CRDHC-Annual Report on Human Rights in Cuba 2010

Consejo de Relatores de Derechos Humanos de Cuba (CRDHC) - The Cuban Council of Human Rights Reporters (CCHRC)


Havana, Cuba, January 9, 2011

 

Introduction

Report of the Consejo de Relatores de Derechos Humanos de Cuba (CRDHC) - The Cuban Council of Human Rights Reporters (CCHRC) 

The Cuban Government assassinated the black prisoner of conscience, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who died on February 10, 2010 after a dramatic 83-day hunger strike and torment, horrendous beatings, internal exiles, and systematic violations of his human and prison rights over the course of 7 years in jail. In his honour, information about him is included in the first attachment of this report.

The Cuban Council of Human Rights Reporters welcomes the liberation of nearly a hundred political prisoners in 2010, and the public commitment on the part of high officials in the Cuban government to continue these releases; however the Council rejects the political cleansing that these same authorities continue to carry out by sending these prisoners to Spain under distorted will and a marked and unjustified delay of the process, along with actions of annihilation of the physical and mental health of the prisoners of conscience that await their freedom. Attachment 2 of this report is an Excel document that gathers all essential data of the political prisoners who were released from prison in 2010. For this, our Council deeply thanks all the people and legal advisors who have worked on behalf of Cuba for many years and still work for a Cuba without political prisoners.

Our organization also recognizes the ostensible decline of trials and jailing for political motives during this period. We have confirmed only 30 cases produced under strained causes and conditions by the Cuban government that could have a significant political connotation. These cases continue to be investigated by our reporters. In 2009, some 70 defenders of human rights were jailed or tried by the courts for political motives, and in 2008, we can confirm 67 similar cases. Attachment 3 of this report is an Excel document that gathers fundamental data for the above-mentioned prosecuted individuals. It will be published on January 10th.

According to the verifications of the Council of Reporters, some 80 political prisoners remain incarcerated. Attachment 4 of this report is an Excel document that contains fundamental data on the political prisoners or prisoners of conscience that still remain in Cuban jails.

Other organizations that address this problem both inside and outside of Cuba point out a larger number of incarcerated political prisoners, a number that could surpass 120. Attachment 5 of this report will be published on Thursday, January 13, 2011. It is an Excel document that compiles information about the majority of these other cases and the circumstances that accompanied them up from the moment of being detained and processed. The Council of Reporters irrefutably confirmed that these people were jailed for actions that were not motivated by political reasons, and the great majority of the defendants did not pertain to any dissident organization when they were arrested and jailed.



Prison conditions

The Boniato prison in Santiago de Cuba. Photo: Cubanet
The majority of inmates in Cuban prisons is young and black. Photo: therealcuba.com

Although the authorities have made gestures and positive attempts, the horrendous picture of Cuban prisons is not improving. The Cuban government maintains some 300 prisons throughout the entire country, of which approximately 100 are maximum security facilities.

According to the investigations of the Cuban Council of Human Rights Reporters, the population of common prisoners exceeds 150,000 prisoners, of whom a large part survive in overcrowded conditions and the majority of whom are young, black inmates.

The unjust and excessive sentences, very strict prison conditions, rotten and decomposed food (salcocho), beatings and mistreatment of the prisoners, crowded conditions, denial of medical assistance and the lack of water (scarce and filthy water), solitary confinement and general abandonment are, among other things, the most frequent and inevitable causes of deaths and suicides that have reached an alarming number of more than 1,000 prison deaths in the last 10 years. In 2010 alone, we figure 100 of these deaths in only 40 some prisons.

These problems provide ammunition for daily protests for hundreds of prisoners who defy prison rules ("presos plantados") and who regularly carry out hunger strikes. We cite one example here: as we write this report, 26 common prisoners remain on hunger strike in Boniato Prison in Santiago, Cuba, where they are demanding justice and the cessation of mistreatment.

The panorama of the Cuban penal system is made worse by the high use of drugs, alcoholism, and small handmade, sharp-pointed weapons (spikes and knives) in the hand of the prisoners, which like drugs and alcohol, are regularly brought into many prisons by the guards who work there in exchange for payment, favours and deals.

Several thousand severely mentally ill , handicapped, blind, and gravely ill people lie in these abominable centers in deplorable and stifling conditions, agonizing for decades and lacking medical assistance in the majority of instances. The Cuban government granted house arrest to some of the blind, handicapped, and gravely ill prisoners in 2010, among them the blind prisoners, Eduardo Silva Batista and Manuel Cabrales.

The authorities continue jailing innocent human beings under the charge of being a danger to society, keeping thousands of people locked in its jails and submitted to forced labor. These people have not committed any crime. There are thousands of young prostitutes, victims of these unjust measures. In addition, the authorities continue to incarcerate the civil population on fabricated charges, like illegal departure, assault, disobedience, resistance and attack.



