Text in Spanish
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2001.
Department of State. Released by the Bureau of Democracy,
Human Rights, and Labor. March 4, 2002.
is a totalitarian state controlled by President Fidel Castro,
who is Chief of State, Head of Government, First Secretary
of the Communist Party, and commander-in-chief of the armed
forces. President Castro exercises control over all aspects
of life through the Communist Party and its affiliated mass
organizations, the government bureaucracy headed by the Council
of State, and the state security apparatus. The Communist
Party is the only legal political entity, and President Castro
personally chooses the membership of the Politburo, the select
group that heads the party. There are no contested elections
for the 601-member National Assembly of People's Power (ANPP),
which meets twice a year for a few days to rubber stamp decisions
and policies previously decided by the governing Council of
State. The Communist Party controls all government
positions, including judicial offices. The judiciary is
completely subordinate to the Government and to the
of Interior is the principal entity of state security and
totalitarian control. Officers of the Revolutionary Armed
Forces (FAR), which are led by Raul Castro, the President's
brother, have been assigned to the majority of key positions
in the Ministry of Interior in the past several years. In
addition to the routine law enforcement functions of regulating
migration and controlling the Border Guard and the regular
police forces, the Interior Ministry's Department of State
Security investigates and actively suppresses political opposition
and dissent. It maintains a pervasive system of surveillance
through undercover agents, informers, rapid response brigades
(RRB's), and neighborhood-based Committees for the Defense
of the Revolution (CDR's). The Government traditionally uses
the CDR's to mobilize citizens against dissenters, impose
ideological conformity, and root out "counterrevolutionary"
behavior. During the early 1990's, economic problems
reduced the Government's ability to reward participation in
the CDR's and hence the willingness of citizens to
participate in them, thereby lessening the CDR system's
effectiveness. RRB's consist of workers from a particular
brigade (construction workers, a factory, etc.) that are
organized by the Communist Party to react forcefully to any
situation of social unrest. The Government on occasion used
RRB's instead of the police or military during such
situations. Other mass organizations also exert government
and Communist Party control over citizens' daily activities
at home, work, and school. Members of the security forces
committed numerous serious human rights abuses.
population is approximately 11 million. The Government continued
to control all significant means of production and remained
the predominant employer, despite permitting some carefully
controlled foreign investment in joint ventures. Foreign
companies are required to contract workers only through
state agencies, which receive hard currency payments for
the workers' labor but in turn pay the workers a fraction
of this (usually 5 percent) in local currency. In 1998 the
Government rescinded some of the changes that had led to
the rise of legal nongovernmental business activity when it
further tightened restrictions on the self-employed sector
by reducing the number of categories allowed and by
imposing relatively high taxes on self-employed persons. In
September 2000, the Minister of Labor and Social Security
publicly stated that more stringent laws should be
promulgated to govern self-employment. He suggested that the
Ministry of Interior, the National Tax Office, and the Ministry
of Finance act in a coordinated fashion to reduce "the illegal
activities" of the many self-employed persons; however, there
were no reports of coordination between these agencies
during the year. According to government officials, the
number of self-employed persons as of October 2000 was
109,562, a decrease from the 124,082 reported in 1999. If
artists and intellectuals are included, the number of
self-employed persons rises to 154,312.
to official figures, the economy grew 3.6 percent during the
year. Despite this, overall economic output remained below
the levels prior to the drop of at least 35 percent in gross
domestic product (GDP) that occurred in the early 1990's.
This drop was due to the inefficiencies of the centrally controlled
economic system; the loss of billions of dollars of annual
Soviet bloc trade and Soviet subsidies; the ongoing deterioration
of plants, equipment, and the transportation system; and the
continued poor performance of the important sugar sector.
The 2000-2001 sugar harvest was more than 3.5 million tons,
the second worst harvest in more than 50 years. In November
Hurricane Michelle killed five persons and caused severe
damage to tens of thousands of homes, the
telecommunications system, and the electrical
infrastructure; it also destroyed much of the
export-earning citrus crops and affected 54 percent of the
sugar crop. The Government continued its austerity measures
known as the "special period in peacetime," which
were instituted in early 1990's. Agricultural markets provide
consumers wider access to meat and produce, although at prices
beyond the reach of most citizens living on peso-only incomes
or pensions. Given these conditions, the flow of hundreds
of millions of dollars in remittances from the exile community
significantly helped those who received dollars to survive.
Tourism remained a key source of revenue for the Government.
The system of so-called "tourist apartheid" continued, with
foreign visitors who paid in hard currency receiving
preference over citizens for food, consumer products, and
medical services. Most citizens remained barred from
tourist hotels, beaches, and resorts.
human rights record remained poor. The Government continued
to violate systematically the fundamental civil and political
rights of its citizens. Citizens do not have the right to
change their government peacefully. Prisoners died in jail
due to lack of medical care. Members of the security forces
and prison officials continued to beat and otherwise abuse
detainees and prisoners, including human rights activists.
The Government failed to prosecute or sanction adequately
members of the security forces and prison guards who committed
abuses. Prison conditions remained harsh and life threatening.
The authorities routinely continued to harass, threaten,
arbitrarily arrest, detain, imprison, and defame human
rights advocates and members of independent professional
associations, including journalists, economists, doctors,
and lawyers, often with the goal of coercing them into
leaving the country. The Government used internal and
external exile against such persons, and it offered
political prisoners the choice of exile or continued
imprisonment. The Government denied political dissidents and
human rights advocates due process and subjected them to unfair
trials. The Government infringed on citizens' privacy rights.
The Government denied citizens the freedoms of speech, press,
assembly, and association. It limited the distribution of
foreign publications and news, reserving them for selected
faithful party members, and maintained strict censorship of
news and information to the public. The Government restricted
some religious activities but permitted others. The Government
limited the entry of religious workers to the country. The
Government maintained tight restrictions on freedom of movement,
including foreign travel and did not allow some citizens to
leave the country. The Government was sharply and publicly
antagonistic to all criticism of its human rights practices
and discouraged foreign contacts with human rights activists.
Violence against women, especially domestic violence, and
child prostitution were problems. Racial discrimination was
a problem. The Government severely restricted worker rights,
including the right to form independent unions. The Government
prohibits forced and bonded labor by children; however, it
required children to do farm work without compensation.
FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, including Freedom
and Unlawful Deprivation of Life
were no reports of politically motivated killings.
was no new information about the results of any investigation
into the deaths of Leovigildo Oliva and Leonardo Horta Camacho;
police reportedly shot and killed both men in 2000.
the year, there were reports that prisoners died in jail due
to lack of medical care (see Section 1.c.).
still has not indemnified the survivors and the relatives
of the victims for the damages caused in the Border Guard's,
July 1994 sinking of the "13th of March" tugboat, which
killed 41 persons, despite a 1996 recommendation by the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to do so.
The Government detained a number of human rights activists
to prevent them from participating in a Mass in memory of
the victims on the anniversary of the deaths (see Section
were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
prohibits abusive treatment of detainees and prisoners; however,
members of the security forces sometimes beat and otherwise
abused human rights advocates, detainees, and prisoners.
There continued to be numerous reports of disproportionate
police harassment of black youths (see Section 5).
21, police and state security officials beat assembled mourners
who refused orders to ride buses during a funeral procession
for a prominent human rights activist (see Section 2.b.).
10, police officers detained five human rights activists who
had planned to celebrate World Human Rights Day by reading
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in a public park.
A fistfight broke out between three of the officers and the
activists, and the activists claimed that the officers hit
them with a piece of wood; however, no one was injured seriously.
The activists also claimed to have been dropped off by the
police far from their homes.
continued to subject persons who disagreed with it to acts
of what it called repudiation. At government instigation,
members of state-controlled mass organizations, fellow workers,
or neighbors of intended victims are obliged to stage public
protests against those who dissent from the Government's policies,
shouting obscenities and often causing damage to the homes
and property of those targeted; physical attacks on the
victims sometimes occur. Police and state security agents
often are present but take no action to prevent or end the
attacks. Those who refuse to participate in these actions
face disciplinary action, including loss of employment.
the year, there were no massive acts of repudiation directed
against the homes of individual human rights activists; however,
there were smaller-scale acts of repudiation, known as "reuniones
relampagos," or rapid repudiations. These acts are
conducted by a small number of persons, usually not from
the person's neighborhood, and can last up to 30 minutes.
These individuals shout epithets and throw stones or other
objects at the target's house. For example, on July 12, a
group of persons threw stones and bottles at the home of
Jose Manuel Escobedo, a member of the National Transitional
Council to Democracy, and Ana Maria Espinoza, a member of
Forum Feministas, in Santiago de Cuba. The crowd then went
to the house of Manuel Melian, also a member of the
National Transitional Council to Democracy, and threw
stones and bottles at his house. These actions lasted
approximately 30 minutes.
25, police, state security officers, and members of the RRB
forcefully prevented the opening of an independent library
focusing on Christian books in Florida, in the province of
Camaguey. Members of the RRB beat the dissidents and prevented
independent journalist Carlos Brizuela from reaching the house;
the crowd also beat independent journalist Normando Hernandez
Gonzalez. The dissidents were unable to open officially the
4, a group of Cuban exiles filed suit in a Belgian court accusing
President Castro of "false imprisonment, torture, and
persecution" during his 42 years in office. The case
was filed under a 1993 Belgian law that gives local Belgian
courts universal jurisdiction over violations of
international humanitarian law in other countries. The
magistrate was expected to consider whether the case was
conditions continued to be harsh and life threatening, and
conditions in detention facilities also were harsh. The Government
claims that prisoners have rights, such as family visitation,
adequate nutrition, pay for work, the right to request parole,
and the right to petition the prison director; however, police
and prison officials often denied these rights in practice,
and beat, neglected, isolated, and denied medical treatment
to detainees and prisoners, including those convicted of
political crimes or those who persisted in expressing their
views. Human Rights Watch reported that in 1999 the
Government revised the Penal Code to prohibit the use of
corporal punishment on prisoners and the use of any means
to humiliate prisoners or to lessen their dignity; however,
the revised code failed to establish penalties for
committing such acts, and they continued to occur in
practice. Detainees and prisoners, both common and
political, often are subjected to repeated vigorous
interrogations designed to coerce them into signing incriminating
statements, to force collaboration with authorities, or to
intimidate victims. Some endured physical and sexual abuse,
typically by other inmates with the acquiescence of guards,
or long periods in punitive isolation cells. Pretrial detainees
are held separately from convicted prisoners. In Havana there
are two detention centers; once sentenced, persons are transferred
to a prison.
sometimes are held in "punishment cells," which usually are
located in the basement of a prison, are semi-dark all the
time, have no water available in the cell, and have a hole
for a toilet. No reading materials are allowed, and family
visits are reduced to 10 minutes from 1 or 2 hours. There
is no access to lawyers while in the punishment cell.
