The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has continued to
observe the human rights situation in the Republic of Cuba closely.
The purpose of this report is to provide a review of the events
that have taken place in Cuba in the field of Human Rights, which
require special consideration. It
should also be noted that the major criterion for preparing this report
has been the lack of free elections in accordance with internationally
accepted standards, thereby violating the right to political
participation set forth in Article XX of the American Declaration of the
Rights and Duties of Man, which states textually that:
Every person having legal capacity is entitled to participate in
the government of his country, directly or through his representatives,
and to take part in popular elections, which shall be by secret ballot,
and shall be honest, periodic and free.
The Commission drew on several sources in preparing this report,
such as the testimony of victims who have suffered violations of their
rights in Cuba, complaints brought against the Cuban State, and an
abundance of information provided by nongovernmental organizations in
Cuba and abroad.
COMPETENCE OF THE COMMISSION
The Commission has affirmed that the Cuban State is a party to
international instruments, which, in the context of the American
hemisphere, were initially established to protect human rights:
the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man and the
Charter of the Organization of American States.
This State also signed Resolution VIII of the Fifth Meeting of
Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs (Santiago, Chile, 1959),
whereby the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights was instituted,
"charged with promoting respect for such rights."
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has always
maintained that Resolution VI of the Eighth Meeting of Consultation
excluded the Government of Cuba, and not the State, from participating
in the Inter-American System. This
position is confirmed by the wording of said Resolution, the statements
made during the discussions approving it and other actions taken by the
Organization in this connection. However,
the validity of such a distinction between Government and State has been
challenged, on the grounds that exclusion of the Government also implies
exclusion of the Cuban State.
The foregoing is upheld by the Commission in its Seventh Report
on Human Rights in Cuba, when it points out that in the opinion of the
Commission, Government and State are two juridical and institutionally
differentiable concepts, not only in the context of legal theory but
also in practice.
The Commission, on the other hand, considers that "in the
case of Cuba, the exclusion of its Government could hardly determine the
loss of its capacity of member state since, within the system of the
Charter of the OAS, there is only one case in which a state can lose
this capacity: the one
provided for in Article 4, i.e., in the event of the entry into the
Organization of a new political entity born of the union of several of
its member states. Unlike
the United Nations Charter, which allows for the possibility of
expelling a member state that repeatedly violates its principles
(Article 6), the Charter of the OAS does not consider this possibility.
Hence, the Commission considers that the character of member
state is a right under the provisions of the Charter and as such,
no state can be deprived of this capacity; the condition of member state
can only be renounced by a Government which considers such a step
appropriate, but cannot be lost through the imposition of a penalty not
contemplated in the Charter."
It was the Cuban Government--not the State--that was excluded
from the inter-American system. Consequently,
the Cuban State is juridically responsible to the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights in all matters involving human rights.
A further argument which should be mustered by the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights is that the purpose of excluding Cuba from
the inter-American system by the Organization of American States was not
to leave the Cuban people unprotected.
The exclusion of that Government from the regional system by no
means implies that it can cease to comply with its international
obligations in the area of human rights.
As for consideration of the Annual Report of the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights before the General Assembly of the OAS, it
should be pointed out that when a special report is included on one of
the member states, the representatives of said countries may make any
comments they deem to be appropriate.
The General Assembly, in its capacity of supreme organ of the
Organization, may adopt such decisions as it considers appropriate, but
it does not have the power to amend reports approved by the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
Consequently, it cannot be said that the right to defense is
exercised before it by a country.
Before starting to examine the general situation of human rights
in Cuba, the Inter-American
Commission finds it necessary to refer to the latest background
information which it has in this respect: the conclusions and
recommendations of its last report.
The purpose is to determine whether the Cuban State has taken any
steps or, if not, whether there has occurred any sort of political
reform which might improve the situation of human rights in Cuba.
10. In this regard,
in the framework of its conclusions in its 1994
Annual Report, the Commission indicated, inter alia, that
"the Government's repression of political dissent, the de facto and
de jure subordination of the administration of justice to the Government
Party, the lack of guarantees against arbitrary arrest, and the
deliberately severe and degrading conditions in Cuban prisons, combined
with the serious economic situation, constitute a dangerous potential
for social conflicts and are a matter of profound concern for the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights."
Further on, the Commission added:
"Consequently, ... [it is] absolutely necessary that the
Cuban Government immediately initiate political and economic reforms in
order to prevent the situation deteriorating even further.
If the present situation continues, the outcome would be
extremely serious for the human rights situation in general."
various sources of information available to the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights concur in noting that, during the period
covered by this report, the Cuban State adopted a series of measures in
respect to human rights.
measures adopted by the Cuban State are as follows:
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, José
Ayala Lasso, visited Cuba, thanks to the permission granted by the Cuban
Representatives of four non-governmental organizations were
allowed to visit Cuba to observe the situation of a group of political
prisoners. This visit made
possible the release of 22 prisoners who had been convicted of political
crimes, before completing their sentences, without imposition of any
condition that they leave the country.
On May 17, 1995, the Cuban State ratified the United Nations
Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment.
In September 1995, the Cuban State approved a law on foreign
investment. Despite the
observations made by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
(paragraphs 84 ff. of the present report), the Commission believes the
start of measures that would allow economic openness in Cuba to be a
In November 1995 the State permitted a conference to be held on
"The Nation and Emigration," thereby providing a forum for
dialogue between Cubans living in Cuba and living abroad, though it was
still limited to very specific issues.
In 1996, an inter-American academic institution--the
Inter-American Institute of Human Rights, whose headquarters are in San
Jose, Costa Rica--entered into an initial activity with Cuba's National
Jurists' Union (the equivalent of the bar associations in other
countries), thereby culminating a consultation process which it had
introduced in May of 1994. The
first IACHR promotion mission went to Cuba, also in May of 1994; but it
should be noted that, ever since the First Interdisciplinary Course on
Human Rights in 1983, the Commission has invited Cuban citizens and
personalities who live outside Cuba to take part in this inter-American
academic exercise. The
"Seminar on Human Rights," held in Havana from May 30 through June 1 of 1994 in
cooperation with Cuba's National Jurists Union (UNJC), constituted the
first IACHR human rights activity in the difficult political context
which is the framework for any work in this field in Cuba.
It was also unique in the inter-American sphere--at least until
now. This was the
Commission's first national seminar on human rights during a period
(June 1994 to July 1996) fraught with tense relations between Cuba and
various countries of the international community.
This project attracted more than 70 members of Cuba's juridical
community (judges, lawyers, university professors, members of the
various courts and Ministry of Justice personnel).
The forum served as the starting point for a limited process of
discussion and debate on the subject of human rights--and, in
particular, the judicial guarantees in the Constitution, which also
addressed Cuba's approach to human rights.
Various members of the international community took part in this
process. To cite an example: the subject of human rights was seen to
have been a focal point in the global dialogue with the European Union
about the drafting of a framework agreement on Cooperation, and some of
the European Union's members observed that the existing channels for
dialogue through political relations should not be closed, but should
lead to progressively greater openness.
In that context, Canada has signed an agreement on human rights
with Cuba. It calls for the
provision of training seminars for judges and lawyers; meetings of
legislators from the parliaments of both countries to discuss human
rights topics; and establishment of a bilateral mixed commission
responsible for conducting the dialogue between the two countries on
this subject. Moreover, a
comparative study of the legal system currently in effect (penal and
civil law, the family code, investment rules, private initiative and the
right of business and commercial establishments) is now under way, thus
creating openings for legal technical assistance--even in areas that are
the inherent purview of human rights.
In January 1997, in the context of a clear easing of tensions
between the Catholic Church and the Cuban State, the newspaper Granma,
organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (PCC), announced
in its front-page headline that Pope John Paul II will visit Cuba in
early 1998. This is
particularly important considering that since the 1960s the Catholic
Church has not had access to the communication medias in Cuba.
Furthermore, the Noticiero Nacional de Televisión (national
television newscast) reported as its leading news item that President
Fidel Castro received Cardinal Camilo Ruini and his delegation from the
Italian Bishops Conference at the Palacio de la Revolución; the
delegation was making an official visit to Cuba.
Also participating in that meeting were Vice-President Carlos
Lage and the Chief of the Communist Party's Office of Religious Affairs,
Caridad Diego, as well as Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega and the Apostolic
Nuncio, Beniamino Stella.
the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights considers that these
measures do not comprise the bedrock of a substantive reform in the
present political system, which fosters the observance and protection of
human rights. In other
words, a reform that will permit the ideological and partisan pluralism
implicit in the wellspring from which a democratic system of government
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, during the period covered by
this report, has also continued to receive numerous complaints about
violations of the civil and political rights of Cuban citizens who for
one reason or another take issue with government policy.
In effect, discrimination on political grounds and the violations
of the freedom of expression and association generally are accompanied
by punishment including deprivation of liberty, temporary detentions,
harassment, threats, loss of employment, home searches, adoption of
disciplinary measures, etc. In
addition is the control exercised by the Cuban State over citizens'
private activities, including the need to obtain permission from the
Ministry of Interior to freely travel abroad.
Furthermore, there is still de facto and de jure subordination of
the administration of justice to the political authorities, which
affects one of the fundamental conditions for the practical observance
of this right. The result
is a negative climate of uncertainty and fear among the citizenry, which
is reinforced by the weak state of procedural guarantees, especially in
those trials that may directly or indirectly affect the system of power
that exists in Cuba today.
conditions described above, together with the grave economic crisis of
recent years, has generated a situation in which approximately 10% of
lives outside the country, and a large number of people wish to
emigrate, by any means, to seek better living conditions.
AND POLITICAL RIGHTS
DISCRIMINATION ON POLITICAL GROUNDS RELATIVE TO THE LACK OF
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION, ASSOCIATION AND ASSEMBLY
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has referred in previous
reports to the systematic practice of the Cuban State of discriminating
against citizens under its jurisdiction for political reasons and the
lack of freedom of expression, association, and assembly.
During the period covered by this report, the practice of the
Cuban authorities has not changed, nor have the constitutional and
criminal provisions on which they rely in so acting.
