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The rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights are formulated in and protected by current legislation in Cuba. In particular, the Constitution of the Republic endorses each of those rights and specifies the essential guarantees of their exercise. Furthermore, all the rights and freedoms enunciated in the Constitution are duly elaborated in various legal provisions that make up our domestic substantive law.

Cuban report to the United Nations regarding International Human Rights Instruments, June 1997

When the world looks at this with objectivity.... it will see that we have judged these people in accordance with Cuban law.

Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada, Cuban National Assembly President and Politburo Member, regarding the conviction of four prominent dissidents, March 1999

The denial of basic civil and political rights is written into Cuban law. While Cuba's domestic legislation includes broad statements of fundamental rights, other provisions grant the state extraordinary authority to penalize individuals who attempt to enjoy their rights to free expression, opinion, association, and assembly. Cuban legislation also undercuts the right to a fair trial, by allowing the country's highest authorities to control the courts and prosecutors, granting broad authority for warrantless arrests and pretrial detentions, and restricting the right to a defense. Unfortunately, Cuban courts have failed to observe the few legal guarantees of due process available to defendants under the law.

In recent years, rather than modify its laws to conform with international human rights standards, Cuba has approved legislation further restricting fundamental rights. Only a restoration of religious freedoms stands out as a notable exception to this trend. But Cuba has consistently refused to reform the most objectionable elements of its laws. Cuba's concurrent refusal to amnesty politicalprisoners and its continued prosecutions of nonviolent activists highlight the critical role of Cuba's laws in its machinery of repression.27

Cuban Constitution

The Cuban constitution guarantees "the full freedom and dignity of men, [and] the enjoyment of their rights...."28 However, multiple constitutional provisions undermine these guarantees. The constitution nullifies freedoms when they are contrary to "the goals of the socialist State," "socialist legality," or the "people's decision to build socialism and communism."29 The breadth of these terms allows for arbitrary, politicized denials of fundamental rights. The constitution has been used to undermine international human rights treaties ratified by Cuba by providing that any treaty, pact, or concession that disregards or diminishes Cuba's "territorial sovereignty" is illegal and void.30 In international fora for the protection of human rights, Cuba often invokes sovereignty as a justification for non-compliance and non-cooperation.

The constitution also grants citizens a right "to fight, using all means, including armed struggle... against anyone attempting to overthrow the political, social, and economic order established by the constitution."31 René Gómez Manzano, a prominent Cuban dissident attorney who was sentenced to a four-year prison term in March 1999 for inciting sedition, has challenged this provision as an invitation to government sympathizers to intimidate nonviolent government opponents.32

Beyond the conditionality of rights created by the provisions detailed above, several constitutional articles restrict the very rights they claim to ensure. The freedoms of speech and press, for example, exist "in keeping with the goals of the socialist society." In a strange twist, the constitution claims to ensure free speech and press by mandating that "press, radio, television, films, and other mass media are state or social property, and may in no instance be the object of private

ownership."33 Similarly, the constitution tempers the rights to assembly, demonstration, and association with a proviso that government-backed "mass and social organizations have all the facilities for carrying out [these rights], in which their members enjoy the most extensive freedom of speech and opinion."34 The constitution detracts from Cuba's laudable efforts to provide universal education with restrictions on academic freedom. Cuba's educational and cultural policy must adhere to "the ideology of Marx and Martí"; promote communist training; and allow for "free artistic creation, provided that its content is not contrary to the Revolution."35

Constitutional provisions guaranteeing religious and economic rights offer more consistent statements of rights. Cuba's broad guarantees of religious rights, which were adopted in 1992 constitutional reforms and marked a shift away from an atheistic state, provide that:

The State, which recognizes, respects, and guarantees freedom of conscience and religion, simultaneously recognizes, respects, and guarantees the freedom of every citizen to change religious creeds, or not to have any; and to profess the religious worship of their choice, based on respect for the law.36

Yet, the constitution does condition religious freedom, according to the potentially expansive requirement that professions of faith are "based on respect for the law." While Cuba's record of respect for religious rights has improved in recent years, thegovernment continues to impose some undue restrictions on religious freedom and tightly controls the freedom of conscience.37

In the economic realm, the constitution guarantees the rights to work, social security, medical care, and education, and aspires to provide comfortable dwellings for all citizens.38 The government has had notable successes in guaranteeing these rights. Nevertheless, Cuba continues to discriminate politically in the provision of economic rights, most notably in the arena of labor rights, by banning all independent unions.39

The constitution explicitly grants women equal economic, political, cultural, social, and familial rights with men and bars discrimination based on "race, skin color, sex, national origin, religious creeds, and any other type [of discrimination] offending human dignity."40 Yet Cuban nationals are routinely barred from enjoying amenities open to foreigners. In a phenomenon popularly known as "tourist apartheid," the best hotels, resorts, beaches, and restaurants are off limits to most Cubans, as are certain government health institutions.41

Regarding due process guarantees, the constitution bars any violence or coercion to force individuals to make statements, voids any coerced statements, and provides for the right to a defense.42 While these provisions should serve as important deterrents to human rights abuses, in practice the Cuban legal system has failed to protect these rights.43 Similarly, Cuba often disregards the constitutional right to freedom from arbitrary arrest and search, and the privacy ofcorrespondence and telephone communications.44 Cuba's utter lack of judicial and prosecutorial independence contributes to these abuses.

The constitutional provision stating that judges are "independent, and owe obedience solely to the law" is completely at odds with constitutional directives regarding the structure of Cuba's government.45 The constitution provides that Cuba's National Assembly selects the Supreme Court, the attorney general and the deputy attorneys general. Cuba's judges and prosecutors must then report regularly to the National Assembly, which also retains the authority to remove them.46 This structure clearly allows for the National Assembly to exercise political control over judges' and prosecutors' activities. Although Cuba allows voters to elect members of the National Assembly, only one candidate may sit for each seat.47 The constitution further clarifies that the courts are "subordinate in the line of authority to the National Assembly... and the Council of State," as is the Office of the Attorney General.48 The Council of State has authority to issue instructions to both the courts and the Office of the Attorney General.49 The Council of State is an entity presided over by President Castro, selected by the Cuban National Assembly, and considered the "supreme representation of the Cuban State" under Cuban law.50

Cuba's constitution also provides for important guarantees that state officials who commit abuses will face consequences and victims will receive restitution, butin practice, Cuba has not enforced these rights.51 The most vigorous provision on accountability provides that:

Any person who suffers damage or injury wrongfully caused by State officials or agents, in connection with the discharge of the duties inherent in their positions, is entitled to demand and obtain the pertinent reparation or compensation in the manner stipulated by law.52

The constitution directs that state officials responsible for coercing statements "shall incur the penalties established by law."53 Another provision grants every citizen the right "to address complaints and petitions to the authorities," and to receive a response "within a suitable period of time, according to law."54

The constitution recognizes the Communist Party as "the superior leading force of the society and the State."55 This distinction endorses government-mandated political discrimination, necessarily relegating any other political party to an inferior status. Of course, given the concurrent limits on the freedoms of speech, association, and assembly, Cubans face serious impediments to the exercise of their political rights. As noted above, elections for the National Assembly are non-competitive. According to Cuba's justice minister, Roberto Díaz Sotolongo, the National Assembly also has the authority to accept or reject any prospective candidates for public office.56 Given the heavy hand of the government in the electoral process, and the absence of any choice, the constitutional provision that the National Assembly "represents and expresses the sovereign will of the people" rings hollow.

Codifying Repression

The Cuban Criminal Code lies at the core of Cuba's repressive machinery, unabashedly criminalizing nonviolent dissent. With the Criminal Code in hand, Cuban officials have broad authority to repress peaceful government opponents. Cuba's criminal laws are designed to crush domestic dissent and keep the current government in power by tightly restricting the freedoms of speech, association, assembly, press, and movement.

Cuban authorities go through strained circumlocutions to deny the existence of political prisoners in Cuba. Despite admitting that Cuban law bars vocal opposition to Castro and other officials, Cuban Justice Minister Roberto Díaz Sotolongo claimed in an interview with Human Rights Watch that Cuba holds no political prisoners. He said that Cuban criminal laws only penalize conduct, not thought, and as an example, distinguished between the illegality of committing an overt act in the furtherance of a murder versus the legality of merely thinking about it.57 Yet numerous Cuban criminal provisions explicitly penalize the exercise of fundamental freedoms while others, which are so vaguely defined as to offer Cuban officials broad discretion in their interpretation, are often invoked to silence government critics.

Cuban authorities regularly refer to peaceful government opponents as "counterrevolutionaries." But Cuba's invocation of state security interests to control nonviolent dissent—for acts as innocuous as handing out "Down with Fidel" flyers—represents a clear abuse of authority. Under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights restrictions of fundamental rights are only permissable:

for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.58

Cuba's efforts to silence critics fall well outside these limits.

An international team of legal scholars, diplomats, and U.N. rights specialists, meeting at a 1995 conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, drafted a set of principles that provide further guidance regarding permissable justifications for restricting rights. In particular, the Johannesburg Principles on National Security, Freedom of Expression and Access to Information distinguish between legitimateand illegitimate invocations of national security interests. Legitimate reasons to invoke national security interests are:

protecting a country's existence or its territorial integrity against the use or threat of force, or its capacity to respond to the threat or use of force, whether from an external source, such as a military threat, or an internal source, such as incitement to violent overthrow of the government.