25, a prison guard beat common prisoner Jose Ramon Capote,
who had to be hospitalized. The independent press agency CPIC
reported that the prison guard was not punished despite being
well known for physically abusing prisoners.
guards and state security officials subjected human rights
and prodemocracy activists to threats of physical violence,
to systematic psychological intimidation, and to detention
or imprisonment in cells with common and violent criminals,
sexually aggressive inmates, or state security agents posing
prisoners are required to comply with the rules for common
criminals and often are punished severely if they refuse.
They often are placed in punishment cells and held in isolation.
in January the authorities placed Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet in
a punishment cell for 5 days after he refused to wish prison
guards a happy new year. In February 2000, a court had sentenced
Biscet to 3 years in prison for disrespect, creating a public
disturbance, and encouraging others to violate the law.
regularly violated prisoners' rights by failing to provide
adequate nutrition and medical attention, and a number of
prisoners died during the year due to lack of medical attention.
In 1997 the IACHR described the nutritional and hygienic situation
in the prisons, together with the deficiencies in medical
care, as "alarming." Both the IACHR and the former
U.N. Special Rapporteur on Cuba, as well as other human
rights monitoring organizations, have reported the
widespread incidence in prisons of tuberculosis, scabies,
hepatitis, parasitic infections, and malnutrition.
reported that on February 18, 31-year-old common prisoner
Fernandez Rodriguez died of diabetes. According to his mother,
Rodriguez was taken to a local hospital but was returned to
prison after 3 days, where he subsequently died.
April, Guillermo Alberto Alea Acosta, a 34-year-old common
prisoner in the prison Kilo Cinco y Medio in Pinar del Rio,
died due to lack of medical attention. The independent press
agency UPECI reported that Alea was taken to a hospital for
heart problems but for unknown reasons was not admitted; he
died 24 hours later.
23, Damaso Aquino del Pino died in the Canaleta prison in
Ciego de Avila. Aquino was sentenced to prison in 1993 for
alleged acts of sabotage. The independent press agency AIDH
stated that he reportedly died from lack of medical treatment
for diabetes, including a lack of a special diet.
20, political prisoner Marcelo Diosdado Amelo Rodriguez died
in a Santiago de Cuba hospital from circulatory problems.
Diosdado Amelo reportedly had requested medical assistance
the day before, but only was taken to the hospital at dawn;
he died while being treated. Diosdado Amelo was in prison
for 8 years for "rebellion." While on conditional liberty
in 2000, he was jailed again and received a 3-year sentence
for "disobedience" ("desacato") for attempting to
enter Hotel Casa Granda in Santiago de Cuba. In 2000 there
were reports that Diosdado Amelo was not receiving medicine
for hypertension and circulatory problems. The authorities
prevented human rights activists from participating in the
burial of Diosado Amelo (see Section 2.b.).
April, Berta Antunez, the sister of political prisoner Jorge
Louis Garcia Perez Antunez, reported that her brother had
initiated a hunger strike to protest the lack of medical attention
he required in the Sancti Spiritus prison. At the time, he
was spitting blood because of a nodule on his lung. Six political
prisoners--founding members of the Pedro Luis Boitel Amnesty
Commission for Political Prisoners--in the Valle Grande prison
went on a sympathy hunger strike, including Douglas Faxa
Rosabal, Lazaro Constantin Duran, Liuba Salas Garcia,
Hector La Roque Rego, Juan Carlos Perez, and Miguel Lopez
Santos. On April 27, human rights activists from a number
of organizations initiated a fast to demand medical
treatment for Perez Antunez. He later was taken to a
military hospital for treatment, and was held in Combinado
del Este prison in Havana at year's end.
Roca Antunez, a member of the Internal Dissidents Working
Group, remained in prison at year's end. Prison officials
denied Roca prison furloughs over weekends, which were granted
to the three other members of the group before their release
in May 2000 (see Section 1.e.). Roca complained of harassment
from prison guards and lack of medical attention. He suffered
from bronchiectasis as a result of smoking. On April 12, UPECI
reported that Roca's wife, Magaly de Armas, complained about
her husband's harassment by prison guards and lack of common
courtesy towards him. She noted that conditions inside the
prison, such as high humidity and long hours of confinement
in a cell with only 1 hour outside daily, were responsible
for his continued lung problems.
6, Maria Esther Valdes Suarez, wife of imprisoned labor leader
Jose Orlando Gonzalez Bridon who was convicted in June, told
an independent journalist that her husband was not receiving
medical treatment for high blood pressure (see Section 1.e.).
Valdes reported that he was hemorrhaging blood from the nose.
17, the authorities released independent journalist Jesus
Joel Diaz Hernandez from prison without explanation (see Section
1.e.). In July 2000, Diaz Hernandez's family smuggled a urine
sample out of prison that revealed that the journalist had
hepatitis. Prison officials repeatedly failed to provide proper
medical treatment to Diaz Hernandez.
officials regularly denied prisoners other rights, such as
the right to correspondence, and continued to confiscate medications
and food brought by family members for political prisoners.
Some prison directors routinely denied religious workers access
to detainees and prisoners. Reading materials, including Bibles,
are not allowed in punishment cells.
Ana Aquililla, wife of 47-year-old Francisco Chaviano Gonzalez,
complained that her husband remained confined with common
prisoners, and that for more than 1 year he was not allowed
outside the prison for recreation. Chaviano is the former
president of the National Council for Civil Rights in Cuba
and received a 15-year prison sentence in 1994 on charges
of espionage and disrespect.
14, the correspondence that Rafael Perera Gomez gave to his
wife was confiscated as she was leaving after a prison visit.
One of the letters reportedly was for Elizardo Sanchez, president
of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National
June, Eddy Alfredo Mena Gonzalez started a hunger strike to
protest the decision of prison authorities not to allow his
family to visit him in August. Mena Gonzalez was the provincial
coordinator of the Movement of Young Cubans for Democracy.
In 2000 he had received a 5-year prison sentence for allegedly
promoting civil disobedience. Nestor Rodriguez Lobaina, the
president of the organization, received a 6-year sentence
for allegedly causing a public disturbance and disrespect.
On August 20, Rodriguez Lobaina was beaten severely by a fellow
inmate, resulting in hospitalization for a broken jaw. There
were no guards present when Rodriguez Lobaina was beaten;
however, human rights activists believe that the attack was
inspired by state security.
14, prison authorities informed Yesenia Rodriguez Aguilar,
the wife of Randy Cabrera Mayor, that she could not visit
him because "he is a counterrevolutionary." Cabrera is serving
a 16-year prison term for attempting to leave the country
illegally and for having fled prison a number of times; Cabrera's
previous imprisonment was due to his refusal to serve in
are separate prison facilities for women and for minors. Conditions
of these prisons, especially for women, do not take into account
the special needs of women. Human rights activists believe
that conditions are poor.
does not permit independent monitoring of prison conditions
by international or national human rights monitoring groups.
The Government has refused to allow prison visits by the
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) since 1989
and continued to refuse requests to renew such visits. On
July 18, the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National
Reconciliation (CCHRNC), an illegal nongovernmental
organization (NGO), appealed to the Government to create a
national commission with representatives from the Cuban Red
Cross, the Ministry of Public Health, and different
churches, to inspect the prisons and recommend changes to
the existing situation. At year's end, the CCHRNC had not
received a response from the Government.
Arrest, Detention, or Exile
arrest and detention continued to be problems, and they remained
the Government's most effective tactics for harassing opponents.
The Law of Penal Procedures requires police to file formal
charges and either release a detainee or bring the case before
a prosecutor within 96 hours of arrest. It also requires the
authorities to provide suspects with access to a lawyer
within 7 days of arrest. However, the Constitution states
that all legally recognized civil liberties can be denied
to anyone who actively opposes the decision of the Cuban
people to build socialism. The authorities routinely
invoked this sweeping authority to deny due process to
those detained on purported state security grounds.
routinely engaged in arbitrary arrest and detention of human
rights advocates, subjecting them to interrogations, threats,
and degrading treatment and unsanitary conditions for hours
or days at a time. The CCHRNC reported an increase in the
number of short-term detentions during the year. Members of
the Human Rights Party of Cuba affiliated with the Andrei
Zajarov Foundation (PPDHC) in the municipalities of Guane
and Sandino in the province of Pinar del Rio claimed that
they were subjected to 455 repressive actions by state security
personnel during 2000. On January 11, UPECI reported that
of these 455 actions, 93 activists received official citations
to appear at police stations ("actas policiales") from
local police. At the end of 2000, Amnesty International
recognized the increase of arrests and harassment of
dissidents, particularly around the December anniversary of
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, when the
authorities arrested approximately 200 persons to prevent
them from participating in a celebration of that
anniversary. Human rights activists characterized this
escalation as the worst in a decade. The authorities
continued to detain human rights activists and independent
journalists for short periods, often to prevent them from
attending or participating in events related to human rights
issues (see Sections 2.a. and 2.b.). The authorities also
placed such activists under house arrest for short periods
for similar reasons.
12, state security officials arrested and detained two Czech
citizens--parliamentary deputy and former Finance Minister
Ivan Pilip, and former student leader Jan Bubenik--after they
met with prodemocracy activists. They were charged with "acting
against the country's security" and inciting rebellion,
which carries charges of up to 20 years' imprisonment.
Following international pressure, on February 5, the
authorities released them without trial after they signed a
statement saying that they unwittingly had violated the law
and apologized for their actions. Several citizens who had
contact with the two men were detained and questioned (see
Sections 1.f. and 2.a.).
16, Juan Carlos Gonzalez Leyva, president of the Cuban Foundation
for Human Rights (FCDH), was intercepted by four men in the
bus station in Sancti Spiritus. Gonzalez, who is blind, was
on his way to attend a meeting of dissidents. The four men
drove out of town and left him in a sugar cane field approximately
25 miles away. These men replaced his walking stick with a
sugar cane stalk and took all his papers from his backpack
and replaced it with stones. Farmers heard Gonzalez's appeal
for help and drove him to the road where someone helped him
back to Sancti Spiritus. Gonzalez was detained again in
February to prevent a meeting of the FCDH (see Section
23, Elizardo Sanchez Santa Cruz Pacheco, president of the
CCHRNC, was detained for 2 hours at a local police station.
