54.     This subordination of the administration of justice to the political power causes great insecurity and fear among the citizenry, which is reinforced by the weakness of procedural guarantees, particularly in cases where peaceful opponents of the regime or human rights activists are on trial.  Following are examples of trials conducted by the Cuban courts, where the outcome reflects the prevailing situation in that country:


a.       In a trial held on February 25, 2000, Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet, President of the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights, was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison for the crimes of "insulting patriotic symbols", "inciting to delinquency", and "public disorder".  The deeds that gave rise to this sentence took place on October 28, 1999, during a press conference that the doctor held with a number of Cuban non-violent opposition members, on the occasion of the Ibero-American summit in Havana, where they displayed upside-down flags as a sign of protest against human rights violations in Cuba, and called for a peaceful march to demand the release of political prisoners.  According to the prosecutor's conclusions, "the accused, Oscar Elias Biscet Gonzáles, has performed no socially useful activity since the month of March, 1998, at which time he was punished by dismissal from his position as a physician in the Maternal-Infant Teaching Hospital, on October 10, for serious violations of the center's discipline and rules; he is the head of a counterrevolutionary faction, the "Lawton Foundation for Human Rights”, he consorts exclusively with antisocial elements, former prisoners and counterrevolutionaries, maintaining links with factions comprised of individuals of the same persuasion, he has taken part in various scandalous activities on public streets, and has provided false and distorted information on our revolutionary process to subversive broadcasters in Miami.  These deeds constitute the crime of public disorder, defined and punished in Article 201.1.2 of the Criminal Code.  The penalty that must be imposed on the accused, Oscar Elias Biscet Gonzáles, is three years in prison and a fine of 500 quotas of 10 pesos each." The Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, reporting from Havana, referred to the prosecution of Biscet and other dissidents in the following terms:


In our opinion, the four dissidents convicted to date are completely innocent of the crimes with which they are charged, since they were exercising, or attempting to exercise, elementary civil and political rights in an absolutely peaceful manner.  The legal basis for convicting them is highly debatable, since the existing Criminal Code clearly criminalizes the free exercise of essential rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other documents of United Nations and of the Ibero-American community.


With respect to the prosecution of Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet and his two codefendants, we consider that it was dramatically and objectively flawed by attacks from the highest level of the State and by other factors of great public influence.  Therefore, taking into account the vertical nature of the prevailing model of political and juridical organization in Cuba, it was unthinkable that any judge would vote to acquit the accused, or to impose non-criminal penalties.


One of the non-governmental observers of our Commission, Carlos Mendez, was intercepted and ordered to leave by police agents when he attempted to enter the courthouse where Dr. Biscet and his codefendants were to be tried.  The same thing happened to several dozen citizens who attempted to attend the trial on the grounds that, in accordance with Cuban law, all trials must be public except those where overriding reasons of national security or the preservation of moral integrity or the private life of individuals indicate the contrary.[56]


It should also be noted that on February 25, immediately after the sentencing of Biscet, Eduardo Diaz Fleitas, vice president of the Movimiento 5 de Agosto, and Fermin Scull Zulueta were convicted by the same court, on the charge of disrupting public order.  Diaz Fleitas was sentenced to a year in prison, and Scull Zulueta to a year under house arrest.[57]


b.       The preventive arrest ad infinitum of people who are imprisoned without trial is another irregularity in the administration of justice in Cuba.  Osvaldo Diaz Palacio, President of the José Marti National Commission on Human Rights, complained in May, 2000, that eight prisoners in the provincial jail of Villa Clara were still being held after two years, without ever being brought before a competent, independent and impartial court.  Mrs. Mayra Rodriguez Martin, the mother of one of the prisoners, said: "My son, Lázaro Carbajal Rodriguez and seven other prisoners have gone on hunger strikes several times, some of them for as long as two weeks.  They are demanding that they be tried or that they be released, but no one listens to their demands."  The Villa Clara prison is popularly known by the name of “La Pendiente” [“the holding tank”].  Provisional detentions of indefinite term are common practice in the Cuban judicial system: for example, the four members of the Internal Dissidents’ Group (GDI), Marta Beatriz Roque Cabello, Felix Bonne Carcases, Rene Gomez Manzano and Vladimiro Roca Antunez were held without trial for a year and five months.[58]


c.       The weighing of evidence by the Cuban courts is another serious problem facing persons accused of political or common crimes.  Ernesto Pérez Ramirez, who was held as a common prisoner in the Valle Grande prison in the La Lisa district of Havana, issued an appeal to international public opinion to intercede on his behalf.  According to the report, Ramirez was arrested on August 14 by agents of the Technical Investigations Department (DTI) of the Havana Criminal Police, who took him to the headquarters of the Ministry of the Interior.  There he was accused of having stolen a pig three months earlier.  Testimony given by witnesses on his behalf during the oral hearing, to the effect that on the day of the offense Ramirez was in a place far removed from the "violent theft of the pig", were to no avail.  He was sentenced to 30 years in prison.  In his letter, Ramirez considers this penalty to be excessive, even on the assumption that he had stolen a pig, but that such penalties are commonly imposed by the so-called Peoples' Courts in lopsided trials that offer no procedural guarantees for the accused.  "My case is not an isolated one", he stresses in his note.  Nevertheless, Ramirez declares that he is innocent of the crime for which he was imprisoned.  Another case that occurred during the period covered by this report involved Eduardo Ricardo Arabi Jimenez, whose wife presented an appeal for habeas corpus on his behalf, after he was accused of being a fugitive from a prison farm.  "This appeal went nowhere.  I want to say that the interview was conducted entirely surrounded by political police officers, and once again the process was marked by lies and deceit.  The presumed officer of the Ministry of the Interior alleged that the fingerprints found at the farm coincided with those of my husband.  That was another lie.  My husband has never been in prison, he has never been arrested, he has never been registered in the government investigation offices.  His only crime is to be an opponent of government totalitarianism, and of course something worse: he is a Christian."[59]


d.       The Inter-American Commission was also informed that, after hearing evidence for only 50 minutes and deliberating for only 15 minutes, the Municipal Court of Rancho Bayeros convicted Lázaro Planes Farías, 34 years old, to 3 1/2 years in prison for the crime of contempt.  According to the prosecutor, Planes Farías was heard, in the early morning of October 10, shouting "Down with Fidel!  Down with communism!", which constitutes the crime of contempt under Article 144 of the Cuban Criminal Code.[60] To back up this charge, the prosecution presented three witnesses: Regina Matos, Rosa Hernandez and Rafael Ramos, who were caught in evident contradictions when they gave their account of what had happened.  The defense, represented by the lawyer Antonio Pilli, was formally reprimanded for trying to demonstrate the inconsistencies in their testimony by asking questions that the prosecutor and the President of the court considered to be "trick questions".  A minor incident occurred at the beginning of the trial, when the mother of the accused, Marta Farías, was forced to insist loudly that she be allowed into the courtroom, since the premises were for some reason completely filled, and none of the defendant's friends or relatives had been able to find a seat.  Lazaro Planes Farías had already been convicted the day before to six months in prison by the same court, for resisting authority, and he is awaiting further trial for the same offense.  This young man was one of the political prisoners who received a pardon after the 1998 visit to Cuba of His Holiness John Paul II.  State Security forces were in full evidence, both in the courtroom and in the vicinity of the courthouse.  The trial began at 10:30, and ended at 11:35.[61]


e.       Another procedural irregularity committed by the Cuban courts is to amend rulings after an individual has been sentenced.  René Pérez Vega, 29 years of age, a member of the Liga Civica Martiana, was sentenced to three years in prison for the alleged crime of contempt against President Fidel Castro.  Pérez Vega was sentenced on September 7 and taken to prison 1580, known as El Pitirre.  As it turned out, in March, at the corner of Bejucal and Pernichet streets, in the Capri sector of Arroyo Naranja in Havana, Pérez Vega, indignant over the crisis gripping the country and feeling powerless in the face of the fatal cancer from which one of his daughters was suffering, left out shouts of "down with Fidel!", upon which he was seized, taken to the Ninth Police Station in the locale, and beaten by 7 police officers.  During this beating, this human rights activist lost consciousness on two occasions.  In the month of July, Pérez was placed on trial in the Municipal People's Court of Arroyo Naranja, where he was sentenced to three years’ deprivation of liberty without imprisonment, although the prosecuting attorney asked for only two years.  Nevertheless, in August, the penalty was changed to three years in penitentiary.[62]


f.       On July 21, 2000, Néstor Rodríguez Lobaina and Eddy Alfredo Mena González, President and Coordinator of the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy, were tried on charges of inciting to public disorder and contempt for the Commander in Chief, by the Provincial People's Court of Santiago de Cuba.  The accusations were based on an incident in which members of the official organization, Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, attempted to beat Mena González while he and Néstor Rodríguez were giving speeches in the street about human rights.  During the trial, the Rapid Action Brigades and State Security agents prevented their family members from entering the courtroom.  Moreover, as it turned out, the defense was allowed to present only one witness, who declared before the independent press that:


I was the last witness to testify, and I was the only one allowed by the prosecution.  As for the prosecution witnesses, the people that Rodríguez Lobaina and Mena González had allegedly injured, they were questioned in a threatening way, and they were forced to answer.  The trial was not based on determining the facts, but on simply finding a way to incriminate the accused at all costs.  The prosecution asked for four and a half years for Néstor Rodríguez Lobaina and 10 years for Eddy Alfredo Mena González.  On August 10, 2000, it was learned that Rodríguez was sentenced to six years in prison, a year and a half more than the prosecution asked, and Mena González to five years.[63]


g.       Other irregularities committed by the Cuban authorities involve making arrests without a warrant. On December 3, 2000, the activist Leonardo Bruzón Avila, President of the Movimiento 24 de Febrero and director of the independent library that bears that name, was arrested.  According to information provided, the first charge maintains that Bruzón Avila refused to be arrested because no official arrest warrant was presented.  The second accusation is that he held religious services in his home every Sunday, led by the pastor Ibrahim Pina Borges, President of the United Pentecostal Church of Cuba, in which people prayed for political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, and requested amnesty for them.


h.       Another trial that was surrounded by serious irregularities was that conducted in January, 2000, against the independent journalist Víctor Rolando Arroyo Carmona, a member of the "Union of Independent Cuban Journalists and Writers", who was sentenced to six months in prison for the crime of speculation and hoarding.[64]  The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights was informed that, two days prior to the trial, officers of State Security and the National Revolutionary Police assigned to the Pinar del Rio towns of Cabañas and Mariel attempted to persuade the defense witness, Moisés Rodríguez Valdés, not to testify to the innocence of the independent journalist.  When Rodríguez Valdés refused to comply, the officers arrested him and held him in a police unit in Mariel on the pretext of investigating an alleged theft and illegal slaughter of livestock. The witness was released only after the trial of Arroyo Carmona was over.


