The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has
continued closely monitoring the way in which the human rights situation
in Cuba has developed since January 1994.
Since the publication of the 1993 Annual Report there have been a
number of events and occurrences requiring special attention.
In this connection, the IACHR has drawn on various sources in
preparing this report. It has taken into account the complaints filed against the
Cuban Government, and has also incorporated the pertinent portions of
various affidavits submitted to the Commission, and lastly it has taken
into consideration information provided by numerous nongovernmental
human rights organizations.
As a result, the information gathered by the IACHR during the
period covered by this report leads it to believe that the human rights
situation in Cuba is still extremely serious.
The fact is that the deterioration in living conditions, the
repressive control exercised by the State through the security agencies
against individuals and groups who differ with the regime and the
extreme economic difficulties that the Cuban people are suffering
caused--in the course of 1994--a mass exodus of persons who put out to
sea on makeshift rafts in search of new horizons, despite the fact that
they were taking their lives in their hands by so doing.
Once again, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
expresses its deep concern about the lack of civil and political rights
and the continuous deterioration of economic, social and cultural
THE RIGHT OF FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
One of the most serious violations of human rights and one that
occurs in Cuba, is violation of the right to freedom of expression.
Article IV of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties
of Man states that:
Every person has the right to freedom of investigation, of
opinion, and of the expression and dissemination of ideas, by any medium
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has referred to the
exercise of these freedoms on numerous occasions, and, as part of its
legal doctrine, views their
absence as a cause that "contributes to failure to respect the
other human rights".
The Commission has also condemned the use of various methods of
intimidating the information media, together with different measures
that could bring the press into a situation of dependence on the
Government for inputs or basic operating requirements.
The IACHR has also considers the communication media to be
legitimate "vehicles for political thought" and has always
stressed the need to avoid any type of legal text that creates
"crimes of opinion",
rejecting any system that implies a monopoly of management of the mass
The legal context of the right to freedom of expression in Cuba
is defined by Article 53 of the country's Political Constitution, which
Citizens are allowed freedom of speech and press in accordance
with the purposes of the communist society.
The material conditions for exercise of this freedom are provided
by the fact that the press, radio, television, cinema and other mass
communication media are state or social property and in no case may be
privately owned, which thereby ensures that they will be used in the
exclusive service of the working people and in the interest of society.
The Law regulates the exercise of these freedoms.
As will be noted, the Cuban Constitution subordinates the
exercise of freedom of expression to "the purposes of the communist
society". This means
that it is not the State whose action is limited vis-à-vis the rights
of persons, but on the contrary, persons' rights are limited vis-à-vis
the purposes pursued by the State.
This article of the Constitution has already been analyzed by the
IACHR in its Seventh Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Cuba.
On that occasion it observed that the article in question
"also seeks to guarantee exercise of the right to freedom of
expression by stating that the material conditions for its exercise
derive from state ownership of the communication media, which in no case
may be privately owned, a circumstance that ensures that they will be
used exclusively in the service of the working people and in the
interest of society (...). The
Constitution resorts here, once again, to a doctrinaire profession of
faith: the State is
the working people and the working people is the State; state
ownership of the communications media provides the basis for the
existence of freedom of expression and their correct use in the service
of that same working people".
It is evident that the exercise of the right to freedom of
expression under this article of the Constitution is governed by two fundamental determinants:
on the one hand, the preservation and strengthening of the communist
State; on the other, the need to muzzle any criticism of the group in
In this stage of the analysis, it must be underscored that this
article of the Constitution is inextricably intertwined with certain
provisions of the Cuban Criminal Code which define any exercise of the
right to freedom of expression that is not in line with the purposes of
the communist State as an offense.
Article 103 of the Criminal Code in fact provides:
Any person who:
incites against the social order, international solidarity or the
communist State, by means of oral or written propaganda or in any other
prepares, distributes or possesses propaganda of the type
referred to in paragraph (a) preceding;
shall be punished with one to eight years imprisonment.
Any person who disseminates false news or malicious predictions
likely to cause alarm or discontent among the population, or public
disorder, shall be punished with one to four years imprisonment.
If mass communication media are used for performance of the acts
referred to in (1) and (2) of this article, the penalty shall be seven
to fifteen years imprisonment.
Any person who permits utilization of the mass communication
media as referred to in (3) preceding shall be punished with one to four
This legislation has enabled the Cuban Government to consolidate
a policy of systematic harassment against any form of dissent.
During the period covered by this report, the IACHR has in fact
received extensive information on various methods of harassment directed
against individuals or groups devoted to defense of human rights or
engaging in political activity. This harassment generally takes the form of accusations,
disciplinary measures or imprisonment.
The legal grounds most commonly invoked are contempt, unlawful
association, enemy propaganda, unauthorized production of printed
materials, rebellion, etc. The
IACHR has also received information on the practice of a new form of
harassment against persons who express, either orally or in writing,
their dissatisfaction with the current political system:
economic offenses. This
method derives from the country's serious economic situation, as a
result of which people are often obliged to purchase essentials on the
black market. One example
of this practice is the case of the President of the Cuban Human Rights
and National Reconciliation Commission, Elizardo Sánchez Santacruz, who
was sentenced to six months house arrest in July 1994 for allegedly
having in his possession a larger amount of fuel than was legally
The IACHR has received information to the effect that 918 persons
have been convicted of offenses with political connotations or for
having exercised their right to freedom of expression.
This list does not include names of persons sentenced for the
crime of "dangerousness" or for attempting to leave the
Regarding freedom of the press, the IACHR has been informed that
this is totally limited to the sole and exclusive service of the
Communist Party. As is
apparent from Article 53 of the Constitution, the press is limited by
ideological considerations and the absolute control exercised by the
State. Evidence of this is
provided by the variety of newspapers subordinated to the Government
Party. These include "Juventud
Rebelde" (organ of the Union of Young Communists), "Trabajadores"
(organ of the Confederation of Cuban Workers) and "Granma"
(organ of the Union of Young Communists).
According to the complaints received, these papers present a
distorted view of reality and reflect solely the Government's
viewpoints. It has further
been noted that this situation not only means that the citizens suffer
from a lack of information, but also generates apathy in the
communication media and, finally, forces the population to resort to
finding out about what is happening in its own country from foreign
sources. The Commission has
in fact been informed that approximately 70% of the Cuban population
listens to the Miami-based "Radio Martí".