In an interview with a state security official, Sanchez was
told that his detention was a warning to desist from providing
support to dissident organizations and distributing financial
support to families of political prisoners. Sanchez believed
that this might be related to his attendance at a February
10 ceremony in which an environmental organization, Naturpaz,
issued diplomas to a group of students who successfully completed
a course on the environment. Sanchez also speculated that
his activities in support of Project Varela sponsored by
Oswaldo Paya Sardinas of the Christian Liberation Movement
could be another reason for his detention (see Section 4).
3, two persons were detained and released the same day at
the first national conference of the Confederation of Independent
Workers (see Section 6.a.).
28, Carlos Alberto Dominguez, one of the organizers of an
impromptu march in honor of the Virgin of Charity, was detained
briefly in his home and taken to the nearest police station;
he was released without charge (see Section 2.c.).
security police used detentions and warnings to prevent organizations
around the island from performing any actions in remembrance
of the four pilots killed in February 1996 by Cuban military
aircraft. Police prevented some dissidents from leaving their
homes. Aida Valdes Santana, president of the National
Coordination of Prisoners and Former Political Prisoners
was told not to leave her house and not to conduct
commemorative activities. The authorities detained others,
including Roger Morales Rey, Yunier Iglesias Silva, and
Jesus Jersen Garces, who were intercepted as they proceeded
to the seashore in Puerto Padre.
8, state security officials detained a number of persons when
they arrived at the monthly meeting place of the FCDH in Cuba.
Officials told others, such as independent journalist Pablo
Pacheco Avila, Marcelo Tier Perez of the Democratic Solidarity
Party, and Jose Carlos Morgado Hernandez of the Foundation,
to stay in their homes.
press agency Agencia de Prensa Libre Oriental (APLO) reported
that on March 29, state security officials detained independent
journalist Juan Carlos Garcell in Sagua de Tanamo and
transported him to a house on the outskirts of Holguin
where he was questioned about his activities. Later in the
afternoon, he was freed and had to find his way home.
Garcell referred to this incident as "an act of
20, state security police prevented a number of organizations
from celebrating the 99th anniversary of the country's independence.
(May 20 was the prerevolution independence holiday, which
President Castro eliminated.) Members of the Movement of Fraternal
Brothers for Dignity and the Cuban Orthodox Party were kept
away from an area in Havana known as "La Punta,"
near the entrance to Havana Bay. The authorities briefly
detained Nelson Aguiar, president of the Cuban Orthodox
previous years, on July 13, police prevented activists from
commemorating the 1994 sinking of the "13th of March" tugboat
(see Section 1.a.). Beginning on July 12, police detained
activists in a number of provinces and ordered others to remain
in their homes on July 13. The authorities told dissidents
that if they did not obey they would be prosecuted for illegal
assembly and distribution of enemy propaganda or for
incitement to rebellion. Planned actions in Havana and
other provinces did not take place because of state
security activities. A planned march in Old Havana was
disrupted when organizers were detained a few days before
2000, the authorities detained an estimated 200 persons, including
some who were detained on December 4, 2000, at public religious
celebrations in honor of Santa Barbara. Most of the
detainees were released after a short period and were not
charged. Two of those arrested were tried and convicted of
"contempt for authority" (see Section 1.e.).
Orlando Fundora and Leonardo Bruzon were released on
January 16 and February 1 respectively.
2000, authorities arrested Maritza Lugo Fernandez, vice president
of the Democratic November 30 Party; she was released without
charge in May.
prevented a number of persons from attending trials during
the year (see Section 1.e.). For example, in May activists
Carlos Alberto Dominguez and Nelson Vazquez Obregon were intercepted
on their way to the trial of Jose Orlando Gonzalez Bridon
and were transported to another part of Havana far from the
court (see Section 1.e.). In July police detained more than
30 opposition members who attempted to attend the trial of
Belkis Barzaga Lugo and Hector Novo and transported them
outside Havana by bus (see Section 1.e.).
sometimes detained journalists in order to question them about
contacts with foreigners or to prevent them from covering
sensitive issues or criticizing the Government (see Section
in detention before trial counted toward time served if convicted.
Bail was available, and usually was low and more equivalent
to a fine.
Code includes the concept of "dangerousness," defined as the
"special proclivity of a person to commit crimes,
demonstrated by his conduct in manifest contradiction of
socialist norms." If the police decide that a person
exhibits signs of dangerousness, they may bring the
offender before a court or subject him to therapy or
political reeducation. Government authorities regularly
threatened prosecution under this provision. Both the U.N.
Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) and the IACHR have
criticized this concept for its subjectivity, the summary
nature of the judicial proceedings employed, the lack of legal
safeguards, and the political considerations behind its application.
According to the IACHR, the so-called special inclination
to commit crimes referred to in the Criminal Code amounts
to a subjective criterion used by the Government to justify
violations of individual freedoms and the due process of persons
whose sole crime has been an inclination to hold a view different
from the official view.
also used exile as a tool for controlling and eliminating
the internal opposition. Amnesty International has noted that
the Government detains human rights activists repeatedly for
short periods and threatens them with imprisonment unless
they give up their activities or leave the country. The Government
used these incremental aggressive tactics to compel
independent journalists Maria de los Angeles Gonzales and
Luis Alberto Rivera to leave the country on May 10 and on
July 31 respectively.
also has pressured imprisoned human rights activists and political
prisoners to apply for emigration and regularly conditioned
their release on acceptance of exile. Human Rights Watch
observed that the Government routinely invokes forced exile
as a condition for prisoner releases and also pressures
activists to leave the country to escape future
prosecution. Amnesty International has expressed particular
concern about the Government's practice of threatening to
charge, try, and imprison human rights advocates and
independent journalists prior to arrest or sentencing if
they do not leave the country. According to Amnesty International,
this practice "effectively prevents those concerned from being
able to act in public life in their own country."
of Fair Public Trial
provides for independent courts; however, it explicitly
subordinates the courts to the ANPP and the Council of
State, which is headed by President Castro. The ANPP and
its lower level counterparts choose all judges. The
subordination of the courts to the Communist Party, which
the Constitution designates as the superior directive force
of society and the State, further compromises the
judiciary's independence. The courts undermined the right
to a fair trial by restricting the right to a defense and
often failed to observe the few due process rights available
courts exist at the municipal, provincial, and supreme court
levels. Panels composed of a mix of professionally certified
and lay judges preside over them. Military tribunals assume
jurisdiction for certain counterrevolutionary cases and are
governed by a special law. The military tribunals process
civilians if a member of the military was involved with civilians
in a crime. There is a right to appeal, access to counsel,
and the charges are known to the defendant.
and trial practices do not meet international standards for
fair public trials. Almost all cases are tried in less than
1 day; there are no jury trials. While most trials are public,
trials are closed when there are alleged violations of state
security. Prosecutors may introduce testimony from a CDR member
about the revolutionary background of a defendant, which may
contribute to either a longer or shorter sentence. The law
recognizes the right of appeal in municipal courts but limits
it in provincial courts to cases such as those involving maximum
prison terms or the death penalty. Appeals in capital cases
are automatic. The Council of State ultimately must affirm
for presenting evidence, especially in cases involving human
rights advocates, are arbitrary and discriminatory. Often
the sole evidence provided, particularly in political cases,
is the defendant's confession, usually obtained under duress
and without the legal advice or knowledge of a defense lawyer
(see Section 1.c.). The authorities regularly denied defendants
access to their lawyers until the day of the trial. Several
dissidents who have served prison terms reported that they
were tried and sentenced without counsel and were not allowed
to speak on their own behalf.
provides the accused with the right to an attorney, but the
control that the Government exerts over the livelihood of
members of the state-controlled lawyers' collectives compromises
their ability to represent clients, especially when they defend
persons accused of state security crimes. Attorneys have reported
reluctance to defend those charged in political cases due
to fear of jeopardizing their own careers.
being transferred to three different prisons within 1 month
for refusing to work, Rene Montes de Oca Martija escaped from
prison on April 20. On May 8, he was recaptured in the house
of Yani Valdes Mendez, who also was detained. Montes de Oca
is the secretary general of the Human Rights Party of Cuba
affiliated with the Andrei Sajarov Foundation. On December
19, 2000, Montes de Oca Martija had received a 21-month sentence
for threatening his wife Esther Valdes German, an accusation
that she had denied. On November 29, he again was tried for
escaping from prison, and received an additional 1 year and
4 months imprisonment to his original sentence, for a total
of 4 years and 5 months.
9, the Popular Municipal Court in Central Havana informed
58-year-old Isabel del Pino Sotolongo, president of the Humanitarian
Association of the Followers of Christ King, that her trial
was suspended for the third time. A neighbor had accused del
Pino of threatening to kill her, and police initiated legal
proceedings against her on the basis of this accusation. Opposition
groups rejected this accusation because following a 1999
attack, del Pino's state of health had deteriorated to the
point where she physically would be incapable of committing
such an act. Del Pino was not detained because of her poor
health. After the second suspension of her trial on April
23, del Pino initiated a hunger strike to protest the
court's action and prolonged deliberation. Religious
leaders and human rights activists convinced her to
terminate her hunger strike after 72 hours because of her
state of health.
8, a civilian court sentenced Jose Orlando Gonzalez Bridon,
the 50-year-old secretary general of the Confederation of
Democratic Workers of Cuba, to 2 years in jail, which an appeals
court reduced to 1 year, for "diffusion of false information
harmful to international peace." Gonzalez Bridon, who also
is an independent journalist and was detained in late 2000,
was accused of falsely incriminating local police for the
killing of Yohana Gonzalez Herrera, a human rights activist,
by her husband in November 2000. Gonzalez Bridon's trial had
been postponed repeatedly, resulting in a lengthy pretrial
detention. On May 23, police told various human rights
activists not to attend the trial. Despite the frequent
changing of the date of the trial and warnings by police, a
number of activists arrived at the court, but the
authorities allowed only family members to attend the
trial. State security officials intercepted activists
Carlos Alberto Dominguez and Nelson Vazquez Obregon on
their way to the court and transported them to another part
of Havana far from the court. Initially Gonzalez Bridon
also was charged with "spreading false information,"
but the prosecutor could not prove this charge. In July Bridon
reportedly was refused medical treatment (see Section 1.c.).
He was released on November 11 after serving his sentence.
