Latest in campaign of harassment
HAVANA, CUBA (BosNewsLife)– A pastor’s wife who lost her baby after a neighbour attacked her on the street, is being fined the equivalent of over two months salary on charges of “disturbing the public order” on that day, Christian trial observers said Friday, August 21.
Gilianys Meneses de los Rios, daughter-in-law to Reverend Roberto Rodriguez and wife to Pastor Eric Gabriel Rodriguez, faced Cuba’s Placetas Tribunal on Monday August 17.
“She is being fined 600 pesos, which is twice the average monthly salary in Cuba, for being attacked on the street by the wife of a neighbour in December 2008,” said Britain-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), an international advocacy group that has closely monitored the case.
The attack was the latest in a campaign of harassment against the Rodriguez family, carried out with what CSW described as “the tacit support of the authorities.”
CSW linked the alleged attacks to the families’ involvement in the Interdenominational Fellowship of Evangelical Pastors and Ministers in Cuba (CIMPEC) decision to leave the state-backed Cuban Council of Churches (CCC).
“As Pastors, Gilianys and her husband, Eric Gabriel Rodriguez, do not receive a salary from the Cuban State. However in addition to the court fine, they will also have to pay an additional 400 pesos for the costs associated with the court case. They have two small children and say they find it difficult to make ends meet,” CSW said.
There has been an increase in reported violations of religious liberty since Raul Castro took power in early 2008, according to rights watchers.
CSW Advocacy Director Alexa Papadouris told BosNewsLife in a statement that it is “a terrible injustice that Gilianys Meneses de los Rios is being fined for a crime she did not commit and over an incident in which she was the victim.”
Papadouris said CSW has urged the Cuban government to investigate the case and drop the charges against the Rodriguez family and the international community to intervene.
Cuban authorities have in the past denied wrongdoing towards Christians and dissidents still detained in the Communist-run island.