Manuel Antonio González Castellanos, Leonardo Varona González, and Roberto Rodríguez Rodríguez
On May 6, 1999, a court in Holguín found two journalists and one of their companions guilty of "contempt for authority" (desacato). Manuel Antonio González Castellanos, of the Cuba Press agency, reportedly was tried because he had criticized Fidel Castro and the local authorities in the course of a difficult conversation with local police in late 1998. The police apparently had verbally harassed González Castellanos earlier in the day. The court sentenced him to two years and seven months.
The day after González Castellanos's October 1, 1998 arrest, Leonardo Varona González, of Santiago Press, reportedly protested his detention by putting up anti-government signs at Varona González's residence. The same day, a local Committee for the Defense of the Revolution subjected the home to a violent attack. Roberto Rodríguez Rodríguez, a friend who previously had been tried for enemy propaganda, was present when the repudiation meeting was carried out. National Revolutionary Police arrested both men and Joannys Caridad Varona González on October 2, 1998. Leonardo Varona González received sixteen months, while Rodrí
guez Rodríguez was sentenced to seventeen months in prison. The court reportedly postponed Joannys Caridad Varona González's trial.191
Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello, René Gómez Manzano, Félix Bonne Carcassés, and Vladimiro Roca Antúnez
On March 1, 1999, a Havana court tried the four leaders of the Internal Dissidents' Working Group (Grupo de Trabajo de la Disidencia Interna, GTDI) for "other acts against the security of the state" based on their allegedly inciting sedition. The trial occurred after the four, economists Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello and Vladimiro Roca Antúnez, engineering professor Félix Antonio Bonne Carcasses, and attorney René Gómez Manzano, had spent over nineteen months in pretrial detention.192 The trial was closed to the public, the press, and international observers. Only nine of the dissidents' family members were allowed to attend. The court forbade Gómez Manzano, the leader of a group of independent attorneys whom the government had previously disbarred, from defending himself.193 On March 15, the court found the four guilty, sentencing Roca Antúnez to five years, Bonne Carcassés and Gómez Manzano to four years each, and Roque Cabello to three and one-half years.
The government based the detention and trial of the four leaders on their activities with the GTDI. On May 5, 1997, the GTDI held a press conference in Havana encouraging a boycott of elections planned for late 1997. Representatives of more than fifteen foreign press agencies attended the event, at which the GTDI declared that one-party elections do not offer the electorate genuine choices.194 The lack of government interference at the press conference marked a rare departure from usual government practices. The four dissident leaders followed the press conference with the June release of a paper titled "The Homeland Belongs to All" (La Patria es de Todos), which offered an analysis of Cuba's economy and discouraged foreign investment, proposed reforms to the Cuban Constitution, discussed human rights, and challenged Cuba's exclusive recognition of one political party.
On July 16, 1997, Cuban police arrested the four leaders of the GTDI, categorizing their peaceful protests as "counterrevolutionary crimes." The government sent each of the leaders to separate prisons, where they were held with convicted violent criminals and subjected to the extremely poor conditions prevailing in Cuba's prisons.195 During their pretrial detention, government authorities repeatedly encouraged the dissidents to go into exile. In September 1997, Cuban Foreign Ministry official Carlos Fernández de Cossio explained that the Cuban government intended to prosecute the dissidents because, "They tried to harm the Cuban economy, and they were performing under the instructions of a foreign government."196 On June 25, 1998, a Havana-based State Security police official, Col. Nelson de Armas, reportedly visited Roca Antúnez in the Ariza Prison in Cienfuegos Province. De Armas asked Roca Antúnez about his dissident activities and about "The Homeland Belongs to All."197 Marking the one-year anniversary of his detention, Roca Antúnez reportedly wrote in a July 1998 letter, "It is not my intention to challenge the authorities or to seek a confrontationbecause my position continues to be one of reconciliation, tolerance, forgiveness, reunification of all Cubans and nonviolence."198 Cuba only charged the four leaders with a crime in September 1998, after they had spent more than a year in prison.199
Following their trial, on March 1, 1999, Cuba undertook a media campaign to discredit the GTDI leaders and justify the government's actions.200 The state-controlled Communist Party daily, Granma Diario, reported that the four leaders' "counterrevolutionary" actions had resulted in the "unavoidable necessity to arrest [them] and put [them] at the disposition of the courts...." Granma labeled "The Homeland Belongs to All" as "the most indignant insult to the history of our Homeland" and further stated that
The history of a country is its fundamental weapon.... To destroy this history is to destroy its identity, its independence, its life. Those who so repugnantly have acted at the service of powers who harm our country...are truly traitors to the nation.... 201
Granma also termed the international response to the arrests and trial, which included requests from the pope and the Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien for the dissidents' release, as "an intense campaign of defamation." After the verdicts were announced, the president of Cuba's National Assembly, Ricardo Alarcón, said that the sentences were "not too severe." Alarcón stated that the convictions did not represent punishments for the dissidents' having expressed their opinions, but were based on their ties to a foreign government. He stressed that the court had"judged these people in accordance with Cuban law."202 Alarcón's point highlighted the repressive nature of Cuba's legal system, which had provided a legal framework for the government's actions.