During the period covered by this report, the IACHR received
numerous complaints about persons who had been arraigned or harassed in
some way for having exercised their right to freedom of expression.
The Frente Cívico Democrático spoke out in a press release
against "the wave of arrests, violence and intimidation unleashed
by the regime against human rights activists, peaceful opponents and
their families". The
release also adds that "this repressive policy is designed to break
up and crush opposition and dissent", and further notes that Angel
Verdecia González, a resident of the "Bartolomé Maso"
municipality in Granma province was sentenced to seven years
imprisonment on a charge of "Enemy Propaganda" because when
the police searched his home in December 1993 they found the address of
Radio Martí. The Frente Cívico
Democrático press release then ended by observing that "these
practices that violate human rights do no more than create a climate of
national instability". (...) "We
are Cubans who reject hate and violence.
We want our country to take the pathway of peace, love, national
well-being and reconciliation".
The Cuban Human Rights Committee reported to the Commission that
in September 1994, Bárbara Celia Diéguez González, aged 26, was
subjected to harassment by Interior Ministry agents on account of her
work in defense of human rights. She was detained on two occasions and held in isolation for
two days. In another
complaint the Committee also reported that Arturo Hérnandez López,
aged 54 and resident at 94, Felíx Rojas Street in the municipality of
Cacocún, Holguin, is constantly harassed by a State Security agent
known as "The Indian".
Arturo Hérnandez is a former political prisoner who was
sentenced in the past to five years imprisonment for alleged crimes
against the security of the State.
The IACHR has received information to the effect that Professor
Francisco Chaviano González, leader of the Cuban National Civil Rights
Council, was arrested in May 1994 by State Security agents who took him
to the Villa Maristas Detention Center where he has been held
incommunicado and without access to legal defense to this date.
Chaviano González was a natural sciences teacher in a secondary
school up till the time he was jailed at the end of the last decade for
attempting to escape from Cuba. In mid-1994 he was one of he organizers of a campaign
currently underway in favor of an amnesty for Cuban political prisoners.
In recent years Chaviano González has also acted as co-president
of the Coordinating Group for Human Rights Organizations in Cuba ("CODEHU")
and as investigator of the whereabouts of hundreds of persons who
disappeared at sea when seeking to leave Cuba for the United States.
The IACHR has also been informed that the homes of another four
Civil Rights Council activists and staffers Jorge Lorenzo Pimienta,
Mario Rodríguez, Abilio Ramón Moya and Terina Fernández González,
were searched by the State Security Service.
According to information received, Antonio Moralez Zoa, Heriberto
Acevedo Vásquez and Nidia Ramirez Alvarez, human rights activists from
Isla de Pinos, were jailed for three years--at the beginning of
1994--for an alleged "Enemy Propaganda" offense.
It was also reported that Rodolfo González, a member of the
Cuban Human Rights Committee, was arrested on
December 10, 1992 on a charge of having provided information
considered anti-Government to foreign communication media.
González was sentenced in March 1994 to seven years imprisonment
for "Enemy Propaganda" and is currently held in the Guanajai
prison in La Habana province. The
Commission has further been informed that the Cuban authorities have
reportedly offered González his freedom if he will leave the country,
an offer that he has rejected. It
was also reported that during the three years that González was held in
Villa Maristas--before being transferred to prison--he was kept in a
windowless cell where he had to sleep on a metal plate under a
fluorescent light left on 24 hours a day.
In June 1994, the President of the Civic Democratic Party, Aida
Rosa Jiménez was sick at the time, she was imprisoned in a cell in the
Villa Maristas Detention Center. According
to the information received, the same agents who arrested her entered
and searched her home, taking a typewriter and some documents.
The offense that Rosa Jiménez reportedly committed was to have
arranged a mass in memory of those who died when the tug "13 de
Marzo" was sunk by Cuban coastguards of June 13, 1994.
Aida Rosa Jiménez is still being held incommunicado by the
Department of State Security.
During the period covered by this Annual Report the IACHR
continued receiving reports on various forms of harassment employed
against human rights activists, or against persons who simply expressed
their concern about these rights either orally or in writing.
The fact is that the "Brigadas de Acción Rápida"
("Swift Action Brigades")
are still carrying out systematic harassment by means of what are termed
acts of repudiation, which consist in organizing mobs to gather outside
human rights activists' homes to yell all sorts of taunts and shout
slogans in favor of the revolution and the Government.
Moreover, people are still being arrested and held temporarily,
and losing their jobs, and all sorts of reprisals are being directed
against persons who speak out against the regime.
A particularly serious occurrence brought to the Commission's
attention was the mass protest that took place in Havana on August 5,
1994 and which was violently repressed by the Cuban Government, at which
time some 300 persons were detained.
The IACHR has been informed that the first trials of persons
arrested during the August 5 disturbances were held in early September
1994. Apparently in one
single case eleven persons were tried, the majority of them being young
people between 18 and 25 years of age, all charged with "public
disorder". Four of
them were sentenced to one year's imprisonment, two to eight months and
two to six months, while three were acquitted.
According to the judgement, their participation in the
disturbances, during which a group of persons began to shout
anti-revolutionary slogans, was proven.
The court also based its decision on the fact that the accused
were arrested on the spot without proving they were there for any lawful
purpose, and that they were young persons of deviant social behavior.
The IACHR further received with concern numerous complaints about
persons connected with human rights organizations who were reportedly
arrested in the days following the protest despite the fact that they
had not participated in it. Those
named were Alberto Rodríguez García, René Gómez Manzano and Jesús
Faisel Iglesias of the Cuban National Civil Rights Council; René del
Pozo Pozo and Gerardo Valdés, of the Coordinating Group for Human
Rights Organizations in Cuba; Gustavo Cano Escobar, president of
Concertación Democrática Cubana; Nelson Torres Pulido, president of
the Cuban Human Rights Party; María Valdés Rosado and Jesús Rafael
Castillo, President and Vice President, respectively of the Movimiento
Cubano Demócrata Cristiano; Aida Rosa Jiménez, President of the
Partido Cívico Democrático, who was also held for two days in July;
and Fernando Velázquez Medina who was recently released, together with
his wife Xiomara González, after having spent two years in prison for
his links with the Criterio Alternativo group.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights finds these
forms of harassment and persecution on ideological grounds
reprehensible, since not only do they impair the right to freedom of
expression but they also openly violate the American Declaration of the
Rights and Duties of Man. The
Commission also considers that the right to freedom of expression must
not only be free of prior restrictions but be free from fear of
subsequent arbitrary penalties, because fear of arbitrary response and
unjust penalties creates conditions equivalent to prior censorship.
