation, from the very mouth of the top official in charge of religious affairs in the country that the government is working to stamp out the group. Just a few months ago, leaders of the Apostolic Movement publicly asked that the government enact legislation on religious activity. We join with them in calling on the government to cease immediately its harassment of these churches and to establish a clear legal framework for all religious groups to operate in the country.”
There was no immediate response from Cuba's government, which has begun releasing political prisoners under pressure by the international community, including the United States and the European Union.