Friday, January 20, 2012

Cuban Government Backtracks on Verbal Assurances to Grant Pastor Exit Visa

By Michael Ireland
Senior International Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

Pastor Omar Gude Perez & wife

CUBA (ANS) -- Despite verbal assurances from Cuban authorities that his application would be approved, Pastor Omar Gude Perez has so far been denied a visa to leave Cuba in order to seek asylum in the United States.

According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), Pastor Gude Perez’s wife and two children have been given exit visas, or “white cards”, as they are called in Cuba, but the family has refused to leave Cuba without him, for fear that delays in the pastor’s visa application may lead to a long-term separation.

CSW says that since the family was granted asylum by the US in July 2010, they have had to wait several months for their exit visas to be approved, and have been subject to contradictory messages from the authorities on whether the family will be able to leave Cuba together.

CSW reports that Pastor Gude, a national leader in a fast growing network of independent churches called the Apostolic Movement, served almost three years of a six-and-a-half year prison sentence on trumped up charges. His release was subject to certain conditions, namely that he was prohibited from preaching or from travelling outside the city of Camaguey.
The Apostolic Movement is a non-denominational, Charismatic, Protestant network of church groups which are outside of the traditionally recognized Christian denominations in Cuba.
CSW has documented intense government persecution of church leaders linked to the network over the past three years, detailed in its annual report on religious freedom in Cuba.

CSW’s Advocacy Director Andrew Johnston said, “CSW is deeply concerned at the failure of Cuban officials to honour verbal assurances to grant Pastor Omar Gude Perez an exit visa.
“The Gude family have been waiting for the whole family to be granted exit visas for more than six months, and do not want to be forced to separate. We call on the Cuban government to honour its promise to the Gude family and grant Pastor Gude Perez an exit visa so that he and his family can begin a new life in the United States together without any further delay.”

For further information or to arrange interviews please contact Kiri Kankhwende, Press Officer at Christian Solidarity Worldwide on +44 (0)20 8329 0045 / +44 (0) 78 2332 9663,  or visit  .

** Michael Ireland is the Senior International Correspondent for ANS. He is an international British freelance journalist who was formerly a reporter with a London (United Kingdom) newspaper and has been a frequent contributor to UCB UK, a British Christian radio station. While in the UK, Michael traveled to Canada and the United States, Albania,Yugoslavia, Holland, Germany,and Czechoslovakia. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China,and Russia. Michael's volunteer involvement with ASSIST News Service is a sponsored ministry department -- 'Michael Ireland Media Missionary' (MIMM) -- of A.C.T. International of P.O.Box 1649, Brentwood, TN 37024-1649, at: Artists in Christian Testimony (A.C.T.) International where you can make a donation online under 'Donate' tab, then look for 'Michael Ireland Media Missionary' under 'Donation Category' to support his stated mission of 'Truth Through Christian Journalism.' Michael is a member in good standing of the National Writers Union, Society of Professional Journalists, Religion Newswriters Association, Evangelical Press Association and International Press Association. If you have a news or feature story idea for Michael, please contact him at: ANS Senior International Reporter

** You may republish this story with proper attribution.

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