Political repression against the peaceful opposition

Reina Luisa Tamayo Danger, mother of the political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who died on February 10, 2010 after 83-day hunger strike. Photo: Miriam Leiva, desdelahabana.net
A member of Castro's "acto de repudio" acting against human rights activists and democratic opposition. Photo: therealcuba.com

On April 25, 2010, the Cuban government celebrated what it called "grass roots elections". From beginning to end, this was an illegitimate and blighted process without any value for the Cuban people or for any person who loves freedom and democracy in the world. The entire process was directed, organized and controlled by the Communist Party alone, who nominated the candidates and counted the votes under terror and an ostentatious display of law enforcement.

The enslaved, terrorized and hungry population, in what can be considered the most massive show of rejection of the Cuban government ever, responded in many places across the country by disqualifying the votes with anti-governmental phrases and slogans, such as "Rice, beans and meat? What we are is hungry! Down with Fidel!" State Security arrested several citizens who protested in this manner and in other peaceful ways.

In 2010, the Cuban government changed the method and focus of its political repression, abandoning its usual trial-to-jail procedures. Instead, it concentrated directly on dissidents - their homes and their activities - and eradicated almost all political repression within the penal system at the cost of the highest level of suffering, repression and terror in the streets that the Cuban people have suffered in the history of the civil and pacifist struggle for freedom and respect for human rights.

The government boasted figures as eloquent as the fact that State Security personnel carried out hundreds of violent acts of repudiation throughout the entire year. They made more than 4,000 political arrests. The majority of them were violent, done by dragging or beating defenders of human rights and many times exhibiting obvious signs to the national and international public of abuse and crime in order to impose public terror and maintain absolute political control.

They carried out these "booings" throughout the entire country, where on numerous occasions victims received furious beatings at the hands of officials of the state police and paramilitary bands egged on by the authorities. Acts perpetuated repeatedly (Sunday after Sunday) against Reina Luisa Tamayo Danger, mother of the martyr, Orlando Zapata, stand out for their extreme cruelty, as well as the stoning of the Lobaina home in Baracoa, Guantanamo, and infamous events against the glorious "Ladies in White".

The Council of Reporters observed that this dramatic increase in political repression against the peaceful opposition and internal dissident movement always had the objective of impeding opposition members from meeting and organizing civic and peaceful activities that are protected by international treaties of civil, economic, social and cultural rights which the Havana government says it wants to respect and has yet to ratify.

As a rule, these actions were made worse in order to suffocate the most discreet civic activities held in private homes in which no more than some 30 people regularly attended. These people were arrested, threatened, and obligated to leave their meeting place. Not a single case constituted a danger for the governance or stability of the Cuban government. One must underscore here that without a doubt, the peaceful demonstrations reprimanded with the greatest ferocity were, in all cases, those that were planned and took place in the streets and public parks.

Severe governmental restrictions on the freedom of the movement of opposition leaders, interruption and tapping telephone calls of human rights defenders, forceful entry into their homes, seizure of their belongings and other numerous hostile actions continue.

 

Economic repression

The Cuban government maintains its traditional stronghold on factors of economic development, but in the last two months it has alleviated economic repression against some citizens, above all on the poor and a sector made up of handicapped, chronically ill, old, divorced, and other socially helpless individuals. The aforementioned people are those who today can sell services, products and imitation jewellery without being assaulted daily by inspectors and policemen - thanks in part to the legal standard enacted to favour the activity on their own part. With respect to the Cuban population, there are many complaints regarding exorbitant and irrational taxes.

 

Freedom of worship and religion

"Damas de Blanco" (Ladies in White) usually start their march after praying in the Santa Rita de Casia Church. 

Freedom of worship and religion remains restricted to the narrow framework of the old churches of denominations that existed before the arrival of the Castro brothers to power in the government. The government now denies recognizing and registering new Christian groups, even in the small towns where there are no religious groups and people who back adequate legislation. Numerous projects and evangelical works throughout the country are currently suffering assault by authorities, and more than just a few have been closed or destroyed in the last three years.

Preaching Christianity in the streets, plazas, parks, on trains, busses or from house to house is not only strongly prohibited but is also pursued bitterly. Access to broadcast media (radio, television, the press) does not exist. In general, governmental authorities maintain a high degree of hostility against the Christian faith.

In jails, the circulation of religious materials, preaching, or meetings of Christians are not permitted.

Cuban political authorities began new actions against the Cuban Apostolic Church, intensifying its actions of persecution and even arresting buses full of Christians several times. After making the people get off the busses, the authorities left the passengers abandoned in isolated locations.



Recommendations to the Cuban government to ease the critical human rights situation in our country

Respectfully, our Council has put together some recommendations on human rights in Cuba which it considers as possible assistance to improve our problematic situation. They are as follows:


1. Resolve the ten month old conflict with Reina Luisa Tamayo Danger, the mother of the Cuban martyr Orlando Zapata Tamayo, as well as with all his family, putting an immediate end to the arrests, beatings and acts of repudiation against them.