In other words, the harassment, accusations, adoption of
disciplinary measures and prison sentences for persons who peacefully
display their disagreement with the political regime in place have
persisted. Such harassment
is directed especially at groups geared to supporting human rights,
including trade union rights, or political activity.
These groups are characterized by their decision to use only
peaceful means in pressing their grievances, despite which the
authorities consider their activities illegal, and they are persecuted
in various ways. The
criminal offenses most commonly used to characterize these persons'
activities include "enemy propaganda," "contempt" (desacato),
"unlawful association," "clandestine possession of
printed matter," "posing a danger,"
"rebellion," and "acts against state security."
the conditions described above, the groups that defend human rights as
well as the political groups continued to grow in number in the course
of the last two years. According to the information provided, the importance of
these groups is often downplayed by the Cuban State, which labels them
"counter-revolutionaries" or "grupúsculos"
(derisive-sounding to say "small groups").
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights considers, to the contrary,
that these groups are an alternative for Cuban citizens who wish to have
a space to freely and peacefully discuss the main problems besetting the
country. It is also a form
of pluralism within a system characterized by the absolute control
exercised by the state over its citizens; such control is implemented
through the mass organizations; no intermediate-type organizations are
Inter-American Commission should also note that the right of assembly
and the right of association, in addition to being set forth in the
American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, and in other
international human rights instruments, are closely interconnected.
Based on the freedom of association, a citizen is free to
associate with whomever he or she chooses, without being subject to any
penalty in respect of the use of his or her other civil, political,
economic, and social rights, as a result of such association.
This includes the right to form associations and the right to
join already-existing associations, and encompasses all phases of life
in a modern society.
right to assemble, for its part, consists of the right all persons have
to assemble in groups, publicly or privately, to discuss or defend their
ideas. These rights--of
association and assembly--are contained in the constitutions of all the
states of the Americas, including Cuba.
In effect, Article 54 of the Cuban Constitution states:
"The rights of assembly, demonstration, and association are
exercised by the workers, both manual and intellectual, peasants, women,
students, and all other sectors of the working people, for which the
means necessary to such purposes are provided.
The mass organizations and social organizations have all the
facilities to develop such activities, in which their members enjoy the
fullest freedom of speech and opinion, based on the unlimited right of
initiative and criticism."
the right of assembly, like all other rights, duties, and fundamental
guarantees set forth in Chapter VII of the Constitution of Cuba, is
limited and subordinated to the "construction of socialism and
communism." Article 62 of the Cuban Constitution notes as follows:
None of the freedoms recognized for citizens may be exercised
against the provisions of the Constitution and the laws, nor against the
existence and ends of the socialist state, nor against the decision of
the Cuban people to build socialism and communism.
Infractions of this principle are punishable.
for the freedom of expression, Article 53 of the Constitution provides:
"Freedom of speech and press are recognized for citizens
consistent with the purposes of socialist society.
The material conditions for their exercise are present by the
fact that the press, radio, television, movies, and other mass media are
state-owned or socially owned, and can in no event be privately owned,
which ensures their use exclusively in the service of the working people
and in the interest of society. The
law regulates the exercise of these freedoms."
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights considers that the Cuban
Constitution clearly establishes the legal bases for censorship, since
the state is the only one that can determine whether oral or written
expression, the right to association and assembly, or the rest of the
rights set forth in the Constitution are contrary to the prevailing
political system. The
Constitution also sets forth the legal bases for the state to direct all
activities related to the arts, culture, and the press.
intolerance of the government party for any type of political opposition
is the main limitation to participation.
This tendency is legitimated by Article 62 of the Constitution.
Indeed, the political practice has shown that prejudice against
public opposition is generalized. Since
1960, all the information media have been in the hands of the state.
There are no legal means for openly challenging the policies of
the government or Party, or competing as a group, movement, or political
party organization for the right to govern, to replace the Communist
Party and its leaders by peaceful means, and to develop new and
different policies. In
summary, it is impossible to make open and organized criticism of the
policies of the Government and the Party that might make the
highest-level leaders susceptible to assuming responsibility, being held
accountable, and being removed from office.
In other words, the current Cuban regime persists in employing
various methods--control of information and of scientific and cultural
pursuit, jailing of dissidents, massive migrations abroad, etc.--to
restrict and even eliminate all forms of political opposition.
the period covered by this report, the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights has received numerous complaints that demonstrate the
conditions described in the preceding paragraphs, i.e. discrimination
due to political motives and the violations of the rights to expression,
association, and assembly. Following
are some of the relevant complaints:
A mob of 60 to 80 people in civilian clothing and armed with
pipes and chains surrounded the house of Victoria Ruíz Labrit,
President of the Comité Cubano de Oposición Pacífica Independiente,
so as to impede an alleged meeting of political dissidents.
The events occurred at approximately 8:30 a.m., on August 10,
1995, in the city of Havana. Everyone who passed by the home of Victoria Ruíz was
detained, searched, and asked to show their identification. At approximately 9:00 a.m. the district delegate for the
Poder Popular mass organization and a representative of the Federation
of Cuban Women, who stated that they had knowledge of a meeting of
"counter-revolutionaries," in response to which Victoria Ruíz
invited them to come in, stating: "I
would like you to come in to see that the counter-revolutionaries who
are meeting with me are three minors ages 11, eight, and six
years." The state
agents refused to enter, but they remained in front of her domicile
The Asociación Cívica Democrática reported that in Cuba
criminal charges continue to be fabricated against dissidents and human
rights activists, with a total lack of procedural guarantees.
In effect, Ismael Morales, 17 years of age, the son of a
dissident from the Isla de Pinos, Antonio Morales Torres, was sentenced
to six months in prison for an alleged larceny, even though the
prosecutor withdrew the charges when the witnesses he had proposed
retracted. On appeal, the
innocence of Ismael Morales was amply shown.
Nonetheless, the President of the Chamber declared that they
would convict him anyway, assuming full responsibility, since he neither
studied or worked.
Marcos Gonzáles Hernández, María Elena Bayo Gonzáles, Ariel
Lavandera López, Regla Tapanes Tapanes, Rodolfo Valdés Pérez, Carlos
Denis Denis, Pedro Pablo Denis Blanco, Felipe Lázaro Carranza Díaz,
Ileana Curra Luzón, Iván Curra de la Torre, and Jorge Heriberto
Alfonso Aguilar were sentenced to three-year prison terms by the
Provincial Tribunal of Havana in case 36/94 for the crimes of enemy
propaganda and acts against state security.
According to the judgment, it was proved that the accused
"in discord with the Cuban revolutionary process and its
guidelines, for the purpose of subverting the established social order
and to destabilize the bases of our social and economic
system...conceived of the idea of drawing up and distributing in
different places proclamations, with counter-revolutionary texts, which
they carried out by designing a rustic logo and printing up pamphlets
with texts such as Abajo Fidel and Plesbiscito."
During the period covered by this report, the Partido Pro-Derechos
Humanos de Cuba denounced the harassment by the Cuban authorities of
independent attorneys who have taken up the defense of peaceful
dissidents and human rights activists.
According to the information provided, attorneys Leonel Morejón
Almagro of the Marianao law office and René Gómez Manzano of the
Casación law office were expelled after working for several years
defending cases involving human rights violations.
Morejón Almagro was visited at his home on February 9, 1995, by
a delegation of the "Single System for Exploration and
Vigilance," an agency created by the Cuban regime to intimidate
people supposedly "dangerous" to society due to an
"apparent deviation in their social conduct," which entails,
as a consequence, the opening of a "dangerous status" file
with the respective punishment of four years imprisonment.
The Fundación Solidaria Por la Democracia reported from Havana
the cases of four Cuban citizens imprisoned after being convicted for
alleged crimes of rebellion and acts against state security.
The persons sentenced, all residents
of the city of Minajarle, municipality of Jiguaní, province of
Granma, are as follows: Leonardo
Cabrera Arias, 31 years of age, sentenced to eight years imprisonment;
Lino José Molina Basulto, 32 years of age, sentenced to eight years;
Ramiro Angel Rodríguez Leyva, 30 years of age, sentenced to seven
years; and Jorge Oscar Rodríguez Leyva, 32 years of age, sentenced to
eight years in prison. The
four were accused, along with other citizens who were released, "of
grouping together and assessing the country's economic, social, and
political situation, of hearing foreign radio broadcasts, make written
propaganda, and seeking a new hideout for grouping people
together." The accused
have argued that their only crime was to meet weekly for Biblical
studies. The investigating
judge stated that they "were false religious."
At present all four are at the Las Mangas prison, each on a
Also during the period covered by this report, Francisco Chaviano
Gonzáles, President of the Consejo Nacional por los Derechos Civiles en
Cuba, was detained by State Security agents in Havana and sentenced to
15 years prison. The
detention occurred when state agents broke into his domicile shortly
after an unknown person provided him with documents on human rights
violations. The agents also
took documentation of that Council, especially with respect to persons
who had disappeared at sea when they tried to abandon the country.
Chaviano Gonzáles was led to the Villa Marista barracks, accused
of disclosing secret information on state security. Earlier, Mr. Chaviano had been subjected to frequent acts of
intimidation. Three others,
Abel del Valle Díaz, Pedro Miguel Labrador, and Juan Carlos Gonzáles Vásquez,
were also tried in the same case with Chaviano.
The trial was held before a military tribunal, even though all
the accused were civilians. The
attorney for Abel del Valle Díaz later wrote in the press in Miami,
that the case was investigated secretly by the judge, i.e. without the
participation of the attorneys, and that only three days prior to the
celebration of the trial was he able to review the proceedings and meet
with his defendant. In
addition, the attorney was not given access to the two documents
classified "secret" (that addressed how to combat crimes in
the area of restaurants, services, and fuel) that were supposedly found
in possession of the accused, and that were at the basis of one of the
main accusations. In the
course of the judicial process, held behind closed doors, access was
denied to several defense witnesses, and friends and relatives were
threatened at the entry to the building by members of the rapid action
brigades. Some members of
human rights organizations were arrested as they were heading to the
court; they were later released.
In December 1995 the coalition Concilio Cubano asked the Cuban
authorities to allow it to hold a national gathering on February 24,
1996. That meeting never
took place. One official of
the Ministry of Interior told Gustavo Arcos, a leader of the group, that
the Government would not allow the meeting.