In contrast, illegitimate justifications for invoking national security interests include:

protecting the government from embarrassment or exposure of wrongdoing, or to entrench a particular ideology, or to conceal information about the functioning of its public institutions, or to suppress industrial action.59

The Johannesburg Principles also specify that certain types of expression should always be protected, including criticizing or insulting the state and its symbols; advocating nonviolent change of government or government policies; and communicating human rights information.60 Cuba's state security laws violate these principles, illegitimately restricting fundamental rights both in the phrasing of the laws themselves and in their application against nonviolent dissidents.

The human cost of Cuba's repressive Criminal Code is high. Thousands of Cubans have faced wrongful prosecutions and imprisonment since the Castro government came into power in 1959. Despite growing international criticism of the Criminal Code, the Cuban government has roundly refused to reform its most offensive provisions and has continued arrests and prosecutions of government opponents, detailed below at Prosecutions Continue and Routine Repression.

In the past two years, Cuban prosecutors have relied heavily on the provisions against enemy propaganda and contempt for authority (desacato) to silence dissent. Prosecutors also have tried dissidents for defamation, resisting authority, association to commit criminal acts (asociación para delinquir), dangerousness (elestado peligroso), and other acts against state security (otros actos contra la seguridad del estado) during this period. Cuba's prisons confine scores of citizens convicted for the exercise of their fundamental rights, or in some cases, convicted without ever having committed a criminal act, for dangerousness. Cuba also detains nonviolent political prisoners who were tried for crimes against state security, such as enemy propaganda, rebellion, sabotage, and revealing secrets concerning state security. Individuals convicted of state security crimes for having exercised their fundamental rights often are serving sentences of ten to twenty years. Prisoners also are wrongfully serving sentences for contempt for authority and illegal exit. The government's inhuman treatment of its detainees, which in some cases rises to the level of torture, is detailed below at General Prison Conditions, Treatment of Political Prisoners, and Labor Rights: Prison Labor.

Positive Provisions

Cuba's Criminal Code includes a number of positive provisions, such as those criminalizing genocide and apartheid.61 The law also requires prosecution of public functionaries who abuse their authority, "with the purpose of taking advantage of someone (perjudicar) or gaining an illicit benefit."62 Individuals found guilty of abusing their authority face prison terms of one to three years. Although this provision might allow for some penalties, particularly where abuses arose in the context of corruption, Cuba's record on punishing those who commit human rights abuses is extremely poor. Similarly, the crime of wrongful deprivation of liberty, which the law defines as the failure to free or turn over a detainee to the proper authorities within the legally-mandated period, offers the possibility that abusive officials could face punishment under the law.63 Unfortunately, even though Cuba is bound to criminalize acts of torture due to its obligations under the Convention against Torture, which it ratified in May 1995, no crime of torture exists in Cuban law. The Criminal Code includes several provisions regarding the protection of constitutional rights, such as the protection of equal rights without discrimination based on sex, race, or national origin.64

Crimes Against State Security Crush Nonviolent Dissent

Cuba prosecutes crimes against state security to repress nonviolent government opponents. While the crime of enemy propaganda explicitly violates the fundamental freedoms of expression and association, other state security crimes include objectionable references to preserving the socialist system and are defined in elastic terms that frequently have been used to punish the exercise of fundamental rights. Cuba's Criminal Procedure Code, which is discussed below at Due Process Denied, grants Cuban officials expansive authority to repress those accused of state security crimes. Under the law, Cuban authorities may conduct warrantless arrests of any person accused of a state security crime, must hold the accused in pretrial detention, and must try the person in a closed trial in a special state security tribunal. In order to increase the likelihood that officials will take action against the crimes of rebellion or sedition, which the Criminal Code defines to include nonviolent acts, officials failing to do so risk three-to eight-year prison terms for "violation of the duty to resist" (infracción de los deberes de resistencia).65

Enemy Propaganda

Under Cuban law, a person engaged in enemy propaganda "incites against the social order, international solidarity, or the socialist State, through oral or written propaganda, or in any other form" or "manufactures, distributes, or posseses [such] propaganda." Cuba punishes these actions with one-to eight-year sentences. The law further provides that, "the individual who spreads false news or malicious predictions tending to cause alarm or discontent among the population, or public disorder, incurs the sanction of deprivation of liberty for one to four years." Anyone using the mass media to engage in enemy propaganda faces a possible seven-to fifteen-year sentence.66 The crime of enemy propaganda clearly infringes on the universally recognized rights to free speech, free exchange of information, and free association. The particularly heavy sanctions for the crime work as a powerful deterrent to the free expression of ideas. A prohibition on enemy propaganda might be acceptable in times of war, if narrowly defined. Yet, the broadly-defined Cuban provision does not allow for such an exception, undercutting Cuban claims that restrictions on free speech are legitimate in the struggle against the United States.

Cuba perpetuates shocking injustices under the guise of prosecuting counter-revolutionaries who engage in enemy propaganda. Some cases are discussed below, at Political Prosecutions.


Cuba broadly defines rebellion as "any act leading, directly or indirectly, by means of violence or other illicit means," to any of the following objectives:

a) imped[ing] completely or in part, even temporarily, the superior organs of the state and the government from the execution of their functions;

b) chang[ing] the economic, political, and social regimen of the socialist state;

c) chang[ing], completely or partially, the constitution or the form of government established by it.

These extremely broad terms have been applied to bar peaceable efforts to criticize or change the government. Acts leading to rebellion are punishable by seven to fifteen years, and armed rebellion is punishable by ten to twenty years or a death sentence.67

Decisions under this provision issued by Cuban judges in military and civilian courts reveal a total disregard for freedom of expression and opinion.68 A sentencing document obtained by Human Rights Watch justifies the October 17, 1994, conviction of five "counterrevolutionaries" to ten years each for rebellion. In the sentencing document, the Cuban judges characterized the actions of the opposition group members as nonviolent. However, the judges found that they had prepared and distributed "counterrevolutionary propaganda" consisting of flyers marked "Wake up, Cuban!" and "exhorted changes in the country's social, political, and economic systems, supported by three declarations from the Universal Charter [sic] of Human Rights that the [accused] said were being violated in Cuba." Other elements of offending propaganda included pieces of notebook paper printed with the messages "Down with Fidel" and "Annul your ballot like this," and pamphlets asking "Have you thought about what it means to vote in the elections?" and answering "It means renouncing your rights: allowing this dictatorship to lastlonger." The court characterized the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and denunciations of Cuban human rights violations as counterrevolutionary propaganda. The judges' detailed descriptions of the materials used to carry out the alleged rebellion only serve to highlight the innocuous nature of the defendants' activities. The judges characterized an Underwood typewriter, a cork stamp, and notebook paper as tools in the preparation of "counterrevolutionary manuscript texts" and a defendant's bicycle as his means of "evad[ing] detention." The court also concluded that the alleged counterrevolutionaries:

intentionally timed their undertaking of these activities to a moment when the country finds itself immersed in the "Special Period" and the objectives of these men were no other than the weakening and toppling of the existing economic-political and social system.69

Defendant Pedro Francisco Sánchez Villareal, who was forty-three at the time of the trial, died in prison on February 26, 1995. Cuban authorities released Nelson Facundo Mujíca Pérez in February 1998. Dionisio Rolando Miranda Iglesias, Juan Miguel Pérez Ruisánchez, and José Enríque González González were granted conditional releases later in 1998.

Revealing Secrets Concerning State Security

Under the Criminal Code section regarding crimes against Cuba's external security, any person who "reveals political, military, economic, scientific, or technical secrets, or secrets of any nature concerning state security incurs the sanction of deprivation of liberty for eight to fifteen years." Government officials and those who learned of a secret surreptitiously or in confidence face higher sanctions for its revelation, from eight to fifteen years. The law also imposes higher sanctions if the revelation produces "grave consequences."70 Cuba defines the crime in elastic, overbroad terms that cover many types of speech.

Human Rights Watch obtained two sentencing documents for current Cuban prisoners regarding crimes of revealing state secrets. The government based bothtrials on a twisted logic—by uncovering infiltrators in their own nonviolent organizations, the government argued, the defendants obstructed the work of Cuba's machinery of internal repression.