III. THE RIGHT TO
WORK AND TO FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION
The right to work is a fundamental right that is universally
recognized, and is set forth in the American Declaration 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.
The American Declaration clearly specifies how the right to work
is to be exercised: this must be done under "proper conditions", in
accordance with the vocation of the person concerned and with
It is pertinent to note that the right to work and to the
conditions under which it must be exercised is directly connected with
the right of association "to promote, exercise and protect (...)
legitimate interests of a labor union nature". (American
Declaration, Article XXII).
The right to work and its practice are recognized in Article 45
of the Cuban Constitution, which provides:
Work in the communist society is a right, a duty and a cause of
honor for all citizens.
Work is remunerated in accordance with its quality and quantity;
in assigning it, due attention is paid to the requirements of the
economy and of society, the worker's choice and his skills and
qualifications; it is guaranteed by the communist economic system, which
fosters economic and social development, without crises, and which with
it has eliminated unemployment and banished for good the seasonal lack
of employment referred to as "dead time".
Voluntary, unpaid, work performed for the benefit of all society,
in industrial, agricultural, technical, artistic and service
activities, is recognized as an instrument for shaping the communist
awareness of our people.
Each worker has the duty to fully carry out the tasks assigned to
him in his employment.
However, to make an appropriate analysis of the practice of the
Cuban labor system, the following article of the Constitution must be
ARTICLE 62. None of the freedoms granted to citizens may be
exercised against the provisions of the Constitution and of the laws,
nor against the existence and purposes of the communist State, nor
against the decision of the Cuban people to build socialism and
communism. Violation of
this principle is punishable.
It is clear, and the IACHR considers it to be so, that the Cuban
Constitution on the one hand recognizes the right to work, but on the
other hand, subordinates, limits and restricts this right to the
"existence and purposes of the communist State", thereby
enabling the creation of conditions conducive to various forms of
discrimination in the provision of employment for ideological or other
related reasons. The
Commission also considers that discrimination in employment is a much
greater possibility where the State is virtually the sole employer.
These features of Cuban constitutional law, when directed against
individuals, can result in discrimination on ideological grounds, which
is incompatible with the proclaimed universality of the right to work.
The foregoing is borne out in practice, because throughout 1994
the IACHR continued receiving information about the excessive control
the Cuban State exercised over its citizens, control which, for
ideological reasons, is exercised in the daily life of each person and
is manifested specially in the work centers.
What happens is that "reliability" in the labor field
is a determining factor in defining the "suitability" of each
worker; this reliability includes the political aspects and the worker's
attitude to the defense or requirements of the Government or the Party.
The Commission was also informed that workers--before
or after being hired--are normally subject to checks by the
Committees for Defense of the Revolution, the Technical Investigation
Department or even the Party, in order to ascertain whether they fall
into the "reliable" category. If it is determined that a
worker is not reliable he will be let go, regardless of years of
experience, service or other qualities. What is serious about this is
that assessments to the effect that individuals are "not
reliable" are not appealable.
One of the most revealing cases in this respect is that of
Antonio Domínguez Dizat, a researcher at the Instituto Superior Agrícola
in Ciego de Avila, who was dismissed from his work center on August 3,
1993, for "political unreliability" for having expressed
opinions in favor of political changes and for having maintained
friendship with two other university professors who had also lost their
positions for the same reasons in 1992.
The IAHCR has also been informed that Marta Vidaurreta Lima, a
professor at the Instituto Superior de Diseño Industrial in Havana, was
dismissed from her position in February 1994, on the grounds of Decree
Law 34/80, after having delivered a letter to the president of the
institute setting out her views on the country's situation and its
impact on higher education, in particular the use of ideological
criteria for determining the conditions for admission to the center, the
expulsions of teaching staff and also the constant ideological pressure.
It should be noted that Decree Law No. 34, which is still in
effect, was issued on March 12, 1980, and states that "persons who
are involved with children and young people in the education process
constitute an example for the shaping of their communist
personality"; it further authorizes the dismissal of faculty
members of higher education institutions and education centers, and of
personnel of any education center who are directly involved with the
students, for various reasons including "acts of a serious nature
clearly contrary to communist morality and the ideological principles of
our society". The
provisions of this decree law negatively impact the technicians,
teachers, administrative personnel and technical personnel employed in
The IACHR has to express its concern about this matter, since it
is clear that labor law in Cuba is violated both de facto and de jure,
since discrimination for political reasons in the work centers starts
with the substantive law and is then manifested in practice in
dismissals and other forms of harassment by the Cuban Government against
anyone opposed to the regime.
The Commission has information to the effect that the family
members of political prisoners suffer discrimination in their places of
work, as do the prisoners themselves once they are released.
In the same way, complaints have been received to the effect that
this treatment is also meted out to families of emigrés when these
emigrés have assumed attitudes antagonistic to the Cuban political
system once they have settled abroad. This is the case of Rafael Ravelo
Canosa, whose home was searched by State Security agents at about six in
the morning on September 14, 1994.
After the search, Ravelo Canosa was taken to the State Security
Department, where he was questioned about a report he had allegedly
received from a human rights activist concerning an accusation of
corruption against a Cuban official in the department in the city of
Ariza. Ravelo Canosa, who
denied knowing anything about the report, was threatened with four years
imprisonment for the crime of "dangerousness", and with
expulsion of his son from his job.
The complaint received affirms that Ravelo Canosa is being
harassed on account of, among other reasons, his relationship to the
President of the National Cuban American Foundation, Jorge Mas Canosa.
Regarding labor union freedoms, Article 54 of the Cuban
Constitution establishes the right of assembly and association for
workers and declares that social organizations "enjoy the fullest
freedom of speech and opinion, based on the unrestricted right to
initiative and to express criticism".
These rights, like all the freedoms by the Constitution, are
limited by its Article 62 which, as already noted, specifies that these
rights may not be exercised "against the existence and purposes of
the communist State, nor against the Cuban people's decision to build
socialism and communism".
In practice, the limitation imposed by the Constitution is
carried into effect by the existence of the monopoly exercised by the
Confederación de Trabajadores de Cuba (CTC), a single union of the
vertical type which prohibits the formation of other workers' groups.