In mid-February 1996 dozens of members of the coalition were
detained nationwide, despite the decision of its leaders to cancel the
above-noted gathering, so as to avoid any incidents.
Days later the detainees were released; nonetheless, four were
tried, convicted, and sentenced to prison.
Lázaro Gonzáles Valdés, vice-delegate and member of the
National Secretariat of the Concilio Cubano, was detained on February
15, 1996, and sentenced to 14 months on charges of resistance and
contempt for authority (desacato); Leonel Morejón Almagro, 31
years old, member of the Corriente Agramontista and founder of the
Concilio Cubano, was detained on February 15, 1996, and sentenced one
month later by the Provincial People's Tribunal to 15 months in prison
for resisting an official in the exercise of his duties, and for the
crime of desacato; Roberto López Montañez, 43 years old, member
of the Movimiento Opositor "Panchito Gómez Toro" and of the
Alianza Democrática Popular, was detained on February 23, 1996, and
sentenced on July 4, 1996, by the Municipal Tribunal of Boyeros to 15
months in prison for the crime of contempt (desacato) for the
image of Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro and falsification of documents;
and Juan Francisco Monzón Oviedo, 44 years old, teacher, and member of
the National Coordinating Council of Concilio Cubano, was detained on
February 15, 1996, and sentenced to six months in prison for
"unlawful association" in a summary trial on March 21, 1996.
FREEDOM OF PRESS
has been indicated in this report, since 1960 all the communications
media have been state-run. The
functions of the mass media in Cuba, and especially the written press,
may be better understood when viewed in light of the functions assigned
to them by the doctrine of the party in power in Cuba today.
The written newspapers are assigned the functions of agitation,
propaganda, organization, and self-criticism.
functions presuppose a shared and unified political outlook, while at
the same time they are geared to eliminating the sectors that might
oppose this basic conception. Thus,
the task of agitation is part of the ideological struggle, and therefore
does not necessarily coincide with the objectivity and veracity that are
at the basis of the information function.
view of the propaganda function given the press by the state, the press
is also a channel of education and indoctrination in Marxism-Leninism.
Therefore the daily newspaper Granma, Cuba's main paper,
is the organ of the Communist Party Central Committee, and devotes much
of its content to that objective. Granma
was designed based on Pravda, the organ of the Central Committee of the
Communist Party of the former Soviet Union, and was created from the
merger of two pre-existing daily papers, Hoy and Revolución.
The frequent discrepancies between the two newspapers led to the
decision to merge them and to adopt its current character.
indicated in this report, the main newspapers in Cuba reflect only the
viewpoints of the government. Only
to a very limited extent do they report on the debates that take place
within the high-level organs of state.
As a result, self-criticism is also limited, i.e. it refers to
very specific aspects of daily life in Cuba.
It is a role the press plays with a view to transmitting the
grievances of the grass-roots to the top echelons of power.
Nonetheless, in no way do the discrepancies overstep the limits
set by the requirements of ideological conformity, i.e. in no way can
they oppose, or become spokespersons advocating a radical change in the
prevailing regime, or that hold upper-level government officials
accountable in relation to substantive political issues.
limits set by the governing party of Cuba on any type of criticism that
represents open opposition to the regime encompass reprisals that range
from being laid off, to proceedings that result in prison sentences.
In this regard, for example, the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights was informed that Alexis Castañeda Pérez de Alejo a
journalist for the newspapers Vanguardia and Huella, was
sentenced to five years in prison for having made statements described
as "enemy propaganda."
reprisals, as well as the lay-offs, have led many journalists fired for
political reasons to form independent news agencies to provide
information to foreign media outlets.
These journalists, however, are subjected to all types of
harassment, including searches of their homes, and confiscation of
equipment (facsimile machines, tape recorders, cameras, videotapes,
etc.). During the period
covered by this annual report, the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights has received abundant information that confirms the information
in the preceding paragraphs. Following
are some of the cases that describe the intimidating measures adopted by
the Cuban State:
Néstor Baguer, President of the Agencia de Prensa Independiente
(APIC: Independent Press Agency) was seriously injured by an unknown
individual who hit him several times; as a result he suffered a broken
wrist and several hematomas. The
events occurred in Havana, on March 2, 1995.
On July 11, 1995, members of the State Security force searched
his home, seized a facsimile machine, and disconnected his phone
service. Days later Néstor
Baguer filed a complaint before the Municipal Court of Plaza to secure
the return of what had been confiscated.
Nonetheless, the court clerk refused to admit the document,
stating that it had no legal basis.
Roxana Valdivia, correspondent of Reporters without Borders and
member of the Independent Press Agency, was detained May 22, 1995, and
held for interrogation for 10 hours.
Since, she has continuously received threatening phone calls.
Orestes Fandevila, Luis López Prendes, and Lázaro Lazo, also
members of APIC, were detained and interrogated for several hours on
July 8, 1995.
During the period covered by this report, other independent news
agencies were created, such as "Habana Press," "Cuba
Press," Círculo de Periodistas de la Habana," and
"Patria." In July
1995, the anniversary of the sinking of the 13 DE MARZO tugboat, several
independent journalists were harassed by the Cuban authorities. On July 12, 1995, one day before the anniversary, Rafael
Solano, the director of "Habana Press," was detained for
interrogation by State Security agents.
During his detention he was accused of writing articles with a
view to damaging the system through subversive radio stations and
newspapers, and informed that a proceeding was begun against him under
charges of "enemy propaganda."
He was also accused of instigating people to participate in a
protest over the sinking of the 13 DE MARZO tugboat.
After 11 hours of interrogation he was taken to his residence and
placed under house arrest. The
following day he was taken once again to the State Security offices,
where he was given an official warning to suspend his "enemy
propaganda" activities involving providing information to the
Also on the second anniversary of the sinking of the 13 DE MARZO
tugboat, July 13, 1996, there were a series of arrests and house
searches of journalists who try to report outside of the official press.
Joaquín Torres, member of the Habana Press, had his files,
equipment, and documentation taken from him for several hours at the
Tenth Police Unit of Acosta y Diez de Octubre.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights also received
several complaints on journalists who were arrested in the course of
1996: Julio Martínez, of
Habana Press, detained on January 14; Luis Salar Hernández, of the
Independent Press Office (BPIC), held in Ciego de Avila on January 19;
Raúl Rivero of Cuba Press, detained February 14; Bernardo Fuentes
Camblor of the BPIC, detained on January 15, March 6, and August 12, in
Camagüey; María de los Angeles Gonzáles and Omar Rodríguez of the
BPIC, detained on March 13; Olance Nogueras, of the BPIC, detained April
23, 1996 in Cienfuegos; Yndamiro Restano of the BPIC, detained April 26;
Lázaro Lazo, of the BPIC, detained May 24, and interrogated anew on
June 24; Joaquín Torres Alvarez, threatened and pressured to leave the
country on May 31, and detained on July 12; José Rivero García, of
Cuba Press, received threats and work equipment was seized from him on
June 9; Norma Britto, of the BPIC, held for interrogation on June 26;
Orlando Bordón Galvez, of Cuba Press, interrogated on July 13; Mercedes
Moreno, of the BPIC, interrogated on July 15; Néstor Baguer, of the
Agencia de Prensa Independiente, interrogated on July 15 and 16; Juan
Antonio Sánchez, of Cuba Press, detained on February 14 and July 30;
Pedro Argüelles Morán, of Patria, interrogated on August 1; Ramón
Alberto Cruz Lima, of Patria, interrogated on August 1 and 7; Magaly
Pino García and Jorge Enrique Rivas, of Patria, detained in Camagüey
on August 12; and Jorge Olivera Castillo, of Habana Press, interrogated
on August 14, 1996.
foregoing account is a motive of deep concern to the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights, as it shows that in Cuba there is no freedom
of the press that would allow for different political views, which are
fundamental for a democratic regime. To the contrary, radio, television, and the print media are
instruments of ideological imposition that follow the dictates of the
group in power and are used to transmit the messages from that group to
the grass-roots and the intermediate levels.
RIGHT TO JUSTICE AND DUE PROCESS
American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man sets forth the
right to justice and due process of law in the following articles:
Article XVIII. Every
person may resort to the courts to ensure respect for his legal rights. There should likewise be available to him a simple, brief
procedure whereby the courts will protect him from acts of authority
that, to his prejudice, violate any fundamental constitutional rights.
Article XXVI. Every
accused person is presumed to be innocent until proved guilty.
Every person accused of an offense has the right to be given an
impartial and public hearing, and to be tried by courts previously
established in accordance with pre-existing laws, and not to receive
cruel, infamous or unusual punishment.
doctrine of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights establishes
that the effective observance of the guarantees contained in the
articles cited is grounded in the independence of the judiciary, which
derives from the classic separation of powers.
This is a logical consequence of the very conception of human
rights. In effect, if one
seeks to protect the rights of individuals in the face of possible state
actions, it is essential that one of the organs of that state enjoy the
independence needed to enable it to pass judgment on both the actions of
the executive and the legality of the laws passed and even the decisions
issued by members of the judiciary itself.
Therefore, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
considers that the effective independence of the judiciary is an
essential requirement for the practical observance of human rights in
that context, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights should
reiterate, once again, that in Cuba there is still de facto and de jure
subordination of the administration of justice to the political
authorities. In effect,
during the period covered by this report, the constitutional and
criminal provisions have not changed, nor has the practice of the Cuban
authorities. Article 121 of
the Constitution of Cuba indicates, for example:
"The courts constitute a system of state organs, structured
with functional independence from any other, and subordinated
hierarchically to the National Assembly of People's Power and to the
Council of State."
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights considers that the mere
constitutional stipulation of the independence of the judicial organs
with respect to political power is not a sufficient condition for
ensuring the proper administration of justice.
As this separation of powers is not provided for in the
Constitution, the administration of justice is subjected, in fact and in
law, to the political authorities.
As derives from Article 121 of the Constitution, the
subordination of the courts of justice to the National Assembly of
People's Power, and especially to the Council of State, makes the courts
depend on the political authorities.
