In addition to imprisoning activists, Cuba employs other tactics to impede individuals and organizations from undertaking activities that are, or appear to be, in opposition to government policies or practices.158 The range of repressive measures includes short-term arbitrary detentions, official warnings (advertencias oficiales), removal from jobs and housing, surveillance, harassment, intimidation, and forced exile. Government actions against dissidents appear to occur in waves, with lulls followed by periods of intense harassment, often in response to heightened opposition activity. While the pope's January 1998 visit to Cuba marked a period of relative calm, government pressures increased as the year progressed and international attention faded. Activists faced vigorous government repression in early 1999.
Dissidents willing to criticize the government publicly risk serious consequences, from the trauma of wrongful arrests and potential prosecutions, to the loss of their homes and sources of income, as well as the significant emotional costs wrought by so-called repudiations, and the deprivation of contact with family, community, and culture through forced exile. These measures often affect activists' family members, further raising the cost of speaking out. Government intimidation, along with criminal prosecutions, has resulted in the cessation or minimizing of many dissidents' activities and the dissolution of some organizations.
Human rights activists and independent journalists are among the government's most frequent targets, along with independent labor organizers.159 Religious leaders and their followers also face government restrictions on their activities.160 Other members of Cuba's emerging civil society subjected to government harassment include members of independent political parties, organizations of independent academics, teachers, medical professionals, artists, environmental activists, and others. Family members of political prisoners also face governmentintimidation. Typically, Cuba justifies its repression by referring to the activists as counterrevolutionaries. The government's denial of legal recognition to opposition groups leaves all members of unauthorized groups at risk of arrest and prosecution.161 But independent groups that criticize the government in nonviolent ways—whether through holding meetings, distributing "Down with Fidel" signs, writing about economic conditions in Cuba, proposing open political debate, or documenting human rights abuses—are exercising fundamental rights to free expression and association.
The Cuban government also attempts to discredit the work of independent groups and justify repressing them by alleging that they are acting on behalf of or with financial support from the U.S. government, which funnels some monies to Cuban nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) under the Helms-Burton law. The U.S. has provided funding to U.S.-based organizations that channel supplies, such as books, copies of human rights treaties, and typewriters, to Cuban groups.162 Yet, Cuban authorities have acknowledged that the government's decision to allow the formation and legal operation of Cuban NGOs (many of which are state-controlled institutions with an NGO moniker) stemmed principally from the government's interest in increasing the flow of foreign aid into Cuba.163 Despite the problems posed by Cuba's restrictive Associations Law, which makes it difficult for foreign governments to fund Cuban groups with independent or critical political views (which cannot operate legally under Cuba's Associations Law), the European Union and Canada have provided support to legalized Cuban humanitarian aid
organizations. Cuba's actions single out dissident groups, limiting their opportunities to receive aid while permitting legalized organizations to do so. And while the U.S. government, in the text of the Helms-Burton law, has endorsed the toppling of the Castro government, Cuba should not penalize dissident groups that accept U.S. funds to distribute copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or report on human rights violations—activities not designed to the promote violent overthrow of the current Cuban leadership—for the exercise of their protected rights. The fact that Cuban groups have received foreign monies does not alone demonstrate that they have engaged in any improper or violent activity, nor that the groups pose a genuine threat to the security of the state.164
Cuba routinely denies visas to foreign journalists and human rights investigators in what appears to be an effort to avoid negative publicity. In October 1998 President Castro explained the conditions under which he would grant visas to reporters with U.S. news bureaus: "If I were certain objective reporters would come to Cuba and not be biased beforehand, we would...."165 Cuba's restrictions on press coverage and human rights reporting are among the most severe in the Western Hemisphere.
State Organs Charged with Internal Surveillance and Repression
The Interior Ministry has principal responsibility for monitoring the Cuban population for signs of dissent. Reportedly, the ministry employs two central offices for this purpose: the General Directorate of Counter-Intelligence and the General Directorate of Internal Order. The former supervises the activities of the Department of State Security, also known as the Political Police, reportedly dividing its counter-intelligence operations into specialized units. One of the units—known as "Department Four"—reportedly focuses on the "ideological sector," which includes religious groups, writers, and artists. Three Cuban defectors who previously worked for the state security apparatus informed the Miami Herald that Cuba assigned between ten and fifteen intelligence officials tospy on and infiltrate the church.166 The second Interior Ministry office monitoring suspected dissident activity, the Directorate of Internal Order, supervises two police units with internal surveillance responsibilities, the National Revolutionary Police and the Technical Department of Investigation (Departamento Técnico de Investigaciones, DTI). Once authorities give an activist an official warning, Cuban law permits the National Revolutionary Police to monitor that person's activities.167 But with or without official warnings, Cuban dissidents are aware that police and state security forces monitor their movements, contacts, telephones, and correspondence. Dissidents have reported that police interrogating them revealed detailed knowledge about their activities and contacts. In trials in 1992 and 1995, Cuban courts sentenced eleven citizens to lengthy prison terms because the individuals had uncovered the identities of government infiltrators in dissident groups. Remarkably, the courts sentenced the activists and government agents, five of whom remain in Cuban prisons, for the crime of "revealing secrets concerning state security."168
Since their creation in 1960, Cuba also has relied on the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (Comités de Defensa de la Revolución, CDRs) to conduct intensive monitoring in every Cuban neighborhood. The CDRs are Cuba's largest organization and according to President Castro, comprise 91 percent of Cuba's population.169 Juan Contino, a member of the Council of State, coordinates CDR activities. Castro lauded the CDRs when they were first launched as a "system of collective revolutionary vigilance so that everyone will know who everyone else is ... what they devote themselves to, who they meet with, whatactivities they take part in."170 Led by block captains, the CDRs carry out numerous neighborhood activities, in which non-participation can be suspect, and maintain tight surveillance of suspected government opponents. In September 1998, the government called on the CDRs and state-supported vigilante groups, known as "popular revolutionary vigilance detachments" (unarmed CDR members collaborating with the police), to increase their activities in response to a worsening crime wave.171
In 1991 two new government-sponsored mechanisms for internal surveillance and control emerged. Communist Party leaders organized the Singular Systems of Vigilance and Protection (Sistema Unico de Vigilancia y Protección, SUVP). The SUVP membership reaches across several state institutions, including the party, the police, the CDRs, the state-controlled labor union, student groups, and members of mass organizations.172 The government reportedly has called on the SUVPs to carry out surveillance and to intimidate opposition activists. The government also organized groups of civilian sympathizers into Rapid Action Brigades (Brigadas de Acción Rapida, also referred to as Rapid Response Brigades, or Brigadas de Respuesta Rápida) to observe and control dissidents.