11, the trial of Belkis Barzaga Lugo and Hector Novo Suarez,
both members of the 30th of November Democratic Party, took
place in Santiago de las Vegas, on the outskirts of Havana
City. Both were accused of causing public disorder, and Barzago
Lugo also was charged with resisting arrest. Police detained
more than 30 opposition members who arrived to attend the
trial (see Section 1.d.). Barzaga Lugo and Novo Suarez were
arrested on December 17, 2000, for carrying a sign requesting
freedom for political prisoners during a church service in
honor of St. Lazarus. Lugo was released on December 16 after
serving a 1-year sentence, and Suarez was released on March
31 after paying a fine of $45 (900 pesos).
2000, courts convicted Angel Moya Acosta and Julia Cecilia
Delgado of "contempt for authority" and sentenced each of
them to 1 year in prison. Both trials were closed to the public.
The two were among 200 persons detained (see Section 1.d.).
Both were released by year's end.
3, Miguel Sanchez Valiente, a former lieutenant colonel in
the army who became an activist, was released from prison
without explanation. Sanchez was arrested in August 1992 and
sentenced to 10 years in prison for espionage.
17, Jesus Joel Diaz Hernandez was released from prison without
explanation. Diaz Hernandez, an independent journalist, had
been serving a 4-year sentence beginning in 1999 for the crime
Angel Escobedo Morales was arrested in 1995, and in July 2000,
was tried again for obstruction of police, causing disorder
in the prison, and disrespect of government officials. At
year's end, there were no reports that he had been sentenced.
Roca Antunez of the Internal Dissident Working Group remained
in prison at year's end after a 1997 conviction for acts against
the security of the state in relation to the crime of sedition
after the group peacefully expressed their disagreement with
the Government (see Section 1.d.). Three other members
received conditional releases in 2000.
rights monitoring groups inside the country estimate the number
of political prisoners to be between 249 and 300 persons.
In July the CCHRNC reported that there were an estimated 249
political prisoners in the country; in July 2000, the CCHRNC
reported 314 political prisoners. The CCHRNC noted that since
the Government refuses to publish the number of prisoners
in the country, its figures are based on information obtained
from family members of prisoners. A spokesperson for the CCHRNC
attributed the decrease in political prisoners to the fact
that the Government has changed its tactics from prison sentences
to increased detentions (see Section 1.d.). The authorities
have imprisoned persons on charges such as disseminating enemy
propaganda, illicit association, contempt for the
authorities (usually for criticizing President Castro),
clandestine printing, or the broad charge of rebellion,
which often is brought against advocates of peaceful
democratic change. In July another illegal NGO, the
National Coordinator of Prisoners and Former Political
Prisoners, listed 262 political prisoners. This NGO also reported
that an additional 179 prisoners were convicted over a 1 year
period of piracy (stealing a boat belonging to the Government
in an attempt to leave the country), and illegal attempt to
leave the country (see Section 2.d.).
Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
the Constitution provides for the inviolability of a citizen's
home and correspondence, official surveillance of private
and family affairs by government-controlled mass organizations,
such as the CDR's, remained one of the most pervasive and
repressive features of daily life. The State has assumed the
right to interfere in the lives of citizens, even those who
do not oppose the Government and its practices actively. The
authorities utilized a wide range of social controls. The
mass organizations' ostensible purpose is to improve the citizenry,
but in fact their goal is to discover and discourage
nonconformity. Citizen participation in these mass
organizations has declined; the economic crisis both has
reduced the Government's ability to provide material
incentives for their participation and has forced many
persons to engage in black market activities, which the
mass organizations are supposed to report to the
Ministry employed an intricate system of informants and block
committees (the CDR's) to monitor and control public opinion.
While less capable than in the past, CDR's continued to report
on suspicious activity, including conspicuous consumption;
unauthorized meetings, including those with foreigners; and
defiant attitudes toward the Government and the revolution.
controls all access to the Internet, and all electronic mail
messages are subject to censorship. The Interior Ministry's
Department of State Security often reads international
correspondence and monitors overseas telephone calls and
conversations with foreigners. The Government also monitors
domestic phone calls and correspondence.
18, Yolaida Granda Gonzalez, the 21-year-old daughter of independent
journalist Maria de los Angeles Gonzalez Amaro, was dismissed
from her job as an accountant in a yogurt factory (see
Section 1.d.). A few days before her expulsion, two state
security agents met with the factory's management. In 2000
Granda Gonzalez was dismissed from the University of Havana
because of her mother's activities.
3, the independent press agency Lux InfoPress reported that
two workers involved in independent labor movements were expelled
from an agroindustrial plant for "lack of confidence"
(see Section 6.a.).
members of Roberto Valdivia Hernandez, whose name was found
in the electronic agenda of two Czech citizens, Ivan Pilip
and Jan Bubenik, whom state security officials arrested in
January, were visited frequently by state security (see Section
1.d.). Valdivia's mother was told that her son would spend
20 years in jail. Valdivia is a member of the FCDH in the
province of Ciego de Avila.
10, the 14-year-old son of Mayra Maria Enrique Rodriguez,
a member of the Movement for Democracy, was called into the
local police station's Office of Minors. The authorities wanted
to know why the 14-year-old was not attending political rallies,
including the May 1 march in honor of workers.
Aguila and Lorenzo Montelier were dismissed from their jobs
in a sugar mill because they are sons of former political
prisoners who were involved in the anti-Castro guerrilla war
in the Escambray Mountains in the early 1960's.
were numerous credible reports of forced evictions of squatters
and residents who lacked official permission to reside in
Havana (see Section 2.d.).
2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
of Speech and Press
provides for citizens' freedoms of speech and press insofar
as they "conform to the aims of socialist society." The
Government does not allow criticism of the revolution or
its leaders. Laws against antigovernment propaganda,
graffiti, and disrespect of officials carry penalties of
between 3 months and 1 year in prison. If President Castro
or members of the ANPP or Council of State are the objects
of criticism, the sentence can be extended to 3 years.
Charges of disseminating enemy propaganda, which includes
merely expressing opinions at odds with those of the
Government, can bring sentences of up to 14 years. In the
Government's view, such materials as the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, international reports of human
rights violations, and mainstream foreign newspapers and magazines
constitute enemy propaganda. Local CDR's inhibited freedom
of speech by monitoring and reporting dissent or criticism.
Police and state security officials regularly harassed, threatened,
and otherwise abused human rights advocates in public and
private as a means of intimidation and control.
29, a group of medical professionals issued a document entitled
Statement ("Manifesto") 2001 that demanded a new constitution
providing for the rights and liberties of everyone while
preserving the independence of the nation; a greater
economic opening to provide incentives to small- and
medium-sized companies while preserving free access to
education and health care; and a general amnesty for
political prisoners. Some of these medical professionals
were granted immigrant status by other countries, but the
Ministry of Health previously had refused to grant them
permission to secure exit permits (see Section 2.d.). On
July 5, an official threatened to terminate Dr. Luis Milan
Fernandez's employment if he did not reveal the author of
states that print and electronic media are state property
and cannot become private property in any case. The Communist
Party controls all media except for a few small church-run
publications. Even the church-run publications, denied access
to mass printing equipment, were subject to governmental
pressure. Vitral magazine continued to publish during the
do not have the right to receive publications from abroad,
although news stands in hotels for foreigners and certain
hard currency stores sell foreign newspapers and magazines.
The Government continued to jam the transmission of Radio
Marti and Television Marti. Radio Marti broadcasts at times
overcame the jamming attempts on short-wave bands, but its
medium-wave transmissions were blocked completely in Havana.
Security agents subjected dissidents, foreign diplomats, and
journalists to harassment and surveillance, including electronic
media must operate under party guidelines and reflect government
views. The Government attempts to shape media coverage to
such a degree that it not only continued to exert pressure
on domestic journalists but also steadily pressured groups
normally outside the official realm of control, such as visiting
Law to Protect National Independence and the Economy outlaws
a broad range of activities as undermining state security
and toughens penalties for criminal activity. Under the law,
anyone caught possessing or disseminating literature deemed
subversive, or supplying information that could be used by
U.S. authorities in the application of U.S. legislation, is
subject to fines and to prison terms of 7 to 20 years. While
many activities between citizens and foreigners possibly could
fall within the purview of this law, it appeared to be aimed
primarily at independent journalists; however, no one has
been tried under this law.
law increased the penalties and broadened the definitions
of activities covered by the 1996 Cuban Dignity and Sovereignty
Act, which already proscribed citizens from providing to or
seeking from any representatives of the U.S. Government information
that might be used directly or indirectly in the application
of U.S. legislation against the Government. This includes
accepting or distributing publications, documents, or other
material of any origin that the authorities might interpret
as facilitating implementation of such legislation. In 1999
National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon told foreign
correspondents that under the new law, even reporters
working for accredited foreign media could be sentenced to
up to 20 years in prison if the information they publish is
deemed to serve U.S. interests.
continued to threaten independent journalists, either anonymously
or openly, with arrests and convictions based on the 1999
law. Some journalists have been threatened repeatedly since
the law took effect. Independent journalists noted that the
law's very existence had some effect on their activities and
increased self-censorship, and some noted that it is the
Government's most effective tool to harass members of the
continued to subject independent journalists to internal travel
bans, arbitrary and periodic detentions (overnight or longer),
harassment of family and friends; seizures of computers,
office, and photographic equipment; and repeated threats of
prolonged imprisonment (see Sections 1.d., 1.f., and 2.d.).
Independent journalists in Havana reported that threatening
phone calls and harassment of family members continued
during the year. According to independent journalist Raul
Rivero, more than 55 independent journalists experienced
varying degrees of harassment, and certain individuals
appeared to have been singled out. Dozens of reporters were
detained repeatedly. The authorities also placed
journalists under house arrest to prevent them from
reporting on conferences sponsored by human rights
activists, human rights events, and court cases against
activists. Independent journalists reported that detentions,
threats, and harassment are more severe in the provinces than
in the capital. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch,
the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA), "Rapporteurs
Sans Frontieres" (RSF), and the Committee to Protect Journalists
repeatedly called international attention to the Government's
continued practice of detaining independent journalists and
others simply for exercising their right to free speech (see
members have lost their jobs because they refuse to criticize
or inform on these so-called counterrevolutionaries (see Section
1.f.). Acts of intimidation have been reported less frequently
since 1999; however, the number of acts of intimidation appeared
to increase during the year. In addition police more often
have tried to prevent independent journalists from covering
so-called sensitive events.
state security officials summoned Antonio Femenias of Agencia
Patria for questioning and subsequently accused him of receiving
money or materials from two Czech citizens, Ivan Pilip and
Jan Bubenik, who were arrested in January (see Section 1.d.).
