Union and Ostracism / Mario Barroso

This past February 23rd the official press media of the country informed of the meeting held between members of the Central Committee and the Government with the principal leaders of religious denominations and fraternal organizations, this occurrence was well disseminated and, furthermore, concluded with the phrase of Esteban Lazo where he made clear the existing unity between the governmental hierarchy with the ecclesiastic.

It is good to know that they are so unified, as it is also good to know that they mutually take care of each other’s interests. In an excellent post written by priest Mario F. Lleonart, the author expresses the evident hypocrisy that prevails at these meetings. As well as the double morals, defect of our society which has regrettably also permeated our churches. A unity which only safeguards the dilapidated image of the Cuban regime with regard to the different religions and guarantees its dominion over them and at the same time ensures the development without hindrance of certain goals outlined by the religious institutions, such as, permission to travel abroad, construction or repair of temples, legalization of churches, granting of religious visas to foreigners, acquiring automobiles and some others.

As I reread the note that appeared in Granma about this occurrence and some articles published on the internet, among those the already cited one of pastor Mario F., I compare the different positions and reflect on my experience which is of someone who will never be included in this tight Church-State relationship so subtly achieved by the Cuban regime.

The other face of the coin seems dark and appears desolate and it is that, for those of us who do not offer the government a complicit smile, what awaits us is completely opposite to what the religious chiefs achieve with their flirtatiousness. I confess that I did not know the meaning of the term ostracism until now that I am suffering first-hand the results of this strategy that the agents of the Cuban Security of State apply so efficaciously, it is hard to survive the test of isolation, the loneliness, it is entirely a challenge to stand firm on an ideal in the midst of the rejection of many of those who surround us.

The policy of ostracism is the current measure that the Security of State imposes against my husband, my family and the community of faithful that we shepherd. The achievements are evident, we perceive it in a neighboring church of another denomination that not so long ago worked shoulder to shoulder with us in favor of the gospel and that has currently broken off all relations, as if we were plague-ridden, something worse than lepers; I can not forget that Jesus kissed the leprous, the marginalized of His time, those of lesser condition, He refused no one, more so those who upon accepting Him gained the state of being called children of God.

We also learned of the fear instilled on behalf of a pastoral colleague to a possible donor for the repair of the roof of our temple, diverting their desire to cooperate with the restoration, insinuating that their help to pastor Lleonart would greatly hinder their entry into the island in the future, something not so far from the truth, because just as many say, pastor Mario is marked and any ties with him is damaging for carrying out any plans or projects which need clearance from the State.

The pressures of the Political Police have also affected the local Alcoholics Anonymous group, which for many years was held in our church with the support of pastor Mario F. whom they qualify as a triple A, although this group maintains in its rules to not participate in political controversies, has left our facilities thereby adopting a position in favor of a regime which paradoxically does not yet legally recognize their organization.

The campaigns against us are also seen reflected in the impossibility of participating in the spiritual Retreat Three Days with Christ No. 8, which we had attended on prior occasions in Havana, but to which this year was added as a condition of obtaining permission for its celebration, our non-attendance.

A sister of the church reports to us that at an encounter for women in which she had participated prior years, to be celebrated at the end of the present month in Canaan camp (Miller, Placetas), she has been told that this time she can not attend due to her being from our congregation. In that way, we are being driven to cold solitude and sadly many, even being evangelists have already excommunicated us and those who still remain with us, are threatened all the time, the test of isolation is hard, only the strength that God instills can help to bear it.

So, in an environment where one church is every day more unified with the regime, swimming against the current is difficult, but the encouraging biblical promises comfort me: “When my father and mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.” With this premise, there is no ostracism, nor sentiment of loneliness that can overwhelm us.

Translated by: Maria Montoto

March 20 2012