The Cuban migration authorities and housing officials also have emerged as important actors in government efforts to intimidate independent activists by threatening them with forced exile or the loss of their homes, or imposing fines on them. Cuba also monitors political fielty at the workplace and in schools. The government maintains academic and labor files (expedientes escolares y laborales) for each citizen, in which officials record actions or statements that may bear on the person's loyalty to the regime. Before advancing to a new school or position, the individual's record must first be deemed acceptable.
Cuban universities openly profess the government's viewpoint, rather than promoting the free exchange of information and ideas. Following a tour of the government's universities, the minister of higher education, Fernando Vecino Alegret, stressed that the institutions needed to reinvigorate their political and ideological labors. The ministry backed a new Educational Project (ProyectoEducativo) in order to highlight "the necessity of leaving a profoundly political-ideological imprint on all the substantive activities of the university" and to form "revolutionary convictions."173
Repressing Independent Activists
Government agents or organizations have a broad range of repressive options at their disposal to dissuade government critics from continuing their activities. Some of the most common dissuasive tactics are mentioned here and further discussed below, as they are frequently applied against independent journalists and human rights activists.
Police and state security agents carry out short-term detentions, ranging from a few hours to two weeks, that serve to intimidate dissidents by threatening them with prosecution and a prison term and revealing how closely they are being watched. Some activists have been subjected to repeated brief detentions. Police often issue official warnings during short-term detentions. Warnings and threats of future prosecution are made while dissidents are in police custody, typically when they have not been granted contact with family members or legal counsel and are being held in very poor conditions, often with violent criminals. Migration and housing authorities also carry out some short-term detentions for the purpose of intimidating activists.
In late February 1999 Cuban police and state security agents detained over fifty independent journalists and members of opposition and human rights groups. The authorities apparently carried out the arrests to preclude the activists and journalists from being in the vicinity of the March 1 trial of the four leaders of the Internal Dissidents' Working Group.174 The detentions ranged in length from several hours to several days and detainees were held in both police stations and residences under the control of the Interior Ministry. Many of the detained journalists and activists reportedly were threatened with criminal prosecutions. Police reportedly forced another fifty activists to remain in their homes while thetrial was taking place.175 Throughout January 1999, Matanzas authorities required approximately twenty-five local members of the Democratic Solidarity Party (Partido Democrático Solidaridad, PSD) to report to police who briefly interrogated them about their activities.176
On December 16, 1998, and January 7, 1999, Miriam García Chávez of the College of Independent Teachers (Colegio de Pedagogos Independientes) planned on demonstrating outside Havana courthouse where her colleague, Lázaro Constantin Durán, was tried and convicted of dangerousness.177 On both occasions, Cuban police detained her, holding her for seventy-two hours in December and approximately forty-eight hours in January.178
On November 27, 1998, Havana police reportedly detained five dissidents, holding them overnight, while beating others who also had protested the planned trial of a Cuban independent journalist Mario Julio Viera González.179 Cuban authorities apparently arrested Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet González and Rolando Muñoz Yyobre, of the Lawton Human Rights Foundation (Fundación Lawton de Derechos Humanos), Miriam García Chávez and Lázaro Constantin Durán, and Marisela Pompa of the PSD. Police reportedly beat another member of the College of Independent Teachers, Roberto de Miranda. A government sympathizer apparently shoved and punched Cable News Network (CNN) cameraman Rudy Marshall, who was attempting to film the arrests.180
Havana police briefly detained and questioned Jorge León Rodríguez, of the Democracy and Peace Movement (Movimiento Democracia y Paz), on September 18, 1998. León Rodríguez, a Santiago resident, said that state security officials apparently knew in advance that members of his organization would be traveling to Havana. Police interrogated him at the DTI headquarters and seized pro-democracy materials from him that they termed "counterrevolutionary."181
On August 28, 1998, about twenty people protested the Havana trial of activist Reynaldo Alfaro García. In early September, Havana police arrested seven of the protesters and detained them for twelve to forty-eight hours.182 The detentions prohibited the activists from participating in a September 8, 1998, march celebrating the feast day of Cuba's patron saint, Our Lady of Charity of Cobre. Police questioned the detainees about the Alfaro García demonstration and about their plans for the march. The detainees were Nancy de Varona, a leader of the Thirteenth of July Movement (Movimiento 13 de Julio); Ofelia Nardo, of the Confederation of Democratic Workers of Cuba (Confederación de Trabajadores Democráticos de Cuba); Vicky Ruíz Labrit, of the Committee of Cubans in Peaceful Opposition (Comité Cubano de Opositores Pacíficos); Leonel Morejón Almagro, the national leader of the Cuban Council (Concilio Cubano); Miriam García Chávez, president of the College of Independent Teachers; and Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet González and Rolando Muñóz Yyobre, of the Lawton Human Rights Foundation. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alejandro González refused to provide reporters with details about the arrests, simply stating that the government's duty was to prevent illegal activities.183 On September 8, state security agents also briefly detained thirty human rights and other activists who had gathered at the Havana home of Isabel del Pino Sotolongo, of the Christ the King Movement (Movimiento Cristo Rey). The agents barred the activists from leaving del Pino Sotolongo's residence, where they had gathered prior to joining the feast daycelebrations, until the festivities had ended and the agents had ensured that the activists would not take part.184
Cuban police or state security agents often threaten dissidents with criminal prosecution if they do not abandon their opposition activities or go into exile. Cuba's recent prosecutions of dissidents and its significant population of political prisoners add credibility to these threats, and repeated detentions have driven many to flee Cuba. In December 1997, Héctor Peraza Linares, an independent journalist based in Pinar del Río, left Cuba for exile in Spain. On June 23, 1997, Cuban police had detained Peraza Linares and confined him in a darkened, sealed cell. He remained in detention until September 1997, when he was released on the condition that he abandon Cuba. The Cuban government forced Miguel Angel Aldana, another leader of the Cuban Council, into exile in April 1997 by threatening him with a four-year sentence for dangerousness (estado peligroso). Cuban authorities had arrested Aldana, also a leader of the Martiana Civic Association (Asociación Civica Martiana), on several previous occasions.185
