Cuba is undergoing an economic crisis without precedent since the access to power of Fidel Castro in 1959. The causes, both ultimate and proximate, of that crisis are beyond the scope of this report. The crisis, however, and the consequent political turmoil and uncertainty, are undoubtedly the background for the extensive and grave human rights violations described in this report.
This report provides an update on the human rights situation in Cuba. Again this last year, Human Rights Watch/Americas (formerly Americas Watch) has been handicapped in monitoring Cuba because of the regime's refusal to allow us to visit the country, to conduct inquiries and talk to victims, and to engage in a dialogue with the authorities. That is the methodology of human rights research that we are able to apply everywhere else in the hemisphere, but that the government of Fidel Castro refuses to allow. Monitoring human rights in Cuba also became more difficult in 1993 because of the pressures felt by Cuban human rights monitors. Some of those pressures were related to the alarming decline in living standards that all Cubans are facing, but monitors additionally confronted a climate of hostility C described in detail in the following pages that makes their work particularly hazardous.