Cuban government is 'constantly besieging' evangelicals, says Church leader

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Evangelicals in Cuba are coming under increasing pressure from the government following changes to the constitution earlier this year limiting the protection of religious groups.

Sandy Cancino, who is a member of the Evangelical League of Cuba, said that the government was "constantly besieging" evangelicals.

He told Evangelical Focus that he had been interrogated several times because of his interdenominational work with other pastors and that the authorities were keeping an eye on him after his involvement in an evangelistic campaign called "Power to Transform". 

"I have always had the weight of their presence behind me. Several times I have been called to testify, interrogations and so on," he said.

He told the website that some church leaders had attempted to join the US Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom earlier in the summer but had been prevented from leaving the country by the authorities. 

"Some could leave, but most could not, a situation that might affect the credibility and the trust between them," he said.

"When the event had already finished, we knew that the Cuban government cataloged it as counterrevolutionary, and we learned that the departure of these pastors from the country is being regulated." 

Cancino's denomination has joined with several others to form a new Cuban Alliance of Evangelical Churches in an unprecedented show of inter-denominational unity.

In addition to the Evangelical League of Cuba, the alliance comprises the Western Baptist Convention, the Eastern Baptist Convention, the Methodist Church of Cuba, the Pentecostal Assemblies of God Church of Cuba, the Good News Church in Cuba, and the Bethel Evangelical Church in Cuba.

It was launched to defend biblical values.

"The primary reason behind the creation of this alliance is that the denominations which form part do not feel represented by the Cuban Council of Churches before the authorities and the Cuban people and feel motivated to work united in the defense of Biblical values," the Churches said. 

Cancino said that the Cuban government was trying to block the development of the evangelical alliance. 

"The evangelical alliance does not have a takeoff yet," he said.

"And that is what the government wants, to avoid that other denominations could join or may know about the Alliance first hand, not just through publications."