At its 114th regular session, the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights examined the general situation of human rights in Cuba.
It approved a preliminary report, which was then forwarded to
the Cuban State for the latter to present its observations within a
one-month period. As the
State did not submit observations, the Commission gave final approval
to the report on April 16, 2002, and ordered that it be published in
Chapter IV of its 2002 Annual Report.
It should be noted, however, that the Cuban State sent the
IACHR a note, dated March 13, 2002, and signed by the Chief of the
Cuban Interests Section in Washington, D.C., Dagoberto Rodríguez
Barrera, wherein it returned the Commission’s report. It wrote, inter alia, that
behalf of the Government of the Republic of Cuba, … our country does
not recognize the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights and … therefore does not accept the text of this
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has consistently
maintained that the Cuban State is party to the first international
instruments established in the American hemisphere to protect human
rights: the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man and
the Charter of the Organization of American States. Cuba also signed Resolution VIII at the Fifth Meeting of
Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs (Santiago, Chile, 1959),
which created the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights “charged
with furthering respect for such rights.”
The Commission wishes to reiterate that Resolution VI of the
Eighth Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs
excluded the present Government of Cuba, not the State, from
participation in the inter-American system.
This position is confirmed
by the wording of that Resolution, the course of the debates in which
it was approved, and other actions of the Organization with respect to
In its Seventh Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Cuba,
the Commission supports its position by asserting that the concepts of
government and state are
distinguishable both juridically and institutionally, not only in
terms of legal theory but also in terms of practice.
The Commission has also written that “in
the case of Cuba, the exclusion of its Government could not entail the
loss of its status as a member state, since according to the system of
the Charter of the OAS, a state can only lose that status in one case:
that provided for in Article 4, i.e., in the case of the entry
into the Organization of a new political entity resulting from the
unification of several of its member states.
Unlike the Charter of the United Nations which makes provision
for the expulsion of a member state that repeatedly violates the
principles contained in it (Article 6), the Charter of the OAS makes
no such provision. The
Commission therefore considers that the status of member state
constitutes a right according to the provisions of the Charter,
and as such, no state may be deprived of that status; the status of
member state may only be renounced by the Government that decides to
take such a step, but it cannot be lost by means of application of a
sanction for which there is no provision in the Charter.”
It is the present Government of Cuba that was excluded from the
inter-American system, and not the Cuban State.
Therefore, the Cuban State is juridically answerable to the
Inter-American Commission in matters that concern human rights.
Moreover, the Commission’s consistent position has been that
when it excluded the Cuban Government from the inter-American system,
it was not the intention of the Organization of American States to
leave the Cuban people without protection.
That Government’s exclusion from the regional system in no
way means that it is no longer bound by its international human rights
It should be noted that an important reason for the preparation
of the present report is the lack of free elections, conducted in
accordance with internationally accepted standards, which is a
violation of the right to vote and to participate in government,
recognized in Article XX of the American Declaration of the Rights and
Duties of Man. That
article provides that “[e]very person having legal capacity is
entitled to participate in the government of his country, directly or
through his representatives, and to take part in popular elections,
which shall be by secret ballot, and shall be honest, periodic and
free.” Article 3 of the
Inter-American Democratic Charter signed in Lima, Peru, September 11,
2001, defines the elements of a democratic system of government as
That being the case, since its most recent report, cited above,
the Commission has continued to monitor the development of the human
rights situation in the Republic of Cuba.
This report is a follow-up on the events that have happened in
that country in the period covered in the present annual report.
CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS
Article XX of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties
of Man recognizes the right to vote and the right to participate in
government. It reads as
XX. Every person having legal capacity is entitled to participate in
the government of his country, directly or through his
representatives, and to take part in popular elections, which shall be
by secret ballot, and shall be honest, periodic and free.
Political rights as recognized in the American Declaration
concern the right to take part in government in two clearly
identifiable ways: the right to hold office directly and the right to
elect others to hold office. This
presupposes a broad concept of what constitutes representative
democracy. The latter
rests upon the sovereignty of the people.
The functions through which power is exercised are performed by
individuals chosen in free and authentic elections.