55.     The Cuban courts apply ideological and political criteria in their rulings, in contrast to correct judicial procedures.  Moreover, sentences are consistently in favor of the idea of the Executive over that of appropriate justice.  The principal limitation is found in the Constitution itself, which stipulates that none of the liberties recognized may be exercised "against the existence and aims of the socialist State".  The importance of this rule lies in the fact that it regulates, at the highest level, the exercise of all rights and liberties recognized by the Constitution for Cuban citizens, in their relations with State organs.  There are also unacceptable constitutional limitations on rights and freedoms in the form of such subjective and vague criteria as, for example, "the decision of the Cuban people to build socialism and communism."  These criteria are clearly outside the juridical scope, and fall squarely in the political field.  Consequently, it is the sole governing party in Cuba that decides, in the end, whether exercise of a freedom or a right is contrary to this rule.  This eliminates any possibility for an individual to defend himself against the political power, and gives constitutional backing to the arbitrary exercise of power over the Cuban people.




56.     The Resolution of the Ninth Inter-American Conference held in Bogotá, Colombia, in 1948, which gave rise to the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, declares in its preamble that the American peoples " have as their principal aim the protection of the essential rights of man and the creation of circumstances that will permit him to achieve spiritual and material progress…"  The American Declaration enshrines not only civil and political rights, but also economic, social and cultural rights.


57.     One of the economic and social rights to which the Commission attaches great importance is the right to health.  This right is enshrined in Article XI of the American Declaration, which provides that “every person has the right to the preservation of his health through sanitary and social measures relating to food, clothing, housing and medical care, to the extent permitted by public and community resources”.


58.     The legal framework for the right to health in Cuba is the Constitution, which guarantees that "no one who is sick shall lack for medical attention."[65] Article 43 stipulates that "the State enshrines the right secured by the Revolution for all citizens, without distinctions to race, color of skin, sex, religious beliefs, national origin or any other consideration contrary to human dignity… to receive care in all health institutions."  Finally, Article 50 of the Constitution provides:


Everyone has the right to care and protection for his health.  The State guarantees this right:


  • Through the provision of free medical and hospital care, via the network of rural medical service facilities, polyclinics, hospitals, health centers and specialized treatment;

  • Through the offer of free dental care;  

  • Through the development of extension services for health and health education, regular medical examinations, general vaccination and other measures to prevent disease.  The entire population cooperates in these plans and activities through mass-based and social organizations.


59.     When it comes to the right to health, during the period covered by this report, the Commission was informed of the First Ibero-American Conference on Telecommunications and Society that was held in Cuba, and which revealed that Cuba has a national network of telemedicine centers covering six provinces and 27 health institutions.  According to the World Health Organization, telemedicine means the use of information and telecommunications technology for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases, through continuous education for public health providers.  During the event that was held at the Hotel Nobotel, Juan Enríquez Landeiro, a coordination expert for that network, declared that the areas with this advanced technology were Holguin, the City of Havana, Santiago de Cuba, Guantánamo, Ciefuegos and Villa Clara.  Work is currently underway in the areas of general radiology, education (virtual library and university), genetics, pathology and ophthalmology.  According to the information provided, the system has benefited more than 2000 patients, and has considerably reduced hospitalization costs.  It was also indicated that Cuba is preparing for the qualitative step of making telehealth into a full-scale program, and that a national program is being designed.  Also in the health field, it was learned that during the year 2000, the filling, freeze-drying and packaging plants of the Centro Nacional de Biopreparados (BIOCEN) of Havana processed and completed 15 drugs, among which is a vaccination for hepatitis B, a recombinant prepared by the Institute with the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology.  Other drugs included Alpha and Gamma interferon, the transfer factor and the recombinant streptoquinate against myocardial infarctions, and various blood derivatives. A vaccine against ticks and other veterinary products were also being processed, in collaboration with the National Center for Laboratory Animal Production (CENPALAB).  It should be noted that BIOCEN has ISO 9002 certification for its products, and at the end of last year it was evaluated by the World Health Organization as part of the acceptance process for the recombinant hepatitis B vaccine.  The Inter-American Commission was also informed that, as part of its health program, the Cuban State spends some $3,500,000 annually on the purchase of anti-cancer drugs to save the lives of nearly 25,000 Cubans who suffer each year from this disease.  In Cuba, cancer constitutes the second cause of death, after heart disease.  It has been demonstrated that a third of such tumors are preventable, a similar number are curable, and that it is possible to improve the quality of life for patients.  Since the 1960s, health institutions have been struggling to control this disease.  In 1986 the National Cancer Program was initiated, in order to reduce its incidence and mortality rates.  Cancer therapies are subsidized by the State.


60.     Also during the period covered by this report, Carlos Lage, Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers, re-inaugurated the 26th of July National Training Center, the new headquarters of the Cuban Association for the Physically Handicapped (ACLIFIM), on the outskirts of Havana.  This building, located on the Cacahual Highway, has been totally remodeled, and will serve as more than just a school.  It will also provide a venue for meetings, cultural and sporting activities, and will host international congresses and events.  In the opening ceremonies, Lage urged all agencies of the State Central Administration responsible for dealing with associations of the handicapped to continue their efforts to ensure that the Center has optimal conditions of convenience, and the resources for carrying out its training program.


61.     The protection of infants and children is another right protected by the American Declaration, Article VII of which declares that "all children have the right to special protection, care and aid".  The Cuban Constitution provides in this regard:


Article 40.  Children and youth enjoy special protection from the State and from society.  The family, the school, State organs and mass-based and social organizations have the duty to devote special attention to the comprehensive education and development of children and youth.


62.     With respect to children's rights, the Inter-American Commission was advised that the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF, classified Cuba in its annual report as setting an example in early childhood care, covering children under five years of age.  In its report on “The State of the World’s Children 2001”, it indicates that among Latin American countries, only Cuba is on a par with industrialized countries, with an infant mortality rate of eight per thousand live births (compared to six or seven in developed countries).  With respect to care from birth to three years, a stage that has enormous influence on later development, UNICEF points to Cuba as an example.  As well, that agency indicates that Cuba has established a successful system of day-care centers and education programs that today embraced 98.3 percent of children under six years.  It cites a 1998 study of 11 Latin American countries, covering students in the third and fourth grades, among whom Cuban children obtained superior results in mathematics and Spanish.  The report notes that infant mortality is closely related to life expectancy, since it is a fundamental indicator for measuring child well-being.  In its section on Latin America and the Caribbean, UNICEF sets life expectancy for children born in 1999 and 2000 at 70 years, six years more than the world average, and eight years less than that for industrialized countries.


63.     Cultural rights are also enshrined in the American Declaration, Article XIII of which declares: “Every person has the right to take part in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts, and to participate in the benefits that result from intellectual progress, especially scientific discoveries. He likewise has the right to the protection of his moral and material interests as regards his inventions or any literary, scientific or artistic works of which he is the author.”


64.     Article 39(d) of the Cuban Constitution provides that "the State, in order to enhance the culture of the people, promotes and develops artistic education, the creation and cultivation of art, and the capacity to appreciate it."  On this right, and also on the rights of children in Cuba, the Inter-American Commission was informed that, during the period covered by this report, a group of 19 children from the provinces of Havana, Matanzas, Villa Clara and Holguin were winners of the prize at the Third Competition of the World Food Program for child artistic creativity, 2001.  Germán Valdivia, Representative of the World Food Program in Cuba, declared that this cultural event, which has been held since 1998, is intended to support and enhance national culture with respect to food, as one of the vital characteristics of the human being.  There were a total of 126 entries in this competition, which involved participation by Havana representatives of the United Nations Children's' Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).  Special laurels were awarded to the children Manuel Andrés Basallo and Dorianne Martel, of Havana, and Yasel Gonzáles of Villa Clara.  The representative in Cuba of the World Food Program and Ricardo Pascoe, Mexico's ambassador in Cuba, next inaugurated an exhibition relating to this third competition, in the Casa Benito Juárez Gallery, showing 36 works by 31 children participating in the event.


