Condemning the Attitude of Bishop Ricardo Pereira, Bishop of the Methodist Church in Cuba

Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.

Psalm 25:21 King James Bible

At 10:34 PM I received a text message from my brother the Pastor Yordi Alberto Toranzo Collado in which he told me: “Bishop Pereira and Oscar Carpio Licea (administrator) threaten my family with possible eviction this coming Saturday, the Methodist pulpits are used against me and to defend the corrupt-communist bishop.”

Sadly, I have a duty to support Yordi and condemn the attitude of Bishop Pereira and his cabinet, and his confabulations with the organs of State Security, who I am certain are using some perks as blackmail, they have organized and executed a campaign to recall Pastor Yordi Alberto Toranzo Collago, who was rector of “La Trinidad” Methodist Church in Santa Clara.

One thing I guarantee is that Bishop Pereira is being extorted by the repressive forces of the regime, Ricardo Pereira never, and I repeat never, has been a Communist nor a Castroite, to the contrary he has always shown himself to be against Castro-Communism.

Yordi, it is not only Pereira, Yordi has numerous pastors who support him and will continue to support him, the minister is not removed, you have suspended Yordi Alberto Toranzo from the ministry but he will continue faithfully working for the extension of the Reign of God in Cuba.

Pereira you have given your soul over to evil, you haven’t learned how to distinguish between Holy things and the forces of evil, once again I ask you to remember your vows before the people of God, today is the time, tomorrow will be too late, reflect on the light of the Holy Spirit, assess your attitude, and if you decide to confront the evil I will support you.

We want Yordi.

July 5 2011

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Rest in Peace Monsignor++Pedro Claro Meurice Estíu

… I should introduce to you the nation that lives here and lives in the diaspora; Cubans suffer, live and hope here and also suffer, live, and hope out there.  We are a single people that, navigating the seas on logs, continues to look for unity… 

Mons. ++ Pedro Claro Meurice Estíu 24/1/98 (Words of welcome to His Holiness Pope John Paul II)

Monsignor Pedro Claro Meurice Estíu and His Holiness Pope John Paul II in Cuba.

In my life there have been three great moments that I consider historical: kissing the hands and personally meeting three people that live in the presence of God today. Two of them already decorate the Altar.

The first was Mother Teresa of Calcutta, at the consecration of the Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de Regla; she has been beatified by the Church.

The second was His Holiness Pope John Paul II, at the mass in Santa Clara on 22 January 1998, when Mons. +Fernando Prego (blessed memory) asked him to bless an image of Saint Joseph, after which all the monks, nuns, priests, seminarians, and bishops present kissed the episcopal ring, he gave his apostolic blessing to each of us and presented us with a blessed rosary.

The third was Mons. ++Meurice Estíu (Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba). Accompanied by another saint, Mons. Modesto Peña Paz, I served him as master of ceremonies during mass. He had already been asked to end mass with the Salve in Latin to the Patron of Cuba and he generously accepted. When we finished service and arrived to the sacristy, we saluted each other. He thanked me for serving at the altar; he congratulated me and we hugged. I cried with emotion because I knew I was in the presence of a holy man who did not know fear. During my prison time I remembered a phrase that whispered in my ear while he hugged me and patted my back: Forward, forward!

For your example of life, your bravery to publicly claim and report the needs of your people and for that wonderful opportunity that I will never forget, in which I assisted you at God’s altar. Thank you Mons. Meurice.

Today, 21 July, I cannot explain what I feel in this moment. It is a mix of pain at his parting, intertwined with happiness for the freedom that he already experimented with; but I make my pleas before the altar of God for his soul’s eternal rest, while I hope that the Church will surprise me by lifting him to the glory of the Altar.

Monsignor,

Thank you for your example of life

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share the Eucharist together with you

Thank you for the eloquence of your word and your example of humility

Rest in peace

Your faithful servant, Fr. Ricardo Santiago Medina Salabarria+

Translated by: M. Ouellette

July 21 2011

Cuban Olympic Medalist: From Glory to Misery









In Cuba we have all very carefully followed, in one way or another, the 2011 Panamerican Games in Guadalajara, not so much for the love of sport, but because there are no other entertainment options. But it hasn’t gone unnoticed that Cuban commentators politicise them heavily, which is bordering on indecency.

The government and the broadcasters have glorified the standing of our athletes in the medal count and categorised this ‘as an achievement of the revolution’. Fidel Castro issued ‘thoughts’ which have been read to the nation several times in all the radio and TV media operating on the island. In it, he makes unbalanced comparisons in terms of population, size of the territory and the number of medals won.

