Cuban Official Compares Pentecostal 'Spiritual Retreat' to Waco

Cuban police have surrounded the Pentecostal Assembly of God church in Centro Habana where an evangelical pastor and 60 followers have remained for over three weeks in a "spiritual retreat," with one official comparing the situation to the 1993 standoff in Waco, Texas involving the "Branch Davidian" group.

Braulio Herrara has been identified as the individual reportedly leading the men, women and children in a revival service, which has attracted the attention of Cuban police.

Cuba's Assembly of God relieved Herrara of his pastoral credentials in 2010, according to CNN.

Neighbors and relatives called the police after growing concerned about the welfare of the 19 children and four pregnant women who have not left the church since August 21.

Although the group’s spokesperson said those in the church were there voluntarily and have been praying for "a new Cuba," some have compared the group's activities with that of a cult.

A top Cuban church official told CBS News Monday that the situation created by Herrara was "as dangerous as Waco," which involved an FBI siege on the "Branch Davidian" group in Texas in 1993.

Ignacio Estrada, an individual who has been in contact with Herrara’s son, William, told El Nuevo Herald that the group was praying in the church "to achieve a new Cuba."

"They are praying for the Holy Spirit to make an appearance in Cuba now, and they are saying that God is going to pronounce himself on Cuba at any moment," Estrada said. "Maybe it’s a protest against the church or the government, but they deserve to be heard."

Herrara’s son William, spoke with the CNN about the movement his father has been leading.

"We are in a spiritual retreat," William told the news network. "We will continue until God tells us to stop. He is not a person, but he is real and he talks to us."

During the telephone interview with CNN, William dispelled rumors about the group's aims.

"We believe firmly in the Bible and it says clearly that those who take their lives do not go to heaven," he said. "We want to find God, but not through death. This is the 21st century."

After a medical team was sent into the church, confirmation was received that everybody was in good health. However, police have blocked off the areas surrounding the church.

Authorities were aiming to come to a peaceful resolution with church members.

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