In a military trial on August 3, 1992, the Cuban government sentenced three civilians, Dr. Omar del Pozo Marrero to fifteen years, Víctor Reynaldo Infante Estrada to thirteen years, and Carmen Julia Arias Iglesias to nine years, and one member of the State Security apparatus, Sec. Lt. Julio César Alvarez López, to nineteen years for revealing state secrets. Alvarez López remains in a Cuban prison at this writing. Cuba only released the three activists from prison, where each had served several years, on the condition that they go immediately into exile. Arias Iglesias told Human Rights Watch that prior to their arrest, she and the other activists had identified three government infiltrators in their organizations, Héctor Castañeda, Fausto Adolfo Martí, and José Antonio Fornaris.71

The sentencing document states:

These actions [uncovering the names of government infiltrators] impeded the work that the State Security agents were carrying out against groups that aspire to destroy the Revolution, as well as putting in permanent danger the life and the physical integrity of the courageous revolutionary compatriots who offer their services to the Homeland.72

Similarly, on April 21, 1995, a Cuban military court tried and sentenced the leader of the National Council for Civil Rights in Cuba (Consejo Nacional para los Derechos Civiles en Cuba, CNDCC), Francisco Pastor Chaviano González, to fifteen years for revealing state security secrets and falsifying a public document, on the grounds that he had identified infiltrators in the CNDCC. He remains in prison at this writing. Alberto Manuel Boza Vázquez received a twelve-year sentence, while Juan Carlos González Vázquez received an eight-year sentence. The court also sentenced an Interior Ministry official, Augusto César San MartínAlbistur, to seventeen years. Prison authorities released several other activists upon completion of their sentences.73

The government based its charge on Chaviano González's alleged effort to identify government infiltrators in his organization. The judges concluded that Chaviano participated in a document fraud scheme to entice representatives of the Interior Ministry (including a former ministry official, Boza Vázquez, and San Martín Albistur) to reveal the identity of State Security agents. Furthermore, the judges found that Chaviano and his fellow activists obtained several documents for use in their "counterrevolutionary activities." These documents included two pamphlets that were classified secret: "Economic Crime in the Commercial, Gastronomical, and Service Sector" and "Economic Crime in Activities relating to Energy" and one denouncing prison abuses.74


The crime of sedition also penalizes nonviolent opposition to the government, and like many other provisions, protects the status quo of the "socialist order." Those who "perturb the socialist order or the celebration of elections or referendums, or impede the completion of any sentence, legal disposition or measure dictated by the government, or by a civil or military authority in the exercise of their respective functions, or refuse to obey them" can face from ten to twenty years in prison if they affect state security, even if they do so "without relying on arms or employing violence."75


Under another extremely expansive Cuban law, a person commits sabotage who, "with intent to impede or obstruct the normal use or function, or possessing knowledge that this result may be produced, destroys, alters, damages or harms in any way" one of the country's socioeconomic or military units. These include energy sources, land transportation services, communications, teaching centers, public buildings, businesses, and sites of administrative, political, social or recreational organizations. If grave damage results, "no matter what means wereused," the person will face ten to twenty years or the death penalty.76 Cuban courts have prosecuted nonviolent dissent under this provision.

Additional Crimes Against State Security

Cuba also penalizes the distribution of "false information for the purpose of disturbing the international peace, or to endanger the prestige or credibility of the Cuban State or its good relations with another State." The penalty for spreading false news contrary to international peace is one to four years.77 Cuba relies on the crime of "other crimes against state security" (otros actos contra la seguridad del estado) as the catch-all measure under the state security category. While the crime legitimately penalizes violent actions, it also permits prosecution on illegitimate grounds that violate freedom of expression and association. The provision bars one or more persons from coming together and resolving to commit any of the crimes against state security, such as enemy propaganda. The provision also penalizes anyone who fails to report any knowledge of a planned or executed state security crime to the authorities with six months to three years.78

Measures Against Persons Demonstrating Criminal Tendencies

Two Cuban criminal provisions permit the authorities to imprison or take other measures against individuals who have committed no criminal act. The dangerousness and official warning provisions violate the universally recognized principle of legality, by which criminal behavior must be explicitly defined by law before it can be penalized. The measures, particularly official warnings, are employed with alarming frequency against human rights activists, independent journalists, and government opponents, as detailed in Routine Repression. The laws also single out developmentally-disabled Cubans.


Cuban law defines dangerousness (el estado peligroso) as "the special proclivity of a person to commit crimes, demonstrated by conduct that is observed to be in manifest contradiction with the norms of socialist morality." Signs of dangerousness include "anti-social conduct" or general behavior that "perturbs theorder of the community." The law states that "mentally deranged [persons] and persons with retarded mental development" are guilty of dangerousness if they represent a threat to the "social order" or to the security of others.79 The breadth of the dangerousness law permits Cuban authorities to employ it for politicized or discriminatory reasons.

If Cuba determines that someone is dangerous, the Criminal Code allows the state to impose "pre-criminal measures," including surveillance by the National Revolutionary Police and reeducation for periods of one to four years. The state may detain the person during this time. The law also provides for "therapeutic measures," including detention in a psychiatric hospital, that are continued "until the dangerousness disappears from the subject."80 The open-ended nature of this punishment affords the state extraordinary authority to abuse the rights of political opponents and the developmentally disabled.

Official Warning

For those outside the ample reach of the dangerousness measure, the Criminal Code creates restrictive mechanisms to control an expansively defined group of those who have "links or relationships with persons who are potentially dangerous to the society and the social, economic, and political order of the socialist State." In order to prevent these persons—who now comprise the vast majority of Cuba's human rights activists, independent journalists, members of independent professional organizations and labor unions, and other nonviolent dissidents—from "committing socially dangerous or criminal activities," the law directs Cuban authorities to provide them with an official warning. Cuban authorities rely heavily on these warnings, which usually are accompanied by threats to cease opposition activities and a mention of the various crimes that activists could be prosecuted for and the maximum penalties for each.81

Crimes Against Public Authorities and Institutions

Justice Minister Roberto Díaz Sotolongo acknowledged to Human Rights Watch Cuba's interest in protecting its "king" from insults. Cuba's criminalization of insults of public officials, public monuments, mass organizations, and thecountry's dead heroes represents an extraordinary government effort to deny freedom of speech.

Contempt for the Authority of a Public Official

Cuba's provision regarding contempt for authority (desacato) penalizes anyone who "threatens, libels or slanders, defames, affronts (injuria) or in any other way insults (ultraje) or offends, with the spoken word or in writing, the dignity or decorum of an authority, public functionary, or his agents or auxiliaries." Such actions are punishable by three months to one year in prison, plus a fine. If the person demonstrates contempt for "the President of the Council of the State, the President of the National Assembly of Popular Power, the members of the Council of the State or the Council of Ministers, or the Deputies of the National Assembly of the Popular Power, the sanction is deprivation of liberty for one to three years."82 While the crime of contempt for authority (desacato) existed in Cuba prior to the 1959 revolution, the Castro government expanded the definition to cover a broader possible range of speech and to apply explicitly to the government's highest authorities. More troubling still, the Castro government also eliminated a pre-revolutionary provision that allowed those charged with contempt to invoke the truthfulness of their statements as a defense.83

Cuba has prosecuted scores of Cubans for contempt, including several prisoners who were tried on the basis of having criticized prison conditions and abuses.84 In January 1997, Cuban police arrested one of Cuba's prominent dissident leaders, Héctor Palacios Ruíz, the president of the Democratic Solidarity Party (Partido Solidaridad Democratica, PSD). In September 1997, a Havana court convicted him of contempt for the authority of Fidel Castro and sentenced him to eighteen months, which he served. Ironically, he had challenged the likelihood of President Castro complying with the Viña del Mar Declaration, a document endorsing human rights and democracy that Cuba's leader had signed at the Sixth Ibero-American Summit in Chile in November 1996.85

Defamation of Institutions, Mass Organizations, Heroes, and Martyrs The Criminal Code mandates a three-month to one-year sentence for anyone who "publicly defames, denigrates, or scorns the Republic's institutions, the political, mass, or social organizations of the country, or the heroes or martyrs of the nation."86 This sweeping provision potentially outlaws mere expressions of dissatisfaction or disagreement with government policies or practices, clearly violating free expression. The protection from insult of lifeless entities, and state-controlled institutions and organizations in particular, appears designed solely to preserve the current government's power.

Insulting the Nation's Symbols

Cuba also punishes someone who "insults or with other acts shows disrespect to the Flag, the [National] Anthem, or the National Seal," (escudo) with three months to one year of imprisonment.87 In past years, the government used this provision against Cuba's community of Jehovah's Witnesses, whose religion bars them from swearing allegiance to any flag.

Clandestine Printing

Like defamation of public institutions and symbols, clandestine printing appears as a crime against public order in the Criminal Code. Preserving public order does not sufficiently justify the law's extremely broad prohibition on free expression and a free press. Anyone who "produces, disseminates, or directs the circulation of publications without indicating the printer or the place where it was printed, or without following the established rules for the identification of the author or origin, or reproduces, stores, or transports" such publications, risks from three months to one year in prison.88

Abuse of the Freedom of Religion

Under Cuban law, anyone who, "abusing the freedom of religion (cultos) guaranteed by the constitution, uses a religious basis to oppose educational objectives, the duty to work, the defense of the Homeland with arms, reverence for its Symbols, or any other established by the Constitution" risks three months to oneyear in prison.89 This provision, which is defined as a crime against public order, allows the state to penalize a broad range of religious activities that would not endanger public order.

Disobedience and Resistance

While Cuba's criminalization of disobedience of and resistance to government authority may be legitimate, the government has employed these provisions specifically to repress peaceful dissidents. Someone who "disobeys the decisions of the authorities or public functionaries" may face a three-month to a one-year sentence.90 An individual who "resists an authority, public functionary, or his agents or auxiliaries in the exercise of his functions," also risks three months to one year, but if the resistance occurs while the authority is carrying out arrests, the penalty can rise to five years.91

Crimes Restricting Freedom of Association

The Criminal Code highlights the conditionality of Cuba's constitutional guarantee of free association. Cuba uses alleged crimes against state security as its most aggressive weapon against nonviolent opposition organizations, but the Criminal Code offers the government additional legal grounds as well for repressing freedom of association.

