The wife of a protestant pastor who has been detained without trial for over three months was informed on 22 October that the government is seeking to impose a 10-year prison sentence.
Pastor Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo, leader of the Monte de Sion Independent Church in Palma Soriano, Cuba, was detained by State Security officers on 11 July while he participated in peaceful protests which took place across the island.
Pastor Rosales Fajardo was held for over a month in Versalles, a notorious State Security facility in the city of Santiago, before being transferred to Boniato Maximum Security Prison where he is currently imprisoned. He has been charged with a series of crimes including ‘disrespect’ and ‘public disorder’. Over the past three months, he has been allowed one 90-minute visit with his wife, which took place in mid-October. Apart from the visit, he has only been permitted a few three-minute phone calls with his family.
During Pastor Rosales Fajardo’s transfer to Versalles, he was subjected to a brutal beating which led to the loss of a tooth. On 23 October, a person claiming to be one of the guards involved in the beating sent an anonymous message, which has been verified by CSW, asking forgiveness for participating in the attack. The individual admitted taking turns, along with other guards, urinating on Pastor Rosales Fajardo’s head during the assault. Their message also stated that the beating was ordered in retaliation for calls by church leaders in Cuba on social media for the release of the pastor and expressed fear for the life of Pastor Rosales Fajardo as long as he remains in prison. CSW was able to verify the contents of the message with a third source, with whom the guard shared the same story verbally and in person.
Maridilegnis Carballo, Pastor Rosales Fajardo’s wife, told CSW: “I have been married to Pastor Lorenzo Rosales for more than 20 years and we have served God since then. He is not a criminal; he is a man of God. I am very afraid for his life, for the terrible treatment to which he is being subjected and even now he is in a situation where he is totally unable to defend himself. They are violating everything; all they value are lies. My children and I plead for help, please, these are cries for help which we lift up to God and to you. He is in danger.”
The news of the 10-year sentence for Pastor Rosales Fajardo followed a warning by Cuban State Security to two other pastors who were detained incommunicado for two weeks following the 11 July protests. Pastor Yarian Sierra Madrigal and Pastor Yéremi Blanco Ramírez were threatened with imprisonment if they engage in any activity perceived by the government as critical of the system. Both pastors, who live in Matanzas, were summoned by State Security on 21 October and forced to sign an ‘Acta de Advertencia’, a legal document justifying their arrest and imprisonment in the case of potential future crimes.
CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: “We share Maridilegnis Carballo’s disappointment in learning that the Cuban government will be seeking to impose a 10-year prison sentence on Pastor Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo, and are horrified, if not surprised, to learn of the inhumane treatment he has been subjected to while in prison. We renew our demand that the Cuban government drop all charges and immediately release Pastor Rosales Fajardo and cease its harassment of Pastors Sierra Madrigal and Blanco Ramírez, as well as other religious leaders who are doing nothing more than attempting to exercise their right to peacefully and freely express themselves, a right that is inextricably linked with freedom of religion or belief.”
Notes to Editors:
1. Pastor Rosales Fajardo has worked as a pastor for 20 years. In 2012, the government confiscated his church property. He and his wife were eventually able to buy another home and led Monte de Sion Church in Palma Soriano, where between 80 and 100 people congregated weekly before the pastor’s detention. On 1 October CSW handed in a petition to the Embassy of Cuba in London with 2070 signatures of people calling for his release.