As described above, Cuba's regressive Associations Law leaves independent groups vulnerable to arbitrary government interference. On March 25, 1998, for example, Communist Party officials called the executive board of a humanitarian aid agency called the Group for Assistance to the Needy (Grupo de Apoyo a Necesitados, GAN) to a meeting and notified them that they were dissolving the group. Several weeks before, Orlando Bordón Gálvez, a reporter with the independent agency Cuba Press, had mentioned the group in a story, which state security officials acknowledged reviewing.186 In March 1998 a group of twentywomen leaders of independent organizations (including journalists, human rights activists, economists, and doctors) delivered a petition to Wilma Espín, the president of the government-controlled Federation of Cuban Women (Federación de Mujeres Cubanas, FMC) seeking permission to participate in the International Encounter of Solidarity Among Women in Havana in April 1998. The government never responded to the petition, and the women were not allowed to take part in the conference. The Solidarity and Peace Movement (Movimiento Solidaridad y Paz), one of the groups petitioning to take part in the conference, had requested government legalization under the Associations Law in 1994 without ever receiving a response.187
The Cuban government's near-complete monopoly on jobs allows it to exercise tight control over the nation's workforce.188 Often, the government's first move against dissenters is to fire them from their jobs. Most of Cuba's prominent dissidents lost their jobs as they became more involved in independent organizations.
Cuba strictly controls dissidents' freedom to exit and reenter their country and to travel within Cuba. Cuban activists know that unless they obtain government permission for traveling that guarantees their right to return, any unauthorized travel may result in forced exile. But dissidents' requests for exit and reentry permits are often ignored or denied. In October 1998 Cuba reportedly denied Osvaldo Alfonso Valdés, the president of the Liberal Democratic Party (Partido Liberal Democrático), permission to attend a meeting of the Liberal Party International from November 6 to 8 in Switzerland.189 The government reportedly denied a Baptist pastor, Rev. Roberto Hernández Aguiar, permission to travel outside Cuba in September 1998.190 In May the Culture Ministry denied visas requests from the Classical Ballet of Havana (Ballet Clásico de La Habana), which was to have toured in Spain in June and July. The denial reportedly was based on the fact that the ballet, which was founded by the daughter of the director of theNational Ballet of Cuba (Ballet Nacional de Cuba), "does not officially exist" and might conflict with the schedule of the previously established company.191
In March 1988 two leaders of the opposition Cuban Council traveled to Santiago for an organizational meeting but were not allowed to leave the airport on arrival. Cuban authorities placed Leonel Morejón Almagro, who had served a prison term based on his prior Cuban Council activities, and Oswaldo Alfonso Valdéz, on a plane back to Havana.
The government also employs so-called repudiation meetings (mitines de repudio), or acts of repudiation, to humiliate and intimidate dissidents publicly, sometimes violently. On September 18, Miriam García Chávez, the president of the College of Independent Teachers, and her family were subjected to an act of repudiation. Approximately fifty uniformed school children, directed by members of the local CDR and members of a Rapid Response Brigade, gathered outside García Chávez's Havana home and shouted insults about her and other dissidents.192
The government often enlists the support of so-called popular organizations to ratchet up pressure against independent activists. On March 15, 1998, for example, Mirna Riverón Guerrero opened the Eduardo René Chibás Independent Library (Biblioteca Independiente "Eduardo René Chibás") in Santiago. By early July, she still had received no response from various government entities to whom she had sent requests for the legalization of the library, including the provincial authorities and the Communist Party. However, in the months following the opening of the library, she received visits from members of several pro-government organizations, including the CDRs, the Federation of Cuban Women, the Union of Young Communists (Unión de Jovenes Comunistas), and an association of retired state security agents. On each of these occasions, the visitors urged her to abandon the "illicit" activity of running the library.193
The Castro government maintains a firm stance against independent journalism. In June 1998 the government labelled Cuba's small group of independent reporters "self-titled 'independent journalists' dedicated to defaming our people by means of the radio stations that broadcast from Miami against Cuba."194 Since the journalists have no means of publishing stories internally, nor access to the state-controlled radio and television, they often provide stories to international news outlets by telephone. In contrast, the government called upon the "truly free" press to serve the socialist state by "guaranteeing the continuity of socialist, patriotic, and anti-imperialist ideas and values, and the Revolution itself for future generations of Cubans."195 In October 1998 a representative of Cuba's Interests Section in Washington stated that "We are not ashamed to admit that the national press is entirely at the service of the Communist Party and the Cuban people."196 Noting that Communist Party efforts to "exercise adequate control over their [independent journalists'] subversive activities" had proven insufficient, the party called upon its base organizations to "drum up, in each block and community, a climate of social rejection of these elements, so that they will feel that their calumnies are repudiated and morally condemned by the people."197
The Cuban government relies not only on mass organizations, but also on its security forces and courts to threaten, intimidate, detain, and prosecute independent journalists.198 Cuba often uses detentions to threaten journalists with criminalprosecutions, urging them to abandon their careers or go into exile. At this writing, Manuel Antonio González Castellanos, a Cuba Press reporter in Holguín, remains in a Holguín prison, facing charges of contempt for the authority (desacato) of Fidel Castro. Cuban police arrested Castellanos on October 1, 1998.199
The Cuban government planned to try Mario Julio Viera González, the director of the Cuba Verdad press agency, for the crime of insulting someone (injuria) on November 27, 1998. Cuban police had not detained Viera González for the alleged crime at this writing. He reportedly committed the crime against the honor of José Peraza Chapeau, the legal director of Cuba's Ministry of Foreign Relations, when he published an article titled "Morality Wearing Underpants," (Moral en Calzoncillos) that questioned Cuba's commitment to an effective International Criminal Court, in light of its poor domestic judicial system. When demonstrators and police clashed outside the courthouse, resulting in several detentions, the government indefinitely postponed Viera González's trial.200
