Former prisoner in Cuba responds to Castro’s resignation

By February 20, 2008

Cuba (MNN) — Cubans can forget about an end to the United States economic embargo of Cuba, despite Fidel Castro's resignation as head of state. U.S. officials don't believe Raul Castro, the retiring president's brother, will bring the significant change needed to lift those sanctions. Christians in the U.S. agree.

Voice of the Martyrs' USA Director Tom White was captured by Cuban authorities after the plane from which he was dropping Christian leaflets crash-landed there. He was tortured and sentenced to 24 years but served 17 months before he was released.

White is not impressed with the potential new leader: "Castro's brother, Raul, is the one who would shoot prisoners in the head with a 45 pistol if they weren't altogether dead. So that's the kind of person, perhaps, who would be inheriting the transfer of power there."

While communism still reigns, White says, "There are thousands of house churches that have broken open. [There are] hundreds of people worshiping in them, which the government can not stop. They passed a resolution outlawing house churches [not] to be within a certain number of miles from each other, but no one has obeyed this law."

White doesn't believe Castro's resignation will inspire a revolution of sorts because Cuba is now allied with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. "Chavez has unlimited fiscal resources to aid the Cuban government. When the Russians pulled out of Cuba, Castro was furious because he lost between 17 to 21 million dollars a day. Now, their 'sugar daddy' is Chavez in Venezuela."

While communism isn't expected to leave Cuba, White believes Christians will be left alone, relatively. "Cubans noticed how the Romanian revolution was begun by a Lutheran priest, and it really shook them up, and they pulled way back. In my opinion, it would cause a total revolution on the entire island if they started smashing up the poor Christians."

In the meantime, prayer is needed. "Pray that [Christians] continue to exhibit the same kind of courage in their poverty. They knock the walls out of their houses and convert them into little house churches. Pray that they continue to be inspired and have creativity," says White.

He's also asking Christians not to pray for safety. "Most Christians in these nations don't pray that the oppression stops, just that they'll have more courage to be people of faith. So pray that God will strengthen the people of Cuba."

Voice of the Martyrs continues to help believers in Cuba. If you'd like to help VOM, click here.

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