Jesús Joel Díaz Hernández
On January 18, 1999, Cuban police detained Jesús Joel Díaz Hernández, the director of the Cooperative of Independent Journalists of Ciego de Avila (Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes), in Morón, Ciego de Avila province. The next day, the Municipal Tribunal of Morón found him guilty of dangerousness (el estado peligroso) and sentenced him to four years. The extremely brief period between Díaz Hernández's arrest and conviction made it difficult for him to prepare an adequate defense.203 The court reportedly based its verdict on Díaz Hernández's having met with delinquents and disturbed the public order. On January 22, the Ciego de Avila Provincial Tribunal confirmed Díaz Hernández's sentence. Shortly after his trial, Cuban prison officials confined him in a punishment cell in the Canaletas Prison.204
Lázaro Constantín Durán
Cuban police arrested Lázaro Constantín Durán, the leader of the Friends Club of the College of Independent Teachers (Club de Amigos del Colegio de Pedagogos Independientes), on December 10, 1998, when he was participating in a celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of HumanRights in the Butari Park in Havana. On December 16, 1998, a Havana tribunal sentenced Constantín Durán to a four-year prison term for dangerousness.205
On January 7, 1999, the Cuban government daily newspaper, Granma, published a remarkable article justifying the government's imprisoning of Constantín Durán and calling into question his legitimacy as a "dissident." The article refers to Constantín Durán's alleged participation in a robbery in Cuba, prior to his 1980 departure from the country as part of the Mariel exodus. Upon his return to Cuba from the United States in 1990, he served out a sentence for this alleged crime. The government also repeatedly notes that Constantín Durán allegedly committed an assault and served time for it in the United States. In addition to these ten-and almost twenty-year-old allegations, for which the Cuban government admits that Constantín Durán already served prison time, the Granma article accuses him of "having been warned on several occasions for maintaining relations with unsavory persons, as well as habitually consuming alcoholic beverages and moving around the area near the Central Park of Havana, where among other things, he tried to become an illegal guide for foreign tourists." The Cuban tribunal "t[ook] into account these antecedents in Cuba and in the United States," when sending him to prison for four years of "reeducation."206
The government article also criticizes Constantín Durán and human rights defenders and independent journalists as "Made in USA dissident[s]" ("disidente Made in USA"). While admitting that some Cubans do not sympathize with the revolution and asserting that "they have the right to think in this way," Cuba's government paper dismisses these activists as fabrications of the U.S. government's Central Intelligence Agency.207 Yet, while calling Constantín Durán a "vulgar wrongdoer," the government article points to no recent criminal act as the basis ofhis prison term. On January 8, 1999, a Havana court reaffirmed Constantín Durán's sentence.
Reynaldo Alfaro García
The Cuban government arrested Reynaldo Alfaro García, the vice-president of the Association for the Struggle Against National Injustice (Asociación para la Lucha Frente a la Injusticia Nacional, ALFIN) and also a member of the Democratic Solidarity Party (Partido de Solidaridad Democrática, PSD), on May 8, 1997, and detained him without trial for more than a year, much of that time in the Valle Grande Prison in Havana province. The Cuban government did not accede to the pope's request for Alfaro García's release.208 On August 28, 1998, a Havana court sentenced Alfaro García to three years for spreading false information against international peace, a state security crime in Cuba's Criminal Code.209 Cuban police jailed Alfaro García shortly after he joined an organization of mothers of political prisoners in preparing a letter asking the government to free their sons and daughters. On May 7, 1997, Alfaro read the letter for a Radio Martí transmission. Cuban authorities detained him the next day and charged him with enemy propaganda. At trial, the government apparently based its charge of spreading false news on Alfaro García's having denounced beatings of prisoners and calling upon the National Assembly to free prisoners held for crimes against state security.210