Failure to Comply with the Associations Law

Cuba's Associations Law effectively bars any genuinely independent association from receiving government authorization, as discussed below. Those involved in associations not registered under the law risk one to three months of imprisonment, while directors risk three months to one year in prison.92 If members or directors participate in meetings or demonstrations, they face, respectively, one to three months, or three months to a year, and fines.93

Criminal Association

Cuba's law against criminal association penalizes groups of three or more persons who form a band to commit crimes with a one-year to three-year prison term. While this provision may serve legitimate ends, its application against dissidents violates the right to free association. The second section of the law vaguely states that groups planning "to provoke disorders... or commit other antisocial acts" could be punished with three months to one year of imprisonment.94 The overbroad nature of this provision, which does not require a criminal act, has facilitated its politically discriminatory application.

Crimes Restricting Freedom of Movement

Cuban law includes measures that restrict freedom of movement within the boundaries of one's country and the right to leave the country, in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that: "Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country."95 The 1997 law created to control migration to Havana is discussed below, at Decree 217: Heightened Control of Internal Movement.

Illegal Exit

The Criminal Code provision against illegal exit punishes individuals who, "without completing legal formalities, leave or take actions in preparation for leaving the national territory" with one to three years in prison. Someone who "organizes, promotes, or incites" an illegal exit can be punished with two to five years imprisonment, while someone who "provides material assistance, offers information, or in any way facilitates" an illegal exit, risks one to three years behind bars.96 In May 1995, Cuba reached an accord on emigration with the United States in which it pledged not to apply the illegal exit law against repatriated Cubans. Cuba reportedly sentenced Abel Denis Ambroise to fourteen months for illegal exit in October 1996, but Human Rights Watch does not know of further prosecutions since that time. Cuba's failure to revoke this law, however, seriously calls into question its willingness to legitimize the basic right of its citizens to leave their country.

Beyond the prison terms served by the scores of Cubans convicted of illegal exit, this law has contributed to numerous tragic efforts to flee Cuba surreptitiously. The government's apparent ire at those who attempted to circumvent the illegal exit law reached its peak with the government's March 1994 sinking of a tugboat, the 13 de Marzo, that was loaded with fleeing Cubans.97

Illegal Entry

While Cuba has unquestionable authority to control its national borders, the broadly-defined crime of illegal entry would allow prosecutions of Cuban citizens attempting to return to their homeland. Someone who enters Cuba "without completing legal formalities or immigration requirements" risks one to three years of imprisonment.98 Former political prisoners that Cuba forced into exile could risk prosecution for failing to comply with "legal formalities."

Restrictions on Residence

Cuba also employs the criminal penalty of banishment (destierro), defined as "the prohibition from living in a determined place or the obligation to remain in a determined place." Such residence restrictions may be used to penalize persons convicted of a crime in all cases where "the presence of the sanctioned person in the place is socially dangerous," and can last from one to ten years.99

Additional Crimes Subject to Abusive Application:

Failure to Comply with the Duty to Denounce

Cuba has discriminatorily applied the duty to report criminal acts against independent activists and government opponents. The law, which requires that someone knowing of the commission or intent to commit a crime must report it to the authorities, creates an obligation for all Cubans to participate in the government's repression of nonviolent dissidents.100

Insult, Calumny, and Defamation

The elastic definitions of Cuba's crimes of insult, calumny, and defamation permit Cuban authorities to use them to silence government opponents. The most loosely-defined of these crimes, insult, applies to someone who, "by written or spoken word, through pictures, gestures or acts, offends the honor of another," and results in a three-month to one-year sanction.101 Calumny applies to an "individual who knowingly divulges untruths that excessively discredit an individual," with six months to two years of imprisonment.102 Defamation is said to occur when a person "before a third party, accuses someone of conduct, an act, or a characteristic that is dishonorable, and which could damage the person's social reputation, diminish the public's opinion of him/her, or expose him/her to the loss of the confidence necessary for him/her to carry out his/her job, profession, or social function." Defamation results in sanctions of three months to one year of imprisonment. Unlike contempt for authority, truth is a defense against charges of defamation, as are statements made in the defense of a "socially justifiable interest."103

Due Process Denied

Cuba frequently denies its citizens internationally recognized due process guarantees.104 In law and in practice, Cuba impedes the right to a public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal where the accused has sufficient guarantees for his or her defense.

The case of Francisco Pastor Chaviano González, a dissident leader who received a fifteen-year sentence for revealing state secrets, highlights several of the obstacles facing criminal defendants in Cuba.105 Chaviano González and some of his co-defendants remain in Cuban prisons. Cuban authorities arrested Chaviano González in March 1994 and held him in pretrial detention for over one year. TheApril 21, 1995, trial in a military court was closed to the public, press, and human rights activists, yet the courtroom was packed with dozens of State Security agents. Chaviano said that on the morning of the trial a government official gave him a sandwich that he believed contained a drug, since after eating it he found that he could not communicate and was slurring his speech. The government did not allow the defendants to review the evidence against them.106 The principal evidence against Chaviano was a packet of documents delivered to his house the morning of his arrest by a stranger, who said he was acting in the name of other human rights activists.

Courts Lack Independence and Impartiality

Cuba's constitution grants the National Assembly the authority to name judges, to receive regular reports from them, and to remove them from office.107 The constitution explicitly states that the courts are "subordinate in the line of authority to the National Assembly... and the Council of State," and that the Council of State may issue the courts instructions.108 This structure seriously compromises the independence and impartiality of Cuban courts. The Council of State is an entity presided over by President Castro, selected by the Cuban National Assembly, and considered the "supreme representation of the Cuban State" under Cuban law.109 Cuba also permits civilians to be tried in military courts, where the court's independence and impartiality also are in question. If any defendant in a criminal trial is a member of the military, Cuban law requires that a military court try all of the suspects.110

Closed Trials

As in Chaviano González's case, Cuban judges occasionally choose to try nonviolent government opponents behind closed doors, violating the right to a public trial. The Criminal Procedure Code grants tribunals broad authority to close trials at any stage for reasons of state security, morality, or public order. Whilethese could serve as legitimate justifications for barring the public from a trial, Cuba's closed trials appear designed to coverup its denial of due process to dissidents and to restrict opportunities for the public to hear their views. The law bars everyone related to the defendant except his lawyer from attending closed trials.111 Brothers José Antonio Rodríguez Santana and José Manuel Rodríguez Santana received ten-year sentences for rebellion and enemy propaganda at a closed trial in August 1993. While José Antonio was forced into exile in Canada in early 1998, José Manuel Rodríguez Santana remains in prison in Cuba.112

Arrests and Pretrial Detentions

The Criminal Procedure Code allows the police and other non-specified "authorities" to carry out warrantless arrests of anyone accused of a crime against state security or of a crime that "has produced alarm or has been committed frequently in the municipal territory."113 While the first provision, singling out suspects in state security crimes, leaves political dissidents at risk, the phrasing of the second provision is so vague as to allow the police legally to conduct warrantless arrests with minimal justification.

Cuba's Criminal Procedure Code allows the police and prosecutorial authorities to hold a suspect for a week before any court reviews the legality of the detention. This violates international norms requiring that a court review any detention "without delay."114 During the first week after an arrest, the police may detain the suspect for up to twenty-four hours.115 The prosecutorial investigator (instructor) then may keep the suspect in custody for an additional seventy-two hours, while deciding whether to pass custody of the suspect to the prosecutor (fiscal) or release him or her.116 The law grants the prosecutor an additional seventy-two hours to send the accused to jail, release him or her, or impose less-severe restrictions. Only if the prosecutor chooses to imprison the accused or impose other restrictions does a court review the legality of the detention.117

Equally troubling, authorities are not required to notify the accused of his or her right to an attorney until after the court decides on the legality of the detention, which may take up to seventy-two additional hours, passing through several layers of authorities. Failing to notify the accused of this right until up to ten days after an arrest deprives the detainee of legal assistance during a critical period and enables authorities to take advantage of the detainee through interrogations or intimidations.118 However, in practice Cuban authorities have not even complied with the narrow provisions of its own legislation.

The Criminal Procedure Code grants judges broad latitude in determining whether to hold suspects in pretrial detention. Judges often abuse this authority with respect to government critics, such as the four members of the Internal Dissidents' Working Group who spent well over a year in pretrial detention without charge.119 The law requires pretrial detentions when two vaguely defined circumstances occur simultaneously: the judge is aware of "actions showing the existence of a deed that has the characteristics of a crime," and "sufficient reasons to suppose criminal responsibility for the crime by the accused, independent of the depth and quality of proof required."120 This provision sets a very low standard of proof for holding a suspect in pretrial detention. The law also fails to justify the deprivation of liberty on the grounds of the severity of the crime or the likelihood a suspect would flee, foregoing less severe measures that also would ensure that a suspect appears at trial.