Cuban authorities detained at least fifteen independent journalists in late February 1999, in order to prohibit their covering the trial of the leaders of the Internal Dissidents' Working Group.201
On January 27, 1999, police in Ciego de Avila arrested Pedro Arguelles Morán, of Cuba Press. The authorities detained him for two days in a government-controlled residence.202 Earlier the same week, Havana police arrested María de los Angeles González Amaro, the director of the Union of Independent Cuban Journalists and Writers (Union de Periodistas y Escritores de Cuba Independientes, UPECI), Nancy Sotolongo, a journalist with UPECI, Santiago Martínez Trujillo, an UPECI photographer, and Angel Pablo Polanco, of the Cooperative ofIndependent Journalists (Cooperativa de Periodistas Independientes), holding them for three to five days before release. The arrests apparently occurred because the journalists planned to cover an event marking the first anniversary of the pope's January 1998 trip to Cuba. Police reportedly issued González Amaro with an official warning that she would face trial for criminal association and disobedience if she continued her activities.203
Ana Luisa López Baeza, a reporter with Cuba Press, left Cuba for exile in the United States on October 29, 1998, citing government pressure on her and her daughter.204 On December 29, 1998, Cuban police arrested Jesús Labrador Arias, a Cuba Press reporter in Manzanillo, holding him for several hours. On December 8, Cuban state security officials went to another Cuba Press journalist's residence, warning him not to cover any events on December 10, International Human Rights Day. On December 15, 1998, and again on the next day, state security officers detained Efrén Martínez Pulgarón for several hours.205 Previously, on August 13, 1997, Cuban police detained Martínez Pulgarón in Pinar del Río. For thirty-eight days, Cuban authorities held him in a small isolation cell, frequently urging him to abandon independent journalism. On September 10, 1998, Havana police reportedly detained Juan Antonio Sánchez Rodríguez, a reporter with Cuba Press based in Pinar del Río, transferred him to a state security detention center in his home province, and held him for at least six days. Apparently, he was not charged with any crime but was threatened with prosecution for "dangerousness."206 State security officials in Havana arrested Luis López Prendes, the director of the Independent Press Bureau of Cuba (Buró de Prensa Independiente de Cuba, BPIC), on September 7, 1998, and detained him for over forty-eight hours. A statesecurity captain named Ariel interrogated López Prendes about his involvement in the dissident movement, what he knew of Reynaldo Alfaro García's August 28, 1998, trial,207 and whether he knew of any plans for the September 8 celebration of Cuba's patron saint, Our Lady of Charity of Cobre. López Prendes said the captain told him that independent journalists "weren't going to depose the government with their news." López Prendes explained that his intention was not to remove the government. As he was leaving the police station, several state security agents suggested that he join his son in the United States. The agents escorted López Prendes to his home, where they told local CDR leaders that they had detained him to avoid his contributing to problems at the celebrations for Our Lady of Charity.208
Often detentions last less than one day. On October 23, 1998, political police in Santa Clara detained Edel José García Díaz, a reporter with the Center-North (Centro-Norte) press agency, for several hours. A police official interrogated García Díaz and issued him an official warning (acta de advertencia) that he might face prosecution for enemy propaganda and spreading false news, due to his transmission on the U.S. government-operated Radio Martí.209 On October 1, 1998, migration officials in Havana called Cuba Press journalist María de los Angeles González Amauro to a meeting, although she had no pending migration matter. The officials threatened to detain her and treat her like several dissidents who have spent long periods in pretrial detention if she did not give up her independent journalism or emigrate from Cuba.210 Cuban state security agents in Caibarién required Héctor Trujillo Pis, a Cuba Press journalist, to present himself in their offices in early September 1998. The police advised him that they had sufficient evidence to prosecute him for spreading false news to counterrevolutionary foreign media, including Radio Martí.211 In September, state security police in Manzanillo, Granma Province, detained Jesús Labrador Arias, aCuba Press reporter, for about half an hour and threatened to prosecute him.212 In July, the reporter was leaving a local hospital when he was subjected to an act of repudiation. Approximately thirty men surrounded him, shouting insults such as "counterrevolutionary worm" (gusano contrarrevolucionario).213 Cuban police detained Luis Alberto Lazo, a reporter for the New Press Agency (Agencia Nueva Prensa) in Artemisa for approximately twenty-four hours on June 17, 1998. The agents reportedly interrogated him and issued an official warning. They accused him of having planned to report on a demonstration at the United States Interests Section by a number of former prisoners. Lazo denied having planned to cover the demonstration, which never took place.214
The leader of a Singular Systems of Vigilance and Protection (SUVP) in Havana reportedly attacked José Luis Rodríguez Jiménez, a photographer with the BPIC, in May 1998. The local SUVP representative, known as Eliseo, apparently beat the photographer with a stick and called him a counterrevolutionary.215
One of Cuba's most prominent independent journalists, Cuba Press founder and director Raúl Rivero, faced continued restrictions in 1998 of his freedom to travel. On May 25, he solicited government permission to travel to Spain on a personal visit with some friends. On June 24, an official at the Migration Office of Central Havana told him that his request had been denied. The official refused to provide Rivero with the name of the migration official responsible for the decision and would not produce a written decision. Rivero noted that on several prior occasions Cuban police had informed him that he was always able to travel outside Cuba, as long as he did so in a "definitive manner," (una manera definitiva) meaning without an option to return. He recalled that during a three-day detention in August 1997, an official of the political police named Soroa detailed the various crimes that he had committed by operating his press agency,including illicit association and the spreading of false news (difusión de noticias falsas). Soroa then urged him to avoid prosecution by leaving Cuba.216
Santiago-based state security agents detained Margarita Sara Yero, the director of the Turquino Correspondence of the Independent Press Agency of Cuba (Agencia de Prensa Independiente de Cuba, APIC) on November 17, 1997. Her detention followed shortly after she reported on the trial of a local government opponent, Orestes Rodríguez Horruitiner, who was sentenced to four years for enemy propaganda. After questioning her at the state security headquarters known as "Versalles, " the agents released Yero later that day.
