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Apostle Alain Toledano Instagram
World News

More dangerous to be a pastor than a criminal says Cuban church leader

by Cara Bentley

Alain Toledano Valiente is a leader in the Apostolic Movement, an unregistered Protestant denomination in Cuba.

Toledano Valiente, who leads Emanuel Church in Santiago de Cuba, was summoned to appear at the La Motorizada Unit #3 Police Station at 9am on Wednesday, accused of the crime of 'disobedience' because of a women's event his church celebrated in August, for which he received warnings at the time.

He wrote on Instagram and Facebook: "I entrust my life to the faithful Creator, who will fight all my battles and conquer them. Everything that happens with my life starting tomorrow, I hold the government of Cuba and its representatives responsible. They want to create a crime to lock me up, create terror in me and my family, which they will never achieve. Let this be known to the whole church, to Human Rights Bodies, OAS, UN, and as many governments as you can, peace."

In a following post on Instagram he wrote: "The criminals and bandits in Cuba do not run as many dangers as a pastor, this crime has been manufactured for some time, and since I have not been exiled, they seek to put me in prison."

In recent months Toledano Valiente has come under intense pressure. Over a period of four days in August, he was summoned to and interrogated three times in an attempt to force the cancellation of a youth event. The owners of the land where the church currently meets were also threatened and forced to sign a document prohibiting church services on their property.

In July, Toledano Valiente was stopped by government agents from boarding a flight to the US to attend the US State Department's Ministerial on International Religious Freedom. He is still officially banned from leaving Cuba and his right to move freely within the country is also restricted.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide's Head of Advocacy Anna-Lee Stangl said: "The Cuban government is criminalizing ordinary pastoral and religious activity. Pastor Toledano Valiente is being targeted simply because of his involvement in peaceful religious events.

"We call on the Cuban government to immediately cease all harassment of Pastor Toledano Valiente and other religious leaders, allowing them to travel freely in and outside the country, construct and register places of worship and hold peaceful religious events without interference from the state. CSW also calls on the international community to remind Cuba of its obligations especially in regard to the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion as laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."

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