After the conviction, a Cuban government-controlled radio announcer criticized Alfaro García over the airwaves as a liar undeserving of being called "prisoner of conscience." Rather, the Radio Havana Cuba journalist alleged that,
It is possible that Reynaldo Alfaro García has collected dollars for his news dispatches based on lies. Whether this is true or not, the fact is that there are mass media organizations that act as vehicles for anti-Cuban campaigns, and this applies not only to the ill-called Radio and Television Martí. At the trial held in Havana, it has just been demonstrated that Reynaldo Alfaro García and those who once again have transmitted anti-Cuban slander, have lied.211
On August 28, 1998, some twenty protesters gathered outside the court where Alfaro García's trial was taking place to demonstrate on his behalf and for the release of political prisoners. Shortly after they assembled, another group of protesters reportedly arrived chanting pro-government slogans.212 In September, Cuban police arrested a number of those who had protested against his trial.213
After completing over twenty-two months of the three-year sentence, Cuban authorities granted Alfaro García conditional freedom in March 1999.214
Julio César Coizeau Rizo
On April 24, 1998, a court in Santiago de Cuba found Julio César Coizeau Rizo, a member of the Gerardo González Ex-Political Prisoners Club (Club de Ex-Presos Políticos "Gerardo González"), guilty of contempt of authority. The government reportedly based its prosecution on Coizeau Rizo's activities with the ex-prisoners' group and his alleged posting of some twenty anti-government flyers. The court sentenced him to three years and incarcerated him in the Aguadores Prison in Santiago Province.215
Cecilio Monteagudo Sánchez and Juan Carlos Recio Martínez
Cuban police arrested Cecilio Monteagudo Sánchez, a vice-delegate of the Democratic Solidarity Party (Partido Solidaridad Democrática, PSD), on September 15, 1997, in Villa Clara. On February 13, 1998, a Santa Clara tribunal sentenced Monteagudo Sánchez to four years in prison for enemy propaganda. He was tried on the basis of having drafted a document calling for abstention from local elections, a paper he never published. At this writing, the Cuban authorities had imprisoned Monteagudo Sánchez in the Guamajal prison, Villa Clara Province, known as the "White Shark."216
Cuban authorities also tried Juan Carlos Recio Martínez, a local journalist whom Monteagudo Sánchez had asked to type his handwritten draft. On February 13, 1998, the Santa Clara tribunal convicted Recio Martínez for other acts against state security (otras actas contra la seguridad del estado), for having failed to denounce Monteagudo Sánchez.217 Recio Martínez, of the Cuba Press agency, received a one-year sentence in a labor camp without internment (correcional sin internamiento); he must report for work every day but may sleep at his home. In June 1998, he began serving his sentence at the Abel Santamaría Cooperative, near Camajuaní in Villa Clara province.218
Israel García Hidalgo, Benito Fojaco Iser, Angel Nicolas Gonzalo, José Ramón López Filgueira, and Reynaldo Sardiñas Delgado
In October 1997, Cuban authorities arrested five members of the Pro Human Rights Party of Cuba (Partido Pro Derechos Humanos de Cuba, PPDH) in Cienfuegos. The men's activities with the group included denunciations of local human rights abuses. At trial on March 12, 1998, the court found all five guilty of "other acts committed against state security." This crime covers all persons forming groups to commit state security crimes, such as enemy propaganda. Cuban authorities could employ it to punish the nonviolent exercise of fundamental rights. The tribunal sentenced García Hidalgo and Fojaco Iser to two years in prison, while López Filgueira received a one-year sentence. Authorities incarcerated the three men in Ariza prison in Cienfuegos Province. Sixty-nine-year-old Gonzalo's and sixty-six year-old Sardiñas Delgado both received one-year sentences to labor camps without internment. Given Gonzalo and Sardiñas Delgado's advanced ages, Cuba's sentencing them to forced labor was particularly egregious.