65.     With respect to the right to socioeconomic well-being and development, which is enshrined in Article XI of the American Declaration, the Commission considers it relevant to cite a summary of progress achieved in this field by the Cuban State, prepared by the Information Bureau of the Cuban Human Rights Movement:


1)         A start has been made at generating electricity by wind power; 2) illegal theft and slaughter of livestock has decreased by 52 percent; 3) the first photovoltaic power station has opened in Santa María de Lorto; 4) the sugar harvest amounted to 3.78 million tons, and efficiency was improved, although it was still not profitable; 5) a draft Constitutional Control Act has been prepared; 6) aquaculture produced 80,000 tons of fish and is growing steadily; 7) 250 million pesos and $125 million were devoted to restoring strategic watersheds; 8) Decree Law 185 came into effect, and a start was made at property registration; 9) prices of agricultural products are on a downward trend; 10) the proportion of housing units in irregular or poor condition declined from 54 percent to 47 percent; 11) there has been growth in bank loans to individuals and savings accounts are now available at fixed term, with maximum interest of 7 percent; 12) public telephone service has been expanded; 13) there has been a notable reduction in power blackouts; 14) there were 580,000 voluntary blood donations, thereby maintaining the index of 1 per 19 inhabitants called for by the World Health Organization (WHO); 15) the proportion of university students without access to computers declined: from one computer for every 18 students, there is now one for every 12; 16) the number of underweight births is the lowest in history, at 5.9 per thousand; 17) energy intensity has declined to 5.4, and 55 percent of electricity is now generated by national energy carriers; 18) domestic production of refrigerators has started up again after 10 years of no production; 19) salaries for doctors, teachers and police officers have risen by some 620 million pesos; 20) there has been a general increase in non-sugar agricultural output, except for milk, meat and rights; 21) more than 780,000 workers are now sharing in the profits from their output; 22) the budgetary deficit has declined to 2.4 percent of GDP, and the exchange rate to the dollar has stabilized at 1:20; 23) the anti-drug campaign: Cuba signed 24 cooperation agreements with nations in various regions of the world; noteworthy among these is a training agreement with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police already underway; 24) infant mortality has declined; 25) people purchased nearly 800,000 domestic appliances in 1999, and sales of fax machines are off to a successful start, with demand exceeding expectations, although they cost at least $200 apiece; 26) there were a record number of surgical operations, 927,000; 27) the proportion of the population with foreign exchange holdings rose to 62 percent, although the process is marked by significant stratification; 28) computers started to be sold to the public; 29) book publishing has increased modestly; 30) nightlife in Havana is picking up noticeably; 31) the national currency market is growing noticeably; and 32) there is a notable increase in vehicle traffic in Havana.[66]


66.     In terms of the right to work, the American Declaration provides as follows:


Article XIV. Every person has the right to work, under proper conditions, and to follow his vocation freely, insofar as existing conditions of employment permit. Every person who works has the right to receive such remuneration as will, in proportion to his capacity and skill, assure him a standard of living suitable for himself and for his family.


67.     As will be noted, the American Declaration specifies the modalities associated with the concrete exercise of the right to work: it must be performed under proper conditions, in accordance with the vocation of the person who performs it, and it must be adequately remunerated.  Directly related to the right to work and the conditions under which work is performed is the right of association "to promote, exercise and protect … legitimate interests of a … labor union … nature".[67] While there is complete identification of interests between Cuban workers and their State employer, in theory, because of the very nature of the "socialist State", it is important to examine labor union practice in terms of the specific function of defending the concrete rights of workers.  This leads to an analysis of the means that unions have available to promote their demands: the right to strike and the right to collective bargaining.


68.     The Cuban constitution enshrines the right to work in Article 45:


In a socialist society, work is a right, a duty and a source of honor for every citizen.  Work is remunerated in accordance with its quality and quantity; it is provided in light of the demands of the economy and of society, the choice of the worker and his skills and qualifications; it is guaranteed by the socialist economic system, which fosters economic and social development, without crises, and which has eliminated unemployment and has forever abolished seasonal "downtime".  Unpaid volunteer work is also recognized, performed for the benefit of all society, in industrial, farming, technical, artistic and service activities, as helping to shape the communist consciousness of our people.  Every worker has the duty to fulfill the tasks associated with his job.


69.     Article 46 of the Constitution gives workers "the right to rest, which is guaranteed by a workday of eight hours, weekly time off and paid annual vacations.  The State encourages the development of vacation facilities and plans."  It also guarantees a social security system for "the proper protection of all workers who are incapacitated by reason of age, disability or illness.  If the worker dies, the State guarantees similar protection for his family."[68] The Cuban State also "protects, through social assistance, elderly persons without support or resources, and any person unfit for work who has no relatives in a position to help him."[69] As well, Article 49 of Constitution "guarantees the right to protection, safety and hygiene in the workplace, through the adoption of proper measures to prevent occupational accidents and illnesses.  Anyone who suffers an accident at work or contracts an occupational disease has the right to medical attention and an allowance or pension in the case of temporary or permanent incapacity for work".


70.     Articles 42, 43 and 44 of the Constitution forbid discrimination in employment on grounds of sex or race; in order to guarantee this principle, it calls for the incorporation of women into the workplace, by granting a series of facilities such as child care centers, boarding schools, maternity leave (before and after birth), care for the elderly, and working schedules compatible with maternal duties.  "The State will make every effort to create conditions for giving substance to the principle of equality."


71.     The Cuban State has fulfilled this last aspect in practice, as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women noted from her own observations: “the Communist system in Cuba provided Cuban women with an economic and social safety net that puts them in a better position statistically than most of their Latin American counterpart.  In terms of education (95 per cent female literacy), participation in the workforce (42.5 per cent) and professional and technical training Cuban women are way ahead of women in most other countries.  In addition, the Special Rapporteur was informed, 55.16 per cent of trade union leaders at workers’ centers are women.  Five of 19 trade unions are led by women (the sciences, public administration, culture, commerce and communications unions).  Non-discrimination against women at the workplace is a constitutional right. (…) As a result of collective bargaining, women workers have equal rights under the social security law and are protected by maternity laws and by specific laws concerning women workers.  Maternity laws provide for 18 weeks’ fully paid maternity leave, after which there is an option to take a further six months’ leave on 60 per cent pay, and the right to return to work up to one year after the birth.  Special programs also exist for single working mothers.  The Special Rapporteur noted positively the social services available for women workers.”[70]


72.     The Commission notes the progress that the Cuban State has made in the area of women's economic rights and the existence of legal, economic and social mechanisms for exercising labor rights.  Nevertheless, the Commission must observe that it has received testimony and complaints indicating that there are various forms of discrimination in the provision of work, for ideological and other, related reasons.  Thus, the Commission was informed that people who display political disagreement with the regime are those who are most likely to be unemployed.  As well, the relatives of political prisoners suffer discrimination at work, as do those prisoners themselves, once they are released.  The Commission has also received complaints that such treatment is applied to the relatives of émigrés, when they undertake activities abroad that are antagonistic to the Cuban political system.  Discrimination in employment is a mechanism that is easy to apply in an economy where the State is the sole employer.


73.     Human Rights Watch/Americas confirms this point about State control, as follows:


The Cuban government's virtual monopoly on jobs allows it to exercise tight control over the nation's workforce. Cuban authorities maintain labor files (expedientes laborales), which record any individual's politically suspect behavior. Often, the government's first move against potential dissenters is to fire them from their job. Most of Cuba's prominent dissidents lost their jobs as they became more involved in independent organizations or rejoined society after prison terms imposed for criticizing the government. Since jobs in the non-State-controlled sector are few, and rarely include housing, job loss often spells financial disaster for workers and their families. Dissidents who cannot count on remittances from abroad have a particularly difficult time and risk further problems with the government if economic necessity pushes them to violate regulations on individual employment. Cuba only allows limited opportunities for self-employment, such as selling produce, driving taxis, and running small restaurants, which are heavily regulated.[71]


74.     This State control also makes itself felt through the prohibition of labor unions that are independent from the Central de Trabajadores de Cuba (CTC), and a systematic harassment of anyone who attempts to set up an association to protect labor rights. The Committee of Experts on the Applications of Conventions and Recommendations of the International Labor Organization under Convention 87 (Trade union freedom and protection of the right to organize) on relations between the Central de Trabajadores de Cuba (CTC) and the Communist Party stated, inter alia, that “the Committee [of the ILO] insists that in a single-party context and with a trade union federation the practice of outside interference might be favored, to the detriment of union autonomy. The Committee [of the ILO] calls on the Government [of Cuba] to guarantee in legislation and in practice the right of all workers and employers, without distinction, to freely form independent professional organizations, outside of all existing trade union structures, if they so desire (Article 2 of Convention 87), as well as the free election of their representatives (Article 3 of the Convention)”[72].


75.     The United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women also confirmed the situation when she was in Cuba.  As she reported: "The Special Rapporteur was informed by the Minister of Justice that, in order to form an association, an application must be submitted to the Ministry of Justice in accordance with the law on associations.  The proposed statute of the association will then be examined to determine whether the objectives are in accordance with legislation.  In this connection, the Special Rapporteur is concerned that the Cuban law on associations (Ley de Asociaciones No. 54 (1985) y su Reglamento (1986)) requires all associations and organizations to cooperate and coordinate with relevant State organizations and (…) effectively bars the legalization of any genuinely independent organization, requires associations to accept broad State interference in their activities and provides arbitrary State authority to shut them down.”[73]


76.     The fact that the Cuban State prohibits the creation of independent unions not only violates its international contractual obligations[74], but also the principles enshrined in its own political constitution, which establishes workers' right of association and assembly and declares that social organizations "enjoy the broadest freedom of speech and opinion, based on the unrestricted right to initiative and criticism."[75] Nevertheless, the Commission notes that the State places severe limits and restrictions on all the freedoms recognized in the Constitution's Article 62 (frequently examined by the IACHR), which declares that those freedoms cannot be exercised "against the existence and aims of the socialist State, nor against the decision of the Cuban people to build socialism and communism".  This limitation is supplemented by the mandate of the single labor confederation authorized and control by the State, which calls for "political and ideological work for deepening the struggle to defend socialism and its principles."[76]


77.     Although the Constitution recognizes broad freedoms for unions, the concentration of State power would be impossible without restricting union freedoms.  The right of association, on the other hand, cannot be exercised against the existence and aims of the socialist State; labor unions are therefore not truly autonomous, since they are subordinate to the interests of the State, and the guidance of the party. Moreover, the main objectives of the unions are related to output and productivity, and not to defending the interests of workers.  These limits on union activity were highlighted by recent information relating to the arrest of workers who were engaging in independent union activities, in order to defend their labor interests.[77]  The organization Pax Christi Netherlands, in its Fifth Report on Cuba, notes that:


