For months, members of the Missionary Church of Cuba (“Iglesia Misionera de Cuba”) in Victoria, Las Tunas, have been pelted with stones on their way to worship. Originally occurring once a week, now the attacks have escalated to twice a week. According to church head Pastor Yoel Demetrio, the move is designed to scare off his congregation, as well as to pressure the pastor to weaken his message. Churchgoers cannot see who is throwing stones at them, but they all suspect state officials have instigated the attacks. Complaints to Cuban police have brought no results.
"The stoning of religious persons in Cuba is yet another one of the many coordinated acts against people of faith by the Communist Party's Office of Religious Affairs. We urge the United States to send a clear message, starting with economic sanctions on the Office of Religious Affairs," said Jason Poblete, President of Global Liberty Alliance (GLA).
Since 2019, GLA and other groups have urged the U.S. government to impose economic sanctions on Cuba's Office of Religious Affairs, a wing of the Communist Party that operates like a "Religion Police". In an August 19, 2019 joint letter with Outreach Aid to the Americas and Christian Solidarity Worldwide, GLA urged U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo first informed Sec. Pompeo of some ORA members to be sanctioned. On September 2, 2020, GLA again wrote Sec. Pompeo, providing information on Cuban ORA officials as well as Customs officials responsible for blocking urgent humanitarian aid from the United States.
GLA has been investigating the ORA, its members, and its activities in Cuba. It will continue to do so, and will support efforts by Cuba's religious communities to stop the repression and hold perpetrators to account.
Yesterday, on September 30, 2020, two Cuban women who are members of the Association of Free Yorubas executive committee were arrested, held overnight, and beaten by State Security.
On Wednesday, August 26, after a meeting with GLA-allied lawyers for 100 Cuban medical workers, the Brazilian Minister of Justice and Public Safety agreed to investigate the workers' allegations of forced labor in the Cuban medical mission.
The situation of Cuban medical professionals in Brazil has been well documented, especially since PAHO's role in the Cuba-Brazil contracts was identified. See the New York Times article "Cuban Doctors Accused International Agency of Profiting from Their Work" (11/29/18).
Below, read GLA's press release on the matter.
In Letter to Pompeo, GLA Urges Sanctions for Cuban Customs, Religious Officials Blocking Humanitarian Aid
On Wednesday, September 2, the Global Liberty Alliance (GLA) sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging the U.S. Government to issue sanctions for the Cuban Communist Party officials and others who are complicit in blocking humanitarian aid from U.S.-based charitable and civil society organizations.
The aid continues to be withheld from Cuban citizens, after almost one month. GLA's letter puts forth names of Cuban Party officials, Customs officials, and officials from the Council of Churches that GLA has obtained from Cuban citizens on the island who feel cheated by their government.
See the letter below.
For more information about GLA's letter on this "blockade" of humanitarian aid, you can explore the following media coverage:
Alexandria, VA - The Global Liberty Alliance (GLA) has received word that several members of the Association of Free Yorubas of Cuba (Asociación de Yorubas Libres de Cuba), including an underage boy, were just released from police custody after being separately summoned to the police station in Placetas, Villa Clara this afternoon. They were in police custody for 3 hours.
As ADN Cuba reported today, Timothy Zuniga Brown will replace Mara Tekach as Chargé d'Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba. For her part, Ms. Tekach will take up Mr. Zuniga Brown's current position as coordinator of the State Department’s Office of Cuban Affairs.
When asked by ADN Cuba about the appointment, GLA' s Chief Counsel and Policy Advisor Jason I. Poblete stated: "The United States will be well represented in Havana by Tim. He's very familiar not only with the politics involving the United States and Cuba and interested parties, but also with the Western Hemisphere, as well as the importance of Cuban politics in related affairs."
Los Estados Unidos estarán bien representados en La Habana por Tim. Es extremadamente conocedor no solo de la política entre Estados Unidos y Cuba y de las partes interesadas, sino también del hemisferio occidental y de la importancia de la política de Cuba en asuntos relacionados", dijo Jason Poblete, abogado de Global Liberty Alliance.
As América Tevé reported tonight, Colombia is pulling Cuban healthcare workers from its country, just days after Cuba's medical mission in Mexico was also reported to have returned to Cuba. See around 1:45 to hear GLA's efforts mentioned, and see GLA founding attorney Jason I. Poblete's comments:
Yesterday, on June 25, 2020, evangelical Pastor Ramón Rigal Rodríguez, of Guantánamo, Cuba, was released after over a year of unlawful imprisonment. Pastor Rigal and his wife, Adya Expósito, were sentenced in May 2019 to two and one-and-a-half years of prison for homeschooling their children.
In close collaboration with the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) in Purcellville, Virginia, and with Cuban religious leaders, the Global Liberty Alliance (GLA) has been advocating for the release of the Rigal parents since their trial. In late April 2019, the GLA and the HSLDA petitioned the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) for precautionary measures to protect the Rigal family and press Cuba to release them.
While the Rigal family is finally reunited, as Radio Televisión Martí has said, the reporter who covered their trial, GLA client Roberto Quiñones, is still unjustly imprisoned. You can find more information about GLA’s advocacy for the Rigal-Expósito family here. GLA is committed to defending fundamental rights, such as freedom of religion and of belief.
You can learn more about GLA’s work on our Facebook page or our Twitter account.
The Global Liberty Alliance has received disturbing new information from the Association of Free Yorubas of Cuba (Asociación de Yorubas Libres de Cuba) documenting numerous violations of fundamental rights on the island. The GLA is closely reviewing the material and is collaborating with the Free Yorubas to hold Cuban regime officials to account.
On April 29, 2020, the GLA urged the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to grant Precautionary Measures on behalf of Dr. Roberto de Jesús Quiñones Haces (see cover letter below). An independent journalist and former practicing attorney, Dr. Quiñones has been unlawfully imprisoned in Cuba since September 11, 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic has compounded Dr. Quiñones’s health status.
Dr. Quiñones is serving a year’s prison sentence for covering the show trial of homeschooler parents Pastors Ramón Rigal and Adya Expósito. On April 26, his son, who resides in Virginia, U.S.A., expressed concern for his father in a statement: “My father’s health condition is rapidly deteriorating under the terrible conditions to which he is subject in the Cuban jail. I want to ask the Cuban government to release my father again, especially now with this terrible situation with the virus, on the island and around the world.”
A “precautionary measure” is ruling by an international tribunal such as the IACHR directing a state, in this case Cuba, to take (or refrain from taking) certain measures in order to prevent or stop human rights violations in serious and urgent situations where the life and safety of the person are at stake.
Trump administration officials have repeatedly advocated for Dr. Quiñones. You can learn more about Dr. Quiñones’s case, including the U.S. government response, on the GLA Case Work page.
América TV featured GLA's action; you can see the video here. ADNCuba covered the story, as well, here.