Bernardo Arévalo Padrón
A Cienfuegos court sentenced Bernardo Arévalo Padrón, a journalist with the Linea Sur Agency, to six years in prison for contempt for the authority of Fidel Castro and Carlos Lage, a member of the Cuban Council of State, in November 1997. The court reportedly based the charge on accusations by the journalist that the two leaders had lied, due to the Cuban government's failure to uphold the Viña del Mar Declaration, a document signed by Castro at the Sixth Ibero-American Summit, which was held in Viña del Mar Chile in November 1996. Arévalo Padrón, a former official of the Ministry of the Interior, made his comments to a Miami radio station.219 Cuban authorities previously had tried Héctor Palacios Ruíz, the president of the Democratic Solidarity Party, when he challenged Castro's willingness to comply with the Viña del Mar agreement. Following his January 1997 arrest and September 1997 trial, Palacios Ruíz served most of an eighteen-month sentence for contempt for authority until his release in early 1998, after the pope appealed for his freedom.220
Since his incarceration, prison guards reportedly have beaten Arévalo Padrón, held him in an isolation cell, and refused to provide him with medicine brought by his family members.221
Eleven Members of the Pro Human Rights Party of Villa Clara
On August 7, 1997, Cuban police detained Daula Carpio Mata, the leader of the Villa Clara branch of the Pro Human Rights Party, charging her with assault, apparently based on her having spoken out at an earlier trial of a PPDH colleague, Israel Feliciano García. The police released Carpio Mata but arrested her again on October 9, 1997. At trial on October 29, the Santa Clara court sentenced Carpio Mata to sixteen months internment in a work camp. Carpio Mata protested the sentence, refused to report to the work camp, and commenced a hunger strike. In December, Cuban police arrested her and imprisoned her in the women's section of the Guamajal Prison.222
Following Carpio Mata's initial arrest, several other members of the Villa Clara branch of the PPDH initiated a hunger strike to protest her detention. On October 23, 1997, a Santa Clara court convicted ten members of the PPDH of "association to commit criminal acts" (asociación para delinquir) and "disobedience," with sentences ranging from one year of house arrest for María Felicia Mata Machada to one and one-half years in prison or at a prison work camp for José Antonio Alvarado Almeida, Ileana Peñalver Duque, Roxana Alina Carpio Mata, Lilian Meneses Martínez, Arélis Fleites Méndez, Iván Lema Romero, Danilo Santos Méndez, Vicente García Ramos, and José Manuel Yera Benítez. The judge reportedly allowed the defense attorney less than ten minutes to present its case, including the testimonies from all of the defendants.223
In early 1998, Cuban authorities took stronger measures against the group, apparently to retaliate for the activists having undertaken prolonged hunger strikes and garnering the attention of the international press covering Pope John Paul II's Cuba pilgrimage. Local authorities imprisoned several of the activists who previously had received lighter sentences. Cuban authorities incarcerated SantosMéndez and García Ramos at the "Nieves de Morejón" Prison in Sancti Espiritu; Yera Benítez at the Manacas Prison in Villa Clara; Lema Romero in the Villa Clara Provincial Prison, known as "El Pre"; Peñalver Duque and Fleites Méndez in El Pre's women's section; Meneses Martínez in the women's section of the Guamajal Prison in Santa Clara (where Daula Carpio Mata remained); and Alvarado Almeida in the Guamajal Prison's men's section. Cuban authorities granted Roxana Alina Carpio Mata temporary permission to leave prison (licencia extrapenal) due to her pregnancy.224
Beyond facing harsh prison conditions, several of the PPDH members who had stayed on extended hunger-strike were suffering physical deterioration from the experience. Ivan Lema's 120-day hunger strike, during which he took only broth and water, left him hospitalized after he lost 47 pounds. In mid-1998, Cuban authorities reportedly denied Lema's request for temporary permission to leave prison due to his serious medical problems.225 Daula Carpio Mata reportedly had persistent abdominal pain and problems with her hearing, while José Manuel Yera Meneses suffered memory loss. Nonetheless, as of July 1998, Alvarado Almeida undertook yet another hunger strike to protest his detention with violent common prisoners who were aggressively threatening him.226
Dr. Dessy Mendoza Rivero
In June 1997, Dr. Dessy Mendoza Rivero, the founder and president of the Independent Medical College of Santiago de Cuba (Colegio Médico Independiente de Santiago de Cuba), alerted the international press of a dengue fever epidemic in Santiago.227 Even though large numbers of people had fallen ill from the disease,Dr. Mendoza had been dismayed that the state-controlled Cuban press had not reported on the severity of the crisis. Between June 15 and June 18, 1997, Dr. Mendoza granted interviews to several international news outlets, including Radio Martí (the U.S.-government sponsored station broadcasting to Cuba), the Spanish news service ABC, Radio Netherlands, and the Mexican newspaper La Reforma.228
Cuban state security agents arrested Dr. Mendoza on June 25, 1997. Prosecutors unsuccessfully urged him to sign an admission that he had "propagated an epidemic" (propagación de epidemia). Prosecutors then charged him with illicit association, based on his activities with the doctors' group and with the Pacifist Pro Human Rights Movement of Santiago, (Movimiento Pacifista pro Derechos Humanos de Santiago de Cuba), and with enemy propaganda based on his public discussion of the dengue outbreak. On November 18, 1997, a Santiago tribunal tried him and found him guilty of enemy propaganda. Yet, the court document justifying his sentence also cited government evidence of a dengue epidemic in the region. The same document referred to Dr. Mendoza as a "counterrevolutionary" for his activities with his medical colleagues and with human rights activists, but did not judge him guilty of illicit association. The tribunal sentenced him to eight years, of which he served over one and one-half years in the maximum-security Boniato prison in Santiago.229 In November 1998, Cuba released Dr. Mendoza on the condition that he abandon Cuba for Spain.230
Orestes Rodríguez Horruitiner
On November 11, 1997, a Santiago tribunal found Orestes Rodríguez Horruitiner guilty of enemy propaganda and sentenced him to four years in prison. He was a member of the Cuban Party of Orthodox Renovation and a vice-president of the Ex-Political Prisoners Club (Club de Ex-Presos Políticos).231 Cuban policearrested him in July 1997 after searching his home and seizing several books from it, apparently including books by José Martí, Máximo Gómez, and Antonio Maceo, and books printed outside Cuba. At trial, these books reportedly served as the foundation for the prosecution's enemy propaganda charge. Prosecutors argued that any book edited outside of Cuba contained ideological diversions. The prosecutors also expressed dissatisfaction with Rodríguez Horruitiner's activities with nongovernmental organizations.