While bail and house arrest are alternatives to pretrial detention under Cuban law, a detainee lacking "good personal antecedents and conduct" cannot be considered for these measures.121 In March 1985, the Council of State issued an accord, signed by President Castro and with the stated purpose of reducing the number of pretrial detainees, that defined good personal antecedents and conductas "the qualities of a citizen who is respectful of socialist legality...who has not been subject to a detention (medida de seguridad detentiva), nor to three official warnings (advertencias oficiales)."122 This definition likely excludes most of Cuba's dissidents. The accord also stated that even if a suspect demonstrated good conduct, no suspects in crimes against state security or the crimes of illegal exit or entry were eligible for conditional liberty with bail.123

Cuba permits habeas corpus petitions for "persons deprived of liberty...without the formalities and guarantees provided in the Constitution and the laws...."124 In 1975 reforms eliminated habeas corpus from the Cuban constitution, but retained the protection under the criminal law.125 Unfortunately, given the extraordinary authority granted police, prosecutors, and judges under Cuban law to carry out warrantless arrests and prolonged pretrial detentions with minimal evidence or for political reasons, this option offers Cuban detainees little hope. On July 30, 1998, the four members of the Internal Dissidents' Working Group filed a habeas corpus petition. A Havana tribunal dismissed it the next day as inadmissable. A Cuban court rejected a second habeus corpus petition on October 16, apparently on the grounds that the order of preventive detention for the four leaders was well-founded.126

The Criminal Procedure Code states that the preparatory phase of the prosecutorial investigation should be completed in sixty days, unless special circumstances require the extension of this period to a maximum of six months.127 A Cuban delegation reported to the U.N. that 96 percent of cases are tried before the close of the first sixty-day period and that only 8 percent of Cuba's inmateswere pretrial detainees.128 Since Cuba releases no detailed information on its prisons, and does not allow domestic or international monitors to enter them, it is unclear whether these figures are accurate. However, the routine extremely long pretrial detentions of political prisoners, which are detailed at Treatment of Political Prisoners, suggest that Cuba has regularly failed to observe these time limits, or has applied them discriminatorily. Cuban law requires authorities to hold pretrial detainees in different sites from convicted criminals.129 Nevertheless, Cuba often sends dissident pretrial detainees to maximum-security prisons, where they are held with convicts and subjected to physical and psychological abuse.

Confessions and Witness Tampering

Cuba's constitution bars the use of violence or coercion to force individuals to make statements and requires judges to void any coerced statements.130 In encouraging provisions, the Criminal Procedure Code states that judges cannot convict solely on the basis of a confession nor may an authority require a person to declare against his or her interest, nor employ coercion, deception, or false promises to induce a person to testify. Moreover, judges are required to notify defendants of their right not to testify at trial.131 Unfortunately, during long-term pretrial detentions, which in the case of political prisoners are often incomunicado, Cuban authorities have violated these provisions, brutalizing detainees while subjecting them to lengthy interrogations. Several of these cases are detailed below, at Treatment of Political Prisoners. Despite abuses committed during pretrial detentions, Cuban courts have not excluded coerced statements from trials of political prisoners, which almost unfailingly lead to convictions. Cuban authorities also have engaged in witness intimidation.

Timing of Trials

Under the Criminal Procedure Code, judges may convene extremely rapid trials (juicios sumarísimos) when "exceptional circumstances recommend it."132 While a prompt trial is a laudable goal, summary trials convened on short notice impede the right to a defense. Cuba's use of this practice to try dissidents, such as Del Toro Argota, highlights the danger that the term "exceptional circumstances" could be applied for political purposes. Cuban detainees are far more likely, however, to languish in pre-trial detention, in several cases lasting well over a year, despite a Criminal Procedure Code provision that judicial tasks be addressed "without delay."133

Restrictions on the Right to a Lawyer

The Cuban constitution states that citizens have the right to a defense,134 but Cuba's procedural laws, the banning of an independent bar association, and powerful, politicized judicial and prosecutorial authorities seriously debilitate this right. The fact that the Criminal Procedure Code permits detentions of up to ten days without requiring detainees to be notified of their right to an attorney, much less appointed an attorney, represents a clear failure to secure a genuine right to a defense.

The close ties of the government with judges, prosecutors and state-appointed or approved attorneys leave many defendants with little belief that their attorneys can or will do anything but request a slightly shorter sentence. Raúl Ayarde Herrera remembered his state-appointed attorney advising him, "Everything is proven. Admit your error and see if they'll lower your sentence."135 René Portelles, who received a seven-year sentence for enemy propaganda in 1994, stated that the court did not allow him to hire a private attorney. His state-appointed attorney was an avowed communist who first met with him three days before the trial for about ten minutes. He recalled asking her, "How can you defend me since I'm a member of the opposition?" At trial, she merely asked that he not receive the maximum sanction.136 Former political prisoner Adriano González Marichal said that:

Lawyering in Cuba is a fantasy. Lawyers have no means to defend the accused. They defend, but it's as if they were never there. I did not want a lawyer. I was assigned a government lawyer, and she said to me "Mr. Marichal, this trial is already over. The only thing you can ask for is seven years rather than ten."

At trial, the prosecutors recommended twelve years and the court sentenced him to ten.137 Similarly, Alberto Joaquím Aguilera Guevara said that even though he had a private lawyer at his 1992 trial, it was the same thing as having a state-appointed attorney. "There are no private lawyers. They have to represent the interests of the state. Lawyering is a mechanism that does not function."138

Collective Law Firms

In 1973 Cuba eliminated private law firms and required all attorneys who did not work directly for the state to join "collective law firms" (bufetes colectivos).139 A reorganization of the collective law firms in 1984 required all members to reapply, demonstrating that they "possess[ed] moral qualities in accord with the principles of our society."140 The Justice Ministry denied readmission to several lawyers known for defending human rights cases and criticizing the government.141 In February 1995, the National Organization of Collective Law Firms (Organización Nacional de Bufetes Colectivos) expelled and effectively disbarred Leonel Morejón Almagro, a member of the Agramontist Current (Corriente Agromontista). The Agramontist Current is an independent group named for Ignacio Agramonte, a nineteenth century Cuban lawyer. Morejón Almagro and other members of his organization had defended several dissidents in prominent political trials. In February 1997, Cuba justified Morejón Almagro's expulsion tothe United Nations on the grounds of "serious failures to carry out his professional duties."142 But the purported deficiencies were so insignificant that Morejón Almagro's supervisor reportedly had recommended a simple warning. On February 23, 1996, a Havana court sentenced Morejón Almagro, who had continued to speak out against government abuses as a leader of a coalition of nongovernmental organizations known as the Cuban Council (Concilio Cubano), to fifteen months for contempt of authority and resisting authority. Other lawyers, including René Gómez Manzano, the imprisoned member of the Internal Dissidents' Working Group, have suffered serious consequences for their defense of dissidents and opposition to human rights violations in Cuba.

René Gómez Manzano first requested legalization of the Agromontist Current under the Associations Law (discussed above at Associations Law) in August 1990. He filed a revised application in 1991 but as of late 1995 received no response from the government, despite six additional communications. In February 1997, the Cuban government told the U.N. that it had rejected Gómez Mánzano's application to register his group "because it would have similar objectives to those of the existing National Union of Jurists of Cuba," a state-controlled organization.143

In March 1999 the director of the National Organization of Collective Law Firms, Dr. Raúl Mantilla Ramírez, announced that the group would conduct a national review of its 2,000 members to assess their "professionalism." Mantilla Ramírez's concurrent endorsement of Cuba's recently passed Law for the Protection of Cuban National Independence and Economy (a repressive measure that is discussed below) on behalf of all of the organization's members cast further doubt on the likelihood that dissident lawyers could belong to the group.144

Right to Know Charges and Review Evidence of Alleged Crime

In practice, Cuban authorities do not always inform detainees of the charges against them, nor allow them to review the purported evidence of their crimes. Besides demonstrating the arbitrary nature of the detentions, this practice undoubtedly impedes defendants in the preparation of their defense. Cubanauthorities only notified the four detained leaders of the Internal Dissidents' Working Group of the charges against them in September 1998, more than a year after their July 1997 arrest. From Guillermo Ismael Sambra Ferrándiz's arrest in January 1993 until a few days before his July 1993 trial, he and his fellow defendants did not know what crime they allegedly had committed. When they learned the prosecutors had charged them with rebellion, they still did not know of the evidence against them or precisely what they allegedly had done. After the trial, a State Security captain told Sambra Ferrándiz that the trial was necessary to give the local community an example of why they should not dissent from the government. While Cuba forced Sambra Ferrándiz (who received an eight-year sentence) into exile in Canada, his co-defendants Víctor Bressler and Emilio Bressler remain in Cuban prisons.145 Cuba often denies political prisoners copies of their own sentences, leaving them uncertain of the evidence the government has against them and how the government has justified its actions, impeding an appeal.


Not surprisingly, dissidents and former political prisoners place little confidence in appeals. Luis Alberto Ferrándiz Alfaro, who was tried with Sambra Ferrándiz and sentenced to twelve years, said that the attorney representing him for his appeal told him he was "indefensible" because he had spoken out against the government at the original trial. He noted with pride that he had declared at trial that Cuba should have free elections, free speech, and an end to dictatorship. His appeal confirmed his sentence. He concluded that,

Appeals are worthless. If you are sanctioned for political crimes, the sentence you get is the one you'll keep. Sometimes they will lower a sentence if the person repents or if they did not testify at trial. But if you maintain your position, you'll get the full sentence.146

Associations Law

Although Cuba's Associations Law claims to guarantee the "right of association,"147 the law effectively bars the legalization of any genuinely independent association.148 Cuba reported to the United Nations that some 2,000 groups—among them "non-profit scientific and technical, cultural and artistic, public-interest and sports associations and friendship and solidarity groups"—have been granted legal status to operate under the Associations Law.149 But these putative nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) include Cuba's Communist Party-supported and government-controlled mass organizations, as well as groups formed by government ministries. Cuba's most prominent women's organization, the Federation of Cuban Women (Federación de Mujeres Cubanas, FMC), called into question the legitimacy of its NGO status by participating as both an NGO and as Cuba's official government representative at the Fourth World Conference on Women, which was held in Beijing in 1995.150

