Message from Havana

A Message from Havana via Capitol Hill Cubans:

Message From Havana

An important message from the Havana-based opposition group, Council of Human Rights Rapporteurs (“CHRR”):

Given that the human rights situation in Cuba has become worse; due to the profound economic stagnation; to the repression and the social confinement as well as to the dangerous present political state of affairs; to the demagoguery; to the deception; the prevailing uncertainty; the risk of social unrest or of a mass exodus; to the liability of being subjected to tactics of state terrorism; and to the relentless intimidation of mass governmental organizations; the CHRR has decided to release the following statement:

REPRESSION: The violent “acts of repudiation” perpetrated during this past weekend and in the course of previous days and months, across our national territory by the military agents of Cuban State Security and its paramilitary mobs; the more than 1000 arrests in 2010; the beatings against peaceful activists and independent journalists; the restrictions on freedom of movement; the interception and monitoring of dissident’s telephone calls; the breaking and entering of their homes; the confiscation of their possessions as well as other numerous hostile acts reflect the serious deterioration of the human rights situation in our country during 2010. In all instances, the repression was aimed at frustrating the dissidents’ peaceful activities organized by small groups of defenders of the international pacts of civil, political, and cultural rights that Cuban authorities say they are willing to respect.

In the same manner, almost all of these meetings were planned to take place inside the activists’ homes with a usual assembly of no more than thirty people that are systematically arrested, threatened and evicted, in spite of the fact that they pose no danger to the stability of the Cuban government.

Due to the large scale of sectors and activities that are subject to the repression we can state, unequivocally, that there have been no improvements or opening up in regards to the public rights and liberties in Cuba. What we observe is that the Cuban government has changed the focal point and tactics of its political repression pretending to fool international public opinion by transposing its criminal actions from the heinous penitentiaries to the homes of the peaceful human rights defenders and independent journalists.

PRISONS: The terrifying prison situation does not improve. Cuban authorities maintain around 300 correctional centers throughout the island of which 100 are extremely brutal. According to our investigations, the penal population of common criminals comprises around 200,000 inmates, most of them young and of the black race who survive in crowded conditions.

The CHRR confirmed that Cuban authorities released 72 political prisoners since January 2010, up to the present date. Of these, more than half belong to the cause of the “Group of the 75” (2003), whose personal decisions to be released from prison were flawed since they were conditioned by the Cuban military with forced exile to Spain. Most of the rest of these political prisoners were released in observance of the releases announced by the Cuban government, the Catholic Church and the Spanish authorities.

The CHRR has verified that there are still 82 political prisoners in Cuban penitentiaries, 2 of whom were imprisoned this year, a fact that implies the almost total eradication of imprisonments for political reasons in 2010 and achieved by Cuban authorities at the expense of a rise in the repression against the internal dissidence and through the use of excessive and frequent use of violence, force, and intimidation.

Other organizations inside and outside Cuba, that document the number of Cuban political prisoners point out that, at present, the figure of Cubans jailed for political reasons is higher and could possibly reach 120.

Several thousands of mentally disturbed, handicapped and critically ill convicts are confined in these Cuban penitentiaries in deplorable and embarrassing conditions, deprived of medical assistance.

The Cuban government continues to imprison innocent human beings, accused of “social dangerousness” whom it considers have a “special proclivity” to commit crimes. Under this status, thousands of individuals are locked up in jails where they are subjected to forced labor, though they have never committed a crime. Around a thousand young prostitutes are victims of this unjust measure.

In addition, the government continues to imprison innocent members of Cuban civil society using judicial deceit by inventing crimes such as; “illegal exit” (Cubans are required a permission from the government to travel to another country), “contempt or disrespect for authority” (restrictions on freedom of thought and expression), “disobedience”, and “attack” (range of forms of insubordination to government officials.)

The unfair and excessive sentences; the extreme severity; the meager and rotten food (salcocho), the beatings and the cruel treatment of the prisoners and their families; the overcrowded cells; the lack of medical assistance and of water (scarce and dirty) are among other things, the causes of the frequent and preventable deaths and suicides that have increased the death rate in Cuban prisons in the last 5 years (when more tan 500 common prisoners have died) and several dozens only in 2010. These injustices are the reason for the daily protests that today keep hundreds of convicts on hunger strike, “plantados” (resisting prison authority and rules). To give just one example among many: for three months now, 15 convicts remain on hunger strike in the maximum security prison of “Boniato” in the Eastern city of Santiago de Cuba demanding transparency for their cases and just decisions based on full respect for the guarantees of due process.

The Cuban prison scene is aggravated by the high consumption of drug use, the alcoholism, the homemade sharp weapons (knives and pointed instruments) within the prisoner’s reach, all these (drugs, alcohol and weapons) are regularly introduced in many prisons by the guards themselves to be used as a form of reward, barter, and to obtain favors.

Margarito Broche Espinosa, President
Juan Carlos González Leiva, Executive Secretary
María Caridad Noa González, Human Rights Rapporteur
Bárbara Jiménez Contreras, Rapporteur for the Rights of Women
Noelia Pedraza Jiménez, Vice-President for the Central Region
Tania Maceda Guerra, Organization Secretary
Odalys Sanabria Rodríguez, Rapporteur for the Information Center
Leticia Ramos Herrería, Rapporteur for the Information Center