Cuban authorities detained Rodríguez Horruitiner in the La Caoba Prison in Santiago Province. While imprisoned, his high blood pressure worsened, leading to his prolonged hospitalization at the Boniato Prison hospital. Prison authorities only allowed him visits with two members of his immediate family once every two months for two hours. The Standard Minimum Rules for the treatment of prisoners urge prison authorities to assist prisoners in maintaining and improving their relationships with their family, and in providing for regular contact with family and friends.232
Maritza Lugo Fernández and Raúl Ayarde Herrera
In June 1997, in an apparent effort to stifle criticism of the government, a Havana tribunal found Maritza Lugo Fernández and Raúl Ayarde Herrera guilty of bribery. At the time of the trial, Ayarde Herrera was serving a ten-year sentence for espionage. The Cuban prosecutors who tried him in 1991 following his unsuccessful effort to leave Cuba presented no evidence of espionage. Prosecutors at the 1997 trial alleged that Ayarde Herrera and Lugo Fernández, a member of the Frank País 30th of November Party (Partido 30 de Noviembre Frank País), had conspired to bribe a guard at the Unit 1580 Prison in Havana Province (also known as "El Pitirre") to bring a tape recorder into the prison.233 Cuban authorities, who often were frustrated by prisoners' outspoken criticism of prison conditions and abuses, apparently targeted Ayarde Herrera and Lugo Fernández in order to prevent the dissemination of information about Cuban prisons. The court sentenced Lugo Fernández to two years and Ayarde Herrera to three years. In April 1998, the Cuban government released Ayarde Herrera from prison on the condition that hego into exile in Canada. At this writing, Lugo Fernández was serving her sentence under house arrest in Havana.234
Cecilio Ruíz Rivero
Cuban police arrested Cecilio Ruíz Rivero, a member of the Association Struggling Against Injustice (ALFIN), on July 14, 1997. In September 1997, a Havana tribunal reportedly found him guilty of contempt for authority, resisting arrest, and assault on authority (desacato, resistencia al arresto, y atentado a la autoridad) and sentenced him to nine years in prison. He previously had served a three-year sentence for enemy propaganda. Cuban authorities sent him to the Quivican prison in Havana Province.235 As described above, on August 28, 1998, a Havana court sentenced Ruíz Rivero's colleague, Reynaldo Alfaro García, ALFIN's vice-president, to three years for spreading false news.
Lorenzo Paez Núñez and Dagoberto Vega Jaime
On July 10, 1997, Cuban authorities detained Lorenzo Paez Núñez, a journalist with the Independent Press Bureau of Cuba (Buró de Prensa Independiente de Cuba, BPIC) and the president of the José de la Luz y Caballero Nongovernmental Human Rights Center (Centro No Gubernamental para los Derechos Humanos "José de la Luz y Caballero"), and Dagoberto Vega Jaime.236 On July 11, the Municipal Tribunal in Artemisa found both guilty of defaming the police and contempt for authority. The court sentenced Paez Núñez to eighteen months and Vega Jaime to one year in prison. The extremely short period between their arrest and trial compromised their ability to prepare for the trial, particularly since the government did not permit either defendant to name a defense attorney. The court found both defendants guilty of defaming a former Interior Ministry official by alleging that he beat several youths. In rendering this decision, the court ignored testimony the youths reportedly provided confirming the defendants' allegations. The contempt of authority charge reportedly arose after Paez Núñez described anongoing police search to a contact in Miami who later broadcast his interview on a radio station accessible to Cubans. Vega Jaime appeared to have no role in this incident, but nonetheless was found guilty of contempt. A Havana tribunal ratified the sentence on July 24.237 Cuba released both men upon the completion of their sentences.
