A pastor in Cuba was arrested for streaming the Communist Cuban Government as they brought bulldozers and other heavy machinery to destroy a church, The Christian Post reports.
According to non-profit Christian and human rights advocacy organization Christian Solidarity Worldwide, officials in Santiago de Cuba, which is the second-largest city in the island country, have been harassing the Assemblies of God Church in the Abel Santamaria neighborhood since 2015, even though the denomination is legally recognized by the Cuban government.
CSW reports that despite the denomination being one of the largest religious groups in the country, in 2015 the Cuban government made its first attempt to demolish the Assemblies of God Church.
“Officials at the Cuban Physical Planning and Housing Departments first attempted to demolish the church in 2015 but backed off after members of the church and other denominations, led by Rev. Fausto Polemo, held a peaceful sit-in in the building,” CSW noted in a report. “They also threatened to confiscate the homes of those living on the property in 2015.”
Cuban Government authorities claimed that the demolition that happened this October was part of a plan to construct train tracks at the site, but the church was the only building demolished. The pastor who streamed the demolition, Alain Toledano, lives in the neighborhood where the church was demolished. He is the leader of the unregister denomination called the Apostolic Movement.
According to The Christian Post, Toledano dropped his phone as unmarked federal agents approached him and arrested him while he was live-streaming the "demolition."
According to CSW, the pastor is being held "incommunicado," which means he is unable to speak to or see other people while in waiting for his trial.
The pastor of the demolished church, Reverend Fausto Polemo, had been under constant harassment from the Cuban government since he began in 2003. This is the second time his church has been demolished. He has also been barred from leaving the country by the Cuban government and been detained by police multiple times. He was also warned there was a criminal case opened against him.
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John Paluska has been a contributor for Christian Headlines since 2016 and is the founder of The Daily Fodder, a news outlet he relaunched in 2019 as a response to the constant distribution of fake news.