The struggle for the realization of labor rights is frustrated by the complete absence of all countervailing power in Cuban society. The ruling Communist Party not only determines the legislative process; it also controls the appointment of prosecutors, defense lawyers and the judges. They work in a political setting which is based on the assumption that any opposition against the ruling party and the State is tantamount to political treason, making futile all calls for unbiased investigation of complaints about Cuba's labor practices in Cuba.[78]


78.     The above-quoted organization also notes that Cuba systematically violates the following ILO conventions to which it is party: 1) Convention Nº 87 on trade union freedom and protection of the right to organize (1948), ratified by Cuba on June 25, 1952; 2) Convention Nº 98 on the right to organize and to bargain collectively (1949), ratified by Cuba on April 29, 1952; Convention Nº 111, on discrimination in respect of employment and occupation (1958), ratified by Cuba on August 26, 1965; and Convention Nº 95 on protection of wages, ratified by Cuba on April 29, 1952.  Pax Christi provides the following detailed summary of how the Cuban State violates its international obligations in this field:


Cuban workers don't have the right to choose their place of employment, the nature of such employment or the wages to be received for said work. The same system is used to deny Cuban students freedom to choose their education:


To get a regular job, a worker in Cuba is asked to sign a pledge or contract. An essential dimension of the pledge is a record of support for the Communist Party and all it stands for. Anybody without this document is locked out. This practice is a violation of the fundamental ILO Convention Nº 111 (concerning discrimination in respect of employment). Also students need to sign a pledge in order to enter university. Furthermore students of the political elite are taking the very few places at the better universities. The rest of the students have to choose between the military academy and formal teaching education.


Cuban workers don't have the right to form labor unions of their own choosing, to strike, to ask for better working conditions, to criticize any work rules or even to complain about their supervisors.


The official Cuban labor union CTC (Confederación de Trabajadores Cubanos) is instituted and controlled by the ruling Communist Party. Membership is obligatory for all workers and so is the payment of the membership fee. Attempts by workers to organize themselves independently are illegal, and are subjected to persecution, harassment and expulsion from work (Violation of Convention Nº 87).


Cuban workers don't have the right to choose a place of employment at a foreign company.


The special government employment agencies select people to work in the dollar sector, i.e. foreign companies. In general these people are selected on basis of their loyalty to the party, not capability. This is a direct violation of the fundamental ILO Convention Nº 111 (concerning discrimination in respect of employment).


Cuban workers and foreign employers are prohibited to freely negotiate wages.


Strictly speaking, foreign employers in Cuba do not pay wages to their employees at all. They are compelled to make payments to government agencies, in return for which these agencies dispatch workers to the production sites. The compensation that the workers receive from the agencies is not freely negotiated with these agencies and, furthermore, is quite unrelated to the payments that the companies make. Workers are compelled to accept salaries far below the subsistence level. This practice, by which workers receive less than 10% of the sums that the companies pay the agencies, violates the provisions of ILO Convention Nº 95.


The vast majority of the Cuban workers don't have the right to open their own businesses, can't employ more than four people, all of whom have to be relatives.


Cuban workers must perform "voluntary" (non-paid) work and attend long political rallies as directed by the Communist Party.


Cuban workers are encouraged to spy on their neighbors and to report any activity of which the Party feels is against its directives.


It is common practice to put in each workplace, including foreign companies, militant supporters or spies to deal with troublesome co-workers. In doing so the government violates Convention Nº 87, Article 3.2, which States that 'the Public authorities shall refrain from an interference which would restrict this right [freedom of association] or impede the lawful exercise thereof.


Cuban workers are prohibited from celebrating religious holidays apart from Christmas Day (granted after the Pope visited Cuba).[79]


79.     The control that the Cuban State exercises over workers is also felt in the area of foreign investment.[80]  Thus, for example, there is no collective bargaining, and the processes involved in hiring, paying wages, terminating employment and other labor-related aspects are not conducted directly between the firm and the employee, but rather through an employer entity designated by the State.  The same discriminatory ideological criteria that prevail in other areas can also be applied to these companies, so that State control over their workers is assured.  The Inter-American Commission was also informed that wages are not paid directly to workers, but rather to the State agency, which collects them in hard currency and subsequently pays them out to the worker in national currency.  The difference between the salaries paid by the business and what is actually paid to the worker by the State agency represents a considerable sum, which allows the State to obtain substantial benefits at the expense of the worker who could have received them.[81] In addition, the law provides that when a mixed enterprise or a totally foreign-owned business considers that a certain worker does not meet its workforce requirements, it may ask the agency to replace him by another, without affording him any legal protection.[82]


80.     According to the newspaper Granma, the official organ of the Communist Party, Cubans wishing to make a career in the foreign sector must have idoneidad (suitability). To get a job, such a person must be a member of mass organizations, be an impeccable "revolutionary", never create problems, and most of all:  be recommended by organs of the State. Pax Christi Netherlands notes in its report that, in this situation, “Cubans who are not ardent fans of the government resort to falsifying their credentials through bribery or other means in order to have a chance to work in a foreign company. In response, the Government now insists that the person must remain idóneo to keep the job, and the job can be taken away at any time if the Government deems otherwise. Once within the system, one has to become an accomplice in order to stay in it. It creates an understanding among the elite that everyone else is involved and, therefore, will not turn them in. As a result the conspiracy of silence is strengthened.”[83]


81.     It has also been noted that, in the new economic system, “the State has been developing a network of loyal supporters who must keep totally silent. At the top are the people closest to the government who are slowly being placed in executive positions in each joint venture that is formed. (…) These people are often retired military or government officials, or they may have simply moved up the ladder by keeping silent and remaining politically loyal”[84]. The Inter-American Commission was informed that the following persons have been expelled from their workplace for expressing political ideas that differ from the official line:


a.       Early in the year 2000, Pedro Emilio Pacheco Pérez, who worked as senior professor of oral health at the dentistry faculty of the Instituto Superior de Ciencias Medicas in Santiago de Cuba.  Official Resolution Nº 11,897 withdrew his status as senior professor; Sergio Lazaro Cabarrouy Fernandez, engineer and professor at the Faculty of Technical Sciences in the University of Pinar del Rio. By Resolution Nº 7499 he was stripped of his status as teaching instructor for being an active collaborator of the magazine “Vitral”, the news and information service of the Diocese of Pinar del Rio; Belkis Cantillo Ramírez, teaching assistant of the Circulo InfantilSueños de Marti” was expelled on February 3 by the administration of the center; Vladimir Montano Morales, an export tobacco worker, was expelled from the La Bejucaleña tobacco factory; Jorge Dante Abad Herrera, a teacher, was expelled from the “Julio Delgado Reyes” construction institute; Francisco Correa Delgado, a warehouse worker, was expelled from the Empresa Municipal de la Marina, Ministery of Industry; Jorge Luis Larrazabal Zulueta, a fumigation and vector control worker, was expelled from the municipal health department of Guantánamo; Lesme Gainza Toledano, a chemistry professor, was expelled from the “Rafael Morejon” secondary school; Odalys Zayas Miranda, a veterinary doctor, was expelled from the Empresa Pecuaria San Cristóbal, Ministry of Agriculture; and José Antonio Montano Morales, a medical internist, who worked at the Julio Trigo Teaching Hospital in Havana, was transferred to a lesser post after obtaining a visa to emigrate to the United States. Currently he is working a watchman’s shift at the center until the Minister of Public Health, Dr. Carlos Dotres, determines his emigration status.


b.       On April 21, 2000, Mario Paulino González Rodríguez was expelled from the Empresa Comercio y Gastronomía of Perico, in Matanzas, after being declared "unfit" or "unsuitable" to perform his function, for having declared political opinions distinct from those of the State, for being affiliated with an unauthorized political party, and having participated in a street march to demand the release of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.  He appealed this measure to the labor justice court, and was told that he had no grounds for appeal.


c.       Lazaro Vera is a delegate of the independent labor organization, the Consejo Unitario de Trabajadores de Cuba (CUTC) in Cienfuegos In March, 2000, Pedro Mendez Fundora, alias “El Pire”, a Captain of the State Security Forces, reported to the municipal director of the bakery “Panadería Los Pinos” where Lazaro worked as a baker's assistant that this person was an opponent of the government and that he was not "trustworthy" because he might poison the bread for public consumption.  For this reason he was unable to continue working in the bakery.


d.       The Commission was also informed that Alberto Sigler Montes de Oca, a gardener at the “Ignacio Agramonte” primary school, was dismissed from his work for his political ideas.  In June, Alberto Sigler was kind enough to take one of the children to his home, since his parents had not come for him, and it was already after 6 PM and the teacher had to leave.  Three days later, officials of the Municipal Education Department of Perico visited the school to inform the director, Carmen Casanova, that Mr. Sigler Montes de Oca could not continue working at that center, because the boy’s stepfather, Jorge Pérez Llerena, a State Security Captain, had complained to the Department of Education that no government opponent should work with children.  The director of the center did not agree, considering that Alberto was a magnificent worker, but her opinion carried no weight and that of State Security prevailed.  Alberto Sigler Montes de Oca is an opponent of the regime and has been harassed on several occasions for his ideology.

82.     The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights considers that, in light of the reforms that have been undertaken in the economic and labor areas, it is becoming ever more essential to have free and independent labor unions that can defend the rights of workers.  It is in this area of rights that the Commission finds the greatest contradiction between the system's ideological postulates and their practical implementation.  Indeed, one of the postulates of the system that prevails in Cuba today is that of building socialism in order to achieve an egalitarian society where people are neither exploiters nor exploited.  Yet current circumstances and legal provisions allow situations of exploitation to proliferate.  The right to association for labor purposes is neither recognized nor applied: only official unions are authorized.  The function of the unions has been denatured, and instead of focusing on defending the concrete interests of workers they are used as a vehicle for transmitting government instructions; the unions have therefore become yet another instrument of control.  In this context, the right to strike is denied in reality, and constitutes a punishable crime, while collective bargaining is virtually non-existent.  In terms of corporate organization, the vertical structure allows no institutional channels for workers to participate in the management of productive units, even though, theoretically, they are the owners of the means of production.




