CSW continues to be gravely concerned for the welfare of Pastor Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo, who was detained by State Security officers on 11 July during peaceful protests in the Cuban town of Palma Soriano.
On 2 August, Cuban authorities denied a request by the Pastor Rosales Fajardo’s lawyer for ‘habeus corpus’, which would have required that the pastor be physically present in court and a reason given for his detention.
The family has retained a lawyer who has been able to meet with the pastor on one occasion. The lawyer reported that Pastor Rosales Fajardo was extremely thin. Photos taken of the pastor at the time of his detention show him in a chokehold. He told the lawyer that he was handcuffed, thrown to the ground and repeatedly kicked with force in his abdomen and face, resulting in the loss of a tooth.
The pastor’s family has had no contact with Pastor Rosales Fajardo since his detention. His wife, Maridilegnis Carballo, was informed by State Security on 14 July that he was being held in a State Security prison in the city of Santiago de Cuba. She has since traveled there multiple times, most recently on 30 July, to bring him food and personal hygiene items, but each time has been blocked from speaking to or seeing him. A group of pastors in Santiago also attempted to visit the pastor, but they were denied entrance to the facility.
Pastor Rosales Fajardo, accompanied by his 17-year-old son and other members of his church, joined in peaceful demonstrations which sprang up across the island on 11 July. After Cuban president Miguel Diaz-Canel gave a televised ‘military order’ for revolutionaries to retake the streets by force, police and state security forces responded to the peaceful protests with violence and mass detentions.
Although the pastor and his son were detained at the same time, they were separated almost immediately. State security forced Carballo to sign a document regarding charges against her son and pay a 2000 peso fine (approximately USD $83), but denied knowing where he was. He was considered ‘disappeared’ for almost a week, before he returned home late on the night of 17 July. He reported that he had been blindfolded and transported in a blacked-out truck, so did not know where he had been held. Other prisoners who asked where they were being taken were beaten.
Carballo has been warned there could be negative repercussions for her son if she continues to speak out about her husband’s situation. Two other pastors, Yéremi Blanco Ramírez and Yarian Sierra Madrigal, who were detained during the protests in the city of Matanzas and released two weeks later are also still facing criminal charges.
Kori Porter, CEO of CSW USA, said: “We call on the Cuban government to release Pastor Rosales Fajardo immediately. We are deeply concerned for his well-being, and it is unacceptable that his wife has been barred from speaking to or even seeing her husband for over three weeks. We echo the statements made by Cuban religious groups in support of every person’s right to express themselves peacefully, including through public demonstrations. The international community must make it clear to the Cuban government that this violent response to protests and the mass detentions and summary trials of peaceful protestors are unacceptable.”