Human Rights in Cuba

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Posted on Tuesday, 12.18.12


Church evicts occupiers from Havana temple

The occupation of the protestant temple in Havana lasted 16 months.

By Juan O. Tamayo

Leaders and members of a Pentecostal church in Cuba have evicted the

followers of a rebel pastor who had occupied a temple and apartment in

Havana in a bizarre stand-off for the past 16 months.

Pastor Braulio Herrera was expelled from the Assembly of God church two

years ago, but he and about 60 followers occupied the complex in August

of last year in what they described as a "religious retreat."

The stand-off at the complex on busy Infanta and Santa Marta streets at

times sparked speculation about an end-of-the-world cult, with Herrera

quoted as saying that God was punishing Cuba for its sins with plagues

and diseases.

But Assembly of God officials insisted Herrera was fired for

"theological deviation" — he claimed personal revelations from God — and

then refused to leave the apartment above the temple where his family

had lived for 10 years.

Church leader Eliseo Villar confirmed the eviction to the -based

DIARIO DE CUBA but denied allegations by Herrera's son, William,

that the eviction was carried out with .

"We decided to get them out, using our rights, and that's all that

happened," he declared. "A group of church leaders, church members,

national and other executives went in and put them outside the building

without affecting their physical integrity at all."

William Herrera had alleged that about 100 persons broke into the temple

Saturday and expelled about 20 people, and then on Sunday drove out the

last nine occupiers, who had holed up in the apartment, including himself.

"They had no shame forcing out of the rooms the brothers who were

sleeping, people who had been living there a long time," Herrera

declared. Some of them suffered bruises but no one reported serious


Independent Roberto de Jesús Guerra, who lives near the

temple, said Monday that the doors to the complex were broken and church

members were cleaning up the temple. There was no word on Braulio

Herrera's whereabouts.

Cuba's government regarded the 16-month standoff as an internal church

affair but usually kept guard near the temple to avert


William Herrera reported Sunday that he and about 100 of his father's

followers had marched to nearby government offices to complain about the

evictions, and had been taken by to another government office to

await a reply. His was not answering Monday.

The Pentecostal church has a reported 103,000 followers in Cuba, 156

temples and 883 "casas-templo" — private homes used for services.

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