By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
|A clip from the smuggled out video (see link below)|
Pastor de Quesada pointed out that this demand, made by housing official Leonel del Risco Franco, directly contradicts written permission for construction of the patio issued by another government agency, which added that "permission for this type of construction is not necessary."
Church leaders also complained that the Cuban government is targeting the family members of its leaders, some of whom are not otherwise associated with the religious group.
"In one particularly egregious case, the government has cut off the electricity to the Camaguey home of decorated retired military officer Lieutenant Colonel Orlando Porfirio and his 69 year old wife Nuvia Ortiz Acosta, in what they believe is an attempt to put pressure on their adult son, a worship leader in a church affiliated with the Apostolic Movement," said a CSW spokesperson.
"Lieutenant Colonel Orlando Porfirio Perez, who does not attend the church, and his wife Nuvia Ortiz Acosta, who suffers from thyroid tumours, have not had electricity to their home since 9 October and have received no response to repeated written complaints to government officials."
|Pastor Omar Gude Perez with his wife during happier times|
Officials at the Central Committee for the Cuban Communist Party's Office for Religious Affairs (ORA) have refused attempts to register the religious group. In 2010, CSW published a video of the head of ORA, Caridad Diego, speaking openly about the government's attempts to eradicate the group.
Andrew Johnston, Advocacy Director at Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said, "Once again we call on the Cuban government to uphold the religious freedom of all its citizens and to instruct government officials at the national, provincial and municipal levels to cease their harassment of the Apostolic Movement and other religious groups.
"The government must also halt its policy of targeting those who have committed no crime except to be related to someone affiliated with the church. We specifically call on the Housing Authority to rescind the order to demolish the church patio in Camaguey and to restore electricity to the home of Lieutenant Colonel Porfirio Perez and his wife immediately."
The Cuban government has not responded to requests for an explanation and continues to maintain that there is religious freedom in Cuba.
However, in early 2010, Caridad Diego, the long-time head of the Office of Religious Affairs for the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party addressed a group of leaders from the Cuban Council of Churches and openly admitted to the government's targeted persecution of churches affiliated with the Apostolic Movement. Some of those in attendance were so shocked by her admission that they clandestinely filmed her speech.
The video was smuggled out of the country and leaders of the Apostolic Movement asked Christian Solidarity Worldwide to make it public so that the world might know, in a government official's own words, that they are the victims of an officially sanctioned campaign of persecution.
CSW's video of Caridad Diego is available here -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8QmvquACBM
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is a Christian organization working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice.
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, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.csw.org.uk.
Note from Dan Wooding. I have been to Cuba on three separate occasions, and after my last reporting trip, I was informed that I am no longer welcome in the country and will be arrested if I ever come back.