Nestor Rodríguez Lobaina and Radamés García de la Vega
Cuban authorities tried and convicted Nestor Rodríguez Lobaina, the president of the Movement of Young Cubans for Democracy (Movimiento de Cubanos Jóvenes por la Democracia), of contempt for authority and resisting authority in early April 1997. He reportedly had criticized government plans for a youth festival that allowed no participation of independent groups. He was released in October 1997 after serving his full eighteen-month sentence. Following his detention, Cuban authorities reportedly also subjected his family members and colleagues to harassment and threats of prosecution for political crimes.238 Cuban police also detained Rodríguez Lobaina's colleague, Radamés García de la Vega, the vice-president of the Movement of Young Cubans for Democracy, later that month. In June 1997, a Santiago tribunal sentenced García de la Vega to eighteen months for contempt of authority. In July the court confirmed the sentence on appeal. After completing his sentence, García de la Vega left Cuba for exile in the United States. The government repeatedly had detained both Rodríguez and García on previous occasions and in June 1996, had sentenced both to residence restrictions, insisting that they leave Havana and return to their hometowns in eastern Cuba.239
Ana María Agramonte Crespo
In mid-May 1997 Cuban authorities convicted Ana María Agramonte Crespo, a member of the Nationalist Action Movement (Movimiento de Acción Nacionalista, MAN), to eighteen months for contempt of authority and resistence to authority. Cuban authorities detained her in the Manto Negro Prison in Havana. Her warrantless arrest on May 1, 1997, followed shortly after she protested the government's directive that dissidents should refrain from any activities on May Day. Cuban authorities arrested and searched the homes of five other dissidents that day, holding them in Villa Marista (the state security detention center in Havana) for several days. The five dissidents held were Alberto Perrera Martínez, the president of Peace, Progress, and Liberty (Paz, Progreso y Libertad); Jesús Pérez Gómez and Lorenzo Pescoso, the vice-president and secretary, respectively, of the same organization; Aquileo Cancio Chong, the president of the Nationalist Action Party (Partido de Acción Nacionalista, PAN); and Gabriel Leyva.240
Enrique García Morejón
In February 1997, a Cuban court found Enrique
García Morejón, a member of the Christian Liberation Movement (Movimiento
Cristiano de Liberación, MCL), guilty of enemy propaganda and sentenced
him to four years in prison, which he began serving in the Cerámica Roja
prison in Camagüey. Reportedly, the charge arose from his having worked
in late 1996 to collect signatures for the MCL's legalization. The MCL,
a Catholic nongovernmental organization, repeatedly has solicited government
legalization without success. Initially charged with "illegal association,"
the government later based his prosecution for enemy propaganda on an accusation
of distributing flyers saying "Down with Fidel."241
190 Throughout this report, Human Rights Watch is using the term "political prosecution" to mean the wrongful prosecution of individuals based on the exercise of fundamental civil and political rights. Similarly, we use the term "political prisoners" to refer to persons incarcerated as a result of these prosecutions.
191 Human Rights Watch telephone interviews with Efrén Martínez Pulgarón, journalist with Cuba Press, Havana, January 13, 1999, and Gerardo Sánchez Santacruz, Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, May 11, 1999. Ricardo González Alfonso, "Sancionados Periodistas Independientes," Cuba Press, May 7, 1999. Letter from Ann K. Cooper, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, to Fidel Castro Ruz, president of Cuba, October 16, 1998. CDR's are discussed further below, at Routine Repression.
192 Each of the dissidents also leads an independent Cuban organization: Roca Antúnez heads the Social Democrat Party (Partido Socialdemócrata); Roque Cabello heads the Cuban Institute of Independent Economists (Instituto Cubano de Economistas Independientes); Gómez Manzano heads the Agromontist Current (Corriente Agromontista); and Bonne Carcassés heads the Cuban Civic Current (Corriente Cívica Cubana).
193 Alberto Pérez Giménez, "España: La Fiscalía Insistió en sus Penas y Acusó al 'Grupo de los Cuatro' de 'Saboteadores,'" ABC, March 3, 1999. Cuba's restrictions on independent lawyering are discussed above, at Impediments to Human Rights in Cuban Law: Collective Law Firms.
194 Pascal Fletcher, "Cuban Dissidents will Oppose One-Party Elections," Reuters News Service, May 5, 1997, and Juan O. Tamayo, "Disidentes Cubanos Piden en La Habana Boicotear Elecciones," El Nuevo Heraldo, May 6, 1997.
195 These conditions are described below, at General Prison Conditions and Treatment of Political Prisoners.
196 Howard LaFranchi, "Cuba Backslides on Reform, Arrests Dissidents," The Christian Science Monitor, September 9, 1997.
197 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Magalys de Armas Chaviano (Roca Antúnez's wife), Havana, July 2, 1998.