In a few cases, the government used housing regulations to harass independent reporters. In January 1999 housing authorities in Santiago notified Yero that she would be evicted from her home, where she had resided for thirty-five years. The officials apparently claimed that she had abandoned her home, but several neighbors affirmed her residency. On February 1, 1999, police and housing officials called her neighbors to a public meeting, where they reportedly stated that Yero did not belong to the local CDR and had not cast votes for Communist Party candidates. The next day, the local housing authority apparently sent Yero a written notification of her imminent eviction.217 On September 23, 1998, officials told ANP journalist Mercedes Moreno, that according to housing regulations, she could not reside legally in her sister's Havana home and imposed heavy fines on both women. Housing inspectors returned on October 21 and advised the family that another visiting relative was not authorized to stay with them and had twenty-four hours to leave. Housing authorities went to the home of Miriam García Chávez, the president of the Independent Teachers' College, on October 3, 1998, after she had taken in Efrén Martínez Pulgarón and his mother. The officials told García Chávez that her visitors had seventy-two hours to leave her residence. Martínez Pulgarón said that for over two years he and his mother have not been able to find permanent housing, due to the government's intimidations of landlords or others who have offered them a place to stay.218
Human Rights Activists
Cuba maintains tight control over domestic human rights defenders. The prosecution of Reynaldo Alfaro García and the trial for sedition of the four leaders of the Internal Dissidents' Working Group mark recent heavy-handed government measures against human rights advocates.219 Prisoners who speak out against abuses also face physical violence and other punishments in Cuba's detention centers.220 In addition to these drastic measures, the government also persists in short-term detentions, surveillance, phone interruption, and other intimidations of human rights activists.
In late January 1999 Havana police reportedly detained seven members of the Lawton Human Rights Foundation (FLDH), including the group's leader, Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet González, for four to six days. The human rights activists had planned to participate in a celebration of the first anniversary of the pope's January 1998 visit to Cuba. The detentions prevented the FLDH members from taking part in the January 25 event, as they were not released until January 30, 1999.221
On December 10, 1998, Cuban authorities arrested Biscet González after he had organized a rally marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Cuban police arrested at least six dissidents at the event, which was held in the Butari Park in Havana.222 Days before, on December 7, the police briefly detained Biscet González and his colleague Rolando Muñoz Yyobre.223
On October 20, 1998, migration authorities on the Isla de la Juventud, formerly known as the Isla de Pinos, ordered Antonio Morales Torres to come to an appointment. Morales Torres, a former political prisoner who had served two years for enemy propaganda and is president of the Pinero Human Rights Committee (Comité de Derechos Humanos Pinero), had no pending migration issue. At themeeting, migration officials revealed that they had been tracking his movements and meetings with other dissidents closely, including several meetings in Havana. The officials then advised him that if he did not cease his human rights activities and abandon Cuba, he would face prosecution as a common criminal, a tactic aimed at avoiding international attention. The officials also stressed that if he decided to leave the country, they would waive his obligation to pay for costly medical exams, which are required by the Cuban government of all emigrés, and would free his son from obligatory military service.224
On July 9, 1998, three state security agents detained Dr. Biscet González and Muñoz Yyobre. The agents, who were assisted by several police officers, took Biscet González to his home, which they searched, and then to the DTI police station at the intersection of 100th and Aldabó Streets. Police initially held Muñoz Yyobre at a police station in Old Havana, later moving him to the DTI. The police detained both men for over two weeks, until the afternoon of July 24. During that time, the men were held in filthy, hot, poorly-lit, over-crowded cells with violent criminal suspects. Police held Muñoz Yyobre in a cell that was approximately 2.3 meters by 3.3 meters, along with three other detainees, while holding Biscet González in a slightly larger cell with about ten other detainees. After one week, the police permitted each man to visit briefly with a few family members, but warned them that the visits would end if the men discussed the reasons they were under arrest, prison conditions, or the names of any other prisoners. In keeping with Cuban laws that minimize due process protections, the police also told the men that they could not have an attorney until after their tenth day of confinement.225 Ultimately, neither received legal assistance during his detention.226
Police interrogated both men several times during their confinement, accusing them of illicit activities and threatening to use criminal prosecutions to destroy them. They alleged that the men had planned a July 13 anniversary protest of the government's 1994 sinking of a boat called the 13 de Marzo, which drowned dozens of Cubans attempting to flee their country, and that they had distributedanti-government documents, including a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, letters to the domestic and international press, and a letter to the government's Council of State. Upon their release, the police warned the two that they had opened case files on them (expedientes archivados). The police also noted that the Lawton Human Rights Foundation was not operating legally. More than one year earlier, the men had filed a request for legalization under the Associations Law but the government never responded to their application.