That’s when I remember the case of the silver medalist from the Special Olympics that took place in Beijing, China, in 2007. I’m talking about Rauler Castellanos Moreno, a black youth from Pinar del Rio who, despite his victory in this competition, now lives in inhuman conditions.

His house, with dirt floors, has a rudimentary table with very few utensils and no food to cook whatsoever. He has a small hotplate for an “electric stove”, his closet is an egg crate. His mattress is made of jute sack stuffed with dried banana leaves. His windows are improvised from a badly constructed palisade as protection from wind and rain.

This is the reward for bringing the HOMELAND a silver jewel which was – like those of the Cuban team that travelled to Guadalajara on this occasion – loudly celebrated. Meanwhile, Rauler Castellanos and his life were forgotten by everyone.

Rauler Castellanos got to know other places, made ​​new friends, and upon his return was greeted with a certificate of recognition given by The Cuban Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER). Today, he shows in dismay the photos of that event to his friends, and shrouds himself with the country’s insignia recalling his efforts and success. However, he went, like so many others – from glory to misery.

 Translated by: Branislava Vladisavljevic

2 November 2011

Proud to Serve Laura Pollan After Her Death

Ultima foto del cuerpo de Laura Pollán, tomada por el Rev. Ricardo Santiago Medina Salabarría

 Last photo of the body of Laura Pollan, taken by the Rev. Ricardo Santiago Medina Salabarría

On the rainy afternoon of October 14 Laura Ines Pollan Toledo went to dwell in her Father’s house, without the cause of her death stated.

The independent journalist Lucas Garves was visiting my house when he received a call on his cell phone. It was the former prisoner of conscience Adolfo Fernández Saínz, from Radio Marti, wanting to confirm the news that Laura had suffered a cardiac arrest.  We were not even aware of it, but promised to find out immediately.

I called Berta Soler but her cell phone said it was turned off or out of the coverage area. I managed to contact Laurita, Laura’s daughter, and she confirmed the news. She was on her way to Calixto Garcia hospital. Lucas went to the hospital and promised to keep us informed. He called his when he arrived and let us know she had died fifteen minutes earlier. My wife Katia was overcome by tears and I offered my first prayers for the eternal rest of her soul. And we started a communications network with all the delegated of the Cuban Independent and Democratic Party (CIS) at the national level.

Katia and Aimé Cabrales left for the hospital, fearing that the political police would prevent them from participating in the funeral. Once there it was still not known what they were going to do with Laura’s lifeless body. Two options were assessed: holding a wake and cremating it, or cremating it without a wake. Fortunately, they resolved to hold a wake and announced it would be in the funeral home at Calzada and K in Vedado. Katia informed me right away.

I left for the hospital with Abdel Rodríguez Arteaga to wait for the transfer of the body. Arriving there, we decided to continue to Calzada and K. We took a taxi. On arriving in Vedado, only the funeral home was without electricity. The park in front was packed with State Security agents. Berta told us to go to the national funeral home at Infanta and Benjumeda in Central Havana. So we continued in the same taxi and started to communicate with Yoani Sanchez and promised to inform her of any changes.

At the funeral home they were already expecting the news agencies. We waited for the body until after midnight. I coordinated with the clerk to provide us a Cuban flag to cover the coffin, and to not have to return to my house, two blocks away, for fear of being arrested. She undertook to provide it.

The cadaver arrives and they asked for two people to go and dress her. I asked permission to place with her a rosary that had been given to me in the Holy Land. Katia brought a dozen gladioli that were in my house. I went to where she was and was perplexed to see the degree of inflammation in the body. I discovered that they had lied on the medical reports when they said her kidney function was perfect; the edema could have been resolved with diuretics and I honestly believe that they didn’t do so for two reasons:

1 – Because fluid retention inhibits lung capacity, reduces blood flow and causes cardiopulmonary arrest.

2 – Because in the case where it does not cause cause cardiopulmonary arrest, the lack of oxygen to the brain leaves severe brain sequelae; Laura would then be a vegetable.

Two people came in to prepare her. Berta gave me the clothes and I dressed the lifeless body of my sister Laura. I put the rosary in her hands and on the left side three gladioli, symbols of her fight for the release of all the political prisoners. Berta painted her lips; I put on her eye make-up and combed her hair. I asked for help from the workers at the funeral home and they refused. Not even offering them money convinced them to help me; they only put her in the coffin. Berta kissed her forehead; I did the same telling her she would always be with us.

