It turns out the magnanimous and benevolent dictatorship of Raul and Fidel Castro the “Cuba Experts” keep telling us about remains as repressive and brutal as always. Imagine that…
Cuba Case Study: Bonhoeffer-Inspired Pastor Arrested After Blogs, Tweets, and D.C. Trip(UPDATED) Outspoken Cuban activist Mario Felix Lleonart Barroso now under house arrest.
Travel keeps getting easier for Cuba’s surging Christian community even as practicing their faith keeps getting harder. Case in point: Mario Felix Lleonart Barroso, a Cuban Baptist pastor who once appeared on CT’s cover and has since become a Bonhoeffer-inspired activist blogger.
Last fall, Lleonart Barroso made an unusually high-profile trip to Washington, D.C., visiting the Congressional Caucus on Religious Freedom and issuing a 30-point challenge to his Communist government. Last weekend, he found his house in central Cuba surrounded by security police, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).
Security agents quickly seized the pastor as his wife and two children watched from inside the house. They held him in detention until night time, after which he was returned home and placed under house arrest. [He discusses his detention in Spanish here.] In a sign of the times, his wife Yoaxis has been live-tweeting their house arrest.
Lleonart Barroso, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Taguayabon, has been an outspoken voice against the Cuban government’s mistreatment of pastors and human rights defenders for at least four years. CT interviewed him during a 2009 Holy Week road trip on Cuba’s improbable Christian revival and how Cuban Christians have more freedom yet are not free.
During the detention, authorities took prints of his fingers and toes, a scent sample, and DNA samples from his nails and teeth by force. He refused to sign an Official Warning (Advertencia Oficial), which is often used as evidence in the Cuban judiciary system.
According to CSW, the pastor’s sister, Mirka Pena, remarked that the arrest of Lleonart Barroso is “part of a larger crackdown on political dissidents across the country … in anticipation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) summit, due to take place this week in Cuba.”
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