The bylaws of the CTC state that "the union movement was
directed and guided by the Communist Party, which was required to
contribute to the mobilization of the masses in performance of the tasks
assigned by the Revolution and to strengthen the marxist-leninist
Its chief objectives also include "supporting the
revolutionary government, participating in national vigilance and in
defense activities, cooperating to improve management efficiency,
strengthening of labor discipline and prevention of any violation of
same, and also raising the political awareness of its members".
Notwithstanding the fact that the Cuban Constitution grants labor
unions extensive freedoms, the concentration of state power has not been
possible without restriction of union freedoms. The right of
association, moreover, cannot be exercised against the existence and
purposes of the communist State; the labor unions are not therefore
truly autonomous since they are subordinated to the interests of the
State and guided by the Party. In addition, the unions' main objectives
are connected with production and productivity, but not with defense of
the workers' interests. These
limits on union activity have been underscored by the recent reports on
harassment of workers who have attempted independent union actions with
a view to protection of their labor interests.
This is the case of Lazaro Corp Yeras, Secretary General of the
Union of Cuban Workers and President of the National Commission of
Independent Labor Unions, who was beaten up by three State Security
agents in a street in the municipality of Playa in Havana on August 2,
17-year-old son was also beaten up on the same occasion.
The IACHR has been informed that Juan Guarino Martínez Guillén,
President of the Confederation of Democratic Workers of Cuba, was
arrested at the beginning of May, 1993, on a charge of instigation of
unlawful activity because--according to the
police--he was the organizer of a peaceful demonstration on
May 1. He was sentenced to
one year's house arrest, with the condition that if he persisted in his
union activities the sentence would be doubled and he would have to
serve it in prison. On
September 17 of the same year he was again arrested and taken to the
Taco-Taco prison in Pinar del Rio, where he was reported to have
been beaten up in January 1994, after which he was transferred to the
Combined Eastern Prison (Prisión Combinado del Este).
Due to serious health problems he was finally released in May
Complaints have also been received that Edith Lupe, a
Confederation of Democratic Workers member in Arroyo Naranjo, Havana,
was summoned to the State Security Department on May 24, 1994, where she
was threatened with being tried and with being made the target of an act
of repudiation if she continued with her union activities. In the course
of 1994 it was learned that Héctor Domínguez, Jesús Benito Díaz,
Fernando Mendoza, Martha Rosa Medina and Manuel Gallardo, all members of
the Confederation in the municipality of San José de las Lajas, had
also been threatened.
CONCEPT OF DANGEROUS STATE IN THE CUBAN CRIMINAL CODE
Once again, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
draws attention to the concept of "dangerous state" in the
Cuban Criminal Code and to the way in which the Government uses the
offense thus defined as legal justification for application of security
measures before a crime is actually committed, and after the event, for
restrictions that include imprisonment in labor camps and penitentiary
establishments for a period of up to four years.
The Cuban Government in fact justifies detention of opponents of
the regime under Article 72, which defines "dangerousness" as
"a special inclination on the part of a person to commit crimes, as
demonstrated by behavior that is clearly contrary to the standards of
communist morality". Article
74 expands on this provision by spelling out that "a dangerous
state is present when an individual displays some of the following signs
of dangerousness: (a)
habitual drunkenness and dipsomania; (b) drug addiction; (c) antisocial
behavior". In the same way, "an individual who habitually
breaks the rules of social coexistence by acts of violence, or by other
provocative acts, violates the rights of others or by his general
behavior breaks the rules of coexistence or disrupts the order of the
community or lives, as a social parasite, off the work of others or
exploits or practices socially reprehensible vices, is considered to be
in a dangerous state on account of antisocial behavior".
For its part, Article 75 states that "an individual who,
without being in any of the dangerous states listed in Article 73, by
his links or relationships with persons potentially dangerous to
society, other persons and the social, economic and political order of
the communist State, could become prone to crime, will be warned by the
competent police authority with a view to preventing him from carrying
out socially dangerous or criminal activities".
If an individual displays one of the signs of dangerousness
listed above certain security measures may be applied, which can be
subsequent to or prior to the actual commission of an offense. In the
case of prior security measures, Article 78 specifies that the
individual declared in a dangerous state can be required to undergo
therapeutic or reeducation measures or may be placed under surveillance
by the National Revolutionary Police. According to Article 79, one
therapeutic measure is admission into a care, psychiatric or
detoxification establishment. The reeducation measures are applied to
antisocial individuals and consist of admission into a specialized labor
or study establishment and assignment to a labor collective for
monitoring and guidance of their behavior.
The minimum period of these measures is one year and the maximum
These provisions of the Cuban Criminal Code are taken further by
Decree Nº 128, issued in 1991. This decree specifies that the declaration
of dangerousness prior to commission of any offense shall be decided
upon by summary procedure, detailed as follows. The National
Revolutionary Police are to prepare the dossier with the report of the
officer involved, the testimony of neighbors who attest the individual's
behavior and copies of any official warnings given.
Once the dossier is made up, the Police are to submit it to the
Municipal Attorney, who must decide whether to place it before the
Municipal People's Court for determination of the degree of
dangerousness of the individual concerned within two working days of
receipt of it. Within this
time period the Court shall decide whether to institute any other
proceedings, which must be done within five working days.
If the Court considers the dossier complete it will set the date
for the hearing at which the parties are to appear. The Municipal Court
is to pronounce judgment twenty-four hours after the hearing.
During the period covered by this Annual Report complaints have
been received concerning persons arrested by State agents under
"dangerousness dossiers" who have subsequently been jailed for
up to four years. It should be noted that the Criminal Code does not
specify imprisonment as one of the possible security measures.
The IACHR has been informed that the type of procedure
employed--summary--makes it impossible for the
accused to present an adequate legal defense since the preset sequence
to be followed is too tightly scheduled to give time for contacting a
lawyer or for preparing a defense.
It has been observed that the social protests sparked by the
country's serious economic situation are generally repressed by this
method and that the Government uses it not only as a means for
preventing common crime but also to curb persons suspected of activities
contrary to the official ideology.
The case of Abel Jesús Acosta, a member of the Human Rights
Party in Villa Clara, will serve as an example:
He was arrested on October 4, 1993, and after a trial held on the
6th of that month he was sentenced to two years imprisonment for being
"dangerous", because he had met with
The Commission was informed that Mr. Acosta had met with a
In the same way, Héctor Eduardo Pedrera Miranda was arrested on
September 16, 1993, as he left his home in Alta Habana and taken to the
local National Revolutionary Police Office.
