The United States Department of State has been hosting a Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom event in Washington, D.C. from July 16th to 18th. Representatives from around the world have gathered together to discuss this major issue. For some representatives from Cuba, however, attendance was blocked by the Cuban government.
Ricardo Fernandez Izaguirre, an independent journalist and outspoken advocate for religious freedom in the country, was detained on July 12th and has not been heard from since. Attempts to contact him have been unsuccessful, and his cell phone appears to be disconnected. The reason for his detention is unknown.
While two church leaders were attempting to board flights for the meetings, they were informed by customs officials that they are restricted from leaving the country. Moises de Prada serves as superintendent of the Assemblies of God churches in Cuba, while Alida Leon Baez is president of the Evangelical League of Cuba. Both are founding members of the newly established Cuban Evangelical Alliance.
According to a statement from Rev. Baez, Cuban law restricts travel only against those subject to criminal proceedings or for national security reasons. Just prior to this, both of these leaders had travelled outside the country without any problems. Another church leader blocked from leaving the county while attempting to go through customs was Alain Toledano Valiente, who openly condemned the Cuban regime on social media following his detention. In fact, he was featured in one of our previously posted news stories in 2016, shortly after his church building was demolished (see this report).
Two weeks ago, when Dariel Llanes from the Western Convention Baptist Church of Cuba was attempting to renew his passport in order to attend the Washington meetings, officials refused the renewal.
Pray for the nation of Cuba, asking that the work of God will spread throughout this island, despite opposition from governmental forces. May those who have been restricted from leaving the country be at liberty to effectively proclaim the Gospel in their nation as representatives of the Lord Himself...the honourably addressed "King of kings" of Scripture. Pray that the meetings in Washington will result in meaningful action and a beneficial outcome.