‘We were evicted for the first time in 2007. The government came into our house [and] threw us out into the street – they took everything from us and threw it into the street. We were left homeless. At the same time, the government demolished our place of worship, Emanuel Church. They destroyed the floor and took it away. They left everything in ruins. They confiscated our land. This was the first violation of that scale. They demolished everything and took everything from us, our family possessions, music and audio equipment. Everything the church had was seized, all our technology was taken away. The church was left without land, its property and possessions, without a place to worship and we were left homeless in the street.’Pastor Alain Toledano Valiente in an interview with CSW, September 2020
Less than ten years later, Emanuel Church in Santiago de Cuba was subjected to a second major attack. At 5am on Friday 5 February 2016, military, state security and police officers surrounded the property where the church was located and where the Toledano family was living. Pastor Toledano was abroad at the time, but his wife was taken into custody by government authorities and held incommunicado for the duration of the demolition from 5am to 7pm. Around 40 church members were also detained, and the church and home were demolished.
These incidents – the demolitions of November 2007 and February 2016 – are two dark threads in a disturbing tapestry of the Cuban authorities’ violations against Pastor Toledano, spanning over two decades. More than six years after that second major church demolition, attacks against Pastor Toledano, his church, and their right to a place of worship continue to escalate.
Continue reading “‘The Church was left without a place to worship’ – The story of Alain Toledano Valiente”
Un líder religioso y su colega son secuestrados de un refugio para inmigrantes; no se los ha vuelto a ver ni se ha sabido de ellos desde entonces. Otro es agredido, extorsionado y amenazado a punta de pistola. Ambos brindaron protección a inmigrantes y solicitantes de asilo que se encontraban atrapados en la frontera. En el mismo país, los líderes religiosos advierten que las amenazas y los ataques contra ellos constituyen uno de los problemas más graves que enfrentan las iglesias en la actualidad. Irónicamente, todo esto está ocurriendo en lo que se considera uno de los países más religiosos del mundo, México.
El deterioro de la situación para los inmigrantes y solicitantes de asilo que pasan por México se ha visto exacerbado por la implementación del Protocolo de Protección al Migrante (MPP) de los Estados Unidos, también conocido como “Permanecer en México” a principios de 2019.  La política ha dificultado cada vez más que los inmigrantes ganen casos de asilo en los EE.UU., sólo el 0.1% de los casos han tenido éxito y muchos han buscado asilo en refugios para inmigrantes administrados por la iglesia en todo México mientras esperan, especialmente en la frontera norte. El 28 de febrero de 2020, un tribunal de apelaciones federal de EE.UU. dictaminó que la política de “Permanecer en México” era ilegal.
Continue reading “Seguir los mandatos bíblicos acarrea un alto precio para los líderes religiosos en México”
Si bien muchos líderes protestantes y católicos han respondido a los crecientes niveles de necesidad en una manifestación de su fe siguiendo los mandatos de ayudar a los pobres,  albergar a los desamparados  y amar al extranjero , su trabajo los deja cada vez más expuestos a amenazas y ataques de grupos delictivos organizados que se aprovechan de la población migrante vulnerable.
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.