International Institute for Religious Freedom

Religious leaders detained amid protests in Cuba

In the face of the recent unprecedented peaceful protests on the island and in the face of the violent deployment of the police and security forces to disperse and detain the protesters, different voices raise to demand an end to acts of repression and human rights violations.


Despite the fact that the media and the internet connection have been blocked, it is possible to know situations of abuses and arrests on charges of disorderly conduct of activists, human rights defenders, reporters, even religious leaders, among others involved in the criticism of the regime.

Observatory sources reported that pastors Yeremi Blanco Ramírez and Yarian Enmanuel Sierra Madrigal, from the Iglesia Biblica de la Gracia, Asociación Bautista Misión Bereana, went out to the street near their church during the popular demonstrations on July 11 and while filming with their cell phones, they were detained on charges of sedition and taken directly to the Combinado Sur prison in Matanzas, to a wing under the control of the political police (Department of State Security).

To date, they remain there without being allowed communication with their relatives and without having personal hygiene means, among other basic supplies.

On the other hand, it was learned about the temporary detention of Pastor Yusniel Perez Montejo and about the temporary detention of Father Castor José Álvarez Devesa from the Sagrado Corazón de Jesús parish in Camagüey, who was also physically assaulted. Additionally, Manuel Fernández Otaño, a Catholic and historian, revealed that when he was arrested police officers took away the cross that he always carried with him. Similarly, it was reported the detention of Guillermo Marín, one of the protesters who carried a sign with the message “Long live Christ the King”. Also, the seminarian Rafael Cruz Débora was violently taken from his home by agents of the regime and was also temporarily detained.

OLIRE draws attention to the recent events in Cuba and to the violations of the human rights of all citizens, placing special emphasis on the special situation of vulnerability to which religious leaders are exposed who, consistent with their convictions, seek to accompany the Cuban people in the midst of the crisis.