Cuban Church Leaders call for U.S. Response to Persecution

Friday, June 15, 2012

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

WASHINGTON D.C. (Worthy News)-- Cuban church leaders recently asked the U.S. government to put their country on its list of the world’s worst violators of religious freedoms.

The leaders addressed the Congressional International Religious Freedom Caucus and the Commission for International Religious Freedom which annually recommends the nations named to the State Department's Countries of Particular Concern list.

The Rev. Carlos Lamelas, who in 2011 left Cuba for the U.S. after 20 years of persecution, urged that the Castro administration be judged as a violator of basic human rights.

"They extend their arms, like an octopus, to repress not only Cuban civil society but also all believers, including church hierarchies," he said.

Many religious freedom violations were physical attacks on pastors of small congregations who had challenged local Cuban authorities, but who all lacked the legal resources of larger Christian denominations.

Local security agents were believed to be behind the beatings, but to date no one has been held accountable for the assaults.

Other violations included parishioners who were prevented from attending church services while their churches were threatened with closure for protesting government interference.