Cuba Reluctant To Detain Suspects In Attack On Pastor, Christians say

Thursday, April 12, 2012

HAVANA, CUBA (Worthy News)-- Over two months after a Cuban pastor was beaten and left unconscious in eastern Cuba, officials have still no suspects in the case, Christian rights activists told Worthy News Wednesday, April 10.

Pastor Reutilio Columbie ccontinues to suffer from dizziness, intense nausea and vomiting after he was left for dead in early February, said Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), a major advocacy group.

The 41 year-old pastor of the Shalom Christian Center, a Pentecostal church in Moa was reportedly attacked by unknown assailants in the early hours of the morning on February 6 and left unconscious on the street.

The pastor was on his way to file a complaint with regional authorities about what the "arbitrary confiscation of the church vehicle" by authorities in late 2011, Christians said. The only thing taken from him was the document proving Columbie’s legal ownership of the vehicle, according to rights activists.

In a statement distributed by CSW, Pastor Columbie said last week that the attack has left him "incapacitated, with memory and speech difficulties, near constant dizziness and nausea."


As a result, he is unable to preach at his church and finds it impossible to travel outside of Moa, CSW explained. "He has been advised to seek a consultation with a neurologist in [the capital] Havana but is physically unable to make the 923 kilometer (574 miles) journey."

Pastor Columbie said that while he received support support from the community, local authorities "remained intransigent on both the investigation into the attack and the confiscation of the church vehicle."

He claims that his purchase and ownership of the vehicle was legal, but is worried that with the disappearance of the key document this would now be virtually impossible to prove.

Local Christians have expressed doubts about the impartiality of the investigation into the attack as authorities may have to identify fellow officials.


CSW’s Advocacy Director Andrew Johnston told Worthy News that his group "continues to call for a thorough investigation into the attack on Pastor Columbie and the return of the church’s vehicle."

He said that if local authorities "are unwilling or unable to fulfill their obligations, the regional or central government must ensure that those who attacked Pastor Columbie are brought to justice."

Christian rights activists have also urged authorities to address the "larger legal situation which helped lead" to "this crime" against Pastor Columbie.

CSW said it wants to see the removal of authority "over all religious activities and property from the Office of Religious Affairs of the Communist Party. Religious activities and property should be regulated through the regular channels with proper recourse for appeal."