83.     The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has declared its profound concern, in earlier reports, over prison conditions and the deliberately severe and degrading treatment that the Cuban State accords prisoners, which facts constitute serious violations of human rights.  Ample testimony in the hands of the Commission demonstrates, for the year 2000 as well, the severity of the status of prisoners in Cuba, and especially those that are serving sentences for political crimes.  The Commission also regrets that the Cuban State has not complied with its own constitutional and legal standards in this area, which in theory establish principles that, if they were respected, should provide adequate safeguards for prison conditions.


84.     The Cuban Constitution provides, in Articles 58 and 59:


All those living within the national territory are guaranteed liberty and inviolability of their person.  No one may be detained except in the cases, in the manner and with the guarantees prescribed by law.  The personal integrity of the prisoner or the detainee is inviolable.


No one may be prosecuted or convicted except by a competent tribunal on the basis of laws predating the crime, and in accordance with the formalities and guarantees established therein.  The accused has the right to defense.  No violence or coercion of any kind may be used against persons to force them to make statements.  Any declaration obtained in violation of this precept is null and void and those responsible are liable to punishment according to law.


85.     In the juridical context of treatment during imprisonment, the Cuban Criminal Code provides that prisoners are to be paid for any socially useful work that they perform; they are to be provided with proper clothing and footwear; they are to be allowed the normal daily hours of rest, and one day of rest each week; they are to be provided with medical and hospital care in case of illness; they have the right to receive long-term social security benefits, in the case of total disability arising from occupational accidents.  If a prisoner dies as a result of an occupational accident, his family is to receive the corresponding pension.  They are to enjoy the opportunity to broaden their cultural and technical development; they are to be allowed, in the manner and form established in the regulations, to exchange correspondence with non-prisoners and to receive visits and articles of consumption; depending on their behavior, they are authorized to use the married quarters, in the manner and form established in the regulations; they are to be allowed leave from prison for limited times; they are to be given the opportunity and means of recreation and to practice sports in accordance with activities programmed for the prison, and they may be promoted from a penitentiary system to one of less severity.  As well, a prisoner may not be subjected to corporal punishment nor subjected to any measure that signifies humiliation or that diminishes his dignity.[85]


86.     The current situation, nevertheless, betrays a glaring inconsistency between the facts and the law.  In its 2001 annual report, Human Rights Watch notes that “whether detained for political or common crimes, inmates were subjected to abusive prison conditions. Prisoners frequently suffered malnourishment and languished in overcrowded cells without appropriate medical attention. Some endured physical and sexual abuse, typically by other inmates with the acquiescence of guards, or long periods in isolation cells. Prison authorities insisted that all detainees participate in politically oriented ‘re-education’ sessions or face punishment. Political prisoners who denounced the poor conditions of imprisonment were punished with solitary confinement, restricted visits, or denial of medical treatment.”[86] This organization has made an in-depth analysis of the labor system in Cuban prisons, showing that, in practice, the Cuban authorities are violating their own legal and constitutional rules, as well as the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners:


Human Rights Watch interviews with former Cuban prisoners provide disturbing evidence that Cuba abuses labor rights in its prisons. The Cuban government has an extensive system of prison labor camps, and runs clothing assembly, construction, furniture, and other factories as well as agricultural camps at its maximum and minimum-security prisons. The Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners require prisons to have physically fit convicts take part in vocational training and engage in meaningful, rehabilitative work for equitable remuneration. However, Cuba's insistence that political prisoners participate in work programs and its inappropriate pressuring of inmates to work without pay in inhuman conditions violate international labor and prison rights standards.


The Cuban prison labor program's sales of prisoner-made products, such as mattresses, in conjunction with the refusal to pay inmates for their work, highlighted Cuba's apparent interest in profiting from prison labor, rather than rehabilitating prisoners. Beyond selling to domestic markets, some former prisoners told Human Rights Watch that they produced items for sale in Cuban government dollar stores or made materials for use in the Cuban tourism industry. (…) Prison authorities apparently coerce some prisoners into working by threatening to deny prison benefits, including family visits.[87]


87.     The situation is no different in the case of independent journalists serving sentences in Cuban prisons.  In April 2000, the Inter-American Press Association declared its concern over the constant harassment that independent journalists suffer in Cuba, and it "condemned, especially, the terrible conditions and continuous punishment that many of them face in the country's prisons.  Punishing, harassing and discrediting independent journalists is a mechanism commonly used to undermine their work.  We are alert to the situation and hope that the rights of prisoners will be respected, and that the government will provide guarantees of judicial review and due process."[88] This organization complained that the independent journalist Víctor Orlando Arroyo, sentenced to six months in prison for the alleged crime of hoarding, was facing dreadful health and nutritional conditions, and was allowed only limited family visits. Joel Jesús Díaz Hernández remains in an isolation cell in the Canaleta prison in the province of Ciego de Avila.  Bernardo Rogelio Arévalo Padrón and Manuel Antonio González Castellanos, who have been in prison since 1997 and 1998 respectively, are also limited in their family visits and in their access to reading materials.


88.     The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights also received, from Havana, a report of the Comisión Cubana de Derechos Humanos y Reconciliación Nacional [“Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation”], which records the number of political prisoners in Cuba and the outlook for the year 2001:


Last year [2000], the total number of political prisoners remained steady at around 300, meaning that Cuba stands among the first countries in this hemisphere and in the world for the number of prisoners of this kind in relation to total population.  The Government of Cuba continues to conceal the exact figures as to the number of persons in prison, most of them for common crimes, and only unofficial estimates are available, which suggest that the number of prisoners amounts to several scores of thousands.  The Cuban government persists in refusing to grant permission for the International Red Cross and other domestic or international humanitarian organizations to visit Cuban prisons, in which the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners are commonly not respected.  We believe that our own Gulag consists of about 200 prisons and prison camps, and this is very alarming, since at the beginning of the current regime, in January 1959, there were about 15 prisons, housing several thousand prisoners, and only one of these was a maximum-security facility, whereas today there are perhaps 50 in this category.  With the rise in repression, and other factors, the situation of civil and political rights in Cuba deteriorated during the year 2000 in comparison with the preceding year.  We regret that the outlook for such essential rights is even worse for the year 2001, unless the Government of Cuba decides to initiate and pursue a process of gradual modernizing reforms that will release the government and the Cuban people from the dismal totalitarian model that was adopted as an interim measure some 40 years ago, and that constitutes the primary cause of the poverty, the despair and the massive and institutionalized violation of civil and political rights that we Cubans are now suffering.[89]


89.     In addition to the above information, the Commission also received the following denunciations:


a.       In February, 2000, Armando Sosa Fortunay, a political prisoner held at the Kilo 8 prison in Camaguey, showed serious health problems after he had been held for two months in the provincial headquarters of the State Security department, in an isolation cell without access to daylight and without any medical care.  In April, 2000, Marcel Valenzuela Salt, a political prisoner held in prison 1580 in Havana, declared a hunger strike over the refusal to give him medical attention after he was unable to digest the rotten food that he was given.  On more than one location he approached the prison authorities seeking transfer to a hospital, but without success.  In May 2000, the common prisoner José David Germán Aguilera, who had joined in the complaints of political prisoners held at the Kilo 8 prison in Camaguey, suffered pain in his appendix and in one leg, and as a result of his political views he was refused medical attention.  The political prisoner of conscience, Jorge Luis García Pérez “Antúnez”, held in the prison Nievas Morejón in Sancti Spiritus, suffered chest pains, lack of air, advanced kidney infection and constant attacks of hypoglycemia.  The refusal of medical assistance by the prison authorities led Antúnez, together with several relatives and opponents in the vicinity, to begin a hunger strike on May 23, 2000, demanding his removal to hospital.  The strike lasted until June 1, when the prison authorities promised to provide assistance.  At the time this report was being prepared, Antúnez was once again on a hunger strike, demanding that he be provided medical care.  In August 2000, all the prisoners in the isolation cells of the Las Alambradas de Manacas prison, in Villa Clara, staged a protest to demand medical attention for Pavel Acosta, a prisoner who was in a critical state of health: the response of the prison authorities was to reinforce the guard watch and bring in dogs trained to attack the prisoners.  As well, the Commission learned that the following common prisoners died for lack of medical attention: Alexander Bojiano (22 years of age, native of Trinidad), was complaining of intestinal pains, yet both the physician and the prison authorities refused him medical care; Reiner Diaz (29 years of age, native of Cabaiguan) was asthmatic and, during a severe asthma attack, requested medical assistance from the guards, named Julio and Enron, who told him that they could not help: hours later, he died of asphyxiation in the prison's infirmary; Rubén Fragoso Quintero (28 years of age), a hemophiliac, died in the provincial hospital of Sancti Spiritus where he was refused the blood transfusions that were needed to save his life; and Alexander Tati (29 years, native of Trinidad) complained of chest pains and received no help, and subsequently suffered a fatal myocardial infarction.


b.       The Inter-American Commission was also informed that the political prisoner Francisco Chaviano González, held in the Combinado del Este prison in Havana, was removed to an isolation cell and prohibited from receiving visits from his wife or relatives for more than one year, because he refused to wear the uniform of a common prisoner and he had complained of mistreatment in the prison. Chaviano González is in a delicate state of health, with a duodenal ulcer.  On August 22, 2000, the political prisoner Vladimiro Roca Antúnez, held in the Ariza prison, Cienfuegos, was prohibited from receiving visits.  This man is President of the Cuban Social Democratic Party, and the only one of the four signers of the document "La Patria es de Todos" ["The Homeland Belongs to All of Us"] who remains in prison.  From November 2000 until February 2001 visiting rights were suspended for the political prisoner Lázaro Alejandro García Farah, for his refusal to participate in political indoctrination classes given in the El Típico prison in Las Tunas.