On July 25, September 29, and November 3, 1997, Cuban authorities required Pedro Orlando Herrada Delgado, an engineer and member of the National Council of Civil Rights (Consejo Nacional por los Derechos Civiles) in Villa Clara, to appear at police stations. On each occasion, the police threatened Herrada Delgado with criminal prosecution for his opposition activities. At the September meeting, the police issued him an official warning of possible prosecution for enemy propaganda, spreading false news, inciting criminal activity (incitación para delinquir), and associating with the enemy. In November, a police official, Dennis Durán Morales, mentioned that they also could try him for "spreading news that endangers international peace."227
Cuba did not allow either Elizardo Sánchez Santacruz, leader of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (Comisión Cubana para los Derechos Humanos y la Reconciliación Nacional), nor Oswaldo Paya, leader of the Christian Liberation Movement (Movimiento Cristiano de Liberación), to attend an international human rights conference in Warsaw, Poland in October 1998. After completing two issues of a human rights newsletter that was distributed on a modest scale inside and outside of Cuba, Sánchez Santacruz reportedly received word from the government in October 1998 that it would not allow his organization to produce any more issues.
International Journalists Covering Cuba
Consistent with President Castro's October 1998 comments that he would not grant foreign reporters visas unless he could guarantee their "objectivity," Cuba restricts visas for foreign journalists based on the likely or actual content of their reporting. Government regulations further control reporters who do receive visas. As noted above, Cuba formalized rules governing foreign reporters' objectivity andaccuracy in February 1997.228 While Cuba permits a handful of international news bureaus to function in Cuba, CNN and, as of November 13, 1998, the Associated Press (AP), are the only U.S.-based media operation officially granted permission to operate in Cuba.229 The international media operating in Havana encounter some impediments to their work. On December 10, 1998, a cameraman for Reuters, Alfred Tedeschi, said that he was hit and had a microphone stolen, and other journalists said that they were pushed, while covering police arresting dissidents who were celebrating International Human Rights Day.230 As noted above, a CNN journalist covering a demonstration outside Cuban journalist Mario Viera's postponed trial in November 1998 also was roughed up. CNN's correspondent in Havana, Lucía Newman, said that although foreign reporters can operate with some measure of freedom in Cuba, many believe that the government listens in on their phone lines.231 Cuba's prosecutions of its own citizens for providing information to foreign reporters also limit press freedom. The case of Dr. Dessy Mendoza, who received an eight-year sentence for enemy propaganda after advising international reporters of a dengue fever epidemic, highlighted this risk.232
On January 28, 1999, Cuban authorities expelled a Dutch journalist, Edwin Kopmann of Radio Neederland, after accusing him of having provided funds to a "counterrevolutionary group." The radio journalist reportedly had given an independent labor organization, the Confederation of Christian Unions (Confederación de Sindicatos Cristianos), U.S. $250. Cuban officials apparentlyalso fined a Cuban citizen who had housed the reporter during his stay in Havana U.S. $1,000 for violating housing regulations.233
The government's practice of selectively denying reporters' visas became most evident as scores of foreign journalists requested entry permits for the pope's January 1998 trip to Cuba. The government denied visas to reporters with news agencies or stations known to have been critical of the Cuban authorities, including journalists from several Miami-based news outlets, such as the Miami Herald. An official at the Cuban embassy in Argentina, Concepción Muñoz, reportedly denied an Argentine journalist's visa for the papal visit because the reporter, Matilde Sánchez, of the Buenos Aires newspaper Clarín, had written a story about Cuban hero Ché Guevara that "hurt the Cuban people."234 In October 1998 Cuba allowed the Herald's Executive Editor Doug Clifton and Chairman David Lawrence, Jr. to enter Cuba as part of a thirty-two-member delegation from the American Society of Newspaper Editors. Castro's welcome to the group was tempered by his comments about journalists' objectivity, but his mid-November accession to the group's recommendation that AP be allowed to open an office in Cuba was a positive step.235 However, Castro's January 1999 comments to an annual assembly of several thousand National Revolutionary Police about foreign journalists' writing "propaganda" and his suggestion that reporters were engaged in "repugnant" campaigns to damage Cuba's image showed little tolerance for direct or indirect criticism from international journalists.236 Castro was referring to press referencesto the growing problem of prostitution in Cuba, which he himself had acknowledged to be a problem.
International Human Rights and Humanitarian Groups
The Cuban government often welcomes visits from international organizations providing humanitarian aid, particularly those that have publicly opposed the U.S. embargo on Cuba. But it provides distinct treatment to international human rights and humanitarian agencies that may be critical of its human rights record, routinely banning them from the national territory. The Cuban government has not allowed Human Rights Watch to return to Cuba since 1995. Cuba never allowed the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Cuba to enter the country. The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights José Ayala Lasso visited Cuba in November 1994, but his failure to make any public comment about the country's human rights situation represented a lost opportunity to bring public pressure on the Cubans to institute reforms.
The government last permitted the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which visits prisoners in custody for political and security offenses around the world, to conduct prison visits in Cuba in 1988 and 1989. The ICRC does not make public its evaluations of prison conditions or treatment but rather intercedes with governments on behalf of prisoners on a confidential basis.237
The Cuban government's refusal to allow international human rights monitors such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International to conduct independent investigations impedes the collection and dissemination of information about human rights abuses in Cuba. Cuba's tight restrictions—barring the kinds of investigations that Human Rights Watch routinely conducts in dozens of countries, which usually include interviews with government authorities, the press, and leaders of NGOs, as well as visits to the detention areas of prisons and police stations—mark it as the least cooperative government in the Western Hemisphere in this respect. On several occasions, Human Rights Watch telephone interviews to Cuba have been abruptly terminated or disrupted by persistent background noise that made conversation impossible.
166 Juan O. Tamayo, "Cuba has Long Spied on Church," Miami Herald, January 21, 1998. Department Four reportedly is based in an eleven-story building on Twenty-First Street in downtown Havana. The Herald also reported that Cuba's Interior Ministry operates an intelligence division for gathering information from outside Cuba. The office reportedly is located at the intersection of Linea and A Streets in the Vedado section of Havana.