On the 23rd of that month he was given a summary trial and
sentenced to four years imprisonment.
Apparently the prosecutor accused him of having a record of
illegal departure from the country--an offense for which he
had already paid the penalty--which meant that he was not in
sympathy with the revolution and was accordingly
"dangerous". The Commission was informed that the defense
attorney was not allowed to see the accused's dossier and was only
permitted to talk to him a few minutes before the sentence was
Other complaints received report that:
Jorge Luis Dominguez Riera, an activist in the Cuban Human Rights
Party, in the locality of Regla, was arrested on October 15, 1993 and
taken to the Technical Investigations Department in Havana for having
taken part in an anti-government demonstration.
On the 18th of that month he was sentenced to four years
imprisonment as dangerous.
Mercedes Parada Antunes, a member of the Political Rights Defense
Association, was arrested on September 26, 1993, on a charge of
dangerousness. On October 8
of that year she was tried before the Marianao Municipal People's Court
in Havana and sentenced to two years imprisonment.
The above accounts confirm that there is no restraint in Cuba on
the arbitrary exercise of government powers, since the right to due
process seems to be one of those most frequently violated, both in
substantive and in procedural terms. Thus, the "special
inclination" to commit crimes referred to in the Cuban Criminal
Code amounts to a subjective criterion used by the Government to justify
violations of the right to individual freedom and due process of person
whose sole crime has been an inclination to hold a view different from
the official view.
In sum, the definition of an offense that makes it possible for a
person to be punished before or after having committed a crime, the
subjectivity employed by the Criminal Code in describing these crimes
together with the security measures, and the summary nature of the
proceedings which inevitably entails a lack of guarantees and the
political considerations governing them, constitute serious violations
of the rights set forth in the American Declaration of the Rights and
Duties of Man.
THE RIGHT TO RESIDENCE AND MOVEMENT
Regarding the right to residence and movement, the American
Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man provides as follows:
ARTICLE VIII. Every
person has the right to fix his residence within the territory of the
state of which he is a national, to move about freely within such
territory, and not to leave it except by his own will.
Admittedly, in using the above wording the American Declaration
does not expressly specify every person's right to return to his home
country; however, the IACHR considers this right to be implicitly
included in the Declaration. The Commission has accordingly maintained
that "the right of every person to live in his own homeland, to
leave it and to return to it when he so desires..." is a basic
right that "is recognized by all international instruments for the
protection of human rights". The Universal Declaration
of Human Rights specifies in its Article 13.2 that "Every person
has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to
Cuban legislation does not recognize an individual's right to
leave his country and to return to it, since to do so citizens have to
have a permit that is granted by the administrative authorities on a
discretionary basis. Despite
the fact that the Cuban authorities have simplified the procedures,
there are still problems connected with the granting or denial of
permits on political grounds. What
is serious about the matter is that when the Cuban authorities deny an
exit permit, no appeal is allowed.
This is the case with Raúl and Alejandro Roque Gonzáles, former
Cuban Air Force pilots, who were imprisoned for political reasons and
then denied permission to leave the country despite having entry visas
for the United States, where a part of their family is now living.
A similar case is that of Nancy Almeida Fernández and her two
sons Jorge De Jesús and Luis Fidel Blardoni, who hold U.S. entry visas
to be reunited with her husband and their father, a former merchant
marine captain who obtained asylum in the United States in 1992.
The IACHR has also been informed that the former political
prisoner Gregorio Sáez Alvarez and his family had their exit permits
suspended after they had completed all the requirements, including
surrendering their rationbooks and having his daughters abandon their
It should be noted that in recent years the reasons for leaving
the country have not been purely political; Cuba's desperate economic
plight has also become a motivation for hundreds of people to try to
leave illegally with a view to settling, preferably, in the United
The sources of information indicate that in 1993 a total of 3,656
people reached the United States on rafts, the rough estimate being that
these were the one in three who set out and actually made it.
This number grew appreciably in the course of 1994, especially
after the beginning of August when the Cuban coastguard and police
allowed the mass departure from the island of all who were prepared to
put to sea in hastily readied craft. The actual figure calculated to the
IACHR in the course of 1994 was 30,000.
It is important to note that these statistics include only those
who were rescued from the waters or actually made it to the United
States. In this connection,
during the period covered by this Annual Report--and prior
to the mass exodus--numerous violent actions by the Cuban
coastguard against persons attempting to leave without official
authorization were recorded. In
the morning of July 13, 1994, four Cuban government boats equipped with
waterhoses rammed an old tug that carried cubans fleeing the country,
There were 72 persons on board.
One of the government boats rammed the tug with the aim of
sinking it, and then turned the pressure hoses on those who were on its
deck. The appeals of the
women and children were in vain; the attack was not called off and the
tug sank, leaving over 40 dead, 20 of whom were children.
On July 1, 1994, border guards mortally wounded three persons who
were attempting to board a boat off Cojímar, to the east of Havana.
The three who died were Mario Horta, Alfredo E. Caballín Marlín
and Loamis Gonzáles Mansini.
In the morning of July 15, a group of Cuban coastguards opened
fire on 11 persons who were attempting to flee the country in a fast
motor boat. Several people
were injured, including Jorge Luis S. Marrero, who was hit in the left
arm, and Ivette Molina, who was wounded in the face and the left
shoulder. There were also
two minors in the boat, who were unhurt.
On July 18, 1994, 14 miles off the Cuban coast, seven citizens
who were attempting to flee on an improvised raft were rammed at full
speed by Cuban coastguard boat No. 554, destroying the raft and causing
injury to José Manuel Curiel, Pablo Valentín Reyes Carrasco and José
Raúl Batista Díaz. After
being arrested, they were taken to the coast guard unit where they were
held all day without medical care before being turned over to the State
Security investigator Alexis Capdevilla.
It has also been reported that Cuban coast guard patrols have on
repeated occasions fired on persons seeking to enter the U.S. naval base
at Guantanamo by sea, or by land, with the aim of requesting asylum.
This has generated severe criticisms since the use of such force
is excessive and unnecessary if the objective is simply to turn these
people back. Similar incidents have also been reported at other points on
the coast and involving persons who were trying to leave the country on
crudely built rafts, as well as other cases when craft sent by U.S.
citizens or persons resident in the United States approached the Cuban
coast to pick up people from the country.
As of the beginning of August 1994, the Cuban coastguard stopped
attempting to prevent people from leaving the island.