It is Commission doctrine, moreover, that the right to
political participation implies “the right to organize parties and
political associations, which through open discussion and ideological
struggle, can improve the social level and economic circumstances of
the masses and prevent a monopoly on power by any one group or
Commission has observed that “the governments have, in the face of
political rights and the right to political participation, the
obligation to permit and guarantee: the organization of all political
parties and other associations, unless they are constituted to violate
human rights; open debate of the principal themes of socioeconomic
development; the celebration of general and free elections with all
the necessary guarantees so that the results represent the popular
In the case of Cuba, the Commission has already observed that
“the main criterion [for the preparation of the report] is the lack
of free elections in keeping with internationally accepted standards,
which undermines the right to political participation enshrined in
Article XX of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man…
report, the Commission cited Article 3 of the Democratic Charter,
signed in Lima, Peru, September 11, 2001, which reads as follows:
The Cuban State is violating the people’s political rights
not just by refusing to hold free elections that meet internationally
accepted standards, but also by ignoring the principles of its own
Constitution. In effect,
during the period covered by this report, and invoking articles 63 and
of Cuba’s Constitution, a group of Cuban citizens called
“Todos Unidos,” representing more than 140 organizations and
coordinated by Osvaldo Payá Sardiñas, presented a petition-with
11,020 signatures-to the General Assembly of the People’s Power
asking the Cuban regime for a constitutional referendum to introduce
substantive changes in the law. The
so-called Varela Project petitions the National Assembly for a
referendum on the amendments needed in the laws, preserving the
general welfare and respect for human rights.
Cuban authorities’ response came a few days after the “Varela
Project” was presented. Their
response was a nationwide mobilization in which 800,000 signatures
were gathered to declare the Cuban Constitution and the socialist
system irrevocable. The
Commission was also told that prominent notables from the peaceful
opposition like Gustavo Arcos Bergnes, Elizardo Sánchez, Julio Ruiz
Pitaluga, Osvaldo Payá Sardiñas -coordinator of the Christian
Liberation Movement-, Héctor Palacios Ruiz, and Pedro Pablo Álvarez
were among those who signed the Varela Project petition.
Cuban authorities arbitrarily arrested them, confiscated their
documents and personal belongings and temporarily prohibited them from
leaving the country.
During the IACHR’s 116th regular session, Dr.
Marcelino Miyares, a member of the Human Rights Commission of the
Christian Democratic Party, spoke at length about the Varela Project.
She stated that the violations of Cuban citizens’ basic rights are
basically of four types:
1.- The “preliminary version of the Varela Project bill” has not been publicized, as the current law requires.
Restrictions on personal communication via telephone and the
Internet, and on access to the mass media.
Repression in the form of detentions; public censure, beatings,
threats and terror. We
are providing written testimony concerning these acts of oppression.
The Commission finds that the Cuban political system’s
normative structure provides for principles that, if observed and
enforced, could properly safeguard political rights.
Cuba’s Constitution guarantees Cuban citizens the right to
propose changes to the legal and political system.
It is obvious, however, that the Cuban authorities do not have
the political resolve to effect the kinds of changes that would put
Cuba on the road to democratic government and, ultimately, to
unqualified respect for and observance of human rights in that
country. The political
system in place in Cuba today continues to give an unhealthy
preponderance to the government party, to the point that the party is
more powerful than the State itself, thereby precluding any
possibility of the healthy ideological and partisan pluralism that is
one of the pillars of the democratic system of government.
Discrimination for political reasons, as it relates to the lack
of freedom of expression, assembly and association
The rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association
are upheld in the following Articles of the American Declaration of
the Rights and Duties of Man:
Every person has the right to freedom of investigation, of
opinion, and of the expression and dissemination of ideas, by any
Every person has the right to assemble peaceably with others in
a formal public meeting or an informal gathering, in connection with
matters of common interest of any nature.
Every person has the right to associate with others to promote,
exercise and protect his legitimate interests of a political,
economic, religious, social, cultural, professional, labor union or
The right of assembly and the right to freedom of association
are recognized in the American Declaration and other international
human rights instruments, and are very interrelated.
By virtue of the right to freedom of association, a citizen is
free to associate with whomever he/she chooses without being subject
to penalties that impair his/her exercise of other civil, political,
economic and social rights by reason of that association.
This includes the right to form associations and the right to
join existing associations, at any stage in the life of a modern
The right of assembly, for its part, is the right that every
person has to assemble in groups, either publicly or privately, to
discuss or defend their ideas. These
rights–freedom of association and right of assembly-are protected in
the constitution of every State in this hemisphere, including Cuba.