The government consistently has refused to recognize organizations critical of its policies and practices. Cuba has not legalized any political party under the law, since recognized groups cannot violate the constitution (which endorses the Communist Party) or engage in state functions. Cuba has rejected human rights groups by alleging that, in fact, they are political parties.151 Cuba expert Gillian Gunn-Clissold, Ph.D., explained that:

The Cuban state is uneasy about NGOs. They are deemed useful because they capture resources that otherwise would not enter Cuba and relieve social tensions by resolving problems the state is unable to address. NGOs are also viewed with suspicion, however, because they represent an independent resource base for citizens whose desires do not always coincide with those of the state. Before Soviet subsidies disappeared, the state would have simply taken over those NGOs deemed inconvenient. To do so now would be self-defeating, for if Cuban NGOs are perceived as state front organizations, foreign donations will dry up. Therefore, the state seeks to indirectly control NGOs without overtly dominating them.152

While many independent organizations have requested legalization under the Associations Law, Human Rights Watch is not aware of any group that is openly critical of the government's human rights or labor rights practices that has received government authorization to operate. Typically, the government fails to respond at all or harasses petitioners.153

Cuba's Justice Ministry can only grant legal status to associations willing to accept broad state interference in their activities and arbitrary state authority to shut them down. Under the Associations Law, members of human rights groups, professional organizations of doctors, economists, and teachers, independent labor unions, women's rights groups, and other independent organizations risk prosecution simply for belonging to their group or for carrying out any activities without authorization.154 As discussed above at Codifying Repression, persons involved in unauthorized associations risk criminal sanctions ranging from three months to a year, plus fines.155 Several other criminal code provisions also restrict the freedom of association.156

Application Review Process

The first level review of a potential association is carried out by highly-politicized government bodies. If aspiring groups seek to function at the municipal or provincial level, then the local Executive Committee of the Assembly of Popular Power reviews their application. If a group plans work on the national level, then it must present its application to the "state organ, organism, or dependency that is related to the objectives and activities that the association will carry out."157 The first review must be completed in ninety days, after which the Justice Ministry has sixty days to accept or reject the prospective application.

Government reviewers have ample authority to reject aspiring associations for arbitrary or politicized reasons. The Associations Law bars groups "whose activities could prove damaging to social interests"or "whose applications demonstrate the impossibility of attaining their proposed objectives and activities," and rejects organizations when there is another group with similar interests already inscribed, as it did with an independent lawyers group.158

Coordination and Collaboration with State Entities

The law provides that an unrecognized organization must create internal regulations that detail how the organization will "coordinate" and "collaborate" with the counterpart state entity.159 This coordination and collaboration effectively require the association to subjugate itself to the government organization. To comply, the association must allow a representative of the state entity to attend and speak at any planned or unplanned meetings; notify the government entity in advance of any publications; coordinate with the government entity regarding participation in any national or international event, conference or activity; allow the government entity to carry out periodic inspections; regularly report to the government entity on its activities; and provide prior notice of the date and hour of any planned or unplanned meetings, events, or other activities.160 The law further provides that the relationship between the association and the state entity isimmutable, unless the state entity approves changes in the nature of the relationship.161


The Justice Ministry maintains a registry of national associations, while municipal offices keep local registries. The Associations Law and regulations grant the ministry's designated registrars or the local government entities reporting to them broad authority to inspect associations.162 Municipal registrars have authority to assist in the supervision, control, and inspection of national associations in their region.163 The law provides for no government notification prior to an inspection. The law demands that all association directors and members must "offer every assistance in the carrying out of the inspection." Thus, association members must allow government representatives to enter the premises and "in particular, examine their books and other documents."164

A government official told Cuba expert Gunn-Clissold that the inspection provisions of the Associations Law were not being fully enforced. But when asked whether the inspections requirement should thus be lifted, the official emphasized that any revised law would still need to prohibit the registration of groups using human rights as a "cover for efforts to overthrow the government."165


The inspector must report any violations of the Associations Law or other laws to the Justice Ministry's Associations Department within fifteen days of an inspection. Based on the findings in the inspector's report, the chief of the department can apply any appropriate sanction, including the dissolution of the association. Grounds for dissolving an association include the failure to comply with its internal rules, failure to observe the Associations Law, and the broadcategory of "activities destructive to the social welfare."166 Recognized Cuban associations attempting to express dissent from the government, or trying to carry out activities without tight government supervision, risk prompt disbanding. While the regulations provide thirty days for associations to appeal a dissolution decision, the Justice Ministry can nonetheless order the association dissolved in the interim if it is in the "public interest" to do so or if not doing so would cause "irreparable harm."167

New Legal Measures Expand Government Control

Far from relinquishing control over freedom of expression, association, press, and movement, in recent years the Cuban government has created new mechanisms to strengthen its repressive authority.

Law for the Protection of Cuban National Independence and the Economy The Law for the Protection of Cuban National Independence and the Economy (Ley de Protección de la Independencia Nacional y la Economía de Cuba, hereafter protection law), which took effect in March 1999, created harsh penalties for actions that could be interpreted as support of the Helms-Burton law. Helms-Burton, which became U.S. law in March 1996, tightened the U.S. economic embargo on Cuba.168 In publicly expressing his support for the protection law, President Fidel Castro referred to the law as a weapon in Cuba's struggle against the United States. He said that "it is vital to defend ourselves with clean weapons, legal [ones], without violations of the law...."169 Castro's language echoes the text of the preamble to the protection law, which provides that it will not infringe upon the rights and guarantees afforded by the Cuban constitution. While Cuba's claims to respect legality ring true in an insular, domestic context, this law, like Cuba's constitution, undermines internationally protected rights. In early March, Cuban police reportedly warned a prominent independent journalist and an oppositionleader that they might be the first to face twenty-year sentences under the protection law's provisions.170 The new law prohibits,

those actions designed to support, facilitate, or collaborate with the objectives of the "Helms-Burton" Law, the blockade, and the economic war against our people, leading toward the destruction of internal order, the destabilization of the country and the liquidation of the socialist state and the independence of Cuba.171

While the protection law describes potentially cataclysmic consequences for the prohibited actions, most of the specific actions detailed in the law are nonviolent expressions of opinion or exchanges of information—activities that should be protected rather than penalized. The law's over broad definitions of prohibited activities further the risk that Cubans could be penalized for exercising their fundamental rights.

For example, the law criminalizes the accumulation, reproduction or diffusion of "material with a subversive character" for the purposes described above with three to eight years of imprisonment.172 Cubans risk two to five years in prison for "collaborating in any way with radio or television stations... or other foreign media" toward the objectives detailed above.173 The law's heaviest penalties are directed toward those who "provide information to the United States government, its agencies, dependencies, representatives or officials, to facilitate the objectives..." Persons convicted of this crime face seven to twenty years of imprisonment.174 The law also creates seven-to twenty-year penalties for persons who commit "any act designed to impede or prejudice the economic relations of the Cuban state or the economic relations of any industrial, commercial, or financial institution or any other type of institution." Those whose actions lead the U.S. government to takemeasures against foreign investors in Cuba face the longest sanctions under this provision.175

Ironically, while the protection law penalizes extraterritorial actions by the U.S. government, Cuba's Justice Minister Roberto Díaz Sotolongo said that persons violating the law while outside Cuban territory could also be subject to punishment under its provisions.176

The protection law serves as the implementing legislation for a law passed in late December 1996, the Law Reaffirming Cuban Dignity and Sovereignty (Ley de Reafirmación de la Dignidad y Soberanía Cubanas), which Cuba described as "a response to the Helms-Burton Law."177 According to the Cuban government, the U.S. law "has as its end the colonial reabsorption" of Cuba. In response, Cuba created broad restrictions on free expression, criminalizing even the appearance of support for U.S. policies. These provisions earned the December 1996 law a new name, in common parlance the "gag law" or "antidote law" (ley mordaza or ley antídoto).

Throughout the first months of 1997, Cuba undertook a nationwide campaign to demonstrate support for the gag law. The government circulated a petition celebrating the law, the Declaration of the Mambises of the Twentieth Century (Declaración de los Mambises del Siglo XX, in honor of those who fought for Cuba's independence), to mass organizations, schools, universities, and workplaces. In each office or institution, workers or students were expected to demonstrate publicly their support for the initiative. The government is said to have verbally harassed a few who refused to sign. On March 19, 1997, in the Vedado area of Havana, a handful of students at the Adalberto Gómez Núñez Primary School refused to sign the declaration. School officials reportedly took down their names, called their parents, and warned them that the children's failure to sign could have negative consequences.178 On the afternoon of April 7, 1997, Cuban authoritiesreportedly detained the father of one of the children, Fidel Emilio Abel Tamayo, who is a member of the Cuban Social Democratic Party (Partido Social Demócrata Cubano).179 Meanwhile, the Cuban press provided ample coverage of the delivery of signed petitions to the government. On March 15, 1997, President Castro culminated the campaign with a ceremony marking the presentation of the signed declaration, which he declared to be "of the people and loved by the people."180