167 Official warnings are discussed above, at Impediments to Human Rights in Cuban Law: Codifying Repression.
168 These trials are discussed above, at Impediments to Human Rights in Cuban Law: Revealing Secrets Concerning State Security.
169 "Fidel en la Clausura del V Congreso de los CDR: Al Mundo no le Queda Otra Alternativa que Salvarse," Prensa Latina, October 27, 1998.
170 Román Orozco, Cuba Roja (Buenos Aires: Información y Revista S.A. Cambio 16 - Javier Vergara Editor S.A., 1993), p. 158.
171 "Cuba: Cubans Urged to Join Fight Against Rising Crime," Reuters New Service, September 27, 1998, and "Mandatorio Cubano Resalta Rol de los CDR contra el Delito," Prensa Latina, September 28, 1998.
172 Orozco, Cuba Roja, pp. 151-152.
173 Vladia Rubio, "La Realidad Universitaria a Pecho Abierto," Granma Diario, September 18, 1998.
174 The government closed the trial to the public, restricted the number of family members of the accused who could attend, and sealed off a two-block area around the courthouse. The trial is discussed above, at Political Prosecutions.
175 Andrew Cawthorne, "Cuba: Cuba Releases Dissidents After Crackdown," Reuters News Service, March 2, 1999, Serge Kovaleski, "Sedition Trial in Cuba Begins Amid Skepticism," Washington Post, March 2, 1999, and Letter from Ann K. Cooper, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, to President Fidel Castro Ruz, March 2, 1999.
176 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Fernando Sánchez López, president of the PSD, Havana, February 3, 1999.
177 His case is discussed above, at Political Prosecutions.
178 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Odilia Collazo, Pro Human Rights Party, January 11, 1999.
179 The case is discussed below, at Independent Journalists.
180 Pascal Fletcher, "Cuba: Fights Break Out at Trial of Cuban Dissident," Reuters News Service, November 27, 1998; John Rice, "Protestan por Proceso de Periodista en La Habana," Associated Press, November 27, 1998; and Olance Nogueras, "Liberados losDetenidos en Disturbio el Viernes: Continúa Desaparecido un Joven Transeúnte Golpeado," El Nuevo Herald, November 29, 1998.
181 Luis López Prendes, "Represión contra Oposicionistas Santiagueros de Visita en La Habana," Buró de Prensa Independiente de Cuba, September 22, 1998.
182 Ariel Hidalgo and Tete Machado, "Nueve Disidentes Detenidos Durante una Redada," Infoburo, September 9, 1998.
183 "Liberan a Disidentes Detenidos esta Semana," Reuters News Service published by El Nuevo Herald, September 11, 1998.
184 Juan O. Tamayo, "Cuban Authorities Mix Tolerance, Repression," Miami Herald, September 9, 1998.
185 Armando Correa, "Expulsan a líder de Concilio Cubano por 'peligroso,'" El Nuevo Heraldo, April 11, 1997.
186 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Raúl Rivero, Cuba Press director, Havana, July 3, 1998, and Ana Luisa López Baeza, "Periodista de Cuba Press Agredido el Sábado Ultimo," Cuba Press, April 22, 1998. State Security officials reportedly told the GAN leaders that Bordón Gálvez's reporting was to blame for the group's demise. In an unfortunate development, on April 18, a GAN member, Juan Carlos Figueredo, physically attacked Bordón on the basis of this information, leaving him with minor injuries.
187 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Marta Pargas García of the Solidarity and Peace Movement, Havana, June 25, 1998.
188 This issue is discussed in greater detail below, at Labor Rights: Government Control Over Employment.
189 Oswaldo de Céspedes, "Niega el Gobierno Cubano Permiso de Salida a Opositor," Cooperativa de Periodistas Independientes, October 16, 1998.
190 Luis López Prendes, "Niegan el Partido Comunista Permisos a Pastor Bautista," Buró de Prensa Independiente de Cuba, September 17, 1998.
191 Jordan Levin, "Niegan a Ballet Permiso para Viaje," El Nuevo Herald, May 2, 1998.
192 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Odilia Collazo, Pro Human Rights Party, Havana, October 23, 1998. Manuel David Orrio, "Niños Cubanos en Acto de Repudio," Cooperativa de Periodistas Independientes, September 21, 1998.
193 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Mirna Riverón Guerrero, Santiago, July 3, 1998.
194 From the "Introduction to the Meeting with Block Leaders and General Secretaries of the Party's Base Organizations," a document prepared by the Communist Party of Cuba and distributed in June 1998; Raúl Rivero, "Partido Insta a Combatir Periodísmo Independiente," Cuba Press en El Nuevo Herald, June 18, 1998; and Ana Luisa López Baeza, "Amenazante Documento que Augura Persecución Contra los Periodistas Independientes,"Cuba Press, June 18, 1998. Additional restrictions on Cuba's independent press are discussed above, at Impediments to Human Rights in Cuban Law: Law for the Protection of Cuban National Independence and the Economy.
195 "Proyecto: El Partido de la Unidad, la Democracia y los Derechos Humanos que Defendemos," Granma Internet, Año 2, Número 20, June 2, 1997.
196 Agence France Presse, "Periodista de CNN Se Queja de Labor 'Frustrante,'" El Nuevo Herald, October 24, 1998.
197 López Baeza, "Amenazante Documento."
198 As detailed above, at Political Prosecutions, independent journalists in Cuba remain at risk of criminal prosecution for their activities.
199 Raúl Rivero and Roberto Fabricio, "Se Intensifica Acoso a Periodistas Independientes: Sociedad Interamericana de Prensa Informe de Cuba, Segundo Ejercicio, 1998," El Nuevo Herald, November 16, 1998. His case is discussed above, at Political Prosecutions.
