Cuban pastors arrested during protests have been released

Pastors Yarian Sierra Madrigal and Yéremi Blanco Ramírez are reunited with their families.(Photo: Christian Solidarity Worldwide)

Two pastors arrested during unprecedented nationwide protests in Cuba have been released.

Yéremi Blanco Ramírez and Yarian Sierra Madrigal were detained in a state security facility and the wing of a women's prison in Matanzas for nearly two weeks.

During that time, their families were able to visit them only once to deliver basic hygiene items but had no other contact with them, leaving them to worry about their welfare.

The family of Pastor Sierra faced further hardship when they were evicted from their home after their landlord came under pressure from Cuban state security.

The two pastors, both tutors at the William Carey Biblical Seminary in Matanzas and associated with the Berean Baptist denomination, were released into house arrest on Saturday, sources told Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).

Despite the good news of his release, Pastor Sierra and his family have not been able to return to their home.

Another Protestant pastor, Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo, has been detained without any contact with the outside world for over two weeks.

He is being held in a state security facility in Santiago de Cuba. His wife, Maridilegnis Carballo, tried to visit him on Saturday but was turned away. She said she has not been given any proof that he is still alive, and the authorities have made threats against her son if she continues to speak out.

Pastor Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo and his wife Maridilegnis Carballo(Photo: Christian Solidarity Worldwide)

Mrs Carballo told CSW: "I went to the place where they say they have my husband detained. No one would let me see him, they haven't even allowed us a phone call.

"Today it has been fifteen days. God help me, our daughter cries a lot. I have run out of strength; how hard it is to pass through the valley of death. But I will not fear anything, I know that [God] is with us."

CSW's Head of Advocacy Anna-Lee Stangl said: "While CSW welcomes news of the release of pastors Yéremi Blanco Ramírez and Yarian Sierra Madrigal, and wishes both men and their families a swift recovery from this traumatic ordeal, neither of these men should have ever been detained in the first place.

"The Cuban authorities' treatment of their families whilst they were in detention is deplorable.

"We call for all charges against the pastors to be dropped, for Pastor Sierra's family to be permitted to return to their home, and for the immediate and unconditional release of Pastor Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo and all others who have been detained in connection with the peaceful exercise of their basic human rights."