‘I don’t think that any man can get used to this place, and even more so when one knows that one is here unjustly.’
– Pastor Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo
Pastor Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo has been a prisoner of the Cuban government for over 18 months. He was arrested, among many others, on 11 July 2021 in the midst of unprecedented nationwide protests in Cuba, and he is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence on completely fabricated charges of ‘disrespect’, ‘assault’, ‘criminal incitement’ and ‘public disorder’.
He is one of many political prisoners on the island, his continuing detention just one reminder of the Cuban authorities’ relentless hostility towards religious groups it views with suspicion and fear.
Continue reading “The international community must support the bravery of the Cuban people” →
Faced with a growing number of protests in Cuba on the part of its citizenry, the Cuban regime has needed to forcibly recruit men1 into the ranks of its military. They are not being brought in to bring peace or mediate in the middle of the protests, exactly, but rather to violently repress and neutralize the protests, of which 5,164 separate incidents have been recorded since demonstrations broke out on 11 July 2021, also known as 11J. The new recruits have also been made to participate in the creation of false evidence, which has been used to lock up more than 1,000 political prisoners since 11J.
The Cuban Conflict Observatory reports that 589 protests took place in October 2022; this was the month with the highest number incidents since demonstrations first broke out on 11J. The regime has had to resort to raids, using various means of deception and often force, to increase the numbers of enlisted young people.
Continue reading “‘I will not beat other people; I am a Christian’ – Cuba’s new criminal code outlaws freedom of conscience “ →
‘Do you know what they did to a group of young people?’ a pastor asked CSW. ‘They phoned them to arrange the handover of their degrees and grades, [but really] the people from the military committee were waiting for them to enlist them.’
On 25 September Cubans will go to the polls to vote in a popular referendum on a new Family Code, which, if approved, will become law. Media coverage, in and outside of Cuba, including in the UK and US press, has presented the referendum as a vote on gay marriage. The truth is that the proposed family code runs over 100 pages; only a handful of the 474 articles are relevant to LGBTQ+ rights.
Presenting it as a referendum on gay rights is not only incorrect but also dangerous. It allows the Cuban government to obscure some of the highly problematic aspects of the code, which have the potential to violate the fundamental rights of all Cubans and would give the authorities another, and very effective, way of silencing independent or critical voices.
Most worrying is Article 191 which would allow for the removal of children if their parents fail to fulfil a list of responsibilities detailed in Article 138. These include the duties to instill in their children love for the homeland, respect of its symbols, and respect for the authorities (Article 138 (ñ)).
Continue reading “Cuba’s referendum on 25 September is about far more than gay marriage“ →
CSW spoke with David Rosales, son of Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo, pastor of the independent church Monte de Sión in Palma Soriano, who today is serving a seven-year prison sentence in the Boniato Maximum Security Prison in Santiago de Cuba.
The religious leader was accused in December 2021 of public disorder, criminal incitement, disrespect and assault, after he and his son David participated in the national protests on 11 July 2021. The Cuban regime, using false information and witnesses, accused Lorenzo and David of responsibility for wounds suffered by ‘seven public order agents and one civil servant who was taking care of the institution. At the same time, they damaged the state bus, which was parked where the acts took place.”
On 17 July 2021 David Rosales was released under precautionary bail because of his participation in the protests. This measure was modified, and David was exonerated from criminal proceedings after a fine, paid on 19 August 2021, was imposed.
Continue reading ““I want to be a good man” – an interview with David Rosales, son of Pastor Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo “ →
On 28 June, the Nicaraguan parliament stripped the Missionaries of Charity – the order founded by Mother Teresa – of its legal status. Days later, they were expelled from the country entirely, with local media reporting that 18 nuns were driven to the border by migration officials and police officers before crossing on foot into neighbouring Costa Rica.
No doubt the incident drew particular attention as a result of the high profile of the organisation in question, however the targeting of the Missionaries of Charity in this manner marks just the tip of the iceberg in a nationwide crackdown on civil society and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which has been ongoing for several years.
Ever since protests erupted across the country in April 2018, and particularly since the re-election of Daniel Ortega as president in November 2021, the Nicaraguan government has acted with increasing antagonism towards anyone it perceives as critical of the current regime. This has included the Roman Catholic Church, to which the Missionaries of Charity belong, and which in February 2022 saw a number of its affiliate private universities and aid organisations targeted in a similar manner.
Continue reading “From Nicaragua to India: The global community must stand up for the work of independent civil society “ →