REPORT OF THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION
OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN SEVERAL COUNTRIES
its mandate to promote the observance and defense of human rights, the IACHR has
been reviewing the status of human rights in the countries of the Hemisphere and
has drawn up special reports on some of them.
Those reports have been prepared on the Commission’s own initiative, or
on instructions from an organ of the Organization of American States, and, in
some cases, at the spontaneous request of the country concerned.
Commission feels that these reports, their later dissemination, and discussion
of them have helped to change the behavior of particular countries as regards
their observance of human rights, and in some cases, the reports have placed on
record that the behavior of a country is in accord with international
commitments it has undertaken in the field of human rights.
recent years, the Commission has drawn up reports on 14 countries some of which,
such as Chile, Cuba Guatemala, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Suriname, have been the
subject of several reports.
on these reports have usually been included in the Commission’s annual reports
to the General Assembly when warranted by the State’s behavior in the human
Commission’s Annual Report submitted to the eighteenth regular session of the
General Assembly included a chapter with sections on the status of human rights
in Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Suriname from
September 1988 to September 1989.
the Commission’s view, there are reasons to warrant the reviewing all of those
member countries again in this Annual Report.
order to make the information available to it as complete as possible, the
Commission, on February 26, 1990, requested the countries mentioned to provide
it with any information they deemed appropriate, but particularly information on
how they had complied with the Commission’s previous recommendations; on the
progress they had made and any difficulties they had encountered in effective
observance of human rights; and on the text of any statute enacted or case law
that might have affected the observance of human rights.
With regard to Haiti, the Commission has prepared a special report as a
result of the in loco visit carried out to that country from April 17 to
April 20, 1990 as per request made by the Permanent Council of the OAS.
warranted, the Governments’ responses and any other information from various
sources to which the Commission has had access have been taken into
consideration in drafting this chapter.
following sections will cover the status of human rights in Chile, Cuba, El
Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay and Suriname, since September
1989 up to the approval date of this report.
Commission reiterates that the inclusion of these sections is not designed to
give an overall and complete description of the status of human rights in each
of the eight countries mentioned. The Commission’s intent here is rather to give an update
covering the period of one year since the last general reports.
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has continued observing with special
attention the status of human rights in Cuba.
This section presents the findings of those observations during the
period covered by this annual report. It
supplements the information presented in the Commission’s seven special
reports on Cuba and the pertinent sections of its annual reports.
its preceding annual report, the Commission referred to the regression that it
had perceived in connection with the harassment of several human rights
activists and the request it sent to the Government of Cuba to rectify its
position and give those agencies the guarantees they need to carry out their
valuable work. Unfortunately, the
Commission must note that the government has not only kept those negative
practices in force but has stepped them up through a genuine campaign of
harassment, court sentencing without due process, deprivation of work and
imprisonment under extremely negative conditions.
Commission reported in its preceding annual report that on August 6, 1989, state
security personnel had detained the following leaders:
Professor Elizardo Sánchez Santa Cruz, Chairman of the Cuban Commission
on Human Rights and National Reconciliation;
Mr. Hiram Abi Coba, of the Pro Human Rights Party; and Mr. Hubert Jerez
Marino, Chairman of the Marti Human Rights Committee.
After six weeks at the Villa Marista state security jail facility–where
these persons were kept in separate cells lighted 24 hours a day, but deprived
of reading or writing materials and allowed no physical exercise–they were
transferred to the Combinado del Este facility on September 13.
persons named above were accused of violating Article 115 of the Penal Code
which punishes those who spread false news intended to disrupt international
peace or endanger the prestige of the Cuban state or its good relations with
another state with a prison term of one to four years.
The Penal Code views this crime as an infraction of state security.
The accusation was based on statements these persons made to
international journalists about the trial of General Ochoa and his co-defendants
which ended with the executions of June 12, 1989.
It should be mentioned that at that time the leaders of the human rights
agencies were afforded the opportunity to select defense attorneys.
Messrs. Sánchez Santa Cruz, Jerez and Cobas were sentenced by the
People’s Provincial Tribunal of Havana on November 24, 1989, to two years of
imprisonment, the first of these, and 18 months of imprisonment, the latter two.
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has received information on the
negative conditions in which the aforementioned leaders are serving their
sentences. After they were
sentenced, these persons were initially placed in solitar5y confinement at the
Combinado del Este. Due to his poor
state of health, Hiram Abi Cobas has spent much of that time in the Carlos J.