198 Herald Wire Services, "Jailed Cuban Dissident Seeks 'Public Trial,'" The Miami Herald, July 16, 1998.
199 Sedition and other crimes against state security are discussed above, at Impediments to Human Rights in Cuban Law: Crimes Against State Security Crush Nonviolent Dissent.
200 "Quienes son los Disidentes y los Presos de Conciencia en Cuba," Granma Diario, March 4, 1999; "Nota de Televisión Cubana," Granma Diario, March 5, 1999; and, Andrew Cawthorne, "Cuba: Cuba Attacks 'Traitor' and 'Mercenary' Dissidents," Reuters News Service, March 4, 1999.
201 "Quienes son los Disidentes," Granma Diario, March 4, 1999.
202 Cawthorne, "Cuba Attacks 'Traitor' and 'Mercenary' Dissidents," Reuters News Service, March 4, 1999. Cuba's reliance on legal measures to restrict human rights is discussed above, at Impediments to Human Rights in Cuban Law.
203 Several barriers to full due process protections, including extremely rapid trials (juicios sumarisimos), are discussed below, at Impediments to Humans Right in Cuban Law: Due Process Denied.
204 Ramón Alberto Cruz Lima, "Condenan a Disidente Cubano Tras Arbitrario Juicio," Nueva Prensa Cubana, January 20, 1999; "Cuba: Journalist Given Four-Year Jail Term for 'Dangerous Social Conduct,'" ABC published by the BBC Monitoring Summary of World Broadcasts; Letter from Ann K. Cooper, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, to Fidel Castro Ruz, president of Cuba, February 3, 1999; and Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Ricardo González Alfonso, Cuba Press, Havana, February 1, 1999.
205 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Odilia Collazo, president of the Pro Human Rights Party (Partido Pro Derechos Humanos), Havana, January 11, 1999. In the course of gathering information on this case, several of our telephone calls to Cuba were abruptly terminated.
Dangerousness is a criminal provision that allows the Cuban government to take measures against persons demonstrating an alleged tendency to commit a crime. Dangerousness is discussed above, at Impediments to Human Rights in Cuban Law: Measures Against Persons Demonstrating Criminal Tendencies.
206 Nicanor Leon Cotayo, "El 'Disidente,'" Granma Diario, January 7, 1999.
207 Ibid. Cuba's harassment of human rights activists, independent journalists, and members of other independent organizations is discussed below, at Routine Repression and Labor Rights.
208 "Juzgarán a un Activista Pese a Petición Papal," Agencia EFE, August 25, 1998.
209 Radio Havana Cuba, "Radio Denounces Western Media Handling of 'Prisoners of Conscience,'" broadcast on September 1, 1998, BBC Monitoring Summary of World Broadcasts, September 3, 1998. This and other state security crimes are discussed above, at Impediments to Human Rights in Cuban Law: Crimes Against State Security Crush Nonviolent Dissent.
210 "Cuban Dissident Sentenced to Three Years Amid Rare Street Protest," Agence France Presse, August 28, 1998, and Luis López Prendes, "Pide Fiscalía 12 Años de Prisión a Reynaldo Alfaro García," Buró de Prensa Independiente de Cuba: CubaNet, February 14, 1998.
211 Radio Havana Cuba, "Radio Denounces Western Media," BBC Monitoring Summary of World Broadcasts, September 3, 1998. Alfaro García's trial highlights the heavy-handed measures the government uses to respond to criticisms of prison abuses, which are discussed below, at Treatment of Political Prisoners: Criminal Charges for Denouncing Prison Abuses. Pressures on Cuban human rights activists who are not imprisoned are detailed below, at Routine Repression: Cuba's Human Rights Activists.
212 "Cuban Dissident Sentenced," Agence France Presse, August 28, 1998.
213 These detentions are detailed below, at Routine Repression.
214 Human Rights Watch interview with Elizardo Sánchez Santacruz, leader of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (Comisión Cubana para los Derechos Humanos y la Reconciliación Nacional), Washington, March 26, 1999.
215 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Mirna Riverón Guerrero, deputy director of the Eastern Free Press Agency (Agencia de Prensa Libre Oriental, APLO) and member of the Cuban Party of Orthodox Renovation (Partido Cubano de Renovación Ortodoxa), Santiago, July 3, 1998. Ana Luisa Lòpez Baeza, "Juzgado Hermano del Joven Desaparecido," Cuba Press, April 29, 1998.
216 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Héctor Trujillo Pis, Villa Clara correspondent for Cuba Press, July 3, 1998.