Article 54 of the Cuban Constitution provides that “The
rights of assembly, demonstration and association are exercised by the
workers, laborers and intellectuals, peasants, women, students and
other sectors of the working people, for which purpose they shall have
the necessary means. Social
organizations of the masses shall have all the facilities for
conducting such activities, in which their members enjoy the broadest
freedom of speech and opinion, based on the unrestricted right to
initiative and criticism.”
The freedom of expression provided for in Article 53 of the
Cuban Constitution provides that “Citizens enjoy freedom of speech
and freedom of the press in accordance with the purposes of a
socialist society. The
material conditions for their exercise are ensured by the fact that
the press, radio, television, cinema and other mass media are State-
or collectively-owned. There
can be no private ownership of any medium.
This ensures that the media will serve the worker people
exclusively and the interests of society.
The law shall regulate the exercise of these freedoms.”
These rights, however, are limited and subordinate to Article
62 of the Cuban Constitution, which provides that:
This provision of the Constitution establishes the legal
grounds for censorship, since the State alone has the authority to
determine whether the right to freedom of oral or written expression,
the right of association, the right of assembly and the other rights
recognized in the Constitution, have been exercised in a manner
contrary to the existing political system.
The Cuban authorities’ intolerance of any form of political
opposition is the principal factor limiting participation, especially
now that the existing socialist system has been declared “irrevocable”
in the aftermath of the Varela Project’s presentation.
The State has controlled all the media since 1960.
Major newspapers like Granma
(official mouthpiece of the Communist Party), Juventud
Rebelde (official newspaper of the Communist Youth Union) and Trabajadores (the Cuban Labor Confederation newspaper) reflect
government views only. The
right of the Cuban people of access to information in severely limited
due to the absence of a pluralization of communications media.
Although in recent years there has emerged a group of
independent journalists, their work has seen daily restraints through
temporary detentions, disciplinary deprivation of liberty, harassment,
searches, seizures of equipment, etc. That has severely limited and/or
restricted their work.
There can be no open, organized criticism of government policy
with this system. The current Cuban regime persists in using various methods–control
of information and of scientific and cultural affairs, incarceration,
accusations, public censure, disciplinary measures, official warnings
and imprisonment-to restrict and even eliminate any type of political
Commission has recommended repeatedly the elimination from legislation
of the language such as “enemy propaganda,” “desacato”
[contempt for authority], “unlawful association”, “clandestine
printing presses,” dangerousness,” “official warning,” “pre-delict
and post-delict security measures,” “associations or ties with
persons that could pose a danger to society,” “socialist legality,”
“socially dangerous,” and so on.
In the years since these provisions were introduced into Cuba’s
constitutional and criminal laws, the IACHR and other sectors of the
inter-American community have recommended to Cuba that such laws be
authorities, however, have not only disregarded these recommendations,
but have systematically enforced these laws against persons who
peaceably attempt to exercise their civil and political rights.
Human Rights Watch has written the following:
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, press, association, and assembly.
recent years, rather than modify its laws to conform to international
human rights standards, Cuba has approved legislation further
restricting fundamental rights. (…) But Cuba has consistently
refused to reform the most objectionable elements of its laws. Cuba's
concurrent refusal to amnesty political prisoners and its continued
prosecution of nonviolent activists highlight the critical role that
Cuba's laws play in its machinery of repression.
In May 2002, Amnesty International issued a report on the
situation of human rights in Cuba, which corroborates this assessment:
Amnesty International is concerned that Cuba continues to detain people for their political, religious or other conscientiously held beliefs. An unconfirmed number of people are currently detained for political offences in Cuba; of these, six had been identified by Amnesty International as prisoners of conscience as this report went to print. While recognizing that this number represents a significant decrease from past decades, Amnesty International continues to call urgently for the unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience, and for the repressive laws under which they are often convicted to be repealed.
While the number of identified prisoners of conscience has declined steadily over the last years, Amnesty International and other organizations have noted with concern an increase in other types of violations, including short-term arbitrary arrest, threats, summonses and other forms of harassment directed by the state against political dissidents, independent journalists and other activists in an effort to limit their ability to exercise fundamental freedoms.
