Christian leaders among those detained by Cuban government amid nationwide protests

Monday, July 12, 2021

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) - Christian leaders are reported to be among people being detained in Cuba amid rare nationwide protests about the country’s lack of freedoms and worsening economic situation, Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports. Responding to the demonstrations, Cuban President Miguel Díaz Canel has called for “revolutionaries” to fight against the protestors in order to defend the ‘Revolution.’

Demonstrators began taking to the streets around the country on July 11, protesting against the Cuban government’s response to the ongoing severe economic situation and handling of COVID-19 pandemic, CSW reports. The protests then began to take aim at the Cuban Communist Party (CCP)’s long reign and its violations of human rights and crack down on pro-democracy movements.

According to human rights activist and pastor, Reverend Mario Félix Lleonart Barroso, several Christian leaders have been taken into custody by the authorities. These include two pastors from the Berean Baptist Mission in Matanzas, Reverend Yusniel Pérez Montejo of the Eastern Baptist Convention in Songo-La Maya in Santiago, Barroso said in a Facebook post. Furthermore, Catholic priest Father Castor José Álvarez Devesa was reportedly beaten and detained incommunicado by Cuban authorities in Camagüey, Barroso said.

Joining other organizations in condemning the government’s violence against protestors, the Inter-American Human Rights Commission called on Cuba “to comply with its HumanRights obligations, in particular, the right to protest; in addition, the reiterated recommendation of democratic opening of the island and its responsibility to put in place an institutional framework in line with inter-American standards.”

In a statement about the situation, CSW Head of Advocacy Anna-Lee Stangl said: “We are deeply concerned about reports of peaceful protesters, including religious leaders, being detained and beaten, as well as reported attempts to severely restrict the flow of information, including by cutting off internet access in several cities. We urge the international community to make it clear to the Cuban government that it is time to listen to the calls of its people for peaceful and democratic change.”