U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesperson
For Immediate Release
Statement by Morgan Ortagus, Spokesperson
September 10, 2019
This past weekend, many in Cuba, and many Cuban Americans, joyfully celebrated the Feast of the Virgin of Charity of Cobre (La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre), the patron saint of Cuba. On this occasion, we again call on the Cuban regime to end its repression of the Cuban people, including its suppression of religious freedom.
We call on the Cuban regime to release all prisoners of conscience. We are troubled by the arbitrary detention of religious activist Ricardo Fernandez Izaguirre for defending religious liberty, the regime’s unexplained refusal to allow five evangelical leaders to travel to a religious conference, and the senseless cancelation of National Catholic Youth Day.
Among the many victims of this repression is Guillermo del Sol, who is entering the 30th day of a hunger strike to protest the Cuban government’s decision to prohibit his son from attending a religious conference. Cuban officials’ failure to respect religious freedom is a serious matter and the human impact is profound.
We remind all foreign government officials that various provisions of U.S. law hold personally accountable foreign officials who are found to be responsible for serious violations of religious freedom and other human rights abuses. This Administration is committed to the robust enforcement of these laws.