14ymedio, Havana 31 October 2022 — Lorenzo Rosales, the Cuban protestant pastor condemned to seven years in prison after joining the 21 July 2021 anti-government protests, has been awarded the Patmos prize, which is given out annually by the Cuban Institute of the same name.
The annual award, now in its ninth year, is presented every 31 October in honour of a Cuban follower of the faith on the Day of the Protestant Reformation. Rosales, who is serving his sentence at the maximum security prison in Boniato, Santiago de Cuba, gave thanks for his award by letter. Previous recipients have been: José Conrado Alegría, a Oscar Elías Biscet, Dagoberto Valdés Hernández, Eduardo Cardet Concepción, Roberto de Jesús Quiñones Haces, Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello and Ernesto Borges Pérez.
“It’s a privilege, on a day like today after more than a year of unjust incarceration in a maximum security prison, to receive this award. I don’t believe any human being would ever be able to get used to being in this place. Prison life is very hard, and it’s worse when you know it’s an injustice, but I’m not afraid”, Rosales wrote after hearing the news.
The award, said the pastor, means a lot to him. “It tells me that I haven’t been forgotten in this hole I’m in, not by God, not by yourselves. I know how much you are fighting for my freedom. Thank you, to every brother in the faith community for every prayer, support and material assistance; your Christian love for me and my family has been boundless. You are all in my prayers”.
Rosales went onto the streets on 11 July last year to support those who were demonstrating for more freedom and crying out against the health emergency and the crisis of basic supplies suffered on the Island. He was immediately arrested and taken to El Energético — a detention centre based in a former schoolhouse — along with his son David Lorenzo, 17.
Two days later he was beaten, whilst being transferred to the Investigations Unit in Versalles, to such an extent that, as he reports, he lost consciousness. After a habeas corpus application was rejected, in August the pastor was transferred to the prison in Boniato, where he is held amongst ordinary prisoners.
At the beginning of May his sentence was made public — seven years, for incitement to commit crime, ’disrespect’, and violent attack. The trial had taken place at the end of December.
The Patmos Institute has denounced the restrictions placed on the pastor’s religious rights, as he is not given the appropriate attention he requires and on Saturday 9 April he was not able to attend a service held by evangelical chaplains, authorised by the government. In the face of his complaints about this exclusion Rosales was locked up for five days in a punishment cell just before Easter week.
Translated by Ricardo Recluso
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