This relationship is reinforced by the function of the Council of
State, to exercise "the legislative initiative and regulatory
power; decision-making and issuance of rules binding on all the courts,
and on the basis of its experience, to give binding instructions in
order to establish a uniform judicial practice in the interpretation and
enforcement of the law."
36. For its part,
Article 74 of the Political Constitution provides that the
"President of the State Council is the head of state and the head
of Government." In
other words, the head of the Cuban State concentrates within himself all
of the state organs. Accordingly,
the subordination of all social affairs in Cuba to the political power;
the political practice of the regime and the juridical order on which
that practice is based; the excluding nature of any different political
concept and the absence of effective guarantees that allow individuals
to claim their rights from the State--all of these factors together
allow the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to consider that
this is a totalitarian political system.
is also important to note that the Council of State,--a political
organ-- issues rules "binding on all the courts."
And those courts have to apply and interpret rules that include
terms so imprecise as "the existence and purposes of the socialist
state," "the decision of the Cuban people to build socialism
and communism," and "socialist legality."
Subordinated to that interpretation are all the "freedoms
recognized for the citizens"; and the administration of justice
takes it upon itself to apply the possible interpretations in the
particular cases. This
ideological and political bias has as its cornerstone Article 5 of the
The Communist Party of Cuba, inspired by the ideals of José Martí
and Marxist-Leninist, organized vanguard of the Cuban nation, is the
highest-level leading force of the society and the state, which
organizes and orients common efforts towards the lofty aims of building
socialism and advancing towards communist society.
subordination of the administration of justice to the political
authorities sparks great insecurity and fear in the citizenry, and is
reinforced by the weak state of procedural guarantees, especially in
those trials that may directly or indirectly affect the political system
in place. The procedural
guarantees are set forth in the Constitution at Articles 59, 61, and 63:
Article 59. No
one shall be tried or convicted by other than a competent court under
the laws prior to the offense and with the formalities and guarantees
established by these laws.
Every person accused has the right to defense.
No violence or coercion of any kind shall be brought to bear to
force persons to testify.
Any statement made in violation of this precept is void and the
persons responsible shall be punished as provided by law.
Article 61. The
criminal laws have retroactive effect when favorable to persons being
prosecuted or already convicted. No
other laws shall have retroactive effect unless otherwise provided out
of considerations of social interest or public utility.
Article 63. All
citizens shall have the right to direct complaints and petitions to the
authorities and to receive the attention or pertinent responses, and at
an appropriate place, pursuant to the law.
theory, these three articles recognize six rights in respect of due
process and the right to justice: 1)
to be tried by a regular jurisdiction; 2) to be assisted by counsel; 3)
to inviolability and personal integrity while in the custody of the
authorities; 4) not to be forced to testify during the trial, which is
linked to the guarantee against statements made under torture; 5) to be
judged based on provisions of criminal law enacted prior to when the
offense was alleged; and 6) the right to recur freely to the courts to
practice, however, these procedural guarantees are inoperable.
The main limitation is the Constitution itself, which provides at
Article 62 that none of the freedoms recognized in the Constitution can
be exercised "against the existence and aims of the socialist
state." The significance of this provision lies in the fact that it
regulates, at the highest level, the practical exercise of the rights
and freedoms recognized by the Constitution as enjoyed by Cuban
citizens, in their relations with the state organs.
Therefore the provisions of this article can be considered to
permeate all political, economic, social, and cultural life in Cuba.
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights also calls into question the
setting of constitutional limits on rights and liberties based on
criteria so vague and imprecise as, for example, "the decision of
the Cuban people to build socialism and communism."
It is clear that these criteria lie outside the legal ambit,
falling squarely in the realm of politics.
Consequently, the only governing party in Cuba will ultimately
decide, in each case, whether the exercise of a given freedom or right
is opposed to this postulate. This eliminates any possibility of defense for the individual
in the face of the political authorities, and confers constitutional
protection on the arbitrary exercise of power vis-à-vis the people of
guarantees deemed to be associated with impartial procedure generally
include the right to be informed of accusations against one's person,
the right to choose defense counsel, the right of the accused to
confront his accusers, the right of the accused and his counsel to have
sufficient time to prepare the defense, the right of the accused to
bring witnesses and examine them, and the right of the accused and
defense counsel to be advised in timely fashion of the trial date.
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has been informed that the
exercise of the legal profession also suffers from lack of independence.
This situation has been brought about by Decree-Law No. 81 of
June 8, 1984, and its regulation, which establish the obligation of
belonging to the National Organization of Collective Law Offices (ONBC:
Organización Nacional de Bufetes Colectivos) as a pre-requisite
for exercising the profession. In
other words, to enter the organization one needed "to have moral
conditions in accordance with the principles of our society,"
which in practice has impeded the entry of those who dissent from the
political system in place. The
Ministry of Justice is in charge of the inspection, supervision, and
oversight of its activity, and that of its members, issuing regulations
and other provisions, and performing additional functions (First Special
Provision of Decree-Law No. 81 and Article 42 of the Regulation).
13 of the by-laws of the ONBC also stipulates that the election of
directing positions be public, which in practice, according to the
information provided, leads the voters to vote for militants of the
Communist Party, who account for more than 85% of all the delegates, and
for other candidates who do not meet with objections from the
leadership. It has also
been noted that the leaders use intimidation systematically to impede
any opinion contrary to the line they represent.
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights was also informed that the
right to association of the Cuban lawyers is also thwarted by the
monopoly held by the Unión Nacional de Juristas de Cuba (UNJC).
In effect, it has been noted that leaders and representatives of
state agencies, who at the same time occupy key Community Party
positions, play a fundamental role in the activities and direction of
this grouping. In this
context, it should be noted that another group of lawyers, the Unión
Agramontista de Cuba, has been trying to form an independent association
since 1990. In February
1991 they presented an application for legalization to the Ministry of
Justice, which has yet to respond.
lawyers who make up the Unión Agramontista are, according to the
information provided, subject to a full array of pressures ranging from
"friendly counsel" to the administrative prohibition against
serving as defense counsel for human rights activists and political
dissidents. Furthermore, it
has been noted that leaders of the Organización Nacional de Bufetes
Colectivos harass the lawyers who prepare and sign documents setting
forth critical perspectives on the national situation and the legal
profession. In many cases
the persons responsible for such documents have been called to meetings
to be pressured and even prohibited from exercising the legal
profession. During the period covered by this report, the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights has received many complaints that describe
arbitrary detentions, summonses to appear before police authorities and
prosecutors, expulsions from law offices, and even prison sentences for
lawyers who sought to exercise the profession independently.
the course of the period covered by this report, the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights has continued to receive information on the
irregularities committed in the trials with political overtones.
In effect, the publicity of judicial proceedings against persons
accused of "counter-revolutionary activities" is restricted,
as the hearing rooms are full of police and State Security agents who
impede the access of journalists and persons not part of the family.
In addition, a high proportion of the complaints received
indicate that they did not have access to the file with sufficient lead
time to prepare the case properly.
It was also noted that the attorney's intervention was limited
mainly to the trial stage; this is due mainly to the fact that the
defense attorneys do not meet with the accused until one hour before the
trial, and in many cases not until the moment the trial gets under way.
Another characteristic of the political trials is that the system
considerably reduces the possibilities of the defense to present defense
witnesses, in contrast to the accusing party, which does have its own
witnesses, especially when State Security agents are involved.
It should be noted, however, that there are no grounds in Cuban
legislation to prohibit defense witnesses.
It would appear that the main explanation for the lack of
witnesses for the defense is the fear of reprisals by the State.
criteria placed before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
lead it to note that the administration of justice continues to be
subordinated to the political authorities, which affects the fundamental
conditions for the observance, in practice, of due process guarantees.
The Commission believes that as regards political trials, the
courts continue to be based more on the values of the only ideology
permitted in the country, than on proper judicial procedures.
Moreover, it would appear from the evidence obtained that the
judicial decisions have always fully favored the idea of the executive
prevailing over adequate justice. The
situation is aggravated by the apparent fact that in Cuba domestic law
does not offer, in practice, adequate protection to the victims of human
rights violations. In
effect, while the Cuban legislation sets forth procedural guarantees of
greater or lesser breadth, they are inoperative for one of several
reasons. First, the lack of
independence of the judiciary, based on constitutional precepts with
ideological or political references that violate the principle of
equality before the law, as the militants of the Communist Party are
situated on a higher plane than the rest of Cuban citizens who dissent
from the political system in place.
Then is the Cuban state policy of intimidating the defense
attorneys of persons detained on political grounds, who run the risk of
being accused, in reprisal, for the mere fact of having such clients.
Finally, in many cases it is physically impossible to find the
victims of human rights violations to submit complaints or exercise
RIGHT TO LIFE
first article of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of
Man sets forth the right to life, noting that:
"Every human being has the right to life, liberty and the
security of his person." The
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has also considered that the
right to life is "the foundation and basis of all other
arguing that it
can never be suspended. The
governments cannot use, in any circumstance, illegal or summary
execution to restore public order.
Such measures are proscribed in the Constitutions of the States
and in the international instruments that protect fundamental human
Commission has also indicated that "the obligation of respecting
and protecting the right to life is an obligation erga omnes,
i.e., it must be assumed by the Cuban State, like all member states of
the OAS, both those parties and those not parties to the American
Convention on Human Rights, in respect of the inter-American community
as a whole, and in respect of all individuals under its jurisdiction, as
the direct beneficiaries of the human rights recognized in the American
Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.
This international instrument, though not binding, sets forth
general principles and rules of customary international law."
this context, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights notes that
during the period covered by this report it has received numerous
complaints that describe violations of the right to life by agents of
the Cuban State. One
particularly serious case involves the shooting down of two unarmed
civil aircraft of the organization "Hermanos al Rescate" by
two Cuban military aircraft. In
effect, on February 24, 1996, at 3:21 p.m. and 3:27 p.m., respectively,
two MIG 29 aircraft from the Cuban Air Force downed two unarmed civilian
aircraft from the organization "Hermanos al Rescate,"
who were setting out to save Cuban boat people. The attack on the airplanes--according to an International
Civil Aviation Organization report--occurred in international air space
and caused the death of two U.S. citizens, Carlos Costa and Mario de la
Peña; one U.S. citizen born in Cuba, Armando Alejandre; and one U.S.
resident of Cuban nationality, Pablo Morales.
this respect, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights notes that
it is processing a case on the events of February 24, 1996, as to which
it will adopt a decision in due course.
grave violation of the right to life is the extrajudicial execution of
political prisoner Erasmín Quesada Alvarez, 25 years of age, who was
serving his sentence at the "Kilo-7" prison, in the city of
Camagüey. According to the information provided, the events occurred in
July 1996, in circumstances in which the victim was allowed to leave the
prison with a special permit to visit his family.
