Pastor Omar Gude Perez was released from a Cuban prison earlier this year, but he is still a captive on the island, after the regime denied him and his family permission to accept an offer of asylum in the United States.
Omar Gude Perez, a Cuban pastor who was imprisoned on trumped-up charges, has been granted asylum by the United States but refused permission to leave Cuba. He is the second high-profile protestant pastor to be granted asylum in the US this year.
Pastor Omar Gude Perez, who was imprisoned in May 2008, his wife Kenia and their two children, received the news that they have been granted asylum on 18 July. Two days later, however, Cuban emigration officials in Camaguey informed them that they will not be issued exit visas, referred to in Cuba as a White Card.
The authorities justified their decision to the family by saying that Pastor Gude must serve out the remainder of his prison sentence in Cuba, despite the fact that the Cuban government allowed scores of political prisoners to go into exile last year without completing their sentences.
Pastor Gude was granted conditional liberty and released from prison earlier this year after serving three years of a six and a half year sentence. If he is forced to serve out the rest of his sentence in Cuba this would keep the family in the country until 2014. As part of the terms of his conditional liberty, Pastor Gude is prohibited from pastoral work including preaching and his movements are severely restricted.
CSW’s Advocacy Director Andrew Johnston said, “We were relieved to hear that the Gude family has been granted asylum but strongly condemn the Cuban government’s petty decision to deny Pastor Gude and his family the right to leave the country. Their decision to leave the country was reluctantly made after years of intense persecution on the part of the authorities. Unless the Cuban government is prepared to cease its persecution of the family and to allow them to work as pastors openly and without restrictions, they must afford them the same right they have granted so many others and allow them to go into exile.”