CSW: Cuban Pastor Threatened and Arrested

Tuesday, January 28, 2014
From Christian Solidarity Worldwide:

Cuba: Pastor Lleonart Barroso under house arrest following detention 

Reverend Mario Felix Lleonart Barroso, a Baptist pastor, was arrested and detained by political police and state security agents in central Cuba on 25 January. He was returned to his home later that night and put under house arrest.

Political police surrounded the home of Reverend Mario Felix Lleonart Barroso, pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Taguayabon, in the early hours of 25 January. His wife, Yoaxis Marcheco Suarez, was forcibly stopped by security services when she attempted to leave the house with their two young daughters to warn Reverend Lleonart Barroso, who was not home at the time. He was arrested in front of his family in the street as he returned home.

Reverend Lleonart Barroso was held incommunicado for most of the day. He was returned home late in the evening and put under house arrest. During his detention, prints were taken of his fingers and toes, a scent sample was taken and the pastor was forced to give DNA samples from his nails and teeth. State security agents also attempted to intimidate him into signing an Official Warning or ‘Advertencia Oficial’, which is frequently used in the Cuban court system as evidence in future arrests. Reverend Lleonart Barroso refused to do so.

Since his return home, two armed political police officers are standing guard outside the family house which is adjacent to the church. According to the pastor’s sister, Mirka Pena, the arrest of Reverend Lleonart Barroso is part of a larger crackdown on political dissidents across the country, including well known activists such as Dr Oscar Elias Biscet and Sakharov prize winner Guillermo Fariñas, in anticipation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) summit, due to take place this week in Cuba.

Reverend Lleonart Barroso and his wife received a visit from the political police a few days before his arrest, who warned them to ‘be calm’ during the CELAC summit, which will bring together heads of state from across Latin America and the Caribbean. Government officials informed Reverend Lleonart Barroso that if he leaves his house he will be put in prison.

The arrest of Reverend Lleonart Barroso follows the temporary detention of another pastor, Yordani Santí, who was summoned to the police station on 16 January and interrogated for several hours. State security agents threatened and warned Pastor Santí to stop associating with Reverend Lleonart Barroso or face serious consequences.