Finlay military hospital. Elizardo
Sánchez and Hubert Jerez were later transferred to jails located 200 kilometers
(Aguica) and 500 kilometers (Kilo 7) from Havana. The distance made it difficult to receive visitors, thus
adding to the difficult prison conditions in which Mr. Sanchez, in particular,
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights believes that the arrest, trial and
sentencing of Elizardo Sanchez Santa Cruz, Hiram Abi Cobas, and Hubert Jerez
constitutes a contravention of international standards protecting freedom of
speech and association and reveals the degree of arbitrary action with which the
Cuban judicial and penitentiary system represses all manifestation of dissent.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights believes these persons
should be released promptly.
November 11, 1989, Edita Cruz Rodriguez, a member of the Pro Human Rights Party
of Cuba, was arrested the night before a mass was going to be said at the
cathedral to pray for the health of Mr. Alfredo Mustelier Nuevo, who was on a
complete hunger strike. Mrs. Cruz
Rodríguez was forced to serve a term of three months in jail, which had been
suspended, to which she had been sentenced when she attempted to participate in
a protest in Havana on the occasion of President Gorbachev’s visit to Cuba.
Inter-American Commission was also told about several acts of state security
harassment against human rights activists.
The actions included arrests for short periods, summonses to the state
security to be warned about the consequences of actions they were taking, raids
on homes and seizure of documents. According
to the information provided, these acts affected Rodolfo González González,
Roberto Regalado and Angela Rey Miranda of the Cuban Human Rights Committee,
Yndamiro Restano of the Independent Journalists Association of Cuba, Juan Jose
Moreno Reyes, of the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National
Reconciliation, and Domingo Hernández Cepero and Danilo Valdéz, of the Pro
Human Rights Party. Also affected
were Estaban González González, Mario Fernández Mora, Arthuro Montane and
Manuel Pozo, of the Cuban Pro Amnesty Group, as well as Julio Soto Angurel of
the Jose Martí Group of Independent Defenders for Human Rights and National
Reconciliation. The actions took
place between November 1989 and January 1990.
addition to these reports on human rights activists, the Inter-American
Commission has also received others on harassment by the Government of Cuba of
the widest variety of organizations. For
example, Mr. Orlando Polo, a leader of the Ecopacifist Movement of Cuba, was
detained from September 22 to October 13, 1989.
His detention followed others carried out during this same year.
The Association Naturista Vida, a farm where Polo worked and lived with
his wife, was closed by the government. Also
during the period covered by this report, several persons were sentenced to
prison terms ranging from 8 to 18 months. These
were seven members of the Free Pro Art Association:
Pablo Roberto Pupo Sánchez, Juan Enrique García Cruz, Ramon Obregón
Sarduy, Gilberto Plasencia Jiménez, Lázaro Angel Cabrera Puentes, Carlos Novoa
Ponce and Jorge Luis Marí Becerra. The
charges against them were for illicit association, carrying and bearing arms or
explosives and failure to report the commission of crimes.
October 27, 1989, Mr. Alfredo Mustelier Nuevo, one of the so-called “plantados
históricos” [long-term convicts]–persons serving long terms of crimes
against state security who have refused to accept the plans of the Cuban
penitentiary system–started a complete hunger strike. The reason for his strike was to request the government to
apply a more benign law to him in view of universally recognized legal criteria.
According to information received, Mr. Mustelier Nuevo ended this hunger
strike in early December 1989. The
other two “long termers” still in Cuba are Messrs. Ernesto Diaz Rodriguez
and Mario Chanes de Armas.
the month of March, as the United Nations Commission on Human Rights discussed
the situation of Cuba, the government undertook several acts against numerous
human rights activities. According
to the official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party, Granma, seven human
rights activists were detained on March 12 for having sent a letter
congratulating the United States delegation to the United Nations Commission on
Human Rights for the position it took in the discussion.
On March 5, 1990, crowds of government sympathizers surrounded the house
of Gustavo and Sebastián Arcos, of the Cuban Pro Human Rights Committee, who
were meeting with Samuel Martínez Lara, Yndomiro Restano, Domingo Hernández,
Armando Alonso and Oscar Peña. The
house was attacked, its telephone lines cut and the door damaged until the
police intervened somewhat later. More
acts of the same type were repeated on March 14, 1990, according to information
provided to the Commission.
fact of particular seriousness is the practice by the Government of Cuba of
adding sentence time to human rights activists already serving prison terms.
To illustrate, Mr. Roberto Bahamonde Massot, a member of the Pro Human
Rights Party and of the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National
Reconciliation, who was serving a three months sentence for protesting the visit
of President Gorbachev, was given an additional year for having carried out
illicit economic activities. According
to information provided to the Commission, Mr. Bahamonde has worked as a
photographer since 1980 without a permit from the government.
director of the Pro Human Rights Party, Samuel Martínez Lara, for his part, who
was serving time for having participated in a demonstration during the visit of
President Gorbachev to Havana, was informed in December 1989 that he would not
be released when his sentence was up in January since he had committed
“disrespect” against President Fidel Castro and because he had made an
offensive reference to the situation in Panama.
