Thursday, May 28, 2009

Update on imprisoned Cuban pastor Omar Gude Pérez

Christian Solidarity Worldwide released an update today on imprisoned Cuban pastor Omar Gude Pérez today.  As you may recall from our earlier blog, his case was to go to trial last week.  Here is part of today’s update

Last Tuesday, trial proceedings opened against Pastor Omar Gude Pérez. According to his wife, Kenia, the state prosecutor presented the charges against Pastor Gude Pérez in an environment of intense intimidation. A number of church leaders from the same denomination in other parts of the country were detained in the days preceding the trial, in an apparent attempt to prevent them from attending the proceedings. The family is now waiting for the next phase of the legal proceedings.

According to witnesses, upon leaving the prison to be transported to the court Pastor Gude Pérez was separated from other prisoners who were also being taken to the courts and put in a separate car. En route to the court, the car was escorted by police vehicles. When his family entered the courtroom they were taken aback to see that the pastor was surrounded by state security agents who were communicating with walkie-talkies, “as if he was a terrorist,” said Kenia. 

“However,” Kenia said, “I know the truth, that God was also surrounding Omar with millions of angels all around him. What happens is that Satan always tries to mirror in the physical world what God is doing in the spiritual world.”

Imprisoned in May 2008 on charges of ‘human trafficking’, Pastor Gude Pérez trial has at last begun.  Although his family was given the good news in March that there was no evidence to support the original charges under which the pastor had been arrested, he is now being charged with ‘illicit economic activity and falsification of documents’. In addition, his lawyer has questioned why the pastor is being tried by a criminal tribunal despite the fact that the charges against him relate to civil procedures and as such should be reviewed by a civil court.

There are strong indications, however, that Pastor Gude Pérez is actually being targeted because of the leadership role he holds in a fast-growing Christian organisation.  His wife Kenia says the new charges, coming almost a full year after his original detention and imprisonment, are completely fabricated and are merely an attempt to disguise the fact that he is a victim of religious persecution. 

For months prior to his detention, Pastor Gude Pérez and his family were threatened by government officials and warned to curtail their religious activities.  A number of other members of their religious group have also been harassed by the authorities. 

The prosecution’s new petition against Pastor Gude Pérez accuses the pastor of ‘counter-revolutionary conduct and attitudes’ and, apparently in an effort to support the allegations of ‘illicit economic activity’, says that he is unemployed, ignoring the fact that he has spent the past twenty years working as a full-time pastor.  Pastor Gude Pérez now faces the possibility of a seven-year prison sentence.

Please continue to uphold Pastor Pérez and his family during this time. Pray that all charges would be dropped. As before, we also encourage you to send a letter or card of encouragement to Pastor Pérez’s family, letting them know that they are not forgotten and that you are praying for them. You can mail your letter or card to:

La Familia Gude Pérez
Avellande 278
entre Esteban y San Martín
Camaguey, CP 70100

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