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Cuban Pastor Arrested
Thursday, March 30, 2006   By: Juan Paxety

Church of God minister jailed by castro

Five Cuban police officers raided the home of an evangelical pastor - then seized his computer, personal documents and office equipment. Then, says the Christian Examiner,  they arrested him. The charge - helping emigrants - in other words, helping Cubans escape fidel's island workers' paradise.

Pastor Carlos Lamelas is an ordained Church of God minister. He was arrested on February 20th. His wife, Uramis,  had no idea where he was for days.

A week passed before authorities granted her a 10-minute visit on Feb. 27. His wife said her husband appeared “exhausted and depressed,” and that he had been isolated from other inmates during his confinement.

Although the couple could not speak openly because police officers stood close by during their visit, Lamelas told his wife that officials are evidently seeking to incriminate him for aiding emigrants seeking to flee Cuba without government permission.

After more than a month, Cuban authorities have still not formally charged Pastor Lamelas.

His family says Lamelas could not have been helping Cubans escape. They say he is a poor man who lives at near-starvation levels. They say it takes much more money than he has to help people escape.

His supporters say Lamelas is being persecuted because he stands up for religious freedom. In 2004, he served as president of his denomination's General Assembly of ministers and moved his family to Havana.

His troubles began soon after the move when Lamelas’s resisted what he considered inappropriate government interference in church affairs. At one point, he refused to sign what amounted to a loyalty pledge to the Castro regime and challenged as unconstitutional certain controls over church activities.

A year ago January, just two months after the Church of God annual convention overwhelmingly endorsed Lamelas for a second term as president, the national board of directors voted to oust him from the position and expel him from the church.

Dozens of fellow ministers who questioned the move and expressed support for Lamelas were also expelled, without appeal.

Cuba’s director of Religious Affairs issued a ruling almost immediately that endorsed the disciplinary action against Lamelas, a move that aroused suspicions of government complicity in the affair.

Cut off from any income, Lamelas has lived poorly since. This is far from the first time fidel has made an attack on a church. Just before Christmas, for instance, he threatened to tear down a home-based Baptist church.


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