Fidel Castro’s Cuban forced labor camps, the UMAPs
During the mid 1960s Fidel Castro’s regime in Cuba created a system of labor camps euphemistically called “Military Units in Aid of Production,” known better the Spanish acronym UMAP. By this time considerable opposition to the Cuban Revolution had developed and Castro, in order to maintain the stability of his rule, needed a mechanism whereby he could neutralize undesirables.
Internment in a UMAP could be precipitated by any of the following actions: refusing to engage in “volunteer” work on behalf of the Revolution, being homosexual, being a Jehovah’s Witness, being a Seventh Day Adventist, refusing collectivization. Additionally, among those also rounded up and sent to the UMAPs were members of the Catholic and Protestant clergy.
The Interamerican Commission for Human Rights of the Organization of American States (OAS) estimated in a report on Cuba that at one point there were 30,000 Cuban citizens interned in the UMAP system.
A 1966 article in Granma, the official newspaper of Cuba’s Communist Party characterized the genesis of the UMAPs in this way.
Still left to consider was the case of misplaced elements, deadbeats, those who neither studied nor worked. What can be done with these people? This question was the worrying concern for the leaders of the Revolution. One day in November of last year, 1965, a group of military officials met to discuss these questions. They spoke with Fidel, who shared these concerns and proposed to him the creation of the UMAP.
In addition to forced labor, internees were forced to undergo ideological “re-education.” Beatings, malnourishment and death were common in the UMAPs.
A 1984 Award-winning French documentary about the UMAPs and the persecution of gays in Cuba in twelve parts is below (English Narration and Subtitles).
Introduction -Fidel Castro’s greatest atrocities and crimes
1. Fidel Castro’s firing squads in Cuba
2. Fidel Castro sank the 13 de Marzo tugboat killing Cuban women and children
3. Fidel Castro’s shoot down of American civilian aircraft killing 4 people including 3 American citizens
4. Fidel Castro’s Cuban political prisoners
5. Fidel Castro’s Cuban forced labor camps, the UMAPs
6. Fidel Castro’s religious repression against Cubans
7. Fidel Castro separates Cuban families
8. Fidel Castro restricts the movement of Cubans
9. Fidel Castro’s foreign interventions resulting in thousands of deaths
10. Fidel Castro’s espionage