c.       According to information received, the female political prisoners Aidanet Jordan Cabrera and her sister Mayda Barbara Jordan Cabrera, were sentenced to 10 and 15 years imprisonment, and are being held in the “Nieves Morejon” Women's Prison, located in the province of Sancti Spiritus, where they are suffering humiliation, harassment and beatings by prison inmates.  The information indicates that Aidanet was severely beaten by prison officer Carlos Bernal, and that her arm was broken. Mayda is suffering from a severe psychiatric disorder resulting from these events.  The Jordan Cabrera sisters have been held in this prison since 1994; they are the mothers of two young children each, who are being cared for by relatives.


d.       The Inter-American Commission received testimony taken secretly from the Mar Verde prison in Santiago de Cuba.  It reports that "in Mar Verde prisoners suffer from constant harassment, and the cells are too small for the number of prisoners locked up in them.  For example, in the so-called Detachment Nº 44, there are nine prisoners held together in cells that measure approximately 2 m by 3m.  In Detachment No. 1, the cubicles are 6 by 5 meters, and each holds 18 prisoners.  In Detachment Nº 7, where the cells measure 1.5 by 2.5 meters, there are six prisoners in each compartment.  The prisoners sleep in three-place bunks with mattresses made of canvas and stuffed with unrecognizable materials".  This testimony also relates how the "common prisoner Jose Ismael Martínez Lavigne, confined in Detachment Nº 4, was brutally beaten on April 26, 2000, by an internal security officer named Angel Luis Fonseca, as a result of which Martínez Lavigne suffered inflammation of the testicles and the right eye.  This attack occurred when the officer objected to the prisoner’s walking in the prison corridor, which, as he explained, he was doing at the orders of the physician, because of a pulmonary illness.  In protest at this cruel treatment, Jose Ismael Martínez Lavigne stabbed himself in the stomach with a piece of thick wire.”


e.       The Commission also received testimony on the conditions suffered by the independent journalist Víctor Rolando Arroyo Carmona when he was sentenced to the prison of Pinar del Rio:


From the moment he entered the prison he was subject to constant harassment.  Prison officials are trying to create situations that will undermine his personal security.  He is being physically and mentally mistreated.  He is not even allowed to have a coat, in a place where other prisoners can use any kind of clothing.  The place is cold and very humid, and yet he has nothing to wear to protect himself.  He was locked up together with very dangerous criminals serving long sentences.  They removed him to another section, where there are no beds available, and he is being harassed also by some of the common prisoners, who serve the interests of the prison officials, as what they call here "stool pigeons", and are always trying to pick a fight with Arroyo, they spiked his bath slippers, they are trying to intimidate him so that he will lose the prestige he now enjoys among the other prisoners, from whom he has received much support.  In this situation of constant tension, his blood pressure remains high.  He suffers terribly from lack of food and the bad sanitary conditions in the prison.  He has gone for up to three days without water.


90.     The testimony described in this section of the report represents only the complaints that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights received during the year 2000, revealing that there are serious accusations of degrading and inhuman treatment of prisoners by penitentiary authorities of the Cuban State.  The Commission has also received complaints that former political prisoners, once released, continue to be harassed by the State, thereby continuing, in other forms, the discriminatory punishment that they suffered during their time of imprisonment.  The Commission urges the Cuban State to provide former prisoners with the same living conditions as those granted to persons with equivalent professional qualifications, and not to discriminate against them in any manner for having served a sentence for political reasons.


91.     As noted at the beginning of this section, Cuban legislation contains positive mechanisms that, if properly applied, could improve prison conditions.  Unfortunately, in these cases, there is an inconsistency between fact and law, and the Cuban State not only ignores its own constitutional and legal precepts but also systematically violates the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man[90] and the United Nations Minimum International Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. The Commission reiterates to the Cuban State that deprivation of liberty must have clearly determined objectives, that these must not be exceeded by the actions of the penitentiary authorities nor under the guise of their disciplinary powers, and therefore the prisoner must not be isolated or discriminated against, but rather reintegrated into society.  In other words, prison practice must observe a basic principle: deprivation of liberty must not be compounded by even greater suffering than that implied by imprisonment, i.e., the prisoner must be treated humanely, in keeping with the dignity of his person, and the system must seek to ensure his social reintegration.




92.     In recent years, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has repeatedly declared that "the inter-American community has the responsibility to create external conditions that enable Cuban society to overcome the situation currently affecting it, with a view to achieving the full observance of human rights. In this regard, the Commission considers that the adverse effects of the economic sanctions and other unilateral measures aimed at isolating the Cuban regime constitute an obstacle to creating those conditions that are so necessary for achieving a peaceful and gradual transition to a democratic form of government."[91] The Commission also considers that this policy of economic sanctions directed against the Cuban regime has a grave impact on the economic and social rights of the population, which is the most vulnerable sector in this whole problem. Because of the sanctions, the Cuban people have suffered a steady deterioration in their living standards over the last four decades.


93.     The Inter-American Commission is aware that, during the period covered by this report, a number of decisions have been adopted with respect to these unilateral measures.  Thus, Human Rights Watch/Americans notes, in its most recent annual report, that:


The issue of the decades-old economic embargo on Cuba received renewed congressional attention in 2000, and steps, albeit small ones, were taken toward easing it. After months of debate in congressional committees, both houses of Congress passed legislation in October to allow limited food and medicine sales to Cuba. Farmers, agricultural interests and pharmaceutical companies had lobbied heavily for access to the Cuban market. But the practical impact of the legislation was likely to be less than its symbolic importance. While it signaled the first significant rollback of U.S. sanctions against the island in nearly four decades, the package was unlikely to yield more than a small volume of actual business. Because of compromises with conservative lawmakers opposed to loosening trade restrictions, no U.S. export credits or private financing would be allowed on food sales. Indeed, as the bill reached a final vote in the House of Representatives and Senate, Havana denounced its conditions as "humiliating and unjust." An editorial published on the front pages of the Communist Party daily Granma promised that Cuba would "not buy a single cent of food or medicine from the United States." And in a step backwards, the bill contained provisions codifying the rules that generally banned U.S. tourism to Cuba. To travel legally to Cuba, Americans had to obtain a license, available only to narrow categories of visitors, or be invited by a non-U.S. group that met the costs. By limiting travel to Cuba, these restrictions violated Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the United States is a party.[92]


94.     The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women was able, during her visit, to confirm in situ the difficulties facing Cuban women in the social and economic sphere as a result of these unilateral measures:


The Special Rapporteur had to recognize in the course of her research that the economic sanctions imposed by the United States of America against Cuba have a significant impact on the social and economic situation of Cuban women.  The lack of availability of medicines and pharmaceutical items was clearly evident in the State hospitals the Special Rapporteur visited, although the conditions in these hospitals were exemplary by third world standards.  In addition, in relation to women’s quality of life, women’s groups presented evidence to the Special Rapporteur of hardships for women in the home caused by the embargo, and put forward the argument that the embargo and the hardships resulted in domestic violence.  The counter‑argument is that the situation is not a product of the embargo but of economic mismanagement by the central Government.  However, the Special Rapporteur is convinced from all that she heard and saw that the embargo imposed unilaterally by the United States has a particularly serious negative impact on the lives of Cuban women and that other United Nations mechanisms, concerned with economic and social rights, should investigate the possibility that the United States embargo actually results in the denial of the economic and social rights of Cuban women.[93]


95.     On a more detailed level, the Special Rapporteur declared that “the economic embargo has a differentiating impact on women in society, with women carrying the heaviest responsibility to find innovative means to cope with the shortage of supplies, such as medicines, cooking oil, soap, female hygiene products, nappies, paper, etc.  Women have been most affected by the embargo since they are the principal actors in domestic life.  The embargo also has direct consequences for women’s health since medical supplies are short.  In particular women may suffer psychological consequences as a result of lack of specific female medical care, such as lack of contraceptives and pap-smears.  In addition, as a result of the food shortage, women often are the last in the family to eat or do not eat at all.  At the same time, women’s innovative skills during the period of the embargo have created an idiosyncrasy in society, where, because of these special skills the real impact of the embargo is not perceived as being as strong as it in fact is.”[94]


96.     The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights considers that an orderly program of reforms, both in the area of civil and political rights and in that of economic and social rights, would be facilitated by putting an end to the unilateral measures imposed against Cuba.  The prolonged policies of economic, trade and financial embargo imposed against the island have had a negative impact over the years on the political climate and on the country's economic conditions.  These measures have become an obstacle to the needed opening of a system that is, to a large extent, shaped and justified by the perceived need to confront external pressures.  It would also seem that many dissident groups within Cuba are opposed to these unilateral measures, for the same reasons: "we neither support nor seek measures to isolate Cuba from the outside world.  We also recall that, while we are isolated by the political and economic order prevailing in our own country, it is mistaken to think that Cubans benefit or participate with dignity in the various forms of relationship with official Cuban institutions.  These forms of isolation do not justify each other.  Therefore, anyone who seeks to act in a morally consistent manner, respecting our sovereignty and making common cause with Cuba, must always demand an end to the embargo and a democratic opening within Cuba.”[95]


97.     The Commission trusts that the necessary measures will be adopted to end the trade embargo against Cuba, since a policy of isolating the country does nothing to improve the life of the Cuban people--the only group really affected by this situation. If the inter-American community wishes to contribute effectively to a peaceful transition to democracy and the unrestricted respect for civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights it will have to re-examine its strategy. In exercising its functions and attributes, the Commission will continue to observe the human rights situation in Cuba and hopes that human rights will be effectively observed by decision of the Cuban authorities and people, and with the support of the inter-American community, of which Cuba is a part.