2. Set free, immediately and unconditionally, some and eventualy all of the Cuban political prisoners of conscience awaiting their freedom, as it was publicly agreed by the Cuban government, and a result of the sacrifices made by the Cuban martyr, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, of the heroic "Ladies in White", of Guillermo Fariñas, of the Cuban dissident movement, of the Cuban Catholic Church, of the European Union and the Spanish government, so that a Cuba without political prisoners becomes a reality.

3. Totally erradicate the prosecution and imprisonment for political reasons, and stop carrying out acts of violence, acts of repudiation, beatings, and those acts of political terrorism used as totalitarian methods to control society and the Cuban state.

4. Arrange, in the least amount of time possible, the visit to Cuba and, particularly to its prisons of the UN-rapporteurs, as well as of other respectable representatives who oversee the human rights situation, internationally.

5. Set free, immediately and unconditionally, all innocent citizens who are imprisoned but who have never committed a crime ( accused of having "the proclivity of committing a crime" through the use of the so called "peligrosidad social pre-delictiva") and all those who remain imprisoned accused of committing acts that are only considered a crime in Cuba, such as: hoarding, stealing, killing, trafficking and selling cattle.

6. Continue granting a conditional release ("licencia extrapenal") to all those who remain in cells and are handicapped or extremely ill, and whose physical state is incompatible with the prison regime, as well as admit to mental health institutions the thousands of severely mentally ill who have pending prison sentences and who could be a danger to society.

7. Undertake deep prison reforms by radically changing the prison programs and politics, abiding by the UN's Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, and prohibiting the application of all forms of torture, beatings, and ill treatment to the inmates; punishing the real culprits, and substantially improving the prison conditions, particularly the food, medical and religious assistance, the bathrooms, the beds and the prisoner's rights to information and communication.

8. Prohibit the forced exile of prisoners and all types of punshments to the inmates' families, as well as return thousands of prisoners to their respective home provinces.

9. Abolish the death penalty.

10. Urgently carry out a total revision of the present Penal Code, decriminilizing all forms of conduct that are not harmful, depoliticizing it and adjusting it to the progress attained in the field of penal sciences worldwide.

11. Immediately ratify and respect the International Covenants on Civil, and Political Rights, as well as on Economic, Social and Cultural rights, and all the International Pacts that protect individual freedoms, publishing them alongside the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and disseminating this information throughout all written, televised and broadcast national governmental media.

12. Create, with the help and supervision of the international community, a program to urgently protect the homeless, particularly women, children, the elderly, the handicapped, and the mentally ill who are in need of food, medicine, medical assistance, clothing and shelter. The Cuban government must stop the abusive evictions and modify the general law pertaining to housing, permitting the sale and purchase of homes, allowing Cuban citizens the full exercize and protection of prívate property and goods.

13. Stop the persecution of the Christian churches and respect the full exercise of freedom of religion and worship by modifying the Law of Associations, permitting the legal registration of all existing denominations and institutions throughout Cuba, returning them their confiscated properties, facilitating the construction of new temples, and opening the way to public preaching in the streets, plazas, parks, trains, buses, or from house to house, as well as access to the media (radio, televison and written press ).

14. Continue liberating the restraints maintained over the work force, production, and over the factors of economic progress which prevent the Cuban people from earning an honest living from their own labor, reducing the levels of social repression and decrease the amount of police forces and of inspectors present in the streets.

15. Eliminate the "white card" ( tarjeta blanca ) or permission to exit the country legally and allow the free exit and entry of all Cuban citizens to their own country, be it on a temporary or permanent basis, including physicians and other professionals, removing all restrictions and obtacles for these travel transactions.

16. Respect its own constitution and laws and do not continue expelling and exiling from Havana, (the capital city) those Cubans who live in the provinces of Cuba, one of the worst forms of discrimination and segregation suffered by most of the population.



God Bless Cuba in Christ's name


Consejo de Relatores de Derechos Humanos de Cuba (CRDHC) - The Cuban Council of Human Rights Reporters (CCHRC)

Margarito Broche Espinosa, President
Juan Carlos González Leiva, Executive Secretary
María Caridad Noa González, Human Rights Reporter
Tania Maceda Guerra, Secretary

Calle Mayía Rodríguez, edificio 459, apartamento 305, e/ Carmen y patrocinio, la Víbora,
Municipio 10 de Octubre,
Ciudad de la Habana, Cuba
Tel: + 53 7 649 96 63, (cell) + 53 05 273 09 68.
E-Mail: relatorescubanos@gmail.com

We are totally responsible for all the criteria issued by us in this report and we keep the archives of videos, audios and written material of all denunciations provided by the victims, their families, and witnesses, which we readily make available, identified with first and last name, address and telephone.



Translation to English by the Coalition of Cuban-American Women