Martínez Lara was released on February 22, 1990, one month after having
served his sentence, with charges pending in connection with the allegation of
disrespect. A similar situation was
true of Vladimir García Alderete, a member of the Free Pro Art Association, who
was given three more months and also charged with “disrespect” of President
Fidel Castro. García Alderete was
first of all sentenced to eight months in jail for having incited public
disorder when he attempted, along with other members of the Association, to
celebrate the Cuban culture day in a way other than set out in the official
celebration. García Alderete was
finally released in November 1989.
particularly serious case because of the type of family reprisals adopted by the
Government of Cuba relates to two children, Alexander Hernández and Lissette Vásquez,
and the mother of the girl, Mrs. Rosa Miranda Díaz.
All of these persons are family members
of two instructors of the Cuban cycling team, José Alberto Menéndez Suárez
and Roger Vásquez. The first of these two sought asylum at the United States
embassy in Panama in 1987 and the second, in Mexico in 1988. While the wife of Menéndez was authorized to leave Cuba to
rejoin her spouse, their child, Alexander Hernández, has been denied permission
to travel to the United States to join his parents. According to information provided to the Commission, the Hernández
child has been expelled from the “Pioneros” organization of school children,
detained with his grandmother for several hours at the Villa Marista state
security jail, threatened with being sent to a reformatory if he did not
withdraw his departure application from Cuba, summoned by a your reformatory to
Jague Grande in Matanzas–where he stayed for a week–and has been forced to
stop going to classes because of the way he is treated at school.
The Inter-American Commission finds outrageous the treatment given to a
14-year-old boy by the Cuban state simply because he has requested to move
abroad in order to join his parents and believes that by so doing the state is
making the son serve the sentence that applies to the father.
This is a complete and flagrant mockery of the standards of human rights
and the most elementary humanitarian sentiments.
Rosa Miranda Díaz and her daughter, Lissette Vásquez Miranda, find themselves
in a similar situation. Their
request for authorization to leave Cuba was answered with a letter, signed by
Chancellor Malmierca, the authenticity of which has not been denied by the
Government of Cuba, whose test appears below:
We received your letter of December 14 of this year requesting that you and your daughter, Lissette Vásquez Miranda, be granted permission to leave.
For your information, I inform you that your spouse, Roger Vásquez in union with another deserter called José Alberto Menéndez, has orchestrated a defamatory campaign against the Government of Cuba in common agreement with the United States authorities and anti-social groups of Cubans exiled in that country. By using despicable forms of misinformation such as press and news agencies that employ aggressive verbal diarrhea, all in the service of that empire, these traitors attempt to tarnish the achievements of our revolution.
I ask you, why does your husband not denounce the incarceration of Nelson Mandela? Why does he not denounce the cruel imperialist invasion of Panama?
It is with greatest regrets that we inform you that your application, as well as that of the traitor who is accompanying your husband, have been denied and may be reviewed only when he ceases the hostile campaign against our people and government.
The statement set out in this section makes it clear the extremes to which the Government of Cuba will go to repress all forms of dissent. In that effort the government uses all the resources of a body of legislation prepared for the purpose of subordinating individual rights to state demands which, in these cases, are those of a small group holding power. It is this characteristic which led the Commission to qualify Cuba’s present political system as totalitarian in the Seventh Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Cuba and to state that in that country a state of law does not exist.
The Government of Cuba has stated that by acting in this way it is dealing with an external aggression from the United States which is joined by the activities of human rights organizations which, combined with measures such as broadcasts of Radio and TV Marti, add to the long-standing commercial blockade and repeated threats of the use of force. Continuing the words of the Government of Cuba, the objective of such actions is to create a favorable situation for the destruction of the current political system, as has been occurring in other latitudes.
In view of this, the Commission finds it pertinent to reiterate is final conclusion of the Seventh Report on the Status of Human Rights in Cuba, that is:
The Commission believes that there are elements in the Cuban political system whose development would permit the progressive installation of a democratic order–lacking today–which is the only way of perfecting the advances made in the social arena and to overcome the profound distortions that affect its economy. The Commission hopes that internal and international conditions will be created to permit the attainment of effective participation of Cuban citizens in the attainment of effective participation of Cuban citizens in the political decisions that affect them, within a framework of liberty and pluralism that is essential to bring about true effectiveness of all human rights.