Spanish Adventist Pastor Expelled
From Equatorial Guinea, Family Remains
Authorities claim FM transmitter was actually an illegal satellite rig
(Posted June 7, 2013)
BY MARK A. KELLNER
, News Editor
quatorial Guinea, one of Africa’s poorest and smallest nations, expelled a Seventh-day Adventist pastor from Spain who was serving as president of the Church’s Mission in the capital city, Malabo.
Manuel García-Cáceres, an inter-division missionary from Spain, was deported May 23, according to Pedro Torres, communication director for the Church’s Spanish Union. The pastor left the nation without being able to say goodbye to his wife and daughter, both of whom are waiting to return to Spain for a reunion with García.
García had been serving as president of the Adventist Mission headquarters in Equatorial Guinea for 13 months and was expelled from Equatorial Guinea after being falsely accused of "attempts against national security.” The country, consisting of a mainland portion and five inhabited islands, is the third-largest sub-Saharan producer of oil, and has a population of approximately 704,000. Of that number, 137,000, or 40 percent, live in Malabo, which is located on a large coastal island.
According to Torres’ report, García was summoned to the nation’s Justice Ministry on May 21, and accused of bringing "special equipment for satellite communications,” into the country. He was alleged to have to equipment “to report outside of the country ‘internal information’ of Equatorial Guinea.” Officials accused García of having equipment that could elude Guinean security services detection, and thus García was deemed “a danger to national security.”
Apparently, “people close to García” informed authorities that FM broadcasting equipment, legally imported, was actually the allegedly illegal “satellite equipment.” Police then searched the pastor’s home and office, finding only one piece of electronics, Torres reported.
“The single object they found similar to what the detractors described was a radio FM transmitter, donated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Villajoyosa, in Spain’s Alicante province,” Torres reported.
Torres said, “The FM radio equipment was correctly reported at customs when imported from Spain. In fact, the equipment was still packed when the [search] took place.” At the time of the police raid, the gear had not been unpacked or used in the country, he added.
The next day, May 22, García was again summoned to the Justice Ministry, and this time ordered to pay a fine of one million Central African Francs, or approximately U.S. $2003.85. Despite paying the fine, authorities jailed the pastor that day.
On May 23, Spain’s ambassador to Equatorial Guinea visited García in prison and informed the Adventist missionary that expulsion would follow. That evening, García was taken to the airport in Malabo, with his passport returned to him once the plane took off.
The first Seventh-day Adventist missionaries arrived in Equatorial Guinea in 1960. The work was interrupted by the political situation in 1972, but resumed two years later, according to the Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia. As of 2011, there are 19 Seventh-day Adventist churches and 2,453 baptized members in the nation.