No further actions were taken against Femenias by year's end.
Ricardo Gonzalez Alfonso, a correspondent for RSF, was detained
for 4 hours and interrogated about interviews that he gave
to a Miami-based radio station. His house subsequently was
placed under police surveillance.
Edel Garcia, director of the Central Norte del Paiz (CNP)
press agency was detained for 12 hours to prevent him from
participating in the "Actos del 24 de Febrero" in commemoration
of two "Brothers to the Rescue" planes that were
shot down by Cuban military aircraft in international
airspace in 1996 (see Section 1.d.). Garcia was released in
the countryside, 60 miles from his home in Havana. In June
the authorities detained Edel Garcia and Dorka Cespedes of
Habanapress at the "Aniversario del Tamarindo" in
Havana and released them outside of the city. Students
taunted Garcia's teen-age daughter because of her father's
activities as an independent journalist. At year's end,
Garcia was not in detention, and his trial on charges of
collaborating with the enemy, providing information to
Radio Marti, and conspiracy to commit crimes and espionage
state security officials in Moa detained Juan Carlos Garcel
of the APLO as he attended a civic demonstration. He then
was driven to Holguin, 95 miles from Moa, and detained for
7 hours at a state security house where government officials
interrogated him. He then was released and forced to hitchhike
for 5 hours in order to return to his home.
31, state security detained independent journalist Luis Alberto
Rivera Leyva of the APLO as he was preparing to report on
the forced removal of individuals from their home. He was
forced to sit in a patrol car until the incident was finished.
State security also instructed businesses in his hometown
not to permit him to use their telephones.
the police placed RSF correspondent Ricardo Gonzalez Alfonso
under house arrest after his former wife filed a complaint
alleging that he had threatened her. It is highly unusual
for police to impose house arrest in a domestic dispute. His
former wife dropped the charge, and he no longer was under
house arrest at year's end.
Ohalis Victores of Cuba-Voz was threatened by state security
that if she did not "behave herself" and stop her independent
press activities, she never would be issued an exit permit.
a state security official accosted Jorge Olivera Castillo
of Habanapress in the street and threatened that disciplinary
action would be taken against him if he continued with his
independent press activities.
state security agents interrogated Jesus Alvarez del Castillo
of the Cubapress agency and threatened him with imprisonment
for his independent press activities.
police stopped Juan Carlos Martinez Nunez of the Agencia CMN
of Bayamo, Granmna, numerous times in the street and searched
him. Police also pressured him to sign a document stating
that his trips to Havana were for medical purposes only and
not to conduct counterrevolutionary activities.
state security officials accused Manuel Antonio Brito of the
Buro de Periodistas Independientes de Cuba (BPIC) of trying
to provoke a war with the U.S., referring to an article he
wrote about the September 11 attacks on the U.S. Brito was
detained for a few hours and was not charged.
and Jadir Hernandez of Havana-Press were charged with trafficking
in illegal migrants and collaboration with a foreign mission
in 2000; their trial was pending at year's end.
five other independent journalists were denied the right to
emigrate, including Ohalis Victores, Manuel Vazquez Portal,
Jadir Hernandez, Oswaldo de Cespedes, and Sunset Noguera (see
Section 2.d.). For example, in May Isaura Ortega of the APIC
was refused an exit permit. The Government used repeated short
detentions to compel two independent journalists to leave
the country (see Section 1.d.).
often confiscated equipment when arresting journalists, especially
photographic and recording equipment. It was possible to buy
a fax machine or computer, payable in dollars; if a receipt
can be produced, this equipment usually was not
confiscated. Photocopiers and printers either were
impossible to find on the local market or were not sold to
individuals, which made them a particularly valuable
commodity for journalists.
foreign correspondents reported that the very high level of
government pressure experienced in 2000, including official
and informal complaints about articles, continued throughout
the year. The Government exercised its ability to control
members of the resident foreign press by requiring them to
obtain a government exit permit each time they wished to leave
the island. President Castro continued to criticize publicly
the international press, often by name.
of information continued to be controlled tightly. Importation
of foreign literature was controlled, and the public had no
access to foreign magazines or newspapers. Leading members
of the Government have indicated that citizens do not read
foreign newspapers and magazines to obtain news because they
do not speak English and that they have access to the daily
televised round tables on issues with which they need to concern
controls all access to the Internet, and all electronic mail
messages are subject to censorship. Access to computers is
limited, and the Internet only can be accessed through
government-approved institutions. Email use is growing
slowly as the Government incrementally allows access to
more users; however, the Government generally controls its
use, and only very few persons or groups have access. The
Government opened a national Internet gateway to some
journalists, artists, and municipal-level youth community
centers, but the authorities continue to restrict the types
and numbers of international sites that can be accessed.
officially prohibits all diplomatic missions in Havana from
printing or distributing publications, particularly newspapers
and newspaper clippings, unless these publications exclusively
address conditions in a mission's home country and prior
government approval is received. Many missions do not
accept this requirement and send materials out; however,
the Government's threats to expel embassy officers who
provide published materials had a chilling effect on some
restricts literary and academic freedoms and continued to
emphasize the importance of reinforcing revolutionary ideology
and discipline over any freedom of expression. The educational
system teaches that the State's interests have precedence
over all other commitments. Academics and other government
officials were prohibited from meeting with some diplomats
without prior approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Ministry of Education required teachers to evaluate students'
and their parents' ideological character, and note such
evaluations in school records. These reports directly
affected students' educational and career prospects. As a
matter of policy, the Government demands that teaching
materials for courses such as mathematics or literature
have an ideological content. Government efforts to
undermine dissidents included denying them advanced
education and professional opportunities. President Castro
has stated publicly that the universities are available
only to those who share his revolutionary beliefs.
expression is less restricted. The Government encourages the
cultural community to attain the highest international standards
in order to sell its work overseas for hard currency. However,
in 2000 the Government began implementing a program called
"Broadening of Culture" that ties art, socialism, and
modern "revolutionary" ideology and legends into
its own vision of culture. The Government has used the
government media and the schools to impose this vision on
the public, particularly the youth.
of Peaceful Assembly and Association
the Constitution grants limited rights of assembly and association,
these rights are subject to the requirement that they may
not be "exercised against the existence and objectives of
the Socialist State." The law punishes any unauthorized
assembly of more than three persons, including those for
private religious services in private homes, by up to 3
months in prison and a fine. The authorities selectively
enforced this prohibition and often used it as a legal
pretext to harass and imprison human rights advocates.
policy of selectively authorizing the Catholic Church to hold
outdoor processions at specific locations on important feast
days continued during the year. On September 8, the Government
permitted for the fourth consecutive year a procession in
connection with Masses in celebration of the feast day of
Our Lady of Charity in Havana. However, on September 8, security
police ordered a number of human rights activists not to
attend the procession; a number of activists did
participate (see Section 2.c.). There were no reports that
processions were denied permits during the year.
never have approved a public meeting by a human rights group,
and often detained activists to prevent them from attending
meetings, demonstrations, or ceremonies (see Section 1.d.).
30, state security officials prevented human rights activists
from attending a proposed conference on liberalism in the
home of Hector Palacio Ruiz, director of the Center of Social
Studies. Elizardo Sanchez, director of the CCHRNC, estimated
that state security officials told approximately 40 activists
to go home.
8, police prevented members of FCDH from having its regular
monthly meeting. Police detained more than 20 members of the
organization. The president of FCDH, Juan Carlos Gonzalez
Leyva, said that he was hit in the face, that he lost his
glasses (Gonzalez Leyva is blind), and was held in a painful
grip. His father and brother, who are not members of the opposition,
were forced into a car and released on the outskirts of the
town of Ciego de Avila. Leyva's wife also was detained briefly.
15, police prevented a conference on ethics in journalism
in the context of a nascent civil society sponsored by the
Moderate Reflection Group in the independent library Jorge
Manach. The owner of the library, Ricardo Gonzalez, was detained
early in the morning and released that evening.
23, state security officers detained prodemocracy activists
in different parts of the country to prevent them from staging
activities commemorating the February 1996 shooting down of
two civilian aircraft over international airspace by the air
force (see Sections 1.d. and 2.a.).
21, police and state security officials prevented human rights
activists from participating in the burial of Marcelo Diosdado
Amelo Rodriguez, who died in prison on May 20 (see Section
1.c.). The police beat and kicked human rights activists who
refused to board three buses offered by state security to
follow the hearse, preferring to walk behind the hearse, a
tradition in Santiago de Cuba. Neighbors expressed their disapproval
of police actions and attempted to stop the police from beating
and kicking the dissidents. Police detained six persons
before leaving the area. The hearse abruptly departed,
forcing mourners to find alternate ways of transportation
to the cemetery. Police only allowed immediate family
members to enter the cemetery for the burial ceremony. On
May 22, the six who were detained were released, and each
one was fined $88 (1,760 pesos); this included damages to
the funeral vehicle. On June 5, state security officials
placed a wreath on Diosdado's grave with the words "To
Taino, from your brothers in Security," an allegation
that the deceased had collaborated with state security
forces. State security also used this similar tactic of
accusing the deceased of police collaboration on September
18--the first anniversary of the death of human rights activist
Jesus Yanez Pelletier. On June 21, a Mass was celebrated in
the Church of St. Theresa in honor of Diosdado. Many activists
and family members attended while state security remained
outside. There were no reports of violence.
6, police prevented members of the Popular Cuban Youth Party
from seeing the film "Thirteen Days." Organizers wanted to
conduct a debate on the film.
the weekend of August 4-5, state security officials detained
opposition activists who were planning protests to coincide
with the seventh anniversary of the antigovernment riot that
took place in Havana on August 5, 1994.
10, approximately 30 activists attended a peaceful celebration
of the anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights. The
activists reported that plain-clothes police checked the documents
of those arriving and prevented some persons from attending.
organized marches on May Day and has a rally, "Tribuna Abierta,"
every Saturday in a different municipality in the country.
There is both radio and television coverage of the rally.
generally denies citizens the freedom of association. The
Penal Code specifically outlaws illegal or unrecognized groups.
The Minister of Justice, in consultation with the Interior
Ministry, decides whether to give organizations legal recognition.