This sparked a mass exodus of persons who put out in all sorts of
barely seaworthy craft. The sheer numbers involved led the U.S.
Government to adopt a set of measures aimed at preventing an inflow of
people on such a scale. One
of the main steps taken was to intercept Cubans who set off for southern
Florida and to transfer them immediately to the Guantanamo naval base.
Following the introduction of these measures, in early September
1994 the Cuban Government concluded new immigration agreements with the
United States under which the prohibitions in effect in Cuba before the
crisis were reintroduced. This included full application of Article 216
of the Criminal Code which requires not only that persons who are caught
after having set off be placed on trial, but also those who are
suspected of planning to do so. This means that Cubans who try to leave
illegally and are caught in the act are liable to one to three years
imprisonment, while if they use violence in attempting to get away the
penalty can be three to eight years in prison.
The foregoing causes the IACHR to consider that exercise of the
right to residence and movement set forth in the American Declaration is
extremely restricted both de facto and de jure.
The restrictions clearly have political connotations, especially
for persons who have adopted positions critical of the Government.
In this context, the IACHR urges the Cuban Government to take the
necessary steps to allow unrestricted movement of persons.
THE PRISON SITUATION
The situation prevailing in Cuba's prisons is an indicator of the
general situation of human rights in Cuba.
The nutrition and hygienic situation, together with the
deficiencies in medical care continue to be alarming and have caused
numerous medical problems among the prison population.
Anemia, diarrhea, skin diseases and also parasitism due to
polluted water, appear to be commonplace in the majority of the
country's prisons, while in some such as the Manacas and Combinado del
Este facilities cases of tuberculosis have been recorded.
Moreover, inmates who have made any form of protest about the
treatment received or who reject reeducation, which according to
information received consists of political and ideological training,
have been subjected to reprisals such as beatings, being shut up in
punishment cells (which are extremely small, with the door closed and
where the prisoner can be kept for months without seeing the light of
the sun), being transferred to prisons normally far from where their
families live, suspension of family visits, or denial of medical
In this context, the IACHR has received numerous reports from
different civic groups that paint a most distressing picture of life in
Cuban prisons. The Civic
Democratic Party representative in the Manacas prison, in Villaclara
province, refers to that prison as "a place where hunger, disease,
lack of medical supplies and repression threaten to decimate this huge
prison population". According
to his report, these conditions lead many prisoners to attempt to commit
suicide, either by trying to hang themselves, by injecting gasoline into
their bodies or even throwing themselves on the fence, which is the
maximum security line, where they are shot down. The report also refers
to the propagation of diseases such as tuberculosis and fatal parasitic
ailments such as amebiasis.
Also during the period covered by this report, in the "La
Sociedad" prison in Santo Domingo municipality, the prisoner
Lisandro Morejón, after having been held in solitary confinement for
preaching the gospel, was the subject of constant harassment and
mistreatment by the chief of that prison, Roberto Pérez Guillén (known
as "El Papa"), despite having complained about this to higher
Writing from the Quivicán prison, the political prisoner Reidel
de la Torre Calero, complained about "the cruel, inhuman and
degrading conditions" suffered in that prison's punishment cells.
The political prisoners Omar del Pozo Marrero, Joel Alfonso Matos and
Torre Calero himself were kept incommunicado in those cells for three
months simply for having repeated their disagreement with current
government policy. During
those three months they were made to do without potable water, and had
to sleep without mattresses, while the scanty diet allowed them was
poorly balanced and lacking vitamins and protein, as a result of which
their physical condition deteriorated rapidly.
The Civic Democratic Party reported that its Vice President,
Domiciano Torres Roca, held since August 1993 in the "El Pitirre"
prison, is constantly being summoned by the State Security officer
Nelson de Armas, who repeatedly threatens him and urges him to stop his
denunciations of human rights violations. Torres' wife, Aida Rosa Jiménez, the President of the party,
has been prohibited from visiting him.
A report has also been received that Gumersindo Valero Díaz and
José Ramón Hidalgo have been held in the State Security Department's
Villa Maristas detention center since November 1993. They have been
accused of belonging to the "Movimiento Martiano por la Libertad y
la Democracia". Both
Valero Díaz and Ramón Hidalgo have developed health problems, with
weight loss and skin lesions.
While it is difficult to estimate the number of political
prisoners, certain sources put the figure at between 2,000 and 5,000
civilians, including those imprisoned for attempting to leave the
country illegally. Another
problem that has to do not only with the percentage of political
prisoners and the crowding in the prisons, but is also directly
connected with violations of the right to a fair trial and individual
freedom is the number of citizens who are languishing in numerous
prisons awaiting trial, despite the fact that they were arrested
months--and in some cases, years--ago, according
to information received.
Thus, two young men arrested during the October 1993 mass
protests, José A. Pérez
and Daniel Santana Quevedo, are still locked up and isolated awaiting
trial in Havana's Combinado del Este prison.
Another four young men--Antonio Boza Segura, José
Ramón Suárez Alvarez, Orlando Conte Capetillo and José Antonio Díaz
Gutiérrez--have been held in the Quivicán prison since
September 9, 1993, on a charge of "enemy propaganda" in the
high-security area known as "El Tiburón".
Family members are only allowed to visit them once every 60 days.
"These measures are excessive bearing in mind that these
four men are awaiting trial and have not yet even been formally
charged", according to a note written by the political prisoners in
The citizen Mario Camellón has been held in the Ciego de Avila
prison for a year and a half without trial for having shouted in front
of the Chambas Municipality Communist Party Headquarters "Down with
Fidel, we're hungry". Camellón
is obliged to do ten hours a day forced labor, despite his critical
state of health (he suffers from pulmonary emphysema).
The IACHR has also been informed that Carlos Rollo Sala has been
held without trial for two years on a charge of "enemy
propaganda" in the Valle Grande prison where he has been interned
with highly dangerous common criminals. In the same prison, Renato Rodríguez
Sánchez and Jorge Luis Sánchez Marrero have been held without trial
since November 1992, on a charge of alleged "piracy" for
attempting to leave the country from the port of Mariel, where they were
wounded by shots fired by border guards (two of the crew members, Jorge
Luis Sánchez and Mrs. Yvette Molina, are currently in exile after a
Similarly, according to information received, the trial of
Rodolfo Gonzáles, spokesman of the Cuban Human Rights Committee jailed
since December 10, 1992, has been postponed.
The reports received state that the trial, which was set for
January 28, 1994, was postponed when the court officials realized it had
been scheduled for the birthday of the Cuban patriot José Martí.
