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Cuban Evangelicals Denounce Complacent Article By Associated Press

14ymedio, Ricardo Fernandez, Pinar del Rio, 31 March 2017 – A report
published by the Associated Press published last Monday, under the title
“Far From the Dark Past, Evangelicals Growing in Cuba,” upset
evangelical pastors with its open defense of the Cuban regime to the
detriment of religious .

The author, Andrea Rodríguez, cites one of the many examples of pastors
imprisoned for their faith in the first decades of the Revolutionary
Process, to compare it to the current situation and to refute the report
from Christian Solidarity Worldwide. The London-based organization
reported 2,380 violations of religious freedom in Cuba in 2016, among
which were declaring 2,000 churches of the Assembly of God , with
1,400 confiscations of properties. The report also denounced the
and imprisonment of parishioners, as well as the destruction
of churches.

The reaction to the article, which has been circulating by e-mail
between pastors and parishioners, lies in the fact that sources cited by
the Associated Press are close to the Cuban Government, so
they have retained a number of “privileges” that should be inalienable
rights for all Cubans.

Pastor Bernardo de Quesada of the Apostolic Movement believes that the
report is “counterproductive” and “very loose with regards to the
reality of religion in Cuba.”

The religious leader says, “Many of those who were interviewed did not
speak truthfully and the journalist wrote it with marked apologies to
the communist system.” He also claims that Rodríguez only included “a
part” of his statements.

For Dagoberto Valdés, director of the Coexistence Study Center and a
well-known Catholic layman, “it is common” to confuse freedom of belief,
freedom of worship and religious freedom but “they are not the same”

“When I was interviewed, I didn’t express the ideas that were written,”
he adds.

For Dagoberto Valdés, director of the Coexistence Study Center and a
well-known lay Catholic, “it is common” to confuse freedom of belief,
freedom of worship and religious freedom, but clarifies “they are not
the same.”

“In the first decades of the Revolution we were persecuted for the
simple fact of believing, professing a religion was a crime. Today we
have gained that space, but we were not given it by the goodwill of
government leaders,” says Valdés.

He acknowledges that a majority of people can regularly attend their
religious ceremonies without being persecuted, but asserts that
religious freedom is much more than that. “When Lieutenant Colonel
Osvaldo (head of State Security’s Technical Department of Investigations
in the province of Pinar del Río) threatened me in his office, he said
that I was crossing the line between Christianity and the
counterrevolution with the Coexistence Study Center.”

Kiri Kankhwende, a spokesman for Christian Solidarity Worldwide, accused
the churches of not wanting to speak out because of government pressure.

The Office of Religious Affairs of the Communist Party is in charge of
monitoring the religious. The organization holds periodic meetings with
the main spiritual representatives of each municipality with the aim of
avoiding possible disagreements.

“Once a was attending my congregation and shortly afterwards a
State Security agent came to threaten me with blocking my from
the country if I was a member of the Church,” says a Pinar del Rio
pastor on condition of anonymity.

“For those who do not travel, they pressure them with the illegality of
their structures, because not even the legal churches have permission to
build temples and we have to say that we are building houses even if
inside we turn it into a hall to bring the church together,” he added.

Raúl Risco is a dissident lawyer who is not allowed to go to church to
celebrate his faith

Raúl Risco is a dissident lawyer who is not allowed to go to church to
celebrate his faith. “Many times I have been mistreated or expelled by
pastors too fearful of losing government concessions,” in Pinar del Rio,
where he resides, he says. Now, to avoid reprisals against him or the
community, he practices his faith without attending the meetings of his
congregation.

For Pastor Bernardo de Quesada the demolitions of Protestant temples
have nothing to do with the supposed “illegality of the constructions”
but with the impossibility of obtaining permits to build them. “Who will
be more illegal, the church that is not legalized or the state that does
not allow it?” asks the religious leader from Camagüey.

“We have experienced all kinds of repression, from threats to
parishioners to their expulsion from their schools or jobs for attending
our churches, to massive arrests and physical against those who
were there on the day of the demolition of our temple,” says Dignora
Marrero, who belongs to the same congregation. “That is our reality and
not the one that the Government tries to present.”

Source: Cuban Evangelicals Denounce Complacent Article By Associated
Press – Translating Cuba –
translatingcuba.com/cuban-evangelicals-denounce-complacent-article-by-associated-press/

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