The authorities never have approved the existence of a human
rights group. However, there are a number of professional
associations that operate as NGO's without legal recognition,
including the Association of Independent Teachers, the
Association of Independent Lawyers (Agramonte), the
Association of Independent Architects and Engineers, and
several independent journalist organizations.
churches (see Section 2.c.), the Roman Catholic humanitarian
organization Caritas, the Masonic Lodge, small human rights
groups, and a number of nascent fraternal or professional
organizations are the only associations outside the control
or influence of the State, the Communist Party, and their
mass organizations. With the exception of the Masons, who
have been established in the country for more than a century,
the authorities continued to ignore those groups' applications
for legal recognition, thereby subjecting members to potential
charges of illegal association. All other legally recognized
NGO's are affiliated at least nominally with or controlled
by the Government.
recognizes the right of citizens to profess and practice any
religious belief within the framework of respect for the law;
however, in law and in practice, the Government continued
to restrict freedom of religion. In general unregistered
religious groups continued to experience various degrees of
official interference, harassment, and repression. The
Government's policy of permitting apolitical religious
activity to take place in government-approved sites
remained unchanged; however, citizens worshiping in
officially sanctioned churches often were subjected to
surveillance by state security forces, and the Government's
efforts to maintain a strong degree of control over
provides for the separation of church and state. In 1991 the
Government allowed religious adherents to join the Communist
Party. In 1992 it amended the Constitution to prohibit religious
discrimination and to remove references to "scientific
materialism," (i.e. atheism) as the basis for the
State. Members of the armed forces do not attend religious
services in their uniform, probably to avoid possible
reprimand by superiors.
requires churches and other religious groups to register with
the provincial registry of associations within the Ministry
of the Interior to obtain official recognition. In practice
the Government refuses to recognize new denominations; however,
the Government has tolerated some new religions on the island,
such as the Baha'i Faith. Unregistered religious groups are
subject to official interference, harassment, and
repression. The Government, with occasional exceptions,
prohibited the construction of new churches, forcing many
growing congregations to violate the law and meet in
private homes. Government harassment of private houses of
worship continued, with evangelical denominations reporting
evictions from houses used for these purposes. According to
the Cuban Council of Churches (CCC) officials, most of the
private houses of worship that the Government closed were
unregistered, making them technically illegal. In addition
CCC Pentecostal members have complained about the preaching
activities of foreign missionaries that led some of their
members to establish new denominations without obtaining the
required permits. Because of these complaints by the Pentecostals,
the CCC formally has requested overseas member church organizations
to assist them in dissuading foreign missionaries from
establishing Pentecostal churches.
main interaction with religious denominations is through the
Office of Religious Affairs of the Communist Party. The Ministry
of Interior engaged in active efforts to control and monitor
the country's religious institutions, including through
surveillance, infiltration, and harassment of religious
professionals and practitioners.
following Pope John Paul II's visit, the country's Roman Catholic
bishops called on the Government to recognize the Catholic
Church's role in civil society and the family, as well as
in the temporal areas of work, the economy, the arts, and
the scientific and technical worlds. The Government continued
to limit the Catholic Church's access to the media and refused
to allow the Catholic Church to have a legal independent printing
capability. It maintained a prohibition against the
establishment of religious-affiliated schools.
local government authorities, for the fourth consecutive year,
allowed the Catholic Church to hold an outdoor procession
to mark the feast day of Our Lady of Charity in Havana (see
Section 2.b.). Although visibly present, state security personnel
did not harass any participants or observers as they did in
1998. However, prior to the event, security police ordered
a number of human rights activists not to attend the procession.
On September 24, thousands of persons attended the various
Masses held throughout the day in honor of the Virgin of
Charity, the patron saint of the imprisoned. The
independent press agency Cuba-Verdad reported that after
one of the afternoon Masses, a number of human rights
activists led a peaceful march. Although present, state
security agents did not intervene. However, on September
28, one of the organizers of the impromptu march, Carlos
Alberto Dominguez, was detained briefly in his home and
taken to the nearest police station; he was released
the Government announced in a Politburo declaration that henceforth
citizens would be allowed to celebrate Christmas as an official
holiday. (The holiday had been cancelled, ostensibly to spur
the sugar harvest, in 1969 and restored in 1997 as part of
the preparations for the Pope's 1998 visit.) However, despite
the Government's decision to allow citizens to celebrate
Christmas as an official holiday, it also maintained a 1995
decree prohibiting nativity scenes in public buildings. The
Christmas procession took place in December.
10, members of the Province of Havana Communist Party prepared
a confidential document criticizing recent inroads of the
church into society. The document provided suggestions to
the Party on how to supercede the pastoral work of the Church,
which included providing computer classes, attending to children
with Down's Syndrome, distributing medicines in cooperation
with doctors who provide written prescriptions for church
medical dispensaries, and charitable assistance to the elderly.
The document allegedly suggested that the Party take corrective
measures, for example, by controlling the distribution of
medicines. Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino characterized the
Party document as "antireligious" and a throw-back to
the pre-1992 constitution. The Cardinal again suggested
that to overcome these misconceptions the Church and State
should engage in a "profound discussion" on the
meaning of religion in society. Following the publication
of the article, Communist Party leaders in Havana
reportedly apologized to the Catholic Church hierarchy.
allowed two new foreign priests from Paraguay, two priests
from Spain, and another religious person to enter the country
to replace other priests whose visas had expired. During the
year, 10 visas were issued to other religious persons, including
nuns. The applications of many other priests and religious
workers remained pending at year's end.
officials are allowed to visit prisoners, but prison officials
sometimes refused visits to certain political prisoners. In
order for a religious visit to take place, the prisoner must
submit a written request, and the prison director must approve
it. Elias Biscet was visited by a Catholic priest twice during
is secular, and no religious educational institutions are
allowed. There were no reports that parents were restricted
from teaching religion to their children.
continued to enforce a resolution that prevented any national
or joint enterprise (except those with specific authorization)
from selling computers, fax machines, photocopiers, or other
equipment to any church at other than official--and
exorbitant--retail prices. There was no restriction on the
importation of religious literature and symbols if imported
by a registered religious group in accordance with the
proper importing procedures. In punishment cells, prisoners
were denied access to reading materials, including Bibles
(see Section 1.c.).
past several years, the Government has relaxed restrictions
on some religious denominations, including Seventh-Day Adventists
and Jehovah's Witnesses. Jehovah's Witnesses, once considered
"active religious enemies of the revolution," were allowed
to proselytize quietly door-to-door and generally were not
subject to overt government harassment, although there were
sporadic reports of harassment by local Communist Party and
continued to broadcast a monthly 15-minute program on a national
classical music radio station under the condition that the
program may not include material of a political character.
the Government detained a number of human rights activists
to prevent them from participating in a Mass in memory of
the victims of the 1994 sinking of the "13th of March" tugboat
(see Sections 1.a. and 1.d.). State security officials visited
some priests and pastors prior to significant religious
events, ostensibly to warn them that dissidents are trying
to "use the Church;" however, some critics
claimed that these visits were done in an effort to foster
mistrust between the churches and human rights or
prodemocracy activists. State security officers also
regularly harassed human rights advocates who sought to
attend religious services commemorating special feast days
or before significant national days, sometimes entering
inside churches and disrupting religious ceremonies.
of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration,
severely restricts freedom of movement. The Government generally
has not imposed legal restrictions on domestic travel; however,
it limits migration to Havana, and initially restricts
persons found to be HIV-positive to sanatoriums for
treatment and therapy before conditionally releasing them
into the community. In the past several years, state
security officials also have forbidden human rights
advocates and independent journalists from traveling
outside their home provinces, and the Government also has
sentenced others to internal exile.
217 prohibits persons in other provinces from moving into
Havana on the grounds that if internal migration is left unchecked,
the city's problems regarding housing, public transport, water,
and electrical supplies will become worse; visits to the city
are permissible. The Government noted in 2000 that since the
decree went into effect in 1997, the number of persons
migrating to Havana had decreased to approximately 17,000
persons. Police frequently check the identification of
persons on the streets, and if someone from another
province is found living in Havana illegally, that person
is fined $11.50 (300 pesos) and sent back home. Fines are
$38.50 (1,000 pesos) for those who reside illegally in the
neighborhoods of Old Havana and Cerro. Human rights
observers noted that while the decree affected migration
countrywide, it targeted individuals and families, who predominantly
are of African descent from the more impoverished eastern
imposed some restrictions on both emigration and temporary
foreign travel. The Government allows the majority of persons
who qualify for immigrant or refugee status in other countries
to depart; however, in certain cases the authorities delay
or deny exit permits, usually without explanation. The Government
denied exit permits to journalists (see Section 2.a.). Some
denials involve professionals who have tried to emigrate
and whom the Government subsequently banned from working in
their occupational fields. The Government refused
permission to others because it considered their cases
sensitive for political or state security reasons.
Resolution 54 denies exit permits to medical professionals
until they have performed 3 to 5 years of service in their
profession after requesting permission to travel abroad.
This regulation normally applied to recent graduates. This
regulation was not published as part of the legal
provisions, and may apply to other professionals as well.
a group of 31 medical professionals sent a letter to the authorities
protesting the Government's decision not to allow them to
proceed with their legal emigration. These medical professionals
were granted immigrant status by other countries, but the
Ministry of Health had refused to grant them permission to
secure exit permits. The doctors made the document public.
The Government responded by terminating their employment,
relocating them to remote and undesirable health care facilities,
or ostracizing them. One of the doctors who signed the
letter attempted to leave the country illegally but was
caught and released 3 days later.
7, eight doctors and one nurse initiated a public fast to
protest the refusal of the Ministry of Health to issue them
the required permission to secure exit permits; the fast remained
in effect at year's end. The public fast by the doctors and
nurse led to the Statement 2001 issued by a group of medical
professionals (see Section 2.a.).
15, immigration officials did not allow independent journalist
Oswaldo de Cespedes and his family to board their flight as
political refugees. De Cespedes was informed that his exit
permit had been canceled. A migration official later told
him that the exit permit was canceled "for interests of the
state." While his family was allowed to leave at a later date,
de Cespedes remained in the country at year's end.
