By George Whitten, BosNewsLife Senior International Correspondent
HAVANA, CUBA (BosNewsLife)– A well-known church leader in Cuba has been unexpectedly detained on trumped up charges of “offensive behavior” and “threats” a Christian human rights organization said Friday, September 3.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said the frail Reverend Robert Rodriguez was arrested Monday, August 30, and taken to a town in central Cuba where he is expected to stand trial.
Reverend Robert Rodriguez is in his late 60’s and in poor health, according to family members. His arrest was so sudden that the pastor was unable to take important medication with him, CSW added. “His family fears without it, his health will continue to deteriorate as he awaits trial.”
Rodriguez, the former national president of the Interdenominational Fellowship of Evangelical Pastors and Ministers (CIMPEC), became a government target when he led his organization to withdraw publicly from a government sanctioned religious umbrella group in the second half of 2008.
CIMPEC formally withdrew from the Cuban Council of Churches, citing constant government interference in their internal affairs.
Christians said the current criminal charges against Rodriguez are an attempt to discredit and silence him. Cuban officials had no comment.
“The treatment of Reverend Rodriguez and his family over the past 21 months has been disgraceful,” said Stuart Windsor, national director of CSW. He urged the European Union to investigate the human rights situation on the Communist-run island.
“While some heralded the release of some Cuban prisoners of conscience this summer as an improvement in the human rights situation, the arrest of Reverend Rodriguez this week demonstrates that the Cuban government is not interested in real human rights reform,” Windsor said.
CSW said it has been demanding from Cuban authorities to release Reverend Rodriguez immediately and to drop all charges against him.