Amnesty International Report 2007
REPUBLIC OF CUBA
Head of state and government: Raúl
Castro Ruz (provisionally replaced Fidel
Castro Ruz in July)
Death penalty: retentionist
International Criminal Court: not ratified
Freedom of expression, association and
movement continued to be severely restricted.
At least 69 prisoners of conscience remained
imprisoned for their political opinions.
Political dissidents, independent journalists
and human rights activists continued to
be harassed, intimidated and detained, some
without charge or trial. Cubans continued
to feel the negative impact of the US embargo.
During 2006 Cuba secured a place on the
UN Human Rights Council and assumed the
presidency of the Non-Aligned Movement during
its XIV Summit in Havana in September.
In July, Fidel Castro underwent surgery
and for the first time since 1959 transferred
his responsibilities to other senior officials,
including his brother, Raúl Castro
Ruz. Political opposition parties and activities
were not tolerated.
Political relations with the USA remained
tense despite economic exports of agricultural
products to Cuba exceeding US$500 million.
The US Commission for Assistance to a Free
Cuba issued an update of its previous report
in July. The European Union did not reintroduce
sanctions lifted in 2005 despite continued
concerns over the human rights situation
The US government set up a law enforcement
task force to track down and prosecute those
who circumvent restrictions on travelling
and commercial exchanges with Cuba. In November,
for the 15th consecutive year, the UN General
Assembly passed a resolution calling on
the USA to end its embargo on Cuba.
The government continued to deny the UN
Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation
in Cuba access to the country. AI and other
independent human rights organizations were
also not allowed to visit.
Prisoners of conscience
At the end of the year, 69 prisoners of
conscience continued to be held for their
non-violent political views or activities.
Twelve others continued to serve their sentences
outside prison because of health concerns.
No releases of prisoners of conscience were
reported during the year.
o Orlando Zapata Tamayo was sentenced to
three years in 2003 on charges of showing
"contempt to the figure of Fidel Castro",
"public disorder" and "resistance".
In November 2005 he was reportedly sentenced
to an additional 15 years for "contempt"
and "resistance" in prison. In
May 2006, he was again tried on the same
charges and sentenced to an additional seven-year
term. He was serving a prison sentence of
25 years and six months.
Detention without charge or trial
Scores of people continued to be held without
charge on suspicion of counter-revolutionary
activities or on unclear charges. Their
legal status remained unclear at the end
of the year.
o Prisoner of conscience Oscar Mariano
González Pérez, an independent
journalist who was arrested in July 2005
as he was about to take part in a demonstration
in front of the French embassy, remained
in detention without charge or trial.
Freedom of expression and association
Severe restrictions on freedom of expression
and association persisted. All print and
broadcast media remained under state control.
There was a rise in the harassment and intimidation
of independent journalists and librarians.
People suspected of links with dissident
groups or involved in promoting human rights
were arrested and detained. There was an
increase in arrests on charges of "pre-criminal
dangerousness". Access to the Internet
remained severely limited outside governmental
offices and educational institutions. Journalist
Guillermo Fariñas staged a seven-month
hunger strike to obtain access to the Internet,
o Armando Betancourt Reina, a freelance
journalist, was arrested on 23 May as he
took notes and photographs of evictions
from a house in the city of Camagüey.
He was charged with public disorder. Armando
Betancourt was reportedly held incommunicado
for a week at the police station before
being transferred to Cerámica Roja
prison in Camagüey on 6 June. He was
awaiting trial at the end of the year.
Harassment and intimidation of dissidents
There was an increase in the public harassment
and intimidation of human rights activists
and political dissidents by quasi-official
groups in so-called acts of repudiation.
o Juan Carlos González Leiva, President
of the Cuban Foundation for Human Rights,
was reportedly the target of several "acts
of repudiation" - involving government
supporters reportedly acting with the collusion
of the authorities - at his home in the
city of Ciego de Avila. He and his family
were repeatedly threatened by demonstrators.
Juan Carlos González Leiva, who is
blind, was arrested in March 2002 for "disrespect",
"public disorder", "resistance"
and "disobedience" and spent two
years in prison without trial. In April
2004 he was sentenced to four years' imprisonment,
to be served at his home.
AI country reports/visits
o Cuba: Fundamental freedoms still under
attack (AI Index: AMR 25/001/2006)
o Cuba: Fear for safety/Fear of torture/intimidation/harassment
- Miguel Valdés Tamayo and Juan Carlos
González Leiva (AI Index: AMR 25/002/2006)
AI last visited Cuba in 1988 and has not
been allowed into the country since.
Annual Report 2007 (whole).