On observing that Erasmín Quesada Alvarez did not return to
prison within the time allowed, State Security agents sought him and
forcefully entered his home and proceeded to execute him as they
entered, with several bullet wounds.
This led a group of human rights activists to gather in protest
in the town of Céspedes, province of Camagüey.
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has also been informed that on
September 14, 1996, Renso Salvello Gallego, 29 years of age, who resided
at Calle 110, No. 5111, between Avenidas 51 (Marianao) and 59 (City of
Havana) was killed in public by a police lieutenant by the last name of
Mariño, chief of the police sector in that zone.
It has been noted that this official detained Salvello when he
travelled by bicycle through his neighborhood and with no words passing
between them, aimed him weapon at him and shot a projectile that went
through his head, causing his death instantly.
The victim's relatives have stated that presumably the officer
had taken the young man for someone else.
Nonetheless, the Asociación de Lucha Contra la Injusticia
Nacional issued a communicating noting, inter alia:
"Acts of this nature occur frequently in the national
territory because they are provoked by impunity.
An example of this is the recidivism of this member of the
military, whose had committed similar prior acts."
Commission was also informed that Iván Agramonte Arencibia, 28 years of
age, a resident of the intersection of San Leonardo and San Indalecio,
Reparto Santo Suárez, City of Havana, was assassinated by a shot at
point-blank after having been detained and beaten, and when already
handcuffed. According to
eyewitnesses, the victim was assassinated on May 24, 1996, at
approximately 10:00 a.m., by a police officer by the name of Iosvani
Martorán Fernández, who detained him in the street when Agramonte was
carrying some kilos of bread by bicycle.
Agramonte tried to get away, but was reached again by the
officer, who beat him and after handcuffing him shot him in the head
with his firearm. Still
alive, he was taken to the "Miguel Henríquez" hospital, where
he died. The information
indicates that the Luyanó funeral home, where his body laid in wake,
was surrounded by a major police deployment.
He left two small children.
serious case on which the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights also
received information is that of Estanislao Gonzáles Quintana, who died
while detained, after being detained on September 8, 1995, at the Police
Unit of Consolidación del Sur, Pinar del Río, where he had been taken
on charges of "unlawful economic activity."
According to the relatives of Gonzáles Quintana, on September
12, 1995, they were informed by said police unit that he had died of a
heart attack. Nonetheless, when the victim's corpse was displayed in the
funeral home one could note, according to the information provided,
hematomas and a profound gash in the forehead.
information supplied to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
indicates that as a rule these cases are not duly investigated and the
perpetrators are not punished.
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights should express its profound
concern over these events, which merely confirm that the Cuban State is
liable internationally not only for committing these unlawful acts but
also on account of omission. In effect, the Cuban State is responsible for committing acts
when its agents commit acts that are an attack on essential human
rights. These are rights
that have the status of jus cogens, i.e. they are peremptory norms of
international law, and therefore are non-derogable.
The Inter-American Commission should also note that the mere fact
that Cuban legislation punishes homicide is not sufficient guarantee of
the right to life, since it is indispensable that the state rigorously
apply this norm and not endorse or provide cover for murder.
The doctrine of publicists in the field of international human
rights law is very extensive when it comes to analyzing the obligations
of states to respect the right to life.
Thus, for example, Venezuelan jurist Héctor Faúndez Ledesma
In its substantive aspect, the right to life seeks to protect the
citizen from capricious acts by those who hold state power and who,
abusing that power, may feel tempted to dispose of the lives of those
who may disturb them....
... it should be noted that [the right to life] implies two
distinct obligations on the state:
first, the obvious consequence is that the state authorities, and
in particular the police and military organs, must refrain from causing
arbitrary deaths; and second, this guarantee implies as well the state's
duty to protect persons from the acts of private persons that may
constitute an arbitrary attack on their lives, punishing them so as to
deter or prevent such attacks.
the view of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Cuban
State may also incur international liability for omission, if in the
cases described throughout this chapter it fails to investigate the
facts with due diligence with a view to punishing the persons
responsible for human rights violations and granting just reparation to
the victims. The Commission
also believes that reparations for human rights violations have the
purpose of alleviating the suffering of victims and doing justice by
eliminating or correcting, insofar as is possible, the consequences of
the unlawful acts and the adoption of measures to prevent and deter
RIGHT OF RESIDENCE AND MOVEMENT
of the issues to which the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has
devoted special attention in previous reports is the right of Cuban
citizens to reside in their own homeland, to leave it, and to return as
they deem appropriate. In
this regard, the Commission observes with concern that Cuban legislation
continues to fail to recognize the right of a person to leave his or her
own country and to return to it, as citizens require permission from the
Ministry of Interior to travel abroad.
The Cuban migration authorities continue to deny visas for
political reasons, thereby affecting a fundamental human right.
Following are some of the cases that occurred during the period
covered by this report and demonstrate thy prevailing situation:
María del Carmen Acosta Rivera and Enmanuel Rodríguez Acosta
are unable to leave Cuba since the migration authorities will not give
them the respective permission. They
have had a visa to enter the United States since February 23, 1996.
It should also be noted that the permit to enter the United
States was issued under the Refugee Program (Case No. 15796), and that
Ernesto Rivero Gutiérrez, the husband of María del Carmen Acosta, has
been in the United States since May 1996.
Hilda Molina Morejón and her mother Hilda Morejón Serrantes had
their authorization to leave the country temporarily to visit her
family, which resides in Argentina, rejected.
It should be noted that Hilda Molina Morejón resigned her post
as director of the International Center for Neurological Restoration
over ideological issues.
During the period covered by this report, Elio Borges Guzmán
filed for the 20,000-visa lottery that the United States offered for
those wishing to emigrate there, and was awarded a family visa.
Despite this, Elio Borges, who is an electronics engineer, with
an undergraduate degree in economics, and who worked with the Ministry
of Communication, was denied permission to leave the country.
According to the information provided, the Director of the
Ministry, Carlos Martínez, called him to his office and called him a
"traitor", and threatened him, saying he would only leave the
country "when he [Martínez] felt like it."
One month after having won the lottery he was transferred, as
punishment, to a postal office to work delivering telegrams at a monthly
salary of 110 Cuban pesos, i.e. one-third of what he had been earning.
Hilda Maestre Hernández and Jean Luis Ramón Labrada, 71 and 19
years of age respectively, were given visas to travel to the United
States in February 1995. In
addition, the Chilean government gave them a tourist visa on October 11,
1995, at the request of Mr. Iván Van de Wyngard, former general manager
of Entel-Chile, who invited them to visit his country. These visas were removed from the Chilean consular offices in
Havana on January 14, 1996. The
Cuban authorities refuse to allow them to travel to Chile, denying them
the exit permit. They have
no legal problems nor other problems that should impede them from
travelling. Moreover, both
meet all the requirements officially established by the Cuban migratory
authorities. It has been
noted that the refusal of the Cuban authorities appears to be in
response to the fact that the parents of Ramón Labrada sought political
asylum in the United States in May 1994, and therefore cannot travel to
Chile or any other country.
Oswaldo and Alejandro Payá Sardiñas, of the Movimiento
Cristiano Liberación cannot leave the country, since the Department of
Immigration has communicated to them repeatedly that they are prohibited
from leaving Cuba temporarily, and that this provision is for an
Loreto Mérida García Navarro, Daniela María Morales García,
Carlos Cano Orta, and Daymara Cano Morales, relatives of Pablo Morales,
one of the four pilots who was in the planes shot down by the Cuban Air
Force on February 24, 1996, were denied permission to leave the country
and join their relatives in the United States, even though they had the
respective visas. According
to the information received, Daymara Cano, 11 years old, is seriously
ill, and his relatives in Cuba do not have sufficient economic means to
provide him with the medical care he needs.
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights was also informed that Article
216 of the Criminal Code, which sanctions those who seek to leave the
country informally, was reformed. The
grave aspect of this norm is that not only does it order the trial of
persons arrested after having initiated the trip, but also of those who
could try to do so. In effect, Article 216 of the Criminal Code provides as
The fact of leaving or undertaking to leave the national
territory without abiding by the legal formalities may be punished by
one to three years imprisonment or a fine of 300 to 1,000 quotas.
If one uses violence or intimidation against persons or force on
things to perform the act referred to in the previous paragraph, the
punishment is three to eight years imprisonment.
Inter-American Commission also received information that the Cuban
authorities are applying the punishment of banishment and imprisonment
for political motives. Article 42 of the Criminal Code provides that:
The punishment of banishment consists of prohibiting residence in
a given place, or obliging one to remain in a given locality.
The term of the punishment of banishment is one to 10 years.
The sanction of banishment may be imposed in all those cases in
which the permanence of the person punished is socially dangerous.
Banishment is not applicable to persons under 18 years of age.
its part, the punishment of limitation on one's liberty provided for at
Article 34 of the Criminal Code indicates, inter alia, that "it is
subsidiary to the deprivation of liberty that it does not exceed three
years, and it is applicable when, based on the type of offense and its
circumstances, and in light of the individual characteristics of the
person punished, there are well-founded reasons to deem that the purpose
of the punishment can be attained without imprisonment."
During execution of the judgment, the sanctioned person "(a)
cannot change residence without court authorization; (b) has no right to
promotions or salary increases; (c) is required to appear before the
court whenever called to offer explanations on their conduct during the
execution of the punishment; (d) should maintain an honest attitude
towards work, strict observance of the laws and respect for the norms
of socialist life.... The
punishment of limitation of liberty is carried out under the supervision
and vigilance of the mass and social organizations of the place of
residence of the person sanctioned."
