Cuba Demolishing House Church Amid Wider Crackdown
HAVANA, CUBA (BosNewsLife)- An evangelical pastor and his family were homeless Monday, July 7, after government forces destroyed their home in eastern Cuba which was used as a house church, Christians said.
Pastor Esmir Torreblanca’s house in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba was demolished last week by what activists called “Cuban government agents, including state security and Cuban Communist Party officials” as part of a wider crackdown on devoted Christians.
The building housed his Establishing the Kingdom of God Church, affiliated with the Apostolic Movement, a fast growing network of churches which the government views as illegal.
Witnesses said the unannounced attack began early on July 2 while the pastor, his wife and their young children, aged two and seven, were sleeping inside.
“They arrived and violently broke down the front door which was locked. The police entered with batons alongside a group of men carrying machetes,” said Pastor Marcos A Perdomo Silva, in published remarks. “They began to destroy and occupy the properties of the pastor and the church.”
BULLDOZER DESTROYING BUILDING
Agents were seen directing a bulldozer destroying the building. State security agents and police dressed in civilian clothes reportedly cordoned off the block, using patrol cars, ambulances and trucks.
Contents of the home and church were apparently carried away. Church members tried to break through the barriers but their identification documents were confiscated and they were threatened with detention, Christians said.
Officials have defended the crackdown. In 2010 the director of the Office of Religious Affairs of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party, Caridad Diego, reportedly announced that her office wanted to eradicate the Apostolic Movement, and activists have said that its leaders have been threatened, harassed or sometimes jailed.
The incidents came shortly after religious freedom activists Reverend Mario Felix Lleonart Barroso and his wife Yoaxis Marcheco Suarez were temporarily detained by Cuban police in the municipality of Camajuaní on June 22, according to Christians familiar with the case.
Yet laptop computers and a memory flash drive containing music used in their church services were apparently confiscated.
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