Speaking of Frozen Accounts on Human Rights Day / Mario Lleonart

claiindexI was surprised some days ago when the Cuban regime came to the defense of the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI) whose bank account in Miami — intended to be used for the Congress of this association of churches to be held in Cuba in the coming year — was frozen by the American government. What if the dying Cuban system hadn’t been a proven violator of religious liberty in its more than 50 years of remaining in power tried at this point to trick someone in the world by posing as a champion of religious freedom. The stone throwing Castro regime forgets that it lives in a glass house.

It is not possible in a post, because it would need books, and there are some, to detail the great number of violations of the rights of religious freedom in Cuba. But with regards to frozen accounts is time that the Cuban regime allows the First Baptist Church of Trinidad of Santa Clara access to its bank account. This glorious church with 105 years of history in this central city of the island for some years now has not been able to access a bank account opened 24 years ago. It contains around 27,000 USD, donations mostly from sister churches in the U.S. and remains inaccessible to this church that needs to function and especially to complete the rebuilding of its temple which has been underway for years.

I speak very properly. My wife Yoaxis Marcheco and I have served since 2006 as teachers in the Luis Manuel Gonzalez Peña Seminary that this church founded in 2000 and which, incidentally, has not obtained the proper legal recognition despite having the total support, not only of the church but of the Association of Western Cuba Baptist Convention to which we are affiliated, and despite performing the same procedures that Caridad Diego Bello, head of the Office of Attention to Religious Affairs recommended a few months ago during a meeting held with this church. The Seminary’s need for the church to be able to access its account is noted.

I suspect that our presence as teachers in the Seminary has something to do with this cowardly political pressure or blackmail. But I’m sure there are more causes of the crude retaliation. It is well known that the Rector of the Seminary, retired pastor of the church after more than twenty years of dedicated work, and who never caved to pressure or blackmail, either as pastor nor as a historic leader of the Convention did the Rev. Homero Carbonell ever offer his holy devotion of political authorities, as evidenced by his famous letter made public in great ceremony of his retirement on Reformation Day, October 31, 2010.

To make matters worse, his lovely wife, Migdalia, and his son Asbel, worship leader of the church, are also teachers at the seminary, and his other son Daniel is one of the leading musicians of the church, and a renowned composer of Christian music in Cuba. If we are not the cause of this arbitrariness, what then.

The current pastor of the church, the Rev. Juan Carlos Mentado, in the short time he has taken the helm of this church, has been a solicitous leader and performer of his duties. I also was one day. I don’t doubt that with procedures that so violate the liberties of his church, in a little while this esteemed brother will find himself on the blacklist in which we already find ourselves. God forbid.

Concerned about the CLAI account I contacted the officials of the United States Interests Section who informed me of their government’s willingness to cooperate with the Association of Latin American churches to clarify this misunderstanding, and about which they had already been directed the Council of Churches of Cuba (CIC), which I am very happy about because they already concede to grant the equal rights defended by these brothers.

I hope the CLAI can also respond in solidarity with us and not be fooled by this system which is well known as a violator of religious freedoms. Hopefully the Church Congress in Cuba next year will serve prophetically to condemn so many injustices against the many believers in our country because unfortunately the frozen account of the First Baptist Church La Trinidad of Santa Clara is one issue among many others which constitute flagrant violations of freedom religion in Cuba.

As a simple teacher at the Luis Manuel Gonzalez Peña Seminary of the First Baptist Church La Trinidad of Santa Clara I want to thank all those who upon hearing of the accusation that the Cuban regime, as a supposed defender of CLAI undertook in the U.S., and they reacted by contrast before the arbitrariness of the known inaccessible account of the church in Santa Clara.

Given the need to clarify the details a bit more and I decided to talk to those who wish to join to this International Day of Human Rights the rights of Baptists in the name of universal lordship of Christ that we have always proclaimed, and I am launching the campaign on Twitter using the hashtag #DescongelenLaCuenta. Until they unfreeze the account I, at least, will not voluntarily leave the Seminary.

December 10 2012