Dr. Sebastian Arcos Bergnes, vice president of the Cuban Human
Rights Committee, who is 63 years old, has been jailed in the Ariza
prison in Cienfuegos province since December 1992.
According to his family, which visited him on July 13, 1994, Dr.
Arcos is being held in deplorable conditions, together with common
criminals, the food provided is most inadequate, no medical care is
available and he is subjected to constant psychological pressures and
threats of physical abuse. Although
he was recently moved to different quarters, his new cell has no
artificial lighting and the prisoners refer to it as "The Persian
Gulf" because of its unbearable heat. The common criminals with
whom he shares this cell are young men of between 21 and 30 years of age
who have been sentenced to 15 and 30 years for violent crimes, which
makes them all the more dangerous.
During the period covered by this Annual Report the IACHR
received the following letter from a prisoner, which it considers
appropriate to quote verbatim since it reflects the serious conditions
prevailing in Cuban prisons:
In the Combinado del Este, designed with a maximum capacity of
some 3,000 inmates, over 5,000 have been crammed in.
Some are sleeping on the ground, the vast majority on grass mats
without sheets or pillows. The
lack of hygiene, due to official neglect and lack of concern, and the
nonavailability of cleaning products and equipment, is harmful and poses
a constant hazard to the health of the inmates, who appeal in
desperation to their families for medications not obtainable in the
prison. An identical
situation prevails in the Guanajay prison, where more than 700 prisoners
are being held in some buildings designed for 400 at the most. In both these prisons, which are swarming with cockroaches,
flies and rats, the inmates are exposed to contagious diseases and have
at best insufficient medical care or none at all.
A proportion of the inmates in the two prisons are suffering from
scabies and tuberculosis, among other diseases. The scanty and very poor quality food provided includes whole
fish mashed in such a way that the prisoners are obliged to swallow
spines, scales and pieces of bone.
The IACHR wishes to underscore that this complaint and the others
cited in this chapter constitute evidence of the serious prison
conditions and the deliberately severe and degrading treatment meted out
to prisoners by the Cuban Government, and that these conditions and the
treatment inflicted amount to serious violations of human rights.
SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS
In examining the human rights situation in the different
countries, the IACHR has sought to establish the organic relationship
between the violation of the rights to physical security, on the one
hand, and the disregard of economic and social rights and the
suppression of political participation, on the other. And this relationship is, as has been demonstrated, largely
one of cause and effect. In
other words, neglect of economic and social rights, especially when
political participation has been suppressed, brings about the sort of
social polarization that leads, in its turn, to acts of violence by and
against the Government.
Neglect of economic and social rights is a direct
cause--albeit a diffuse and complex one--of
violence and social conflicts. The view is generally held and would
appear justified that, in the case of certain countries, the extreme
poverty of the bulk of the population--itself in part the
result of a highly unequal distribution of production
resources---has been the basic cause of the terror
that has afflicted and is still besetting the countries in question.
However, in general the Commission has been extremely cautious in
this sensitive area because it has recognized the difficulty of
establishing criteria that could be used to measure compliance by the
States with their obligations. And
it has also understood the very difficult choices the governments have
to make in allocating resources between consumption and investment, and,
therefore, between present and future generations.
To do so, the Commission has drawn on various sources from which
it has obtained sufficient data to assess the economic and social rights
situation in Cuba. One of the main sources used is the report on the
"Situation of Human Rights in Cuba." submitted by the Special
Rapporteur, Mr. Carl-Johan Groth, to the United Nations Human
Rights Commission at its 50th session.
This report--issued by the United Nations on January
24, 1994--presents certain statistics--prepared
in 1993--by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP),
which are quoted below:
Life expectancy at birth for 1990 was 75.4 years against 63.8 in
Infant mortality (per 1,000 live births) was 14 children in 1991
against 65 in 1960;
The percentage of the population with access to health services
(years 1987-1990) was 100%, in both urban and rural areas;
The number of inhabitants per physician (years 1984-1989) was
The adult literacy rate for 1990 was 94% compared with 87% in
The combined enrollment rate in primary and secondary schools
(years 1987-1990) was 95%, compared with 76% in 1970.
As will be noted, advances cited above in economic, social and
cultural rights do not go beyond 1990.
From that year onward economic growth has been negative.
This was inevitable given the serious economic crisis affecting
the country. A report prepared abroad by the Christian Democrat Party
and quoted by the U.N. Special Rapporteur in fact states that "many
of the achievements posted, including the low infant mortality rates,
high life expectancy and eradication of diseases, are being severely
impacted by the current economic crisis. One of the items most affected
is surgical materials. Only emergency cases are being operated on and
medicines and laboratory materials are unavailable. The lack of
medicines and inadequate food supply are giving rise to vitamin
deficiencies and serious nutrition problems."
Statistics cited by the European Union confirm the above
situation and show that "calorie intake per capita and per day was
only 1,780 in 1993, which was 1,065 less than in 1989 and even 770 less
than in 1960, whereas the ideal is over 3,000. Between 1989 and 1992,
output of eleven of the fifteen main agricultural products slumped
alarmingly; livestock production fell by 77% as regards poultry meat and
by 69% as regards pork. The fall was equally marked in industrial food
production; only one tenth the amount of powdered milk placed on sale in
1989 is being produced. The daily glass of milk is now only being
provided in the schools, and not even in all of them, to children up to
eight years, whereas it used to be given to children up to age 16".
On this last point, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
wishes to point out that, at its 88th session, witnesses testified about
the serious economic situation in Cuba.
Moreover, the U.N. Special Rapporteur states in his analysis of
the prevailing economic situation that "Cuba is passing through one
of the most difficult periods of its recent history as regards the
economic situation. (...) Living standards have deteriorated to a point
where basic services such as public transport are currently almost shut
down. Public reaction to
this situation cannot be other than disillusionment and desperation.
Furthermore, the Government tends to resort to repressive measures to
silence any expression of discontent or of the slightest dissent.
Persecution of individuals is practiced at times at the most petty
levels and with a harshness that would appear to any impartial observer
to be manifestly out of proportion." 
The U.N. Special Rapporteur concludes his analysis by referring
to certain of the factors that could have contributed to this situation.