Then I took the last photo of the lifeless body of Laura Pollan (which illustrates this post).

We went to the chapel. There were close to two hundred people at the funeral home. I asked for the flag and the clerk refused, saying it was just for combatants. I found Maceda (Laura’s husband); he asked me to be present at the cremation and I accepted with honor. I asked everyone in the chapel to pray the rosary with me for the eternal rest of her soul. Then did so with great devotion. The Ladies in White present maintained an honor guard; then it was the turn of the former prisoners, and in general everyone present.

At 1:45 AM a State Security official and a funeral home employee with a cart came to take the body. I talked to Angel Moya and Berta and we three went to meet them saying we were told we would have two hours. I found Hector Maceda who had agreed to the request and we refused. Maceda asked for 15 more minutes. So, at 2:15 am we solemnly sang the national anthem. Next, the body was lowered, a moment I took advantage of to take a hair sample and particles of skin which I friend will take to a foreign laboratory in hopes of finding out the true cause of Laura Pollan’s death, because the medical certificate never listed dengue fever as the cause. Instead it said “Type 2 diabetes mellitus, broncho-pneumonia, Cincinnati virus.”

We did not see Laura’s body again. They took us to the crematorium of the new cemetery in Guanabacoa. According to State Security the body should be reviewed by legal medicine to approve the cremation. On arriving at the cemetery a State Security official saw us coming from the doorway and hid himself in an office where later — when the went in carrying a tray of coffee — we saw four more. Afterward I saw the hearse enter; I asked the clerk and she confirmed, “yes, that is your case.” Berta and I asked to see Laura’s body one last time. A very energetic lady told us it was forbidden. I contradicted her saying I had information about a peephole where one could see the process. She repeated firmly, “It is forbidden.”

Maceda asked us to be disciplined and to go with him into the waiting room. We agreed as he was the one directly bereaved. The overbearing lady brought in Laura’s earrings and a hair clasp and Maceda signed as proof that her belongings were returned to him.

They told us the process was over. Maceda asked me to receive the ashes and enthrone them in his house where he had announced that the book of condolences would be open at 9:00 am. It was almost 5:00 am when we got to the headquarters of the Ladies in White, Laura’s and Hector’s house. About fifty people were already there. We hung up the flag. Angel Moya and I cleared off a table where we placed the urn.

Among those present was Diosdado González (another of the 75), my former companion from prison. I greeted him and his wife, Alejandrina García de la Riva.

At 6:00 am we all prayed the rosary with Laurita (Laura Pollan’s daughter). To comply with the wishes of her mother, she announced she had decided to divide the ashes: one part would be taken to the family vault in Manzanillo; the other would be spread in a field of flowers. The ashes were not exposed because Maceda considered it counterproductive to do so. Laurita took the urn to Manzanilla. Then, on Sunday morning, she reported that she had deposited them with those of the Pollan family.

A 9:30 I led another prayer of the rosary, and at noon we prayed the Angelus for the soul of Laura with the Hole Response.

Flower arrangement dedicated to Laura Pollan, broken and thrown into the public street. Photo: Ricardo Santiago Medina Salabarría.

I returned to my house with a bouquet of white flowers that would be taken to Santa Rita church on Sunday, an action we were not able to complete because Katia, Aimé Cabrales, Elizabeth Kawooya Toca, Abdel Rodríguez Arteaga, Hans Delgado Arteaga and Juan Manuel Lara Vidal were arbitrarily arrested on leaving my house. During the arrest Lieutenant Juan of State Security broke the flower arrangement in the public street.

All that is left for me is to pray for eternal rest of her soul, to continue her tireless struggle, to support the collective of women she founded after the vents of the Cuban Black Spring (2003), and that she led for eight long years. I continue to offer my humble abode as an alternative site for the Ladies in White and will live with the confidence that Laura Pollan Toledo will remain forever among us.

October 18 2011

We Want Yordi in Santa Clara


The Methodist Pastor Yordi Alberto Toranzo Collado, rector of “Trinity” Church in the city of Santa Clara. Source: Google Images.

Seeking the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness, has been the Methodist Pastor Yordi Alberto Toranzo Collado,, rector of the “Trinity” Church in the city of Santa Clara, who swore before the Altar of God to seek the Kingdom of God and his Righteousness. The same inscription is in a stained glass image of Jesus with outstretched arms, leading the church whose rector, with the consent of the Holy Spirit, Yordi leads in that city, this image offers a welcome to the people of Santa Clara who pass in front of the temple and gather there.

