Castro Regime Arrests Cuban Pastor Ahead of Obama’s Visit

Mar 21, 2016 Issues: Foreign Affairs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Chairman Duncan released the following statement after reports surfaced that Cuban State Security arrested Reverend Mario Felix Lleonart Barroso, placed his wife and daughters under house arrest, and surrounded their church with police – all just hours before President Obama arrived for his official visit in Cuba:

Chairman Duncan: “President Obama has chosen to go to Cuba when the Castro regime continues to repress freedom. The Castro regime’s decision to arrest Mario Felix, place his wife and daughters under house arrest, and threaten their church at the start of Holy Week and only hours before Obama’s visit reflects utter contempt for human rights and American values. I am deeply concerned about Mario Felix’s health, as Cuban State Security have prevented any contact with his family and have disallowed him food and liquids – all when he appears physically ill.

Today, so many people in Cuba, including the Ladies in White, the Patriotic Union of Cuba, bloggers and human rights defenders, pastors, and unnamed ordinary citizens live under government forced repression. They have no experience of life without state authority under the Castro regime. I strongly urge Obama to speak out firmly for those in Cuba who have no voice, for those whose voice has been silenced, and for those like Mario Felix have been unjustly detained. I also urge Mario Felix’s immediate release.”

NOTE: Mario Felix testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere’s field hearing in Miami on November 6, 2015 entitled, “Deplorable Human Rights Violations in Cuba and Venezuela.” This hearing followed a September 17, 2015 Subcommittee hearing on “Challenges to Religious Freedom in the Americas.”