Cuba freedom of expression, association and assembly are severely
limited by law and in practice. Those who attempt to express views,
organize meetings or form organizations that conflict with government
policy can be subjected to short term detentions, interrogations,
summonses, official warnings, threats, intimidation, eviction, loss of
employment, restrictions on travel, house searches, house arrests,
telephone bugging and physical and verbal acts of aggression carried
out by government supporters. These measures can be directed against
specific individuals, in an apparent effort to encourage them to
desist from their activities. Similarly, they can be used on a larger
scale, to prevent planned demonstrations or events in which dissident
views might be expressed.
As regards freedom of expression, freedom of the press in Cuba
was seriously restricted during the period that the present report
covers. In November 2002, the Inter-American Press Association
published a resolution of the Coordinating Committee of Press Freedom
Organizations on the “harassment of independent journalists and the lack of freedom of
expression and lack of freedom of the press in Cuba.”
The resolution states that "independent journalists
Bernardo Arévalo Padrón, Léxter Téllez Castro, Carlos Brizuela and
Carlos Alberto Domínguez are still in jail and many others are
systematically harassed with searches, calls for intimidation,
temporary detentions, warnings, fines and forcible expulsions from
places where they go to do their professional work.”
From all the foregoing, the Commission can conclude that the
Cuban State has not altered the repressive pattern of behavior
practiced in the past against groups or individuals who wanted to
exercise –without censorship or restriction- their rights to freedom
of expression, assembly and association.
Some cases illustrate what the prevailing situation is:
Leonardo Bruzón Ávila, President of the “Movimiento Pro
Derechos Humanos 24 de Febrero” was detained on the morning of
February 23, 2002, seemingly to prevent him from participating in the
activities scheduled for the next day to commemorate the events
relative to the downing of the two planes belonging to the group
called “Brothers to the Rescue” [“Hermanos al Rescate”].
Bruzón Ávila has been held at Quivicán prison since February
23, 2002. Initially he
was held in a walled-in punishment cell in the Technical
Investigations Department [Departamento Técnico de Investigaciones]
(DTI), in Havana. In late March he was transferred to Melena Dos prison, also
in Havana. According to
Amnesty International, the cells in this prison are dark and very
dirty and have little ventilation.
This is disturbing, because according to the reports received,
Bruzón Ávila’s health is delicate.
Prior to being detained this time, Leonardo Bruzón had been
repeatedly detained and harassed.
On one occasion, the authorities issued a warrant for his
arrest and for the eviction of him and his family when, on August 12,
2001, he organized an independent library of children’s videos at
his home in Havana. He
was detained again on September 5, 2001 and released four days later.
In August of that same year, prior to that incident, he and
other critics of the government were detained and briefly held to
prevent them from participating in an organized demonstration seeking
the release of political prisoners.
They were planning to stage a candlelight vigil before the
statute of the Virgin Mary that stands in Virgen del Camino park in
Havana. On December 3, 2000, he and other dissidents were detained to
prevent them from taking part in a demonstration to mark Human Rights
Day. He was not released
until two months later.
On January 17, 2002, in Bayamo, Granma province, State police
agents approached two members of the “Christian Liberation Movement”
and arrested young Alexis Rodríguez Fernández.
While he was being interrogated, he was told that the leader of
his group, Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, would soon be under arrest and
given a sentence that would keep him in prison for a long time to
come. Alexis Rodríguez
was released at nightfall, in a very remote area, and had to return
home on foot.
On January 23, 2002, in the Baire zone of Granma province,
National Police agents, State security troopers, and civilian members
of the rapid-response brigades assailed a group of 15 activists with
the Christian Liberation Movement. The activists were
forced out of the truck they were traveling in, kicked, punched, and
threatened. The reports
show that a number of papers were taken from them, among them
petitions signed in support of the Varela Project.
Authorities again resorted to a massive crackdown on dissidents
in the wake of the events of February 27, 2002.
That day, a group of 21 Cubans crashed the gates of the Mexican
Embassy in Havana. According
to reports received, police and State security agents attacked Reuters
reporter Andrew Cawthorne and cameraman Alfredo Tedeschi with batons,
in an effort to prevent them from reporting what had happened.
Security forces announced that police had arrested 150 Cubans
who had gathered in front of the Embassy.
After these arrests, at least a dozen dissidents were detained
to prevent them from participating in the disturbances.
Most were detained in Havana, although some were held in
custody in the province of Ciego de Ávila.