Based on all the foregoing, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has reached the following conclusions:


1.       The Commission notes with concern an increase in the figures reflecting violations of civil and political rights by the Cuban State during the period covered by this report, in comparison with 1999 and 1998.  It notes as well that it is always towards the end of the year and the beginning of the following year that the State steps up its repression against persons who, deviating from the official line, attempt to exercise their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association.  In effect, harassment, disciplinary measures, accusations, temporary arrests, dismissals from work, official warnings, and prison sentences multiplied during the year 2000.  It is also clear that the positive changes that were made in 1998, in light of the visit of His Holiness John Paul II to Cuba, and that at the time generated great expectations, have been progressively diluted and must be considered merely interim measures.  The Commission must express its concern over repressive actions against peaceful opponents, independent journalists, labor unionists and human rights activists who, year after year, suffer harassment and discrimination for political reasons at the hands of the Cuban authorities.  Violations of the freedoms of expression, assembly and association have been legitimized in the Constitution and in criminal law, in a manner completely incompatible with the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.  The Cuban State must reform its constitutional and criminal law provisions relating to such concepts as "enemy propaganda", "contempt for authority", "illegal association", "clandestine printing", “dangerousness", "rebellion", "acts against State Security", "official warning", "pre-crime and post-crime security measures", "links or relationships to persons potentially dangerous to society", "socialist legality", and "socially dangerous".


2.       With respect to the right to justice and due process, the Commission also finds that the Cuban State has made no change that would allow, de facto and de jure, the unrestricted respect for judicial guarantees and the right of the accused to be tried by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal. The administration of justice therefore remains subordinate to the political power, with a detrimental impact on the practical observance of those rights. The fact that there is no separation of powers in Cuba that would guarantee the independence of the administration of justice results in the grave violation of the right of the accused--and particularly those accused of political crimes--to a fair trial, which also limits other fundamental human rights, such as the right to life, individual liberty, freedom of expression, assembly, and association.  From the procedural irregularities committed in trials of dissidents, the Commission finds that Cuban tribunals continue to act and render judgments based more on their convictions about revolutionary values than on proper judicial procedures.  Moreover, the evidence at hand leads to the conclusion that judgments are always favorable to the prosecution and not to the defense.  The principal limitation lies in the Constitution itself, which stipulates that none of the recognized freedoms may be exercised "against the existence and aims of the socialist State".  The importance of this rule is that it governs, at the highest level, the exercise of the rights and freedoms recognized by the Constitution for Cuban citizens, in their relations with State organs.  Also incompatible with the principles of due process are the constitutional limitations on rights and freedoms conveyed in such subjective and imprecise criteria as "the decision of the Cuban people to build socialism and communism."  It is clear that these criteria belong not to the juridical but to the political realm.  Consequently, it is the governing party that, in the final analysis, decides whether the exercise of a given freedom or right is contrary to this postulate.  This situation eliminates any possibility of defense for the individual against the political power, and gives constitutional blessing to the arbitrary exercise of power over the Cuban people.


3.       In the labor area, the Commission notes that the State has made some progress of benefit to Cuban women.  This progress relates to women's economic rights and the existence of legal, economic and social mechanisms that give effect to labor rights.  The Cuban system offers women a socioeconomic safety net that places them, statistically, in a better position than most of the women of Latin America.  In terms of education, work force participation and professional and technical training, they are much further advanced than in most other countries of the hemisphere.  Nevertheless, the Commission also notes that there are various forms of discrimination in the allocation of work, for ideological or related reasons. People who display political disagreement with the regime are those who are most likely to be unemployed.  As well, the relatives of political prisoners suffer discrimination at work, as do those prisoners themselves, once they are released.  The Commission also notes that the Cuban State applies the same treatment to the relatives of émigrés who engage in activities abroad that are antagonistic to the current political system.  Employment discrimination on ideological grounds is a mechanism that is easy to apply in an economy where the State is the sole employer. This State control also makes itself felt through the prohibition of independent labor unions and the systematic harassment of anyone who attempts to set up an association to protect labor rights.  These facts constitute violations not only of the international agreements signed by the Cuban State within the context of the International Labor Organization (ILO), but also of the right of association enshrined in the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.


4.       In terms of prison conditions, the Commission finds that they continue to be very poor.  The deliberately severe, degrading and inhumane treatment that the State accords inmates, both common and political prisoners, constitute serious violations of human rights. The ample testimony in the hands of the Commission demonstrates the gravity of this situation, and especially for those prisoners serving sentences for political crimes.  The Commission also regrets that the Cuban State has not complied with its own constitutional and legal standards in this area, which in theory establish principles that, if they were respected, should provide adequate treatment for prison inmates.  An inconsistency between practice and law, however, is clearly demonstrated in the current situation.  In effect, the lack of medicine for treating sick prisoners, the refusal of the prison authorities to allow relatives to bring medicines to prisoners, the refusal of the authorities to allow prisoners to receive medical and religious attention, mistreatment by guards and even by the prison infirmary doctors, beatings, overcrowding, locking up political prisoners with criminals and insane inmates, isolation cells with no access to daylight, forced and unpaid labor, confrontation with prisoners' relatives by State Security agents and prison authorities, and harassment of prisoners' relatives are typical of the conditions prevailing today in Cuban prisons. The Commission reiterates to the Cuban State that deprivation of liberty must have clearly determined objectives, that these must not be exceeded by the actions of the penitentiary authorities nor under the guise of their disciplinary powers, and therefore the prisoner must not be isolated or discriminated against, but rather reintegrated into society.  In other words, prison practice must observe a basic principle: deprivation of liberty must not be compounded by even greater suffering than that implied by imprisonment, i.e., the prisoner must be treated humanely, in keeping with the dignity of his person, and the system must seek to ensure his social reintegration.




The persistence of human rights violations during the year 2000 obliges the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to reiterate essentially the same recommendations to the Cuban State as last year. These measures would substantially improve the human rights situation, and in many cases they require purely administrative decisions. Accordingly, pursuant to Article 63(h) of its Regulations, the Commission makes the following recommendations to the Cuban State:


1.       Cease the harassment and punishment of citizens for reasons having to do with the exercise of the freedom of expression, assembly, and association.


2.       Adopt urgent measures with a view to continuing the unconditional release of prisoners of conscience.


3.       Eliminate from the criminal legislation all crimes that penalize, contrary to internationally accepted democratic standards, the freedom of expression, association, and assembly. In terms of freedom of press, repeal any provision or decree aimed at creating mechanisms of self-censorship or prior censorship.


4.       Eliminate from the Criminal Code the provisions on dangerousness, pre-criminal security measures, and the terms "socialist legality," "socially dangerous," "norms of socialist comity," and "socialist morality," as their vagueness and subjectivity create legal insecurity, fostering the conditions for the Cuban authorities to commit arbitrary acts. In addition, eliminate the criminal provision that refers to "official warning," which is used to threaten with punishment individuals who have "links or relationships with persons potentially dangerous to society."


5.       Adopt urgent measures with a view to carrying out a reform of the prison system for the purpose of improving the living conditions of the prison population. The Cuban State should carry out an exhaustive review of the background of prison authorities before placing them in the country's various prisons, so as to prevent mistreatment and abuse of the prisoners. In this regard, it would be important for the Cuban State to create a regulation with guidelines to be followed by those authorities to ensure they do not overstep the bounds of their authority in performing their functions.


6.       Adopt the necessary measures to allow for ideological and political-party pluralism for the full exercise of the right to political participation, in keeping with Article XX of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.




          1.       The draft report on the situation of human rights in Cuba was approved by the Commission during its 110º regular session.  It was sent to the state on March 14, 2001, pursuant to Article 63(h) of the Commission´s Regulations, in order to allow for the submission of observations within thirty days.


          2.       The Cuban State failed to present observations within the time limited provided.


3.       On April 16, 2001, the Commission approved this report and its publication within Chapter IV of the present Annual Report. 

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[56] Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, "Summary Report on known acts of political repression in Cuba between November 1999 and February 2000", in Bulletin of the Cuban Committee for Human Rights (Spain), Year XI, No. 32, Spring-Summer 2000, page 20.

[57] Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, in a letter that he gave to his wife during a regulation visit on March 15, 2000, at the provincial prison of Holguin, declared his decision not to appeal the three-year sentence imposed by the Cuban courts, saying that "the Communist court convicted me on the basis of untrue and malicious statements by the prosecutor and the political police.  My lawyer, who put up a magnificent defense, demonstrated my innocence, and I carry that in my heart, and so my conscience is clear.  There is also God's law.  My trial showed that there is no justice in this country.  I was reminded of the Inquisition courts of medieval Europe.  The justice system is subordinated to the law of the Council of State, and its members to the ideology of the Communist Party.  The person responsible for both bodies, Fidel Castro, slandered me in the media, abusing his position to influence the jury.  In light of the lack of impartiality and professionalism in Cuban justice, the institutionalization of injustice, the conspiracy against human rights activists, I refuse to make any appeal to the courts of my country.  I confirm that the Castro government murders children in hospitals through the use of abortion.  It killed 20 children when their parents were demanding freedom, on the Remolcador on March 13.  It assassinates children's spirit by imposing on them a single-minded education and indoctrinating them in evil, in communism, and the murder of four young pilots and the torture of prisoners and detainees…".  Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, President of the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights, Havana, Cuba, February 26, 2000.

