By George Whitten, Worthy News Director/World Affairs Correspondent
HAVANA, CUBA (Worthy News)-- Cuba has detained a well-known church leader on trumped up charges of "offensive behavior" and "threats", a Christian human rights organization said Friday, September 3.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said Reverend Robert Rodriguez was arrested Monday, August 30, and taken to a town in central Cuba where he was expected to stand trial.
Reverend Robert Rodriguez is in his late 60’s and in poor health, family members said.
His arrest was so sudden that the pastor was unable to take important medication with him, CSW added. "His family fears without it, his health will continue to deteriorate as he awaits trial."
Rodriguez, the former national president of the Interdenominational Fellowship of Evangelical Pastors and Ministers (CIMPEC), became a government target when he led his organization to withdraw publicly from a government sanctioned religious umbrella group in the second half of 2008.
CIMPEC formally withdrew from the Cuban Council of Churches, citing constant government interference in their internal affairs.
Christians said the criminal charges against Rodriguez are an attempt to discredit and silence him. Cuban officials had no comment.
Charges were brought in late 2008 and Reverend Rodriguez was given three trial dates over the course of last year, but no trial ever took place, CSW explained.
"The treatment of Reverend Rodriguez and his family over the past 21 months has been disgraceful," said CSW National Director Stuart Windsor. He urged the European Union to investigate the human rights situation on the Communist0run island.
"While some heralded the release of some Cuban prisoners of conscience this summer as an improvement in the human rights situation, the arrest of Reverend Rodriguez this week demonstrates that the Cuban government is not interested in real human rights reform," Windsor said.
CSW demands that Cuban authorities release Reverend Rodriguez immediately and drop all charges against him.