The Cuban government has cancelled a church construction permit.
Baptist leaders in Cuba are calling on the government to fulfill its promise to allow them to build a new church after their building permit was arbitrarily cancelled by the Office of Religious Affairs (ORA) of the Cuban Communist Party.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reports the leadership of the Eastern Baptist Convention was informed in April 2019 that the permit was cancelled and that their request to build a new church would be put to the Cuban Council of Ministers, the highest ranking administrative and executive governing body in the country.
According to CSW, the Maranatha Baptist Church in the city of Holguin was granted a construction permit in February 2017 by the Provincial Justice Directorate and subsequently obtained additional necessary permits from the Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment and the Department of Physical Planning over the following 18 months.
Church leaders told CSW that the process was difficult and costly as government officials, especially at the Department of Physical Planning frequently obstructed the process. Both additional permits are due to expire in early 2020.
CSW said the Maranatha Baptist Church has been targeted by the government in the past. In May 2015 the government moved to arbitrarily confiscate the church property but backed down and rescinded the confiscation order that December after a campaign on and off the island in favor of the church. Verbal promises made at the time to allow the church to build a new church building to deal with overcrowding were finally manifested with the official permit granted in February 2017. The property in question has belonged to the Eastern Baptist Convention since 1947.
The church, one of the largest in the city, carries out social work in the surrounding areas and church leaders believe this work, as well as the growth of the congregation, are the reasons behind the government’s actions. They estimate the church has spent at least US$1500 over the past two years in their attempt to comply with government requirements, a significant amount where the average monthly salary is around $20.
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SOURCE: Assist News, Michael Ireland