Regulations for International Press

The Cuban government permits a small number of international press agencies to operate permanent news bureaus in Cuba, including the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Reuters, the Mexican news agency Notimex, the Spanish wire service EFE and daily El País. In March 1998, Cuba granted the U.S.-based Cable News Network (CNN) permission to establish an office and in November 1998 it allowed the Associated Press (AP) to do so. While the U.S. government approved licenses for eight additional media to open Cuban bureaus, the Cuban government has not granted these companies permission to do so.181 Beyond the restrictions on establishing offices in Cuba, in February 1997, Foreign Minister Roberto Robaina signed a ministerial resolution regulating foreign media reporting from Cuba. The new regulations require that foreign correspondents demonstrate "objectivity, adhering strictly to the facts and in consonance with the professional ethics that govern journalism," or face reprimand or the withdrawal of credentials. Reporters also may not work for any media outlet other than the one for which they areaccredited.182 Human Rights Watch is not aware of any cases where Cuba has applied this law against foreign news outlets. Nonetheless, such regulations produce a chilling effect on international news coverage of Cuba.183

Decree 217: Heightened Control of Internal Movement

In a public address on April 4, 1997, President Castro urged the populace to fight against the "indiscipline" favored by the "enemy" and demonstrated by "illegal immigration" to Havana and announced that the state was planning to halt such movement.184 He justified such actions by explaining that free movement to the capital would endanger Cuba's security due to the state's insufficient control and knowledge of the identities of Havana's residents and guests. International human rights law assures the right to liberty of movement within a country's borders and the right to enter and leave one's country of origin.185 President Castro called upon the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (Comités para la Defensa de la Revolución, CDRs), pro-government groups that have taken part in intimidations of government opponents, to work with the police to gather information on Havana residents. The president also mentioned problems with overcrowding, overbuilding, and crime that had resulted from increased population pressures in Havana. On April 22, 1997, President Castro signed Decree 217, creating internal migratory regulations for Havana.

Decree 217 explains restrictions on internal movement as being due to public health, welfare, and public order concerns. While these issues in some circumstances justify narrowly-tailored restrictions on movement, PresidentCastro's prior statements highlighting the government's interest in minimizing "indiscipline" and maintaining tight control over citizens' movement for security reasons call into question the government's motivation in creating Decree 217. By late April 1997, the Cuban press announced that more than 1,600 "illegal residents" of Havana had been returned to their home provinces "using persuasive methods."186 By mid-May, many more Havana residents had received government notices that they had forty-eight hours to regularize their status in the city or face fines and the "obligation to return immediately to their place of origin."187 The government's provision of an extremely brief period for Havana residents to demonstrate the legitimacy of their presence in the capital raised additional concerns about whether the Cuban authorities were ensuring sufficient due process guarantees. By June 1998, the Cuban government reported that some 27,717 people had left Havana since the law took effect, although not necessarily due to its application, while 22,560 others had moved to Havana, resulting in a net population decrease of over 5,000 residents.188 While diplomats noted that the law had not resulted in massive round-ups and deportations, Cuban migrants to Havana expressed frustration that they could not choose where to live and that police demands for their personal papers and proof of "legal" residency had increased.189

27 For further discussion of these concerns, see Political Prosecutions, Treatment of Political Prisoners, and Routine Repression.

28 Constitution of the Republic of Cuba (1992), Article 9(a). Translation by Human Rights Watch.

29 Ibid., Articles 10 and 62. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

30 Ibid., Article 11. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

31 Ibid., Article 3. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

32 René Gómez Manzano, "Constitución y Cambio Democrático en Cuba," in Cuba in Transition - Volume 7 (Washington: Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy, 1997), p. 407. Gómez Manzano is a member of the Internal Dissidents' Working Group. Cuban authorities arrested four of the group's leaders, including Gómez Manzano, on July 16, 1997. For further discussion of their case, see Political Prosecutions.

33 Cuban constitution, Article 53. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

34 Ibid., Article 54. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

35 Ibid., Article 39(a), (c), and (ch). Translation by Human Rights Watch.

36 Ibid., Article 55. The constitution also provides for religious freedom under Article 8. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

37 For discussions of religious rights in Cuba, see Routine Repression and the religious visits section of General Prison Conditions.

38 Cuban constitution, Article 9(b). Translation by Human Rights Watch.

39 For a discussion of Cuba's violations of economic rights, see Labor Rights.

40 Cuban constitution, Articles 41 and 42. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

41 Ironically, the constitution states that these are rights "won by the Revolution" for the enjoyment of all citizens, "without distinction based on race, skin color, sex, religious creeds, [or] national origin...." Ibid., Articles 43 and 44. Translation by Human Rights Watch. For further discussion of the tourist industry, see Labor Rights.

42 Ibid., Article 59.

43 Cuban legal procedures are discussed below, at Due Process Denied.

44 Cuban constitution, Articles 56, 57, and 58.

45 Ibid., Article 122. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

46 Ibid., Articles 75(m) and (n), 126, 129, and 130. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

47 Ibid., Article 71. Cuba expert Prof. Jorge Domínguez commented that Cuba's electoral law "appears to have been designed by politicians who were terrified that a dissident could be chosen for the National Assembly. The law establishes an awkward and complex mechanism that seeks to control the election more than the representativeness of its results." Translation by Human Rights Watch. Jorge Domínguez, "La Democracia en Cuba: ¿Cúal es el Modelo Deseable?" La Democracia en Cuba y el Diferendo con los Estados Unidos (Havana: Centro de Estudios sobre América, 1995), p. 120. Since the publication of this book, the Cuban government closed the Center for American Studies.

48 Ibid., Articles 121 and 128. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

49 Ibid., Article 90(h) and (I).

50 Ibid., Article 89.

51 Cuba's failure to provide effective remedies for victims of human rights violations is discussed below, at Impunity.

52 Cuban constitution, Article 26. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

53 Ibid., Article 59. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

54 Ibid., Article 63. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

55 Ibid., Article 5. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

56 Human Rights Watch interview with Justice Minister Roberto Díaz Sotolongo, New York, June 11, 1998.

57 Human Rights Watch interview with Roberto Díaz Sotolongo, New York, June 11, 1998.

58 Universal Declaration on Human Rights, Article 29(2).

59 The full text of the Johannesburg Principles is available in The New World Order and Human Rights in the Post-Cold War Era: National Security vs. Human Security, papers from the International Conference on National Security Law in the Asia Pacific, November 1995 (Korea Human Rights Network, 1996).

60 Ibid.

61 Criminal Code, Law No. 62 (1988), Articles 116 and 120.

62 Ibid., Article 133. Translation by Human Rights Watch. Accountability in Cuba is discussed below, at Impunity.

63 Ibid., Article 280.

64 Ibid., Article 295.

65 Ibid., Article 101(1). Translation by Human Rights Watch.

66 Ibid., Article 103. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

67 Ibid., Articles 98 and 99. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

68 Cuba often denies political prisoners copies of their own sentences, leaving them uncertain as to what evidence the government has against them and how the government has justified its actions. Human Rights Watch obtained a number of sentencing documents from former Cuban political prisoners, tried in the early 1990s, who only received copies at the time Cuba released them from prison. This practice violates criminal defendants' rights to know the evidence against them, which is discussed below, at Right to Know Charges and Review Evidence of Alleged Crime.

69 Sentencing Document, Case 1/94, heard in the Court for Crimes against the Security of the State, October 17, 1994. Translation by Human Rights Watch. The presiding judges were Miriam Dávila Fuente, Annia Horta Rubio, and Lic. Terésa Delgado Calvo. The prosecutor was Edelmira Pedris Yumar. The Cuban government sentenced six other defendants in this case to shorter terms and released them upon completion of their sentences.

70 Criminal Code, Article 95. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

71 Human Rights Watch interview with Carmen Julia Arias Iglesias, Miami, April 10, 1997.

72 Sentencing Document 370, Case 323/92, heard in the Military Tribunal of the Interior Ministry Garrison, August 3, 1992. Translation by Human Rights Watch. The president of the tribunal was Justice Capt. Homero Acosta Alvarez, with judges Maj. Nancy González Gutiérrez and Maj. Mario Pérez Alvarez.

73 Abel del Valle Díaz served a three-year sentence in a work camp and Pedro Miguel Labrador Gilimas and Ernesto Aguilera Verde each served two-year sentences.

74 Sentencing Document 420, Case 132 of 1995, Tribunal Militar, Ministerio del Interior, April 21, 1995. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

75 Criminal Code, Article 100. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

76 Ibid., Articles 104 and 105. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

77 Ibid., Article 115. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

78 Ibid., Articles 124, 125, and 128. The cases of Juan Carlos Recio Martínez and several members of the Pro Human Rights Party of Cienfuegos are discussed below, at Political Prosecutions.

79 Ibid., Articles 72, 73, and 74. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

80 Ibid., Articles 78, 79, 80, 81, and 82. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

81 The use of official warnings is detailed below, at Routine Repression.

82 Criminal Code, Article 144. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

83 Ofelia Nardo Cruz, "El Delito de Desacato en Cuba," Cuba Press, June 25, 1998.

84 For further discussion of retaliatory measures against political prisoners, see Treatment of Political Prisoners, below.

85 "Video Constituirá Prueba Contra Héctor Palacios," Infoburo, January 22, 1997.

86 Criminal Code, Article 204. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

87 Ibid., Article 203. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

88 Ibid., Article 210. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

89 Ibid., Article 206. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

90 Ibid., Article 147. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

91 Ibid., Article 143. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

92 Ibid., Article 208.

93 Ibid., Article 209.

94 Ibid., Article 207(2). Translation by Human Rights Watch.

95 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 13.

96 Criminal Code, Articles 216 and 217. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

97 The case is discussed below, at Impunity: Impunity for the Sinking of the 13 de Marzo.

98 Criminal Code, Article 215. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

99 Ibid., Article 42. Translation by Human Rights Watch. The cases of Nestor Rodríguez Lobaina and Radames García de la Vega are discussed below, at Political Prosecutions.

