January 16th: Religious Liberty Day / Mario Lleonart

MI ESPOSA YOAXIS CONDUCE SERVICIO RELIGIOSO EN LA IGLESIA RURAL QUE PASTOREAMOS EN ROSALÍA

MY WIFE YOAXIS CONDUCTING A RELIGIOUS SERVICE IN THE RURAL CHURCH THAT WE PASTOR IN ROSALIA.

As a Christian of the Baptist persuasion in Cuba, today is a day where we ask God, and I ask those who govern the nation, for each Cuban the have the right to believe or not to believe, or believe in the manner that he understands, even when it differs completely from what I believe.  The posts in this blog constitute a testimony that the religious liberty about which those in power brag about or show off is simply a facade.

When I was a child I was the victim of religious intolerance in Cuba. I never forgot how in front of the gazes of everyone else, at only 5 years of age, hardly in pre-school, they made me stand up for being “religious” and this was a stigma that I have had to carry during many years of discrimination and intolerance.  Even so, I never had to live out horrible scenes like those of the concentration camps in UMAP*.

Today, I must respect a regime that tries to manipulate all the established religious hierarchies in the country and harasses the work of those that chose not to fold under their power, which is shown by the still frozen account of the “The Trinity” First Baptist Church of Santa Clara, or my exclusion from the prison chaplain team.  Hundreds of religious groups throughout the country are denied the right to be listed on the Ministry of Justice’s list of registered organizations, event when they repeatedly make attempts.  Others are denied the return to the list as a result of the scandalous case of the Jehovah’s witnesses who remain in a semi-legal limbo difficult to define.

In recent days the Christian Solidarity Worldwide, headquartered in London, exhorted the regime in Cuba to comply with it’s rhetoric about religious liberty.  I am thankful to the solidarity of many brothers and sisters in the world that remain on top of the constant violations of our freedoms.  I hope that the Christians and believers in general of whatever religious confession in Cuba, will call for the respect of our individual rights.

May God bless Cuba, and the whole world!

Mario Barroso

Translated by: Bill Wingrove

Translator’s Note: Military Units to Aid Production or UMAPs (Unidades Militares de Ayuda a la Producción) were agricultural labor prison camps, filled those the regime considered dangerous and/or undesirable — religious, homosexuals, dissidents and others — operated by the Cuban government from November 1965 to July 1968 in the province of Camagüey.

January 16 2013