Sanchez Santa Cruz, president of the CCHRNC, applied for an
exit permit to attend a Latin American conference on Human
Rights in Mexico City. Before authorities could respond, in
June Sanchez requested and received an emergency exit visa
due to a death in his family. Sanchez visited a number of
countries before he returned. In October Sanchez again was
allowed to depart the country for a human rights conference
in the Czech Republic.
the president of the environmental organization Naturpaz traveled
to the U.S. for a visit.
routinely denied exit permits to young men approaching the
age of military service, and until they reached the age of
27, even when it has authorized the rest of their families
to leave. However, in most of those cases approved for migration
to the U.S. under the September 1, 1994, U.S.-Cuban migration
agreement, the applicants eventually received exemption from
obligatory service and were granted exit permits.
has a policy of denying exit permission for several years
to relatives of individuals who successfully migrated illegally
(e.g. merchant seamen who have defected while overseas and
sports figures who have defected while on tours abroad).
a military court sentenced Pedro Riera Escalante, a former
Cuban consul and intelligence officer in Mexico City, to 6
years in prison for leaving the country illegally, using false
documents, and bribing officials to allow his departure. Escalante
had broken with the Government and sought political asylum
in Mexico; however, in October he was deported forcibly by
the Mexican authorities.
who travel to the United States must pay the Government a
total of $600 per adult and $400 per child, plus airfare.
These government fees for medical exam, passport, and exit
visa--which must be paid in dollars--are equivalent to about
5 years of a professional person's accumulated peso salary
and represent a significant hardship, particularly for political
refugees who usually are marginalized and have no income.
In 1996 the Government agreed to allow 1,000 needy refugees
to leave each year with reduced exit fees. However, after
the first group of 1,000 in 1996, no further refugees were
accorded reduced fees. At year's end, of the 1,001 persons
pending travel, 21 approved refugees remained in the country
because they were unable to pay government exit fees for themselves
and their families.
Code provides for imprisonment of up to 3 years or a fine
of $15 to $50 (300 to 1,000 pesos) for unauthorized departures
by boat or raft. The office of the U.N. High Commissioner
for Refugees (UNHCR) has stated that it regards any sentence
of more than 1 year for simple illegal exit as harsh and excessive.
Under the terms of the May 2, 1995, U.S.-Cuba Migration Accord,
the Government agreed not to prosecute or retaliate against
migrants returned from international or U.S. waters, or from
the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo, after attempting to
emigrate illegally if they have not committed a separate
the Government eased restrictions on visits by and repatriations
of Cuban emigrants. Citizens who establish residency abroad
and who are in possession of government-issued permits to
reside abroad may travel to the country without visas. The
Government reduced the age of persons eligible to travel abroad
from 20 to 18 years and extended the period for a temporary
stay abroad from 6 to 11 months. In 1995 the Government announced
that emigrants who are considered not to have engaged in
so-called "hostile actions" against the
Government and who are not subject to criminal proceedings
in their countries of residence may apply at Cuban
consulates for renewable, 2-year multiple-entry travel
authorizations. However, in 1999 the Government announced
that it would deny entry permits for emigrants who had left
the country illegally after September 1994. It remains unclear
whether the Government actually was implementing such a policy.
provides for the granting of asylum to individuals persecuted
"for their ideals or struggles for democratic rights
against imperialism, fascism, colonialism, and
neocolonialism; against discrimination and racism; for
national liberation; for the rights of workers, peasants,
and students; for their progressive political, scientific,
artistic, and literary activities; and for socialism and
peace." However, the Government has no formal
mechanism to process asylum for foreign nationals.
Nonetheless the Government honors the principle of first asylum
and has provided it to a small number of persons. There was
no information available on its use during the year. A total
of 93 persons applied for refugee status during the year,
and 25 were approved; according to the UNHCR, there are 1,036
refugees in the country. There were no reports of the forced
return of persons to a country where they feared persecution.
3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change
do not have the legal right to change their government or
to advocate change, and the Government retaliates systematically
against those who seek peaceful political change. The Constitution
proscribes any political organization other than the Communist
Party. While the Constitution provides for direct election
of provincial, municipal, and ANPP members, the candidates
must be approved in advance by mass organizations controlled
by the Government. In practice a small group of leaders, under
the direction of President Castro, selects the members of
the highest policy-making bodies of the Communist Party: The
Politburo and the Central Committee.
tightly control the selection of candidates and all elections
for government and party positions. The candidacy committees
are composed of members of government-controlled mass
organizations such as the Confederation of Cuban Workers
(CTC) and the CDR's and are responsible for selecting
candidates, whose names then are sent to municipal
assemblies that select a single candidate for each regional
seat in the ANPP. An opposition or independent candidate
never has been allowed to run for national office.
1998, the Government held national elections in which 601
candidates were approved to compete for the 601 seats in the
National Assembly. According to the official state media,
the candidates were voted in by more than 93 percent of the
electorate. No candidates with views independent from or in
opposition to the Government were allowed to run, and no views
contrary to the Government or the Communist Party were expressed
in the government-controlled national media. The Government
saturated the media and used government ministries, Communist
Party entities, and mass organizations to urge voters to cast
a "unified vote" where marking one box automatically
selected all candidates on the ballot form. In practice the
Communist Party approved candidates for all offices. A
small minority of candidates did not belong formally to the
Communist Party. The Communist Party was the only political
party allowed to participate in the elections.
in the National Assembly, delegates in the provincial assemblies,
and members of the Council of State are elected during general
elections every 5 years. Municipal elections are held every
21/2 years to elect 14,686 local representatives to the municipal
assemblies, the lowest level of the Government's structure.
In April 2000, the Government held elections for local
representatives to the municipal assemblies. Government
newspapers reported that 98 percent of voters participated
in the election. Slightly more than 50 percent of those
elected were incumbents, 20 percent were women, and
approximately 9 percent of all candidates were between the
ages of 16 and 30. The reports also claimed that nationwide
the number of blank ballots decreased from 3.2 percent to
2.8 percent, while the number of annulled votes also
decreased to 3 percent from nearly 4 percent, compared with
the last election.
not a formal requirement, in practice Communist Party membership
is a prerequisite for high-level official positions and professional
rejects any change to the political system judged incompatible
with the revolution and ignored and actively suppressed calls
for democratic reform. Although President Castro signed the
Declaration of Vina del Mar at the Sixth Ibero-American Summit
in 1996, in which government leaders reaffirmed their
commitment to democracy and political pluralism, the
Government continued to oppose independent political
activity on the ground that the national system provides a
"perfected" form of democracy and that pluralism
exists within the one-party structure.
leadership positions continued to be dominated by men. There
are no legal impediments to women voting, holding political
office, or rising to political leadership; however, the percentage
of women in government and politics does not correspond to
their percentage of the population. There are very few women
or minorities in policymaking positions in the Government
or the Party. There are 2 women in the 24-member Politburo,
18 in the 150-member Central Committee, and 166 in the 601-seat
ANPP. Although blacks and persons of African descent make
up more than half the population, they only hold six seats
in the Politburo.
4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental
Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
does not recognize any domestic human rights groups or permit
them to function legally. The Government subjects domestic
human rights advocates to intense intimidation, harassment,
and repression. In violation of its own statutes, the Government
refuses to consider applications for legal recognition
submitted by human rights monitoring groups (see Section
generally believe that most human rights organizations have
been infiltrated and are subjected to constant surveillance.
Activists believe that some of the dissidents are either state
security officials or are persons attempting to qualify for
refugee status to leave the country.
1997 report, the IACHR examined measures taken by the Government
and found that they did not "comprise the bedrock of a substantive
reform in the present political system that would permit
the ideological and partisan pluralism implicit in the
wellspring from which a democratic system of government
develops." The IACHR recommended that the Government
provide reasonable safeguards to prevent violations of
human rights, unconditionally release political prisoners
and those jailed for trying to leave the country, abolish
the concept of dangerousness in the Penal Code, eliminate
other legal restriction on basic freedoms, cease harassing
human rights groups, and establish a separation of powers
so that the judiciary no longer would be subordinate to
political power (see Sections 1.c. and 1.e.).
8, a state security official confiscated the signed petitions
that Carlos Brizuela Yera collected on behalf of Project Varela.
This is a project sponsored by the Christian Liberation Movement,
led by Oswaldo Paya Sardinas, to have 10,000 citizens sign
a petition requesting a popular referendum, as provided for
by the Constitution of 1976, on the need for political and
economic changes. Project Varela proposes five areas where
laws should be changed based on existing constitutional rights,
including the right to free expression, the right to free
association, amnesty for those jailed for "political
motives," the right to set up businesses, and a new
electoral law allowing citizens to vote for multiple
candidates as a better form of "participatory
steadfastly has rejected international human rights monitoring.
In 1992 the country's U.N. representative stated that the
Government would not recognize the mandate of the U.N. Commission
on Human Rights on Cuba and would not cooperate with the
Special Rapporteur on Cuba, despite being a UNCHR member.
This policy remained unchanged, and the Government refused
even to acknowledge requests by the Special Rapporteur to
visit the country. In 1998 the UNCHR did not renew the
mandate of the Special Rapporteur, following as yet
unfulfilled assertions by the Government that it would
improve human rights practices if it was not under formal
sanction from the UNCHR. As in 2000, the UNCHR again passed
a resolution on April 18, introduced by the Czech Republic,
which expressed concern about the human rights situation in
the country. Unlike in the previous year, there were no
organized marches past the Czech Embassy in Havana.
5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability,
Language, or Social Status
is a multiracial society with a black and mixed-race majority.
The Constitution forbids discrimination based on race, sex,
or national origin, although evidence suggests that racial
discrimination occurs frequently.
crime rarely was reported in the press, and there was no publicly
available data regarding the incidence of domestic violence
and rape; however, human rights advocates reported that violence
against women was a problem. The law establishes strict
penalties for rape, and the Government appears to enforce
the law; however, according to human rights advocates, the
police do not act on cases of domestic violence.
Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women visited the country
in 1999 and issued a report of findings in February 2000.
The report stated that most government officials did not view
violence against women as a prevalent problem. However, activists
at the grassroots level were very attuned to problems of
violence affecting women. The Rapporteur urged the
Government to take comprehensive steps to enhance the legal
protection against violence against women and specifically
urged the adoption of legislation to address domestic
violence and sexual harassment.
is legal for persons over 17 years of age; however, pandering
or otherwise benefiting from prostitution is a felony. Prostitution
has increased greatly in the last few years. Press reports
indicated that tourists from various countries visited
specifically to patronize inexpensive prostitutes. A
government crackdown on prostitution that began in late
1998 initially had some effect, but prostitutes (known as "jineteras")
still were visible in Havana and other major cities during
the year. Police obtained early success in their efforts by
stationing officers on nearly every major street corner
where tourists were present. Some street police officers
were suspected of providing protection to the jineteras.