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights notes its profound concern
over the observance of these provisions of Cuban criminal law, which
violate the principles set forth in the American Declaration of the
Rights and Duties of Man. In
effect, Article VIII of the Declaration states that:
Every person has the right to fix his residence within the
territory of the state of which he is a national, to move about freely
within such territory, and not to leave it except by his own will.
Commission also believes that the imprecision and subjectivity of terms
such as "socially dangerous" and "norms of socialist
life" used in the Cuban criminal code constitute a factor of legal
insecurity and lends itself to the Cuban authorities committing all
types of arbitrary acts. The imprecision and breadth of the concept of dangerousness
allows the Cuban State to impose the official ideology by force, giving
way to injustices and thereby violating the rights of individual
liberty, due process, residence, and movement.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights cites the following
cases as illustrative of the situation described in the foregoing
During the period covered by this report, 10 women, members of
the Movimiento de Madres Cubanas por la Solidaridad, were repressed by
the Department of State Security. One
of these cases involves the arrest and later banishing of journalist
Roxana Valdivia Castilla, who was held more than 24 hours and then taken
as a prisoner to the Havana rail terminal, for transfer to the province
of Ciego de Avila, where she was forbidden from returning to Havana.
According to the information provided, this operation was
directed by Lieutenant-Colonel Arístides.
The same procedure was followed in the case of schoolteacher Aída
Rosa Jiménez, also a representative of the Movimiento de Madres Cubanas
por la Solidaridad. When
she reached the province of Camagüey she was detained, interrogated,
and later taken to the rail terminal, where she was prohibited from
remaining in Camagüey with the threat that the next time she went there
it would be to serve a prison term for the crime of "unlawful
association," as she would be accused of organizing the mothers'
movement, which has no legal authorization to operate.
It should also be noted that Aída Rosa was accompanied by
activist Olga Montero Rodríguez, who was forced to stay at the terminal
and find her way back to Havana on her own.
This was not the first time that activist Aída Rosa was harassed
by the State Security, as in early 1995 she was the victim of banishment
within Cuba, in the municipality of Camanjuaní, province of Villaclara,
along with former political prisoner Marta María Vega Cabrera.
María Antonia Escobedo Yáser, member of the Coordinating
Committee of the Concilio Cubano, was detained on February 16, 1996,
taken to the police unit of Altahabana, in the city of Havana, and
forced to return to her place of residence in Santiago de Cuba.
Alfrans Ossiel Gómez Alemán, member of the Cuban Christian
Democratic Party, was detained January 6 to 9, 1995, at the "Versalles"
offices of the Department of State Security, province of Matanzas, where
a warning was drawn up and presented to him for "unlawful
association." Later he
was detained from February 12 to 15, and 24 to 26, 1995, and taken once
again to the Department of State Security, where he was threatened that
if he went to the capital city again he would be tried for contempt of
the authorities (desacato) and banished from his province of
origin. Once again, he was
detained March 16 and 18 of that year in the municipality of Colón,
Matanzas, for sending a letter to the Council of State denouncing the
reprisals against members of the Concilio Cubano.
Rafael Solano and Julio Martínez, journalists from Habana Press
detained for several hours in the city of Havana.
Solano and Martínez were warned to cease their activities as
independent journalists, as otherwise they would use violence to shut
down the newspaper where they worked, along with the Independent Press
Bureau of Cuba (Buró de Prensa Independiente de Cuba).
Solano's car was taken out of circulation, so as to limit his
movements, since he lives on the outskirts of the city.
As a result of the harassment to which Rafael Solano was
subjected, Rafael Solano said that "Habana Press will continue in
the first line of combat for freedom of the press and of ideas in Cuba,
and will only disappear when all its members are held prisoner or
disappeared in the constellation of prisons and places for holding
people controlled by the Cuba's communist regime."
the period covered by this report, the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights also received information that the maximum time allowed to
be abroad is 11 months, and that definitive departure is met by
confiscation. In addition,
Cuban citizens who reside abroad need a special permit each time they
enter; the procedures to obtain it require the payment of fees that are
costly by Cuban standards. These
permits for in-country visits are generally short (15 days, one month),
and are required no matter the country of residence.
Inter-American Commission was also informed that it is still extremely
difficult to emigrate, even though not formally prohibited, for
physicians and certain other technical categories, unless they are older
and have few remaining years of productive activity.
The possibility of emigrating is further restricted by the fact
that whoever wishes to emigrate must abandon their property and quit
matter always of concern to the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights is the situation of the Cuban boat people, who year after year
set out to sea in search of a better life.
In 1993, the Commission noted that 3,656 boat people came to the
United States coasts; it is estimated that only one in three achieved
their purpose. This figure
increased considerably in 1994, especially after the Cuban coast guard
and police allowed the departure en masse of everyone who set to sea in
precarious craft, in early August of that year. The 1994 figure is 30,000.
sources of information available to the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights indicate that the migration agreements signed by Cuba and
the United States in 1995 have as their main objective to restrict
continued migration. The
commitment of the Government of the United States is to return to Cuba
all Cubans intercepted at sea, instead of allowing their entry, as was
the practice up until 1994. For
its part, the Cuban government undertakes not to take reprisals against
these persons or against those who seek a visa to exit the country.
Nonetheless, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has been
informed that in practice the persons repatriated, though not placed on
trial, continue to suffer all types of discrimination on political
grounds, especially when they seek employment.
on the information indicated above, the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights considers that the Cuban State continues to restrict the
right to residence and movement set forth in the American Declaration of
the Rights and Duties of Man. The control exercised by the Cuban State evidently has
political overtones, since most affected are those who hold positions
critical of the group in power. It
should also be noted that the right to residence and movement is not
recognized in the Constitution; this is an anomaly that should be
its 1994 Report, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights expressed
concern over "the grave prison conditions and deliberately severe
and degrading treatment of the prisoners by the Cuban government, which
constitute serious human rights violations."
In this respect, the Commission laments having to note that this
situation remains unchanged. Indeed, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights should
highlight that during the period covered by this report, the number of
complaints received over the grave conditions to which the prison
population in Cuba is subjected on a daily basis is far greater than the
number of complaints that describe violations of other rights set forth
in the American Declaration.
effect, overcrowding, poor hygienic conditions, scarcity and poor
quality of food, deficient medical care, beatings, solitary confinement
as punishment (behind closed doors and without light), keeping common
prisoners together with those jailed for political reasons, and of those
convicted with those awaiting trial or judgment, limited family visits,
etc., are some of the prevailing conditions in Cuban prisons.
The sources of information also describe the existence of 294
prisons and correctional work camps nationwide, with an estimated
100,000 to 200,000 prisoners of all categories.
Further, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights was also
informed that as of July 1996 there were approximately 1,173 persons
being tried for crimes with political overtones.
73. There are six maximum
security prisons in Cuba. (A)
Combinado del Este (Havana); (B) Cinco y Medio (Pinar del Río); (C) San
Severino (Matanzas); (D) Santa Clara (Las Villas); (E) Kilo Siete (Camagüey);
and (F) Boniato (Oriente). The
farms (granjas) are detention centers surrounded by barbed
wire fence and armed guards, and the open fronts (frentes
abiertos) are workplaces in the countryside or city, with minimum
security. It has been noted
that the prisoners on the "farms" produce the pre-fabricated
elements for construction, and the prisoners at the "open
fronts" assemble them. The
three stages of confinement are maximum, minor, and minimum security
(i.e. the prison, the farm, and the open front, respectively).
basis of the Cuban penal system is social defense.
The function of punishment is to protect the group from
"socially dangerous" persons and to seek to re-educate those
who are punished. Furthermore, prison treatment during the period of
imprisonment provides, in theory, that the persons punished be
remunerated for their socially useful work; they are provided with
appropriate clothing and footwear; they are given normal daily rest and
one rest day per week; they are provided medical and hospital care, in
case of illness; they are given the right to obtain long-term social
security benefits in the case of total disability caused by work-related
accidents. If a prisoner
dies due to work-related accidents, his family with receive the
respective pension. Prisoners
are to be given an opportunity to receive and broaden their education
and technical training; they are given, to the extent and in the manner
provided in the regulations, the possibility of exchanging
correspondence with persons not held in prisons, and to receive visits
and consumer goods; based on their conduct, and to the extent and in the
manner provided in the regulations, they are authorized to make use of
the conjugal ward; they are given leave to visit outside the prison for
limited times; they are given the opportunity and means to enjoy
recreation and practice sports based on the activities programmed by the
prison; and they are promoted from one prison regime to another less
practice, the situation is entirely different.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has received
testimony and information on various prisons, including the Combinado
del Este, which is the largest in the country.
It is situated approximately 18 kilometers from Havana.
The testimony transcribed just below is a report from a
Cuban-based nongovernmental organization prepared in June 1995:
During a recent visit by Mr. Esteban Lazo, high-level leader of
the Communist Party, to the Havana prison Combinado del Este, the
authorities were installing new lamps with cold light until 2 o'clock in
the morning. The conflictive prisoners were transferred to the halls on
the third floor. Mr. Lazo
only went to the second floor. The
order given in the halls of this prison was for the scene to be perfect
and to give the visitors the impression they were being useful.
That day lunch for the personnel employed at the prison was rice
mixed with beef, pork, sausage, and bread, mixed salad of cabbage,
tomatoes, and carrots. There
were soft drinks and cookies. At
all times Mr. Lazo was followed by a retinue of more than 30 officials. These visits never reveal deficiencies in the prisons where
they are conducted.
Meanwhile, in the prison, the buildings have problems in their
construction, and so are humid and cold; there are many tuberculosis
cases among the prisoners. Eighty
percent of the prison population is made up of young people under 35
years of age. Most have one
or more relatives in prison. This prison has several thousand prisoners, making it the
largest in the country. Many
of them enter for six months and then other cases are brought against
them. More than fifty
percent are recidivists.
The lack of medication is alarming.
The patients in the hospital are mistreated; some have died as a
result. Several hundred
prisoners have been admitted for malnutrition, and there are epidemics
of conjunctivitis and hepatitis. The
asthmatic prisoners complain about the lack of medication for periods of
crisis. It is also known
that some prisoners sleep on the floor.