217 This provision and other state security crimes are discussed above, at Impediments to Human Rights in Cuban Law: Crimes Against State Security Crush Nonviolent Dissent.
218 Ibid. The government's prosecution of individuals based on their political opinions and the sentencing of those individuals to labor camps violates Cuba's obligations under the International Labor Organization's (ILO) Abolition of Forced Labor Convention, which Cuba ratified in 1958. Article 1(a) and Article 2, Convention 105: Abolition of Forced Labor, ILO (1957). Cuba's prison labor programs are discussed below, at LaborRights: Prison Labor.
219 Reporters Sans Frontieres, "RSF Protests Conditions of Two Journalists," IFEX-News from the International Freedom of Expression Community, September 1, 1998.
220 "Video Constituirá Prueba Contra Héctor Palacios," Infoburo, January 22, 1997.
221 His treatment in prison is detailed below, at Treatment of Political Prisoners: Beatings.
222 Human Rights Watch telephone interviews with Ricardo González and Héctor Trujillo Pis, journalists with Cuba Press, Havana, July 3, 1998, and Odilia Collazo, Pro Human Rights Party, Havana, August 6, 1998.
225 Héctor Trujillo Pis, "Niegan la Libertad a Prisionero," Disidente Universal de Puerto Rico, September 1998.
226 Human Rights Watch telephone interviews with González and Trujillo Pis, Cuba Press, July 3, 1998, and Collazo, PPDH, August 6, 1998.
227 Dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever are mosquito-borne diseases that can lead to death. The World Health Organization (WHO) considers dengue a serious and growing health threat worldwide. World Health Organization, "Dengue and DHF Prevention and Control: Burden and Trends," WHO Division of Control of Tropical Diseases website, February 25, 1998. Dr. Mendoza informed the international press that between twenty and forty people had died from dengue fever between January 1997 and mid-June 1997, and that approximately 3,000 people had fallen ill of dengue during thesame period. Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Dr. Caridad del Carmen Piñon Rodríguez (Dr. Mendoza Rivero's wife), Santiago de Cuba, June 25, 1998.
230 "Prisioneros Políticos Liberados Tramitan Viaje a España," EFE, December 1, 1998.
231 Adalberto Yero, "Sentencian al Activista de Derechos Humanos Orestes Rodríguez Horruitiner," Corresponsalia Turquino/Agencia de Prensa Independiente de Cuba: CubaNet, November 21, 1997.
232 Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, Articles 37 and 61.
233 Cuban courts also had prosecuted Lugo Fernández's husband Rafael Ibarra Roque, the president of the 30th of November Party, after arresting him in June 1994. At this writing, he was serving a twenty-year sentence for sabotage in the maximum security Kilo 8 Prison in Camagüey Province. Mercedes Moreno, "Irá a Juicio Joven Opositora," Agencia Nacional de Prensa ANP: CubaNet, September 2, 1997.
234 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Raúl Ayarde Herrera, Toronto, Canada, April 21, 1998. Julio Martínez, "Condenada a Dos Años de Privación de Libertad la Opositora Maritza Lugo Fernández," Habana Press: CubaNet, September 7, 1997.
235 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Odilia Collazo, PPDH, Havana, August 6, 1998. Ariel Hidalgo and Tete Machado, "Disidente Será Condenado," Infoburo, November 24, 1997.
236 Amnesty International, "Cuba: Prisoners of Conscience Lorenzo Paez Núñez and Dagoberto Vega Jaime," An Amnesty International Report, August 7, 1997.
237 Reporters Without Borders, "Two Journalists Still Detained," IFEX - News from the International Freedom of Expression Community, February 9, 1998.
238 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with a representative of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (Comisión Cubana para los Derechos Humanos y la Reconciliación Nacional), Havana, May 15, 1997; "Lider Juvenil Disidente en Pésimas Condiciones," Infoburo, May 27, 1997, "Hostigan a Familiares y Amigos de Joven Prisionero," Infoburo, May 30, 1997; and Omar Rodríguez Saludes, "Celebrado Juicio a Joven Disidente," Agencia Nueva Prensa: CubaNet, July 23, 1997.
239 Cuba's controls over the freedom of movement, including the sanction of internal exile, are discussed above, at Impediments to Human Rights in Cuban Law: Crimes Restricting the Freedom of Movement.
240 "Cuban Dissident Jailed for 18 Months," Reuters News Service, May 20, 1997. Human Rights Watch telephone interview with representative of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, Havana, May 23, 1997.
Rights Watch telephone interview with Odilia Collazo, PPDH President, Havana,
August 6, 1998. Cuba's pressures on the MCL and other religious organizations
are detailed below, at Limits on Religious Freedom.
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