[58] See I-ACHR, Annual Report 1998, Volume II, Human Rights Developments in Cuba, para. 15, OEA/Ser.L/V/II.102, Doc., rev., April 16, 1999.  Article 113 of the Code of Criminal Procedures allows the police and other "authorities"--without specifying which authorities--to arrest, without judicial order, any person accused of a crime against State security or of acts that "have caused alarm or are among those committed frequently in the territory of the municipality." While the first situation, related to persons suspected of political crimes, endangers dissidents, the wording of the second one is so ambiguous as to allow the police to make arrests legally, without a warrant, with a minimal justification.  This code also allows the police and the authorities to detain a person for up to a week before a court reviews the legality of the detention. The law affords the prosecutor an additional 72 hours to decide whether to send the accused to prison, to release him, or to impose less severe restrictions. The court only reviews the legality of the detention if the prosecutor decides to imprison or place other restrictions on the accused (Articles 243, 245 and 246 of the Code of Criminal Procedures). I-ACHR, Annual Report 1999, Volume II, Human Rights Developments in Cuba, paras. 45 and 46.

[59] Internal Dissidents’ Working Group (GTDI), Report on Violations of Human Rights Committed by the Government in Cuba, Havana, Cuba, 1999-2000.

[60] Cuban Criminal Code, Contempt, Article 144 (1).  "Anyone who threatens, libels or slanders, defames, affronts (injuria) or in any other way insults (ultraje) or offends, with the spoken word or in writing, the dignity or decorum of an authority, public functionary, or his agents or auxiliaries, is liable to imprisonment of three months to one year, plus a fine of 100 to 300 quotas, or both.”  Article 144(2). “If the act is committed against the President of the Council of the State, the President of the National Assembly of Popular Power, the members of the Council of State or the Council of Ministers, or the Deputies of the National Assembly of the Popular Power, the sanction is deprivation of liberty for one to three years."

[61] Internal Dissidents’ Working Group (GTDI), Report on Violations of Human Rights Committed by the Government in Cuba, op. cit., page 157.

[62] Idem, page 210.

[63] At the time this report was prepared, Néstor Rodríguez Lobaina had just ended a hunger strike in protest over being kept in solitary confinement for eleven months, and over the mistreatment and humiliation that members of his family had suffered throughout the process.

[64] Rolando Arroyo was convicted after the police confiscated toys that he was planning to hand out to poor children in Pinar del Rio, as part of a project known as "The Three Kings of the Millennium" [Reyes Magos del Milenio], promoted by a lawyer named Rodríguez Valdés.  Amnesty International has declared Arroyo a prisoner of conscience.

[65] Article 9(b) of the Cuban Constitution.

[66] La Palestra Cívica No. 18, October 2000, Information Bureau of the Cuban Human Rights Movement, digital version.

[67] Article XXII of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.

[68] Article 47 of the Cuban Constitution.

[69] Article 48 of the Cuban Constitution

[70] United Nations, Report of the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, op. cit.,, paras. 68 and 75.

[71] Although the number of people working for their own account had apparently grown to as many as 208,000 in 1996, by September 1998 it had dropped to 143,406.  This decline reflected heavy regulations and taxes.  "Cuba: Cuba's small private sector shrinks", Reuters News Service, Sept. 11, 1998.  As well, the Labor Code defines labor files as records of a worker's on-the-job performance, and they are kept by the worker's supervisors.  Nevertheless, State Security agents and other government officials have apparently used these files to monitor the political or anti-government ideas of workers or their relatives.  Article 61 of Law No. 49, in Human Rights Watch/Americas, Cuba's Repressive Machinery, op. cit., pp. 191 and 192.

[72] United Nations, International Labor Conference, 82nd Meeting, Report III (Part 4A), “Report of the Committee of Experts on the Applications of Conventions and Recommendations”, 1995, pp. 329 and 330, in I-ACHR, Annual Report 1996, Human Rights Developments in Cuba, Chapter V.

[73] United Nations, Report of the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, op. cit., para. 79.

[74] Cuba ratified Convention No. 87 of 1948 on trade union freedom and the right to organize, on June 25, 1952.

[75] Article 54 of the Cuban constitution.

[76] Sylvia Martínez and Emilio del Barrio, VIII Pleno del Comite Nacional de la CTC: “Encara el Movimiento Obrero la lucha contra el Delito y otras Deformaciones” [“The Workers’ Movement tackles the struggle against crime and other distortions”], Granma daily newspaper, Havana, Cuba, May 27, 1998.

[77] The IACHR learned, for example, that on Oct. 13, 2000, Pedro Pablo Alvarez Ramos, an independent labor leader, was arrested to prevent the holding of the Congress of the Consejo Unitario de Trabajadores de Cuba (CUTC).  Alvarez Ramos was held in prison, without trial and without any legal explanation, until early February, 2001.  Some months previously a number of labor activists were arrested throughout the country to prevent meetings related to that Congress in Havana.  As well, the Commission learned that the President of the Independent College of Teachers, Roberto De Miranda, was arrested on Oct. 22, 2000, at his home in Havana, to prevent a preparatory meeting for the First Congress of Cuban Teachers since 1959.  That meeting was held in any case, and De Miranda was threatened by officials of Villa Maristas that, if he continued with these meetings, he would be imprisoned.

[78] Pax Christi Netherlands, “The European Union and Cuba: Solidarity or Complicity? Fifth Report on Cuba”, September, 2000, PO Box 19319.3501, Dh Utrecht, The Netherlands, page 6.

[79] Idem, pages 6 and 7.

[80] Decree Law Nº 77 on Foreign Investments, of 1995, establishes the basic principles governing foreign investments.  Its provisions relating to labor are set out in more detail in Resolution Nº 3/96, Regulations to the Labor System in Foreign Investments (March 1996) and Decree Law Nº 166 on Violations of the System of Personnel Contracting and Other Labor Regulations (July, 1996).  Law 165 on Free Zones and Industrial Parks (June, 1996) establishes rules for investment in free zones and industrial parks in Cuba.

[81] Pax Christi Netherlands reports that “the foreign employer pays the agency for every Cuban worker an amount that fluctuates between US$800 and US$1,500 per month. The same worker receives an average salary of 250 Cuban pesos per month, pesos that are worthless to them at the current rate of 20 to 1. The State is keeping over 90% of their salaries. This construction is in contravention of international agreements, in particular ILO Convention 95, which protects the right of workers to dispose freely of their salaries. (…) A German company for example, offered to expand their operations and to provide up to 2000 new jobs but demanded in exchange the ability to directly pay its workers. The State refused the proposal. Even bonuses to the employees are often prohibited. According to a dissident, a foreign firm gave a Christmas bonus to its employees, and the State took it away because it was not in the contract.” Op. cit., page 12.

[82] According to the CUTC, there are 374 foreign investors in 32 sectors from 46 countries. Fifty-two percent come from the EU, 19.0% from Canada and 18% from Latin America. Out of this total there are 26 joint ventures in the tourist industry worth $900 million of which 24 are in the hotel sector. They also claim that there are 20 real estate joint ventures for the exclusive construction, renovation and administration of office buildings, apartments and commercial centers, which are solely for foreigners. The above numbers vary depending on the source but most agree that there are between 3,000 and 4,000 foreign entities operating in Cuba in one way or another. Pax Christi Netherlands, Fifth Report on Cuba, op. cit, page 8.

[83] Idem, page 12.

[84] Idem. A European journalist stated: “Often the foreign investor is technically the chief executive officer of the company, but the Cuban executive holds the real power due to his/her connections to the government. They are able to get around the intricate web of laws and restrictions through unofficial deals and bribes." Idem, page 12.

[85] Articles 30 (1) and 31 of the Cuban Criminal Code.

[86] Human Rights Watch/Americas, Annual report 2001, op. cit., page 26.

[87] Human Rights Watch/Americas, "Cuba's Repressive Machinery", op. cit., pages 183, 184 and 189.

[88] Inter-American Press Association, “SIP condena pésimas condiciones y hostigamiento contra periodistas cubanos independientes in Prisión” [“IAPA condemns dreadful conditions and harassment against independent Cuban journalists in prison”], January 18, 2001, digital version.

[89] Comisión Cubana de Derechos Humanos y Reconciliación Nacional, Nota Informativa, Havana, Cuba, January 9, 2001.

[90] The American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man provides, in Article XXV, that "Every individual … also has the right to humane treatment during the time he is in custody.”

[91] I-ACHR, Annual Report 1999, “Human Rights Developments in Cuba”, Chapter IV, paragraph 64, OEA/Ser.L/II.106, Doc. 3 rev., April 13, 2000.

[92] Human Rights Watch/Americans, Annual Report 2001, op. cit., pages 28 and 29.

[93] United Nations, Report of the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, op. cit., para. 16.

[94] Idem, para. 70.

[95] Manifesto Todos Unidos, signed by: Gisela Delgado Sablón, Centro de Estudios y Formación para el Desarrollo Integral de la Mujer Cubana; Osvaldo Payá Sardiñas, Movimiento Cristiano Liberación; Elizardo Sánchez Santa Cruz, Comisión de Derechos Humanos y Reconciliación Nacional; Roberto Larramendi Estrada, Movimiento Independiente de Estudios Martianos; Carmelo Díaz Fernández, Unión Sindical Cristiana; Carlos M. Ríos Otero, Cambio 2000 y Sociedad Política de La Habana; Jorge Omar Lorenzo Pimienta, Consejo Nacional por los Derechos Civiles; José Antonio Fornaris Ramos, Agencia Cuba Verdad; Santiago Martínez Trujillo, Hermanos Fraternales por la Dignidad; Regis Iglesias Ramírez, Movimiento Cristiano Liberación; José Manuel Rodríguez y Manuel López Santos, Partido Federalista; José Gabriel Román Castillo, Proyecto del Instituto Independiente Cultura y Democracia; Roberto de Miranda Hernández, Colegio Independiente de Pedagogos de Cuba; Héctor Palacio Ruíz, Centro de Estudios Sociales; Adrián Gómez González, Centro de Estudios Sociales; and 31 other non-governmental organizations.  Havana, Cuba, November 12 , 1999.