There are prisoners whose molars and hair are coming out.
Others have had to be admitted on several occasions for
malnutrition. The prisoners admitted complain of weakness and ask for food.
They do not want to enter the infirmary, but rather are taken to
the yard to eat oranges, for they're hungry.
They walk about leaning on the walls, dragging their feet,
pallid, and extremely thin, with their pants falling down.
It was learned that prisoners here have been disabled by
neuropathy. There's also
the case of prisoner Omar Linares, who died after being taken to the
hospital at Combinado del Este. Linares
was admitted on the 23rd [of June, 1995], with abdominal pains and
weighing very little, his body almost corpse-like.
On June 27 [of that year] he died.
The saddest aspect of this case is that he had served his
sentence as of June 22, and they had not released him.
According to the relatives, he was diagnosed with an ulcer, and
was in a severe state of malnutrition such that when his ulcer
perforated, it led to his death.
So far this year approximately 10 prisoners have died at
Combinado del Este who enjoyed good health.
They lost their life due to "natural deaths."
In addition are the suicides of minors due to unknown causes.
The food consists of sweet potato, two tablespoons of pasta per
person, and one boiled plantain that the prisoners eat with the peel,
which causes diarrhea with bleeding.
Further, on April 25 the prisoners who work repairing the
operating room were brought rice with decomposed fish; the stench
emanated, was unbearable, and the food vessel had a large number of
worms. The prisoners
protested and refused to work that afternoon.
report on La Manga prison, province of Granma, describes the situation
of the political prisoners in the following terms:
They place us with highly dangerous criminals, persons who have
personality disorders, even psychiatric disorders.
In many cases State Security, drawing on the presence and low
moral values of such persons, use them to commit outrages on our
dignity. Many are used by State Security as informants; they promise
them benefits in exchange for providing information on what we say, and
they authorize them to beat us if we speak poorly of the President of
the Republic. Furthermore,
the prison authorities have created a system according to which certain
prisoners are charged with overseeing the discipline of the others in
exchange for certain privileges. They
are violent, unscrupulous, and highly dangerous persons who impose
excessive rigor. The
slightest disciplinary detail committed by a prisoner is met with
outrages, offenses with denigrating words, and even savage beatings....
We are taken to severe interrogations for false information given
by the common prisoners, in addition to which we are threatened with
death.... Those of us who are Christians are threatened with common
lawsuits for, according to the authorities, engaging in "the work
of proselytizing." In
addition, we are denied religious services because they tell use that we
use it for political ends.... The
food is ill-prepared, often the fish they give use is decomposed, which
causes us serious digestive problems.
testimony received by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
reflects the gravity of the prison situation in Cuba, and merely
confirms that the Cuban State has not adopted any measure to comply with
the minimum international standards for the treatment of prisoners, an
international instrument approved by the United Nations Economic and
Social Council on July 31, 1957. Moreover,
the Inter-American Commission considers that these facts and those cited
just below are grave human rights violations:
At the Combinado prison of Guantánamo, in the province of Guantánamo,
at the eastern end of Cuba, there have been reports of prisoners being
beaten, including political prisoner Raúl Ayarde Herrera.
Ayarde was beaten while handcuffed and left to bleed,
unconscious, in a cell. At the same time, he was refused medical care.
At the Nieves Morejón prison in the province of Sancti Spiritu,
continuous beatings of the prisoners by the jailers, known as Raunel,
Chinea, Pionero, and Nazco, among others, have been reported.
At the Cerámica Roja prison, in Camagüey, "the
intimidation, mistreatment, beatings, and other excesses and abuses are
daily," according to the political prisoners at this prison.
The non-commissioned officer Eduardo Gómez brutally beat
prisoners Eisler Jiménez Díaz, Carlos Rudin Díaz, and Víctor Zaldívar
Robles, who broke the skull with a belaying pin.
Zaldívar Robles, 24 years of age, who is awaiting trial, is a
neighbor of Manuel Fajardo in the town of Sibanicú. In
addition, Armando Alonso, who is imprisoned for returning clandestinely,
was beaten with sticks truncheon during a search of his cell.
At the Kilo 7 prison, also in Camagüey, on March 2, 1995, Jesús
Peña Pedraza was beaten at the hands of Sargent Evelio Avila Urra.
Prisoner Jorge Luis García was beaten by Sub-lieutenant Rafael
Fonseca Lorente and Chief of Detachment No. 6, Lieutenant Arterio
Aguilera Pando. Non-commissioned
officer Manzanillo, section chief, dealt a brutal blow to prisoner Juan
Miguel López Acosta, leaving pronounced marks on his body.
At the Kilo 8 prison, also in the province of Camagüey, prisoner
Samuel Simpson died as the result of a beating.
Prisoners José Alejandro Alvarez, Lázaro Urra Herrera, and
Jorge Andrés Gonzáles Ramos have also been beaten.
Last August 3, 1995, prisoner Bárbaro Tererán fell from the
prison roof to which he had climbed when he saw several guards preparing
to assault him. Despite his
serious condition, by order of the section chief, non-commissioned
officer Velázquez, he was beaten. Taken to the Hospital Amalia Simoni, he reportedly suffered
fractures of the column and the collarbone.
At the La 40 prison farm, located on the Carretera de Nuevitas,
Captain Rogelio Pérez Cruz beats the prisoners, whom he offends and
At the San José prison farm on the Carretera de Santa Cruz,
political prisoner Miguel Angel Velazco Fernández was assaulted by
Osvaldo Hernández Rodríguez, the second-in-command at said farm.
At the Combinado Sur prison in Matanzas, prisoner Jorge Rodríguez
was sent, bleeding, to solitary confinement after the brutal beating to
which he was subjected by officer Santana.
Also beaten were the disabled persons Alipio Basulto Echeverría;
Jorge Ignacio Socarrás; Elizardo Jardín Zamora, resident of Marín No.
23, Matías Santiago de Cuba; Alexis Gonzáles Ruíz, resident of the
Carretera Los Pilones No. 11, Sierra Cubitas, Camagüey; Yasdubal Méndez,
resident of Velarde No. 172, Matanzas.
The last five are still awaiting trial.
At the Guanajay prison in the province of Havana, a beating was
reported, by Lieutenant Orozco against the person of common prisoner Ramón
Ramos, who was left unconscious. Also
beaten were political prisoners Carlos Novoa Ponce, Angel Prieto Méndez,
and José Antonio Sora Salinas.
aforementioned reports allow the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights to consider that beatings, far from constituting isolated
incidents, are used habitually and systematically by Cuban State agents
as a means of punishment or intimidation.
Particularly serious, according to the information provided, is
that the complaints of mistreatment brought before the competent
authorities never go anywhere. It
should be noted that Article 30(1) of the Criminal Code provides that:
The person punished cannot be subjected to bodily punishment nor
may one use against him any measure that represents humiliation or that
is an affront to his dignity.
is clear, in light of the facts and law set forth above, that the Cuban
State not only violates the principles and standards set forth in the
various international human rights instruments, but that it breaks its
own laws, thereby thwarting the prisoners' right to personal integrity.
In addition, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights must
state its profound concern over the lack of medical care, in
insufficient medical care, in the prisons and other centers of
confinement, which has been repeatedly denounced, and which in many
cases has resulted in the death or permanent injury of the victims.
ECONOMIC, SOCIAL, AND CULTURAL RIGHTS
Resolution adopted at the Ninth International Conference of American
States held in Bogotá, Colombia, in 1948, which gave rise to the
American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, indicates among
its considerations, inter alia, that the peoples of the Americas
"have as their principal aim the protection of the essential rights
of man and the creation of circumstances that will permit him to achieve
spiritual and material progress...."
The American Declaration sets forth not only civil and political
rights, but also economic, social, and cultural rights.
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has noted that "a life
free from fear and want inevitably entails guaranteeing civil and
political rights, for it is through popular participation that those
whose economic and social rights are denied can participate in the
decisions that relate to the allocation of national resources and the
establishment of social, educational, and health programs.
Participation of the people, an objective of representative
democracy, guarantees that all social sectors participate in the
formulation, implementation, and review of national programs.
And although one could say that political participation
strengthens protections for economic, social, and cultural rights, it is
also true that the enforcement of those rights creates the conditions
for the population in general to be empowered, i.e. to participate
actively and productively in the process of political
lack of the right to political participation understood as the right to
organize political parties and associations has been one of the main
factors contributing to the economic crisis in Cuba.
The Inter-American Commission has stated that "free debate
and ideological struggle can increase the social level and the economic
conditions of the community, and exclude the monopoly over power of a
single group or individual."
figures available to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
indicate that 80% of the Cuban industrial sector is not operating and
that 40% of the active population is unemployed or underemployed.
Consequently, it has been noted that the Cuban State, in order to
offset the loss in revenues, continues to provide 60% of salaries to the
this sum is not enough to cover the basic needs of the average worker.
As a result, according to the information provided, these workers
must engage in illegal activity or seek work in the informal sector or
in the self-employed jobs they are authorized to perform.
The various forms of social control established by the state
contribute to restricting the labor options, with the consequent
sequelae of bureaucratic red tape required to obtain the authorizations
for switching jobs. The
dynamics characteristic of a still-centralized economy operate
economic crisis forced the Cuban State to adopt a Law on Foreign
Investment in September 1995. A
United Nations report has nevertheless expressed concern over the
situation of workers in the foreign-owned companies:
in particular, in view of the lack of any type of collective
bargaining, and the arbitrariness entailed in the fact that hiring, the
payment of wages, the termination of contracts, and other aspects of the
labor relationship are not determined directly between the company and
the employees, but through an employing entity designated by the
Government. The same
discriminatory criteria based on ideology that governs in other ambits
may also be applicable in the context of these companies, with which
government control over the workers is assured.
... the wages are not paid directly to the workers, but to the
government employing entity, which is paid in hard currency and later
pays the workers in national currency.
The difference between the wages paid by the company and those
effectively paid to the worker by the employing entity is thought to be
considerable, and enables the state to obtain considerable profits to
the detriment of what the worker could have received.
In addition, the law establishes that when the mixed companies or
companies entirely foreign-owned consider that a given worker does not
meet its demands in the workplace, they may ask the employing entity to
replace him, with no legal protection.
