International advocacy group calls for immediate release of Cuban pastor detained on “trumped-up charges”

Monday, January 25, 2021

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) - The international Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) human rights organization has called for the immediate release of a pastor who is in custody in Cuba on what the group says are “trumped-up charges." Cuban pastor Karel Parra Rosabal was arrested in Las Tunas on January 12 apparently because of his involvement with the Apostolic Movement, a network of independent churches that the Cuban government refuses to register, rendering them effectively illegal.

The leader of the unregistered Fuego y Dinámica Apostolic Church in Jobab, Las Tunas, Parra Rosabal was arrested when police came to his home with a search warrant. According to CSW, “while searching the house, the officers informed Pastor Parra Rosabal that he was under arrest for the crime of ‘hoarding’ – having too many tools without proof of purchase.” It is common for Cuban pastors to supplement their income through a small business, CSW said, and Parra Rosabal has a legally registered bicycle repair workshop at his home. Following the search, police requisitioned approximately $1,890 USD worth of the pastor’s repair tools.

However, CSW noted, Parra Rosabal was eventually told by the police that he was being arrested “so that you learn that illegal churches in Cuba are not allowed.” According to CSW, this is “the latest case in a long record of the Cuban government targeting the pastors of unregistered churches for harassment and imprisonment.”

In a statement, CSW’s Head of Advocacy Anna Lee Stangl added: “We call on the authorities to allow Pastor Parra Rosabal to return him to his wife and three young children and to allow him to continue his pastoral work and maintain his small business, which not only sustains his family in a difficult economic climate but also provides a valuable service to the community in an area of the country where transport options are severely limited. The police must return his bicycle repair equipment.”

“CSW also calls on the international community, including the European Union which is planning an upcoming human rights dialogue with Cuban authorities, to urge Cuba to uphold its obligations under international law, especially in regard to the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion," Stangl said.