Baptist pastor and prominent religious freedom activist, Reverend Mario Felix Lleonart Barroso, was arrested on Sunday 20 March by Cuban state security agents, just hours before President Barack Obama arrived in Cuba for his official visit. Before his arrest, Reverend Lleonart Barroso told CSW that his home and church in the village of Taguayabon, Villa Clara Province, had been surrounded by police and state security agents since early Sunday morning.
Following his arrest, Reverend Lleonart Barroso’s wife, Yoaxis Marcheco Suarez, was put under house arrest. State security continues to surround their home, where she and their two young daughters are locked inside and the authorities have cut her phone connection.
The arrest of Reverend Lleonart Barroso, who is a member of the Baptist Convention of Western Cuba, came only a few hours after the violent detention of scores of human rights activists linked to the Ladies in White while they were on their way to attend morning Mass on Sunday 20 March.
Before the phone lines were cut, Marcheco Suarez told CSW that she had been informed that Reverend Lleonart Barroso had been taken to the city of Santa Clara, where the authorities had refused to allow any food or liquids to be brought to him. She expressed concern for his health, stating that he was feeling very unwell over the weekend; his skin and the whites of his eyes had turned yellow and his stomach was distended, after a stranger pricked him with a pin while the pastor was riding public transport last week. No one from his family or church has been able to communicate directly with the pastor since his arrest.
Read more at Christian Solidarity Worldwide.