Another U.S. blockade
Against religious freedoms
Sheyla Delgado Guerra
THE latest violation of the U.S.
blockade, this time against religious freedom in
Cuba, has been condemned in Havana. This came after
$101,000, which should have been transferred to the
country weeks ago to cover food and accommodation
costs for participants in the 6th Assembly General
of the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI) was
frozen in the Miami branch of the Ecuadoran
The president of CLAI, Bishop Julio
Murray, told the press that the organization was
informed that the funds were not blocked, but frozen.
He insisted on the urgent need for the release of
this capital, given that it belongs to Latin
American and Caribbean churches and religious
institutions and is directed to an event of much
impact in evangelization.
As Reverend Joel Ortega Dopico,
president of the Cuban Council of Churches, stated
during the reading of an official statement, the
only reason for such a measure is that Cuba is the
venue of the Assembly. "Once again, the policy of
blockade against Cuba and its people on the part of
the current U.S. administration, as well as the 10
preceding it, has manifested itself. This way of
proceeding constitutes a serious limitation on the
freedom of Christian churches to undertake their
work," he emphasized.
Reverend Nilton Giese, CLAI
secretary general, explained that after contacting
the Miami bank in early November to find out what
was happening, he was informed that the funds were
momentarily frozen until their destination was known.
"We sent a letter and then received a number of
telephone replies saying that everything was being
discussed. This has now been going on for four weeks,"
The general assemblies take place
every six years and the CLAI board of directors
agreed that Havana should be the venue of the sixth
edition, scheduled for February 19-24, 2013, with
the participation of some 400 delegates.
Due to the non-availability of
resources for the event, the Cuban Council of
Churches has announced a mobilization of its members
to collect funds, and is appealing for international
support in relation to the U.S. blockade.
According to Murray, this limitation
is in violation of the U.S. Treasury Department’s
own regulations, which facilitate the sending of
remittances or transfers of this kind for religious
A statement from Reverend Ortega
Dopico argues how the United States, "a self-proclaimed
example of religious freedom in the world, is
curtailing and restricting it with ethically
Just a few months before the
scheduled event, the Latin American Council of
Churches – which brings together 188 churches and
ecumenical bodies from 20 countries – has confirmed
its decision to maintain the venue, as Cuba is a
living testament for the world in relation to