Four prominent Cuban evangelical leaders were barred by regime officials from traveling to the United States last week to participate in the State Department’s historic Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom reported last week that Moises de Prada, the president of the Assemblies of God in Cuban; Alida Leon Baez, the head of the Cuban Evangelical League; Rev. Dariel Llanes, president of the Western Baptist Convention of Cuba; and Toledano Valiente from Cuba’s Apostolic Movement were stopped by government officials before they were able to board planes bound for the U.S. on July 13 and July 14.
All of the leaders were invited to take part in the U.S. State Department’s second global summit addressing the issue of international religious freedom, which was touted as being the largest religious freedom summit ever held.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide notes that Prada and Baez are founding members of the newly established Cuban Evangelical Alliance (AIEC), a coalition of seven denominations created “in the defense of Biblical values” after the denominations expressed concern they did not feel represented by the Cuban Council of Churches.
“According to the Immigration Law in my country, of everyone who lives in the national territory, the only people who are not allowed to leave Cuba are those who are subject to criminal proceedings or in cases of concern for defense and national security or reasons of public utility,” Baez said in a statement.
“I do not believe that this is my case. I do not have any pending judicial processes against me. I do not consider myself a threat to the security and defense of the country where I was born and live. And if there was even a minimum reason of public utility, I think that one should be notified about it in advance and given enough time to allow me the opportunity to defend myself; not waiting until the very last minute to inform me of this decision.”
A source who chose to remain anonymous told the online news outlet Diario de Cuba that the obstacles related to the leaders’ participation in the ministerial were related to the fact that evangelical leaders had spoken out against the most recent constitutional reform in the communist nation.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith