Rocked by the peaceful protests that began on July 11, the communist Castro dictatorship continues its violent assault on the Cuban people, including women, children, and religious leaders.
Afro-Cuban Spiritual Leader in ‘Critical Health’ Under Arrest for July 11 Protests
Loreto Hernández García, a senior leader of the Association of Free Yorubas of Cuba, is in “critical health” after being imprisoned in the aftermath of the July 11 protests on the island, a report indicated on Thursday.
According to the Global Liberty Alliance (GLA), which defends the faithful from religious persecution around the world, Hernández is among at least five members of the Free Yorubas group imprisoned and facing dubious charges of “public disorder” for participating in the nationwide anti-communist protests on July 11. The protests were overwhelmingly peaceful but have resulted in an estimated thousands of arrests and state disappearances across the island.
Many of those arrested are members of vulnerable communities such as the faithful – both Christianity and santería adherents – the elderly, known political activists, and children.
Hernández is the vice president of the Free Yorubas. Wife Donaida Pérez Paseiro is the president of the group and is also believed to be in police custody since July 16.
The Free Yorubas are a group that practices santería, a syncretic Afro-Cuban religion that mixes elements of Spanish Catholicism with Nigerian paganism. The Communist Party of Cuba is a nominally atheist institution but allows some forms of religious worship if fully controlled and censored by government officials. The Free Yorubas group was founded in 2012 as an alternative to the state-controlled Yoruba Cultural Association of Cuba.
“The Cuban government has accused this group [the Free Yorubas] of ‘destabilizing society’ and subjected its leaders to arbitrary detentions and beatings, destruction of ceremonial objects, police monitoring, and searches-and-seizures without probable cause,” the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has documented.
According to the GLA, Hernández has been in police custody since at least July 15 and believed to be in dire health conditions.
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