In this context he mentions that "The economic reforms are held
back by ideological and political factors, in particular by a marked
suspicion of anything that might mean limitation of governmental
(...) "Moreover, the cessation of the flow of aid formerly received
from external sources, together with Cuba's virtually total exclusion as
a beneficiary of the multilateral financing and technical advice
agencies, has not left the government much room for maneuver in this
area. A policy toward Cuba based on economic sanctions and other
measures aimed at isolating the island constitutes, in the Special
Rapporteur's opinion, in the present stage, the most certain way of
prolonging an unsustainable domestic situation, since the sole means
that would be left to avoid capitulating to external pressures would be
to continue making desperate efforts to remain anchored in the past.
International sanctions, .... are totally counterproductive if the
international community's aim is to improve the human rights situation
and at the same time to create conditions for a peaceful and gradual
transition to a truly pluralist and civil society".
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights accordingly
considers that the Cuban crisis has, primarily, deep internal roots that
affect not only the economic, political and social sphere, but also are
to be found in all the country's institutions in general. The factors
that have contributed to this are, essentially, the subordination to
the political branch of the entire Cuban social dimension, the
repressive policy of the regime backed by the country's legislation and
institutions, coupled with a system that excludes any differing
viewpoint and the absence of effective guarantees that would enable
persons to assert their rights vis-à-vis the State.
The Commission considers it appropriate, however, to reiterate
what it stated in its Seventh Report on the Situation of Human Rights in
The Commission trusts that domestic and international conditions
will be created that will make it possible to achieve effective and
authentic participation by the citizens of Cuba in political decisions
affecting them, in setting of freedom and pluralism essential for a real
effectiveness of human rights.
ADOPTED BY THE UNITED NATIONS
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights considers it
pertinent to note that on December 2, 1994, the United Nations General
Assembly issued a resolution during its 49th session entitled Situation
of Human Rights in Cuba, the relevant parts of which read as allows:
concern about the information on serious human rights violations in Cuba
detailed in the provisional report on the situation of human rights in
Cuba, submitted to the General Assembly by the Special Rapporteur;
the Cuban Government is still not collaborating with the Human Rights
Commission with respect to the Commission's Resolution 1994/71, in that
it has not permitted the Special Rapporteur to visit Cuba and has not
responded to the Special Rapporteur's last request to visit Cuba to
carry out his mandate;
of the recent visit to Cuba of the United Nations High Commissioner for
Once again exhorts
the Cuban Government to collaborate fully with the Special Rapporteur by
permitting him full and free access so that he may establish contacts
with the Government and citizens of Cuba in order to carry out the
mandate entrusted to him;
the numerous unrefuted reports concerning violations of basic human
rights and the fundamental freedoms compiled in the report of the
Special Rapporteur to the Human Rights Commission and in his provisional
the Cuban Government to recognize the right of the political parties and
nongovernmental organizations to function legally in the country, to
recognize the freedom of expression, information association, and
peaceful demonstration, and to review the sentences for crimes of a
Cuban Government to take the other steps proposed in the Special
Rapporteur's provisional report, so that the observance of human rights
and the fundamental freedoms in Cuba may meet the international
standards, in accordance with international law and the pertinent
international human rights instruments, and to put an end to all the
human rights violations by, among other things, ratifying the
international human rights instruments, ceasing to persecute and punish
citizens for reasons connected with freedom of expression and of
peaceful association, respecting the guarantees of due process and
permitting access by independent national groups and international
humanitarian organizations to the country's prisons;
continue examining this question in its fiftieth session.
Based on the information set forth in this report, the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has arrived at the
The Commission expresses its deep concern about the serious
situation of human rights in Cuba. The factors that have led to this
situation are various. In the first place, the impossibility of forming
and developing political parties different from the Communist Party is
clearly evident. This approach which totally excludes differing
political perspectives is strengthened by a number of constitutional
provisions that are truly doctrinaire professions of faith:
Article 5, for instance, states that "The Communist Party,
which is based on the thinking of Martí and on marxist-leninism
and is the organized vanguard of the Cuban nation, is the higher
directing force of society and of the State, which organizes and guides
the common efforts toward the high purposes of the building of socialism
and progress toward the communist society."
In respect of party political activity, practice in Cuba is not
consistent with the Commission's doctrine according to which the
existence of diverse political parties is a fundamental condition for
democracy and a curb on monopoly of power by one person or one group.
On the contrary, the constitutional provisions provide the legal
basis to justify the monopoly of power by the Communist Party.
The preceding conclusion is consistent with that stated by the
Commission in its Seventh Report on the Situation of Human Rights in
... the subordination of the administration of justice to the
political power, the lack of constitutional provisions that regulate in
an effective manner the exercise of citizens' rights vis-à-vis the
State, the inclusion in the text of the Constitution of numerous
dectrinaire professions of faith excluding different political
viewpoints (which is reflected in severe restrictions on the normal
operation of a plurality of political organizations), necessarily lead
to the structure of the Cuban State being considered totalitarian.
The analysis of the information provided to the Commission in the
course of 1994 served to demonstrate that the arguments presented in its
Seventh Report remain valid. What
is more, the Commission considers that the human rights situation in
general has continued to worsen. In
the result there is a situation that could generate a social explosion
of incalculable dimensions. As
a result, the Government's repression of political dissent, the de facto
and de jure subordination of the administration of justice to the
Government Party, the lack of guarantees against arbitrary arrest, and
the deliberately severe and degrading conditions in Cuban prisons,
combined with the serious economic situation, constitute a dangerous
potential for social conflicts and are a matter of profound concern for
the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
Consequently, the Commission considers it absolutely necessary
that the Cuban Government immediately initiate political and economic
reforms in order to prevent the situation deteriorating even further.
If the present situation continues, the outcome would be
extremely serious for the human rights situation in general. The fact is that hunger and poverty are generating despair in
the population. Citizens
are combining to mount protests that are in turn violently repressed by
the Government. The greater
the repression, the greater are the human rights violations.
And this does not include the hundreds of persons who put out to
sea--with the risk of perishing in the attempt--in search of better
6. In light of these conclusions, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights considers it pertinent to note that it will continue closely monitoring the human rights situation in Cuba, in accordance with its mandate to protect and promote human rights in each of the countries of the hemisphere.
The "Brigadas de Acción Rápida" were established
in June 1991 by the Government Attorney's office.
These units are made up of civilians and their assignment is
to put down any sign of public discontent or "manifestation of
According to information received by the IACHR, their actions
remain unpunished, especially when they violate the rights of
persons engaged in promotion and protection of human rights.
Their favorite tactic is the so-called "act of