Cuba Detains Christian Leaders As Thousands Protest Against Communists


By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy

(Worthy News) – leaders are among those detained in amid “unprecedented” protests against the island’s Communist rulers, investigators told Worthy News.

activist and pastor Reverend Mario Félix Lleonart Barroso said authorities detained Yeremi Blanco and Yarian Sierra, two pastors from the Berean Baptist Mission in Matanzas.

In addition, Reverend Yusniel Pérez Montejo, of the Eastern Baptist Convention, was reportedly detained in Songo-La Maya in Santiago.

Besides protestant believers, authorities also took a Catholic priest, Father Castor José Álvarez Devesa, into custody. He was reportedly beaten and “detained incommunicado” by Cuban authorities in Camagüey in central Cuba, Christians said.

Protests involving thousands of people began across the country on Sunday, July 11, sparked by Cuba’s economic crisis and a record surge in coronavirus cases, according to several sources.

The demonstrations were expanding to the Cuban Communist Party (CCP)’s decades-long hold on power and its “crackdown on human rights and pro-democracy movements,” noted Christian rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW). It also noted frustration over the Cuban leadership management “of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

DISCONNECTED

In response, the government reportedly disconnected the internet in most of the island’s major cities. However, reports of violations targeting protesters and religious leaders have continued to emerge.

Cuban President Miguel Díaz Canel also urged his supporters, who he called ‘revolutionaries’ to gather and “defend the Revolution” by targeting anti-Communist protestors.

“Several reports have since emerged of violence against protesters,” and CSW told Worthy News. In one incident, an Associated Press news agency photographer was “violently beaten by members of the police and Cuban State ,” added CSW. One protester was also allegedly shot in the stomach.

CSW’s Head of Advocacy, Anna-Lee Stangl, told Worthy News in a statement that “CSW stands with the people of Cuba in calling for freedom, democracy, and respect for human rights.”

Stangl said that the rights group is “deeply concerned” about reports of peaceful protesters, including Christian leaders, “being detained and beaten.”

CSW is also worried about the “reported attempts to severely restrict the flow of information, including by cutting off internet access in several cities.”

URGING PEACE

Several Churches and religious groups have urged all sides to remain peaceful.
The Methodist Church of Cuba reportedly condemned the government’s call to combat protestors, saying: “We affirm our call for peace – a rallying cry which involves conflict can never be the solution to our many difficulties.”

In published remarks, the denomination added that its representatives of “at the national level and in all the provinces” were “working so that the needs of our people are met, and that bloodshed is avoided at any cost.”

The Inter-American Human Rights Commission group condemned the government’s reports of the use of violence against protestors. It and urged Cuba’s rulers “to comply with its human rights obligations, in particular the right to protest.” It also demanded the “democratic opening of the island.”

President Diaz-Canel has denied wrongdoing and said that the was “provoking” social unrest in his country.

In televised remarks, he said the U.S. had pursued a “policy of economic suffocation to provoke social unrest in the country.”

He said the United States was also responsible for inflicting economic misery in Cuba by imposing . Washington imposed the measures amid mounting concerns about a reported crackdown on dissidents and devoted Christians.

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