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.
Continue reading “Voices from Cuba: Yoel Suárez”
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”
In several Latin
American countries, religious leaders often take on the roles of community
leader and human rights defender. As a result, these leaders often face
harassment, intimidation and even violence at the hands of state and non-state
actors. Over the past few weeks CSW has been presenting interviews with
religious leaders working in the region to highlight their experiences on the
frontlines of freedom of religion or belief.
Yilber is a Protestant
pastor based in Cuba.
“I have received so many threats in my life as a Christian that there are, honestly, too many to count. This is something I want to describe, and to do this I won’t rely on generalisations or abstract, subjective examples, I will expose the scars borne by my family ever since we left our town to do pastoral work.
Continue reading “FoRB on the Frontlines: “Everyone’s hatred was ever present””
In several Latin American countries, religious
leaders often take on the roles of community leader and human rights defender.
As a result, these leaders often face harassment, intimidation and even
violence at the hands of state and non-state actors. Over the next few weeks
CSW will be presenting interviews with religious leaders working in the region
to highlight their experiences on the frontlines of freedom of religion or belief.
Father Omar Sotelo Aguilar works in Mexico for
the Catholic Multimedia
Centre (CCM) documenting attacks against Catholic priests.
“In recent years Mexico has been a dangerous place for journalists, priests and other religious leaders. I have been a Catholic priest and a journalist for about 25 years now, so I face a double risk. But even without taking this into account, we are as exposed as any other person.
I decided to approach this work from a journalist’s perspective
as it is an issue that was not very visible, but was a very harsh reality. Good
journalism, like good advocacy, is based on facts, figures and documentation.
Continue reading “FoRB on the Frontlines: “If I can kill a priest then I can kill anyone””