100 Ibid., Article 161.

101 Ibid., Article 320. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

102 Ibid., Article 319. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

103 Ibid., Article 318. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

104 The Universal Declaration on Human Rights includes due process guarantees, ensuring fair and public hearings by independent and impartial tribunals, as well as the presumption of innocence and necessary defense guarantees, at Articles 10 and 11.

105 Sentencing Document 420, Case 132 of 1995, Tribunal Militar, Ministerio del Interior, April 21, 1995. This case is discussed above, at Codifying Repression: Revealing Secrets Concerning State Security.

106 Human Rights Watch interview with a defendant in the case, Pedro Miguel Labrador Gilimas, Miami, April 15, 1997.

107 Cuban constitution, Articles 75(m) and (n), 122, 126, 129, and 130.

108 Ibid., Articles 90(h) and (i), 121, and 128. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

109 Ibid., Article 89. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

110 Ibid., Article 5.

111 Criminal Procedure Code, Law No. 5 (annotated edition issued in 1997), Article 305.

112 Human Rights Watch interview with José Antonio Rodríguez Santana, Toronto, April 13, 1998.

113 Criminal Procedure Code, Article 243. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

114 American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man (May 2, 1948), Article 25.

115 Criminal Procedure Code, Article 245.

116 Ibid., Article 246.

117 Ibid., Article 247.

118 The discussion of pretrial detentions, at Political Prisoners, details several cases of police abuse following arrests.

119 Their case is discussed below, at Political Prosecutions.

120 Criminal Procedure Code, Article 252(1) and (2). Translation by Human Rights Watch.

121 Ibid., Article 253. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

122 Accord of the Council of State, March 8, 1985, First Section, para. (a). Translation by Human Rights Watch.

123 Ibid., third section, para. (a).

124 Criminal Procedure Code., Article 467.

125 Gómez Manzano, "Constitución y Cambio Democrático en Cuba," (Washington: Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy) p. 402.

126 "Cuba Denies Habeas Corpus for Four Dissidents Group," Agence France Presse, August 11, 1998; and Jesús Zuñiga, "Familiares de Los Cuatro de la Patria Envían Carta a Parlamento Cubano," Cooperativa de Periodistas Independientes, January 14, 1999.

127 Criminal Procedure Code, Article 107.

128 Cuban report to the Committee Against Torture, CAT/C/SR.310/Add.1, Geneva, March 3, 1998, para. 31.

129 Criminal Procedure Code, Article 247.

130 Cuban constitution, Article 59.

131 Criminal Procedure Code, Articles 161, 166, 183, and 312.

132 Criminal Procedure Code, Article 479. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

133 Ibid., Article 31. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

134 Cuban constitution, Article 59.

135 Ayarde received a ten-year sentence for espionage. Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Raúl Ayarde Herrerra, Toronto, April 21, 1998.

136 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with René Portelles, Toronto, April 21, 1998.

137 A Havana court tried González Marichal in November 1993. Human Rights Watch interview with Adriano González Marichal, Toronto, April 12, 1998.

138 Human Rights Watch interview with Alberto Joaquím Aguilera Guevara, Toronto, April 12, 1998.

139 Organization of the Judicial System, Law. No. 1250 (1973).

140 The Practice of Law and the National Organization of Collective Law Firms, Decree-Law 81 (1984), Article 16(a). Translation by Human Rights Watch.

141 The Association of the Bar of the City of New York, "Human Rights in Cuba: Report of a Delegation of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, " July 1988, pp. 11-19.

142 Cuban Communication, United Nations Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Mr. Param Cumaraswamy, E/CN.4/1998/39, February 12, 1998, para. 3.

143 Cuban Communication, United Nations Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, para. 5.

144 Iraida Calzadilla Rodríguez, "En Bufetes Colectivos, Próximo Sistema de Parámetros de Calidad," Granma Diario, March 3, 1999.

145 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Guillermo Ismael Sambra Ferrándiz, Toronto, May 8, 1998.

146 Human Rights Watch interview with Luis Alberto Ferrándiz Alfaro, Toronto, April 13, 1998. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

147 The Associations Law refers to Article 53 of the February 1976 constitution. The text of that article appears unchanged as Article 54 of the 1992 constitution. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

148 Associations Law, Law No. 54 (1985) and Regulations for the Associations Law (1986).

149 Cuban Report to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, August 13, 1998 (CERD/C/SR.1291), issued August 18, 1998, para. 12.

150 Approximately one-fifth of the recognized groups are sports leagues. Homero Campa, "El Gobierno les Ve con Recelo y las Somete a Estrictos Controles," Proceso, Mexico, May 18, 1997.

151 Gillian Gunn, Ph.D., "Cuba's NGOs: Government Puppets or Seeds of Civil Society?" Cuba Briefing Paper Series: Number 7, Georgetown University Caribbean Caribbean Project, February 1995.

152 Ibid.

153 The difficulties that independent groups face are detailed below, at Routine Repression, Labor Rights, and Limits on Religious Freedom.

154 The Associations Law does not govern the functioning of mass organizations, religious organizations, agricultural cooperatives, credit and service organizations, and other groups "authorized by law." Associations Law, Article 2. Cuba treats agricultural cooperatives as labor entities. Cuban constitution, Articles 19 and 20 and Law No. 49, Article 7(ch).

155 Criminal Code, Articles 208 and 209.

156 These provisions are discussed above, at Crimes Against State Security Crush Nonviolent Dissent and Crimes Restricting Freedom of Association.

157 Ibid., Article 6. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

158 Ibid., Article 8(c), (ch), and (d). Translation by Human Rights Watch. Cuba's refusal to recognize the lawyers' group is discussed above, at Restrictions on the Right to a Lawyer.

159 Regulations for the Associations Law, Article 12(f). Translation by Human Rights Watch.

160 Ibid., Article 28 (b), (c), (ch), (d), (e), and (f) and Article 29.

161 Ibid., Article 28.

162 Ibid., Articles 35, 36, and 73.

163 Ibid., Article 36(g).

164 Ibid., Article 75. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

165 Gillian Gunn Ph.D., "Cuba's NGOs: Government Puppets or Seeds of Civil Society?" Cuba Briefing Paper Series: Number 7, February 1995.

166 Regulations for the Associations Law, Article 79. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

167 Ibid., Articles 87 and 88. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

168 The Helms-Burton law is discussed in detail below, at International Policy.

169 "Esta Trinchera Tenemos que Defenderla," Granma Diario, February 17, 1999. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

170 Pablo Alfonso, "Raúl Rivero and Oswaldo Paya Seriously Threatenend," El Nuevo Herald, March 5, 1999.

171 Law for the Protection of Cuban National Independence and the Economy, Law 88 (1999), Article 1. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

172 Ibid, Article 6.1. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

173 Ibid., Article 7.1. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

174 Ibid., Article 4.1 and 4.2. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

175 Ibid., Article 9.1 and 9.2. Translation by Human Rights Watch. The Helms-Burton provisions against companies investing in Cuba are discussed below, at International Policy.

176 "Esta Trinchera Tenemos que Defenderla," Granma Diario, February 17, 1999.

177 Law Reaffirming Cuban Dignity and Sovereignty, Law 80 (1996), Article 8. Translation by Cuban government.

178 "Lista parcial de las amenazas, agresiones y demás occurridas en Cuba en las últimas semanas," Cuba S.O.S., April 2, 1997.

179 "Detenido Padre de Niño que no Firmó Apoyo a Ley 80," Cuba S.O.S., April 2, 1997.

180 "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 de Entrega de la Declaración de los Mambises del Siglo XX,' Efectuado Ante el Monumento a Jose Martí, en la Plaza de la Revolución, el Día 15 de Marzo de 1997, Año del 30 Aniversario de la Caída en Combate del Guerrillero Heróico y sus Compañeros," Granma Internet, Año 2, Número 12, April 2, 1997. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

181 These U.S. media are: ABC, CBS, Dow Jones News Service, the Chicago Tribune, the St. Petersburg Sun-Sentinel, the Miami Herald, and Cuba Info. Patricia Zengerle, "Cuban Exiles Say CNN is the 'Castro News Network,'" Reuters News Service, March 18, 1997.

182 Frances Kerry, "Cuba Introduces New Regulations for Foreign Media," Reuters News Service, June 4, 1997.

183 Other government pressures on international reporters are detailed below, at Routine Repression: International Journalists Covering Cuba.

184 "Discurso Pronunciado por el Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz," Granma Internet, April 2, 1997. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

185 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 13. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 12, which Cuba has not ratified, also protects this right. International norms do permit some restrictions on the freedom of movement and residence, but only where the state must do so to protect "national security, public order, public health or morals, or the rights and freedoms of others, and [is] consistent with other rights...." ICCPR, Article 12, Section 3. As discussed above, at Codifying Repression, Cuba retains a prohibition on illegal exit, in violation of international norms.

186 "Havana Mayor Reports 1,600 Illegals Returned to Provinces," Prensa Latina, April 27, 1997.

187 Decree 217, Article 8. Translation by Human Rights Watch.

188 "Havana's Population Strain Eases After Decree," Reuters News Service, June 17, 1998.

189 Larry Rohter, "Cuba's Unwanted Refugees: Squatters in Havana's Teeming Shantytowns," The New York Times, October 20, 1997.

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