Thursday, February 07, 2013

Cuban pastor seeks refuge in US

A pastor and his family have arrived in the US as refugees following a campaign of harassment by the Cuban authorities spanning years.

Pastor Omar Gude Perez, his wife Kenia Denis and their two children were granted asylum in the US in 2011 but it took another 18 months to receive the necessary permission from Cuban emigration authorities to leave the island.

The harassment against Perez included barring him from working as a pastor. After receiving the offer of asylum in the US, his teenage children were prevented from attending school.

Describing the stress experienced by the family in recent years, Pastor Perez told Christian Solidarity Worldwide that his 17-year-old son had lost fifty pounds in weight, while his 14-year-old daughter had suffered considerable hair loss.

CSW’s Advocacy Director Andrew Johnston said, “CSW has made this case a priority since we first learned of Pastor Gude’s arrest in 2008. We are overjoyed that the Gude Perez family has finally been allowed to take up the offer of asylum in the United States where they will be able to practice their faith in freedom. The decision to leave Cuba has been a difficult and painful one for the family but the constant harassment on the part of the government and the official prohibition on their participation in religious ministry gave them no other option. We know they will continue to fight for religious freedom in Cuba from their new home in the United States and will be an effective voice for their network of churches, which continues to suffer targeted persecution. CSW will support them in this important work, drawing attention to the Cuban government’s ongoing violations of religious liberty.”

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