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights considers that in light of the
reforms in the economic and labor area, it is increasingly necessary to
ensure the presence of free and independent unions that defend the labor
rights of workers. It is in the area of these rights that the Commission finds
the greatest contradiction between the ideological postulates of the
system and its practical operation.
In effect, one of the postulates of the system that prevails in
Cuba today is building socialism to achieve an egalitarian society
without exploiters or exploited. Nonetheless,
the facts and the law in force suggest that the situations of
exploitation are multiplying.
Committee of Experts on the Applications of Conventions and
Recommendations of the International Labor Organization under Convention
87 (Trade union freedom and protection of the right to organize) on
relations between the Central de Trabajadores de Cuba (CTC) and the
Communist Party stated, inter alia, that:
... the Committee [of the ILO] insists that in a single-party
context and with a trade union federation the practice of outside
interference might be favored, to the detriment of union automony.
The Committee [of the ILO] calls on the Government [of Cuba] to
guarantee in legislation and in practice the right of all workers and
employers, without distinction, to freely form independent professional
organizations, outside of all existing trade union structures, if they
so desire (Article 2 of Convention 87), as well as the free election of
their representatives (Article 3 of the Convention).
grave economic situation the country is experiencing has also affected
health, nutrition, and housing. In
effect, the lack of medical equipment and the scarcity of basic drugs
are some of the conditions found in some hospitals of Cuba.
As has been indicated, the provincial hospitals lack basic drugs
such as analgesics, antibiotics, anesthesia, and suture materials.
This situation has resulted, according to the information
provided, in the surgical clothes and tools not being sterilized.
Contradictory in all this is that the medical products
manufactured in Cuba are earmarked to the hospitals that provide medical
care to foreigners. At this
stage of the analysis it is interesting to observe what is said in this
regard by the United Nations Special Rapporteur when he notes that:
the great scarcity of medicines, for which humanitarian aid from
abroad is merely a stop-gap measure, and the lack of equipment in a
large share of the country's hospitals, is a serious motive of concern
for the common citizen, who also feels discriminated against when noting
the existence of hospitals reserved for foreigners who pay foreign
exchange, and where they enjoy services out-of-reach to the common
citizen. This is all the
most lamentable considering the level of health care services common
citizens were accustomed to until a few years ago.
rationing card by which basic foods are distributed has become
significantly less useful, covering only the first 10 days of the month.
It has also been indicated that the free agricultural market
provides some relief to the economic crisis.
Nonetheless, the official price of rice is 24 cents per pound,
while in the agricultural market the cost is nine cents per pound.
this respect, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights should
reiterate its doctrine, which establishes that:
"When the most vulnerable sectors of society lack access to
the basic elements for survival that would allow them to emerge from
their situation, one is either voluntarily violating or condoning the
violation of the right to be free of any discrimination and the
concomitant principles of equal access and equity in distribution, and
the general commitment to protect the vulnerable members of society.
In addition, if those basic needs are not satisfied, the
individual's very survival is threatened, which implies the right to
life, personal security, and as indicated above, the right to
participate in the political and economic processes."
As indicated throughout this report, the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights has reached the following conclusions:
of the human rights measures adopted by the Cuban State during the
period covered by this report are positive, especially those that have
to do with the release of political prisoners.
Nonetheless, the Commission expects that this step will be the
first in a process that will put an end to the imprisonment, on
political grounds, of 1,173 people, who are serving sentences in Cuban
jails. Another measure
which the Commission believes merits special mention is the permission
given by the Cuban State for some international human rights
organizations to make on-site visits to verify the human rights
situation in Cuba. The Commission believes it necessary, however, that such
permission not be limited to certain groups, but that it be open to all
the international human rights entities that so request, so as to
evaluate the situation in Cuba. Lastly,
the holding of human rights seminars, which promote the observance of
these rights in Cuba, is a positive measure which ought to be mentioned.
measures, however, still do not represent, either de facto or de jure
the desire of the Cuban State to bring about a substantial reform that
will permit full exercise and enjoyment of tlhe right to political
participation set forth in Article XX of the American Declaration of the
Rights and Duties of Man. In other words, a
reform that would allow the ideological and partisan pluralism which is
one of the bases of democratic government.
The urgent need to advance along the path of democratization and
respect for fundamental rights and freedoms requires appropriate
conditions, and it is a fundamental responsibility of the Cuban State to
create these conditions. The
inter-American community, for its part, also has the responsibility to
help bring about such conditions so as to lead to the untrammeled
observance of human rights in Cuba.
civil and political rights of Cuban citizens continue to be seriously
violated by the state. Thus,
discrimination on political grounds is generally translated into
violations of the freedom of expression, assembly, and association,
which carry prison terms, temporary detentions, harassment, threats, job
loss, home searches, adoption of disciplinary measures, etc.
Also of concern to the Commission are the legal forms that
continue to be used by the Cuban legal order to establish limits on the
exercise of the rights and freedoms citizens are recognized to have.
Under these formulas, it is citizens who should adapt the
exercise of their rights and freedoms to the purposes of the state.
The democratic conception is just the opposite:
it is the state that has to limit its action in the face of the
rights inherent to the person, and to reduce its intervention only to
attain the observance, in practice, of the civil, political, social,
economic, and cultural rights of all citizens.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, based on the
conclusions of this report, formulates the following recommendations to
the Cuban State:
reasonable safeguards to prevent violations of human rights and to
conduct exhaustive investigations of cases in which the right to life
has been violated, in order to identify the parties responsible, impose
pertinent punishment, and grant adequate compensation and
indemnification to members of the victim's family.
urgent measures to release--unconditionally--the persons serving
sentences for crimes against the security of the State; unlawful
association; clandestine printed material; dangerousness; rebellion;
enemy propaganda and similar offenses, as well as attempts to leave
the country unofficially.
from criminal legislation any procedure which punishes the freedoms of
expression, association and meeting, and especially the offenses cited
in the preceding paragraph.
from the Penal Code any provisions concerning the dangerous state,
pre-delinquent security measures and the terms "socialist
legality,"; "socially dangerous"; and "standards of
socialist coexistence," since their lack of precision and their
subjective nature constitute a source of juridical insecurity
which creates conditions permitting the Cuban authorities to take
arbitrary action. Also
eliminate the penal norm of "official warning" that is used to
hold the threat of punishment over the heads of individuals having
"ties or relationships with persons who are potentially dangerous
97. Cease the
harassment of groups that defend human rights and espouse other
political beliefs, and allow them to obtain legal standing.
98. Reform the
Political Constitution of the State in order to establish the separation
of powers, and thus avoid the situation in which the administration of
justice is subordinate to political power.
99. Comply with the
minimum international rules for the treatment of prisoners and thus
improve living conditions for the prison population of Cuba.
It is also imperative that the Cuban State take urgent measures
to prevent the prison authorities from continuing to violate the
physical integrity of the inmates.
adopt the necessary measures in order to permit ideological and party
pluralism for the full exercise of the right to political participation
in conformity with Article XX of the American Declaration of the Rights
and Duties of Man.
ratify the principal international human rights instruments to which
Cuba is not yet a party.
That the espousal of Marxism-Leninism by any member of the
Organization of American States is incompatible with the
Inter-American System, and the alignment of such a government with
the Communist bloc weakens the unity and solidarity of the
That the current Cuban Government, which has officially
identified itself as a Marxist-Leninist Government, is incompatible
with the principles and purposes of the Inter-American System.
That this incompatibility excludes the current Government of
Cuba from participating in the Inter-American System.
That the Council of the Organization of American States and
the other agencies and organizations of the Inter-American System
take without delay the necessary steps to comply with this
The complete text of
Resolution VI is contained in the "Eighth Meeting of
Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs to serve as an Organ of
Consultation in Application of the Inter-American Reciprocal
Assistance Treaty, Punta del Este, Uruguay, January 22-31, 1962,
Meeting Documents," Organization of American States, OEA/Ser.F/II.8,
doc.68, pp. 17-19. This
Resolution was adopted by vote of fourteen countries in favor, one
opposed (Cuba) and six abstentions (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil,
Chile and Mexico).
As a result of this system, the main newspapers, such as Granma
(official organ of the Communist Party), Juventud Rebelde
(organ of the Union of Young Communists), and Trabajadores
(organ of the Confederation of Workers of Cuba) reflect only
government viewpoints. Only
to a very limited extent do these newspapers cover the debates that
may take place in the high-level organs of the state that have
decision-making power over issues of fundamental interest to
citizens, placing priority on the positive aspects of current events
over any negative aspects.
IACHR, La Situación de los Derechos Humanos en Cuba, Seventh
Report, General Secretariat of the Organization of American States,
OEA/Ser.L/V/II.61, Doc. 29 rev. 1, October 4, 1983, p. 68, para. 2.
The organization "Hermanos al Rescate" is a non-profit
association founded by civilian citizens and mainly voluntary pilots
on May 12, 1991. This
organization was registered as a non-profit corporation in the
public records of the state of Florida, United States.
For more than five years they have been patrolling the
Straits of Florida to save the thousands of people fleeing from Cuba
on precarious craft.
Héctor Faúndez Ledesma, Administración de Justicia y Derecho
Internacional de los Derechos Humanos (El Derecho a un Juicio Justo),
Universidad Central de Venezuela, School of Legal and Political
Sciences, 1992, pp. 61-62.
Decree No. 128 of 1991, which supplements the Cuban Criminal Code,
establishes that the declaration of pre-criminal dangerous condition
should be decided summarily. According
to that decree, the Revolutionary National Police creates the file
from the report of the acting agent, the testimony of neighbors who
attest to the conduct of the "dangerous person," and
official warnings, if any. After
completing the process of compiling the case file, the police
transfer it to the municipal prosecutor, who makes the decision as
to whether to submit it to the People's Municipal Court to determine
the degree of danger within two working days from its receipt.
Within this time frame the Court will decide whether any
other proceeding is appropriate; if so, it shall be performed within
five working days. If
the Tribunal considers the case file complete, it will set the date
of the hearing, where the parties will appear.
Twenty-four hours after the hearing is held, the Municipal
Court shall hand down its judgment.