Most observers believe that the Government clamped down on
prostitution to combat the perception that the Government
promotes sex tourism. The Government set up centers to take
prostitutes off the streets and reeducate them. In a
February 2000 report, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on
Violence Against Women recommended that the Government
dismantle the centers and find "other mechanisms that
do not violate the rights of the prostitutes." There
was no information available regarding whether or not the
Government dismantled these centers.
Code states that women and men have equal rights and responsibilities
regarding marriage, divorce, raising children, maintaining
the home, and pursuing a career. Women were subject to the
same restrictions on property ownership as men. On May 1,
the maternity law was changed to provide up to 1 year of maternity
leave, an increase from 18 weeks. The law also grants
working mothers preferential access to goods and services.
Approximately 40 percent of all women work, and they are
well represented in many professions. According to the
Cuban Women's Federation (FMC), in 2000 women held 33
percent of managerial positions. The FMC also asserted that
11,200 women had received land parcels to cultivate, that
more than 561,000 women had begun working as agricultural
workers, and that women devoted 34 hours a week to domestic
work, approximately the same number of hours they spend
working outside the home.
provides that the Government protect family, maternity, and
matrimony. It also states that children, legitimate or not,
have the same rights under the law and notes the duties of
parents to protect them. The law requires school attendance
until the ninth grade, and this law generally is respected
in practice. Education is free, but it is grounded in Marxist
ideology. State organizations and schools are charged with
the integral formation of children and youth. The national
health care system covers all citizens.
was no societal pattern of abuse of children. However, child
prostitution was a problem, with young girls engaging in prostitution
to help support themselves and their families. It is illegal
for a person under 17 years of age to engage in prostitution.
The police began to enforce this law more actively in late
1998 and continued to do so during the year as part of a general
crackdown on prostitution. However, the phenomenon
continued as more cabarets and discos open for the growing
tourist industry, which made it easier for tourists to come
into contact with child prostitutes.
officers who find children loitering in the streets or begging
from tourists frequently intervened and tried to find the
parents. If the child was found bothering tourists a second
time, police frequently fined the child's parents.
prohibits discrimination based on disability, and there have
been few complaints of such discrimination. On January 15,
Juan Carols Gonzalez Leyva and Luis Esteban Alvarez of the
Independent Fraternity of the Blind of Cuba (FRACIC) sent
a letter to President Castro complaining about the difficult
situation that blind persons encounter. They blamed the Government's
lack of will for this situation. The letter specifically referred
to a November 2000 incident in which a special police
operation dislodged a number of persons with disabilities
from selling their products in Central Havana. Police
arrested two persons, and a court sentenced one of them to
1 year in jail for selling stolen goods.
are no laws that mandate accessibility to buildings for persons
with disabilities. In practice buildings and transportation
rarely are accessible to persons with disabilities.
persons of African descent have benefited from access to basic
education and medical care since the 1959 revolution, and
much of the police force and army enlisted personnel is black.
Nevertheless racial discrimination often occurred and was
acknowledged publicly by high governmental officials, including
President Castro during remarks at the World Conference on
Racism in South Africa. President Castro acknowledged that
the revolution has not eradicated racism. There were numerous
reports of disproportionate police harassment of black youths.
Evictions, exacerbated by Decree 217, primarily targeted individuals
and families from the eastern provinces, which are
traditionally areas of black or mixed-race populations (see
6 Worker Rights
Right of Association
gives priority to state or collective needs over individual
choices regarding free association or provision of employment.
The demands of the economy and society take precedence over
individual workers' preferences. The law prohibits strikes;
none were known to have occurred. Established official labor
organizations have a mobilization function and do not act
as trade unions, promote worker rights, or protect the right
to strike. Such organizations are under the control of the
State and the Communist Party, which also manage the enterprises
for which the laborers work.
Party selects the leaders of the sole legal labor confederation,
the Confederation of Cuban Workers, whose principal
responsibility is to ensure that government production
goals are met. Despite disclaimers in international forums,
the Government explicitly prohibits independent unions and
none are recognized. There has been no change in conditions
since the 1992 International Labor Organization (ILO)
finding that the Government violated ILO norms on the
freedom of association and the right to organize. Those who
attempted to engage in unofficial union activities faced
may lose, and many have lost their jobs for their political
beliefs, including their refusal to join the official union.
Several small independent labor organizations have been created
but function without legal recognition and were unable to
represent workers effectively or work on their behalf. The
Government actively harassed these organizations. On January
26, the Government released Pedro Pablo Alvarez Ramos, the
secretary general of the Council of Cuban Workers (CUTC),
without charging him; he had been arrested in October 2000.
On February 3, Jordanis Rivas Hernandez and Cecilia Chavez
Gonzalez, both workers in an agroindustrial plant in the province
of Villa Clara, reportedly were expelled for "lack of confidence,"
a reference to their involvement in independent labor
movements (see Section 1.f.). On June 8, independent labor
activist Jose Orlando Gonzalez Bridon of the Confederation
of Democratic Workers of Cuba was sentenced to 2 years in
jail (see Section 1.e.); he was released after serving 1
year, including pretrial detention. On July 23, police
briefly detained Nestor Gonzalez Penton, a member of the
Confederation of Democratic Workers of Cuba in Santa Clara.
During his interrogation, Gonzalez was told that if he did
not find work soon he would be incarcerated for "dangerousness."
Most political dissidents lose their jobs and remain
unemployed; the only work they are offered is cleaning
streets. On September 3, the first national conference of
the Confederation of Independent Workers was held in the
house of independent journalist Aleida Godinez Soler. Fourteen
of the 30 delegates arrived before security forces began telling
persons to leave, and 2 persons were detained and released
the same day. In the document "the Declaration of September,"
the members affirmed their commitment to criticize labor
violations and to work with workers arbitrarily dismissed
from their jobs for political reasons.
is a member of the Communist, formerly Soviet-dominated World
Federation of Trade Unions.
Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
bargaining does not exist. The State Committee for Work and
Social Security (CETSS) sets wages and salaries for the state
sector, which is almost the only employer in the country.
Because all legal unions are government entities, antiunion
discrimination by definition does not exist.
Foreign Investment Law denies workers the right to contract
directly with foreign companies investing in the country without
special government permission. Although a few firms have managed
to negotiate exceptions, the Government requires foreign
investors to contract workers through state employment
agencies, which are paid in foreign currency and, in turn,
pay workers very low wages in pesos. Typically workers
received 5 percent of the salary paid by the companies to
the state. Workers subcontracted by state employment
agencies must meet certain political qualifications.
According to Minister of Basic Industry Marcos Portal, the
state employment agencies consult with the Party, the CTC,
and the Union of Communist Youth to ensure that the workers
chosen "deserve" to work in a joint enterprise.
were no functioning export processing zones, although the
law authorizes the establishment of free trade zones and industrial
of Forced or Compulsory Labor
the Constitution nor the Labor Code prohibits forced labor.
The Government maintained correctional centers where it sent
persons for crimes such as dangerousness. Prisoners held there
were forced to work on farms or building sites; for example,
doing construction, agricultural work, or metal working. The
authorities often imprisoned internees who did not cooperate.
employs special groups of workers, known as "microbrigades,"
who are reassigned temporarily from their usual jobs to
work on special building projects. These microbrigades
increasingly have become important in the Government's
efforts to complete tourist and other priority projects.
Workers who refused to volunteer for these jobs often
risked discrimination or job loss. Microbrigade workers
reportedly received priority consideration for housing
assignments. The military assigns some conscripts to the
Youth Labor Army, where they serve a 2-year military
service requirement working on farms that supply both the
armed forces and the civilian population.
prohibits forced and bonded labor by children; however, the
Government required children to work without compensation.
All students over age 11 were expected to devote 30 to 45
days of their summer vacation to farm work, laboring up to
8 hours per day. The Ministry of Agriculture used "voluntary
labor" by student work brigades extensively in the farming
of Child Labor Practices and Minimum Age for Employment
minimum working age is 17 years. However, the Labor Code permitted
the employment of 15- and 16-year-old children to obtain training
or to fill labor shortages. The Government prohibits forced
and bonded child labor; however, it strongly encouraged
children to work without compensation (see Section 6.c.).
According to school rules, refusal to do agricultural work
could affect the student's ability to continue studying at
Conditions of Work
sets the minimum wage, which varies by occupation. For example,
the minimum monthly wage for a maid is $8.25 (165 pesos);
for a bilingual office clerk, $9.50 (190 pesos); and for a
gardener $10.75 (216 pesos). The Government supplements the
minimum wage with free education, subsidized medical care
(daily pay is reduced by 40 percent after the third day of
being admitted to a hospital), housing, and some food (this
subsidized food is enough for about 1 week per month). However,
even with these subsidies, the minimum wage does not provide
a decent standard of living for a worker and family. Corruption
and black market activities were pervasive. The Government
rations most basic necessities such as food, medicine, clothing,
and cooking gas, which were in very short supply.
requires foreign companies in joint ventures with state entities
to hire and pay workers through the State (see Section 6.b.).
Human Rights Watch noted that the required reliance on
state-controlled employment agencies effectively leaves
workers without any capacity directly to negotiate wages,
benefits, the basis of promotions, and the length of the
workers' trial period at the job with the employer. Foreign
companies pay the Government as much as $500 to $600 per
worker per month while the workers in turn receive only a
small fraction of that in pesos from the Government.
workweek is 44 hours, with shorter workweeks in hazardous
occupations, such as mining. The Government reduced the workday
in some government offices and state enterprises to save energy.
environmental and safety controls usually were inadequate,
and the Government lacked effective enforcement mechanisms.
Industrial accidents apparently were frequent, but the Government
suppressed such reports. The Labor Code establishes that a
worker who considers his life in danger because of hazardous
conditions has the right not to work in his position or not
to engage in specific activities until such risks are eliminated.
According to the Labor Code, the worker remains obligated
to work temporarily in whatever other position may be assigned
him at a salary provided for under the law.
Code prohibits trafficking in persons through or from the
country and provides for penalties for violations, including
a term of 7 to 15 years' imprisonment for organizing or cooperating
in alien smuggling through the country; 10 to 20 years'
imprisonment for entering the country to smuggle persons
out of the country; and 20 years to life in prison for
using violence, causing harm or death, or putting lives in
danger in engaging in such smuggling. These provisions were
directed primarily at persons engaging in organized
smuggling of would-be emigrants. In addition the revised
code made it illegal to promote or organize the entrance of
persons into or the exit of persons from the country for
the purpose of prostitution; violators are subject to 20 to
30 years' imprisonment.
were no reports that persons were trafficked to, from, or
within the country for the purpose of providing forced labor