So the Rev. Yordi Alberto Toranzo Collado, encouraged by the sense of justice, left his house and walked a few blocks to join the grieving family of Soto García, Sunday May 8, the feast of Mother’s Day, as he does and is called on to do, not only as a minister of God, but to all the baptized.

It is sad to see how Monseñor Ricardo Pereira Díaz, Bishop of the Methodist Church in Cuba, a few days later and prompted by fear of State Security through the Department of Attention to Religious Matters and the Ministry of Justice and the Council of State, called for the removal of the pastor to the town of Santa Cruz del Norte, of Havana province. It is painful that an authority of the Church of Christ for the Republic of Cuba serves the government better than he serves his flock and their pastors.

Monseñor Pereira, I am a witness of this town of Santa Clara, where the adages of contempt continued against the temple, the sign that announced the Municipal Party Headquarters, the place which was operated as the Methodist Church in Cuba, I remember as a child (because I am from Santa Clara), how the workers of the Municipal Part bought eggs and called the children studying the Mariano Clemente Prado primary school, located across from the church, to through the eggs at the Reverent Pedro Mayor and his wife Ana Luise whom I remember with much fondness.

Now as a priest of Christ I do not understand, nor will I ever understand, the position you have taken agasint Yordi, his place is to be at the side of justice and I am very sure that this is being denied by the ministry in which you preside. Reflect and ask for the light of the Holy Spirit and say with us:

“We want Yordi in Santa Clara.”

June 28 2011

The Beast Grows Angry When it is Reminded of its Dead

My brother and friend, Priest Pastor Bautista Mario Félix Lleonart Barroso, told me “the beast grows angry when it is reminded of its dead” in a text message that reflected his worry because of the arbitrary arrest of my wife Katia Sonia Martín Véliz and Aimé Cabrales Aguilar, on the morning of July 13.

Unfortunately, while many Cubans paid tribute to the victims of the tugboat “13 de Marzo” (March the 13th) that, by order of the Cuban government, was sunk in the waters of the Bay of Havana to the sound of pressurized water jets and sandbags, the world shuddered because of the death by freezing of a young Cuban who was trying to escape the same regime that massacred a group of people seventeen years ago.

This time, Adonis put himself at the risk in search of freedom like any human being, he tried to make it in the rear landing gear of an Iberia aircraft that served the Havana-Madrid Flight 6620. His body was found with wounds in the chest and the head, as reported by the Anatomical Forensic Institute of Madrid. Cubans submerged in complete misinformation had no knowledge about another victim of the Castro regime intolerance. I do not think Adonis was escaping repression, but he was in search of opportunities that Cuban people are deprived of.

The Priest Bautista was right; the beast grows angry when it is reminded of its dead, but the firm stand of the internal opposition movement, day after day, continues to remember and pay tribute to the dead of the dictatorship, until it is time for the murderers to present themselves before the court of life and assume the consequences of their actions.

Presbyterian Ricardo Santiago Medina Salabarria+

Translated by: Nina

July 13 2011

Cuba Independent and Democratic Party Delivers Constitution Proposal to Cuban Parliament

Click to view slideshow.

Katia Sonia Martín Véliz, Eastern Coordinator of the Cuban Independent and Democratic Party, delivered a  Constitution Proposal at noon on July 21, to the People’s Power National Assembly in the name of the National Executive Committee of the CID.

The proposal of the Constituent Assembly is the fruit of months of work and was accompanied a cover document, signed and sealed by that body as an acknowledgment and nod with folio 1487, in which the National Executive Committee Cuba of the Cuban Independent and Democratic Party explains to the Nomenklatura that real change in Cuba must be under the rule of law, without any exclusions, and where supported by the people directly and without repression; taking into account the opinions and participation of all Cubans, regardless of their place of residence.

The missive dated July 20, recognizes the example and vision of Commander Huber Matos Benitez, founder of the CID and current Executive Secretary and stresses that accepting the enrichment of the constituent proposal with the opinion of all Cubans living on the island or in the diaspora.

The National Executive Committee (CEN) is composed of Daniel Mesa Cantillo, Katia Sonia Veliz Martin, Ricardo Santiago Medina Salabarria, Irel Gómez Moreira and Nivaldo Amedo Ramírez.

Lisbán Hernández Sánchez
Giraldilla Information Center

July 22 2011