Archive | May, 2013

Unofficial Pastors, Half Free / Luis Felipe Rojas

27 May

Pastor Carlos Montoya

The U.S. State Department’s annual report on religious freedom in the world noted a slight improvement in Cuba, but placed the country as one of those who remain on the black list, along with China, Iran and North Korea.

Cuba improved in practice, says the document, but it also presents the complaints of groups and independent pastors who claim to be monitored by the government and suffer occasional arrests.

Pastor Manuel Alberto Morejon Soler, general supervisor of the Christian Alliance and a resident of Havana, has a different view. To Morejon, the Office of Religious Affairs and the Cuban Council of Churches (CIC) come together and help each other with censorship and surveillance.

The pastor, who is defines himself as an independent, says that “only the official churches are benefiting from the support of the Office of Religious Affairs [of the Cuban Communist Party] and CIC, as the Bibles and other resources entering the country and are distributed by these entities.”

A year ago, this pastor, with the ’apostle’ Carlos Montoya Palomino, of the same denomination, asked to attend some meetings of the ICC in the interest of evaluating whether or not to join it. It has been over twelve months and they have not yet been sent the official invitation.

“Several years ago the Cuban government froze an account of $ 26,000 belonging to the Seminary of the West Baptist Church in Villa Clara, and that nothing is said about this,” the pastor reported.

Morejon Soler does not see the improvements highlighted in the State Department report and he believes that the 2012 reporting period, “was very repressive.” While there is a refusal to allow independent churches on the island to have their own media, churches and other denominations covered under the umbrella of CIC may buy cars, rent phone lines and enjoy other benefits.

The Christian Alliance received an offer to transfer the donations they received in the United States, but finding themselves in a legal limbo, they are unable to issue paychecks, according to pastor Morejon. He concludes, “They are not just bureaucratic procedures, rather they are very sophisticated and have us tied hand and foot.”

Having Faith is a heroic act

Carlos Montoya Palomino believes that faith in Cuba is a luxury. He says it as someone who has gone through numerous vicissitudes.

It is precisely the “Lack of an Act of Worship and Religious Association that gives human beings the right to wear their faith freely clearly that makes it more difficult to live full freedom in Cuba,” Montoya adds.

27 May 2013

Being a dissident and a practitioner of Santeria, a difficult path

24 May

The first Cuban vice-president, Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez visited the headquarters of the Cultural Yoruba Association of Cuba this past Monday, days after the Department of State published a document in regards to religious freedom, which alleges that there have been some advances as far as Cuba’s approach in these matters.

While the second-in-line of the Cuban government was saying goodbye to the babalaos– the Santeria priests- of the official association, throughout the streets of Cuba other Santeria leaders are looked down upon for not joining the organization run by the Office of Religious Affairs, for abiding by other rules, for carrying weapons to carry out animal sacrifices and even for being dissidents, a charge which turns out to be  quite heavy to bear.

Click the link for a full report published on “Marti Noticias”, penned by Luis Felipe Rojas.

Cuba is a Running Tap

22 May

A running tap, a manhole with the cover in the middle of the street, a medical clinic bordered by sewage, make up a picture of the Cuba that does not come out in the official press nor on the agenda of the tour operators who work on Cuba in the area of international tourism.

In Cerro or Centro Habana, on many occasions, the waters running down the avenue are often confused with the sewer water that escapes through the pipes ruined by time.

22 May 2013

Eastern Democratic Alliance (ADO) joins “The Path of the People”

13 May

Rolando Rodríquez Lobaina (Coordinator of ADO) with Rosa María Payá, of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL)

In a cordial encounter sustained in the capital of the nation, dissident leader Rosa Maria Paya signed an agreement with the General Coordinator of the Eastern Democratic Alliance (ADO), Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina, to work together in the promotion of the project, “The Path of the People”.

The idea of working in unity ratifies the intention of various civil organizations in the island to work in favor of democracy and of favorable changes for the people.

“It’s the perfect moment to take important steps that will help the Cuban people to chose new instruments to demand the rights they deserve”, affirmed Lobaina.

The Eastern activist also added in his discourse: “The Path of the People should be taken to everyone, and all other organizations in and out of Cuba that stand up against totalitarianism should support this initiative, an initiative open to everyone”.

Finally, ADO’s coordinator concluded by saying: “The first step which we Cubans should take is to dismantle the law system which restrains the freedoms of all citizens.  Taking this as a starting point, we can then sit to debate about the destiny of the nation, with respect and tolerance”.

 Report by Isael Poveda Silva, Director of independent news agency ADOPRESS.

“For Another Cuba” In Miami

6 May

Presentation of Estado de Sats in Miami. Photo from Alexis Jardines.

Antonio Rodiles, coordinator of the independent Estado de Sats project, presented the citizens’ Campaign For Another Cuba to Miami. On Saturday evening, May 4, Cuba Ocho on the city’s principal arterial was filled with several generations of Cubans, interested in knowing about the civilian initiative.

The Citizen Demand seeks to demand that the government apparatus ratify the United Nations Covenants on Civil, Economic and Cultural Rights that it signed in 2008, and it tramples on them with repressio and meaningless prohibitions, said several of those present.

5 May 2013