200 Pascal Fletcher, "Cuba: Fights Break Out at Trial of Cuban Dissident," Reuters News Service, November 27, 1998; John Rice, "Protestan por Proceso de Periodista en La Habana," Associated Press, November 27, 1998; and Manuel David Orrio, "En 27 de Noviembre," Cooperativa de Periodistas Independientes, November 27, 1998.
201 Letter from Ann K. Cooper, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, to President Fidel Castro Ruz, March 2, 1999, and "Hubo Catorce Periodistas Detenidas," El Nuevo Herald, March 3, 1999.
202 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Ricardo González Alfonso, Cuba Press, Havana, February 1, 1999.
203 Ibid.; Odalys Curbelo, "En Libertad Periodistas Independientes," Cuba Press, February 1, 1999; Letter from Ann K. Cooper, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists to Fidel Castro Ruz, president of Cuba, February 3, 1999; and Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Odilia Collazo, Pro Human Rights Party, Havana, February 3, 1999.
204 Pablo Alfonso, "Anuncian Llegada de Periodista Opositora," El Nuevo Herald, October 30, 1998.
205 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Efrén Martínez Pulgarón, Cuba Press, Havana, January 13, 1999.
206 Raúl Rivero, "En Libertad Periodista de Esta Agencia," Cuba Press, September 16, 1998; and Andrew Cawthorne, "Cuba: Cuba Frees Independent Reporter Held for Six Days," Reuters News Service, September 16, 1998.
207 This trial is discussed above, at Political Prosecutions.
208 Luis López Prendes, "El Periodista Independiente Luis López Prendes Relata su Detención," Buró de Prensa Independiente de Cuba, September 10, 1998.
209 Héctor Trujillo Pis, "Amenazan a Periodista Independiente," Cuba Press, October 28, 1998.
210 Rivero and Fabricio, "Se Intensifica Acoso a Periodistas Independientes," El Nuevo Herald, November 16, 1998.
211 Héctor Trujillo Pis, "Denuncia Periodista de Cuba Press Amenazas de la Policía Política," Cuba Press, September 11, 1998.
212 Ana Luisa López Baeza, "Amenaza la Policía Política a Periodista Independiente," Cuba Press, August 12, 1998.
213 Ricardo González Alfonso, "Hostigan a Periodista Independiente," Cuba Press, July 9, 1998.
214 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Odilia Collazo, Pro Human Rights Party, Havana, July 2, 1998.
215 Luis López Prendes, "Agreden a Fotoreportero del Buró de Prensa Independiente de Cuba," Buró de Prensa Independiente de Cuba, May 28, 1998.
216 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Raúl Rivero, Cuba Press director, Havana, July 3, 1998.
217 Adalberto Yero, "Pretenden Autoridades Desalojar de su Vivienda a Periodista de esta Agencia," Cuba Press, February 3, 1999.
218 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Efrén Martínez Pulgarón, Cuba Press, January 13, 1999.
219 This trial is described above, at Political Prosecutions.
220 These abuses are detailed above, at Treatment of Political Prisoners: Punitive Measures Against Political Prisoners.
221 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Odilia Collazo, Pro Human Rights Party, Havana, February 3, 1999.
222 Andrew Cawthorne, "Cuba: Cuba Detains Dissidents, Stops Rights Day Protest," Reuters News Service, December 10, 1998.
223 Raúl Rivero, "Arrestan a Dos Opositores en La Habana," El Nuevo Herald, December 8, 1998.
224 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Odilia Collazo, Pro Human Rights Party, Havana, October 23, 1998.
225 Due process restrictions are discussed above, at Impediments to Human Rights in Cuban Law: Arrests and Pretrial Detentions.
226 Human Rights Watch telephone interviews with Dr. Elías Biscet González and Rolando Muñóz Yyobre, Havana, July 28, 1998.
227 Memorandum prepared by Pedro Orlando Herrada Delgado, "Denuncia de Pedro Orlando Herrada," Placetas, Cuba, November 10, 1997.
228 These regulations are discussed above, at Impediments to Human Rights in Cuban Law: Regulations Issued for International Press.
229 Andrew Cawthorne, "Cuba Approves Second U.S. Media Bureau in Havana," Reuters News Agency, November 13, 1998.
230 Andrew Cawthorne, "Cuba Detains Dissidents," Reuters News Agency, December 10, 1998.
231 Agence France Presse, "Periodista de CNN Se Queja de Labor 'Frustrante,'" El Nuevo Herald, October 24, 1998.
232 Dr. Mendoza's case is discussed above, at Political Prosecutions.
233 "France: Watchdog Says Cuba Detains Journalists, Rights Activists," Reuters News Service, January 29, 1999; and Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Ricardo González Alfonso, Cuba Press, Havana, February 1, 1999.
234 Reporters Sans Frontieres, "Journalists Refused Visas," IFEX - News from the International Freedom of Expression Community, January 12, 1998.
235 Pascal Fletcher, "Cuba: Feisty Castro Tells U.S. Editors 'No Surrender,'" Reuters News Service, October 25, 1998; and Clifton and Lawrence, Jr., "Defiant Castro Says He'll Reign as Long as He's Needed," Miami Herald, October 25, 1998.
236 "Deberíamos Dejar a un Lado, en Estos Tiempos que Estamos Viviendo y por Salvar tan Hermosa Causa Como la Nuestra, que no es Siquiera ya Solo Nuestra, Ciertas Costumbres Paternalistas e Ingenuas: Discurso Pronunciado por el Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz, Primer Secretario del Comité Central del Partido Comunista de Cuba y Presidente de los Consejos de Estado y de Ministros, en el Acto por el Aniversario 40 de la Constitución de la Policía Nacional Revolucionario, Efectuado en el Teatro 'Carlos Marx,' el Dia 5 de Enero de 1999, 'Año del 40 Aniversario del Triunfo de la Revolución,'" Granma Diario, January 8, 1999.
237 ICRC prison visits in Cuba are discussed in greater detail above, at General Prison Conditions: Bar on Domestic and International Monitoring of Prison Conditions.
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