Ricardo Fernández Izaguirre is a journalist, documenter and religious freedom defender in Cuba. Mr Fernández Izaguirre is married with an infant daughter and another child on the way. He was a member of the Apostolic Movement, an independent network of charismatic protestant churches which the government has refused to register. He currently attends an independent Methodist church.
In July 2019 he was detained and held without charge for ten days, the first four of which he was completely incommunicado. He was detained once again for over 24 hours in November 2019, and has faced regular harassment and intimidation at the hands of the Cuban authorities since then.
Mr Fernández Izaguirre has expressed fears to CSW that the Cuban government will attempt to fabricate a criminal case against him as an act of reprisal for his work defending religious freedom.
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El 5 de febrero de 2020, Yoel Suárez fue citado a la estación de policía de Siboney en La Habana donde fue interrogado durante tres horas por un agente de seguridad del estado que le informó que sería declarado ‘regulado.’ La declaración somete al Sr. Suárez a una prohibición indefinida de viajes internacionales, una táctica común de las autoridades cubanas para perjudicar a personas que consideran “políticamente sensibles”.
Como periodista independiente, el Sr. Suárez ha trabajado con medios de comunicación no estatales en Cuba desde 2014 y ha escrito extensamente sobre temas de derechos humanos y libertad de religión o creencias. Como resultado de su trabajo, él y su familia han sido objeto de hostigamiento regular por parte de las autoridades cubanas.
Hoy, hace más de seis meses, el Sr. Suárez continúa bajo la prohibición de viajar, y él y sus familiares han recibido múltiples visitas de agentes de seguridad del estado de Cuba.
On 5 February 2020 Yoel Suárez was summoned to Siboney Police Station in Havana where he was interrogated for three hours by a state security agent who informed him that he had been declared ‘regulado.’ The declaration effectively subjects Mr Suárez to an indefinite ban on international travel, and is a common tactic used by the Cuban authorities to target individuals who they deem ‘politically sensitive’.
As an independent journalist, Mr Suárez has worked with non-state media outlets in Cuba since 2014 and has written extensively about human rights and freedom of religion or belief issues. As a result of his work, he and his family have been subjected to regular harassment at the hands of the Cuban authorities.
Today, over six months later, Mr Suárez remains unable to travel, and he and members of his family have received multiple visits from Cuban state security agents.
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A religious leader and his colleague are kidnapped from a migrant shelter; they have not been seen or heard from since. Another is assaulted, extorted and threatened at gunpoint. Both provided protection to migrants and asylum seekers trapped on the border. In the same country, religious leaders warn that threats and attacks against them constitute one of the most serious problems facing churches today. Ironically, all this is taking place in what is considered to be one of the most religious countries in the world, Mexico.
The worsening situation for migrants and asylum seekers passing through Mexico has been exacerbated by the implementation of the US’ Migrant Protection Program (MPP) also known as ‘Remain in Mexico’ at the start of 2019. The policy has made it increasingly difficult for migrants to win asylum cases in the US, only 0.1% of cases have been successful, and many have sought refuge in church-run migrant shelters across Mexico while they wait, especially at the northern border. On 28 February 2020, a US federal appeals court ruled that that the Remain in Mexico policy was illegal.
Continue reading “Following Biblical mandates carries a high price for religious leaders in Mexico”
While many Protestant and Catholic leaders have responded to the rising levels of need in an outworking of their faith by following commands to help the poor, shelter the homeless, and love the foreigner, their work makes them increasingly exposed to threats and attacks from organised criminal groups who prey on the vulnerable migrant population.
Marilín Alayo Correa is a Cuban pastor and a leader within the Apostolic Movement. Marilín is also married to Apostle Alain Toledano Valiente, who is one of the key leaders in the Apostolic Movement. As a result of their work, both Marilín and her husband have been extensively targeted by the Cuban authorities for over two decades.
Most recently, Marilín shared a video testimony with CSW reflecting on her family’s story and the situation for religious groups in Cuba nearly 15 years after CSW began documenting the family’s case. In the past year, her husband Alain has also been placed on a travel restriction list and is regularly summoned to appear at their local police station.
Continue reading “VIDEO: Religious Freedom in Cuba: The lived reality”