In Ciego de Ávila, a number of Cuban journalists were beaten
as they tried to cover the protests after the arrests at the Embassy
of Mexico. One of these,
independent journalist Jesús Álvarez Castillo, of Cuba Press,
sustained an injury to the neck from being beaten by members of a
rapid-response brigade and employees of the Interior Ministry on March
4, 2002. Activists who demonstrated outside the hospital to protest
the injury were themselves beaten by the police.
Between September 17 and 21, 2002, a number of activists with
the Christian Liberation Movement in the eastern province of Palma
Soriano were attacked by members of the rapid-response brigades.
On September 17, 2002, in the village of “La Concepción,”
Raumel Vinajera Stivens, Annies Burgos Preval, Ángel Gustavo Elegía,
Alexis Rodríguez Fernández, Jesús Mustafa Felipe, Roilán Montero
Tamayo and Alden Guzmán Leyva were attacked and then taken into
custody. Rafael Rachid
Madlum Payán, 59, Dr. Enrique Silva Cual and young Irraide Sánchez
Ávila, who has sight problems, were severely injured.
Inspector Joaquín Fajardo and three unknowns kicked them in
the back. State security
agents, namely Major Feria, Captain Manuel Reyes, and Lieutenant
Colonel Socarrás of the National Police, also participated in these
On September 21, 2002, the home of José Daniel Ferrer García
was sacked by a mob of over one hundred people carrying sticks,
machetes, steel bars, stones and other objects, who began shouting
insults at the occupants of the home.
Inside were members of the Christian Liberation Movement: Ana
Belkis, Enrique Ferrer García, Milka María Peña Martínez,
Maidelín Guerrero Peña, Norberto Díaz Leyva, Calixto Cepero Fuentes
and Yunier Santos Cruz. The
mob included Juan Torres, Ezequiel Duarte, Dioni Andino, Eredis Vega,
Israel Mulet, Benito Justa, Zonia Tassé, Margarita La Hera, Belkis
López, and other members of the Committees for the Defense of the
Revolution [Comités de Defensa de la Revolución] (CDR).
Stones were thrown at the home and they tried to force open the
door. They were stopped
by two officers with the political police, who after identifying
themselves in order to get the mob under control, proceeded to
encourage them to continue shouting and throwing stones, but from
outside the front of the home.
For the last four months of 2002, the authorities of Villa
Clara have waged an intense campaign directed at opposition member
Diolexis Orestes Rodríguez Hurtado. Orestes was detained in Manicaragua on June 29, 2002.
At the State security department, he was mistreated and beaten,
and then abandoned on the national highway.
He was arrested and beaten again on July 26.
They hospitalized him the following day suffering from an
internal hemorrhage. On
August 5, he was detained again for several hours, accused by the
authorities of possessing anti-Castro posters.
On August 31, 2002, they cut off his phone service for seven
days. On September 2,
agents Orestes Chaviano and Cardoso accused him of “unlawful exit”–;
they also accused him of being a “counterrevolutionary.”
The harassment continues to this day.
The authorities say that they will be opening a “dangerous
suspect” file on this person.
Juan Carlos González Leiva, blind
President of the Cuban Human Rights Foundation, has been incarcerated
since March 4, 2002. In
the course of the events, another eight activists with the Cuban Human
Rights Foundation were beaten and arrested, along with
journalists Lexter Téllez Castro and Carlos Brizuela.
They had gone to the Ciego de Ávila provincial hospital to
show their solidarity with journalist Jesús Álvarez Castillo of Cuba
Press, whom that same day police had beaten when he tried to cover the
work of the human rights activists.
According to witnesses, police, who then began to beat him,
dragged Juan Carlos Leiva from the hospital.
The witness states that “the agent who injured Juan Carlos
was Amaury, known among the Ciego de Ávila dissidents as ‘El
Chacal’. According to the testimony, this State security agent hit the
victim on the head with his weapon.
Juan Carlos Leiva is still being held in Holguín prison,
pending trial. Major
Faguo has threatened his life. According
to the information provided, this high-ranking State security officer
told him that “they were not going to allow counterrevolutionaries
and if they had to kill him they would.”
The incidents recounted above are also related to what happened
to Cuba Press correspondent Jesús Álvarez Castillo, on March 4,
2002. At 11:30 that
morning, the journalist was covering a protest by the Cuban Human
Rights Foundation (FCDH) in the city of Ciego de Ávila, when a police
officer used a stranglehold on him and injured his neck.
En route to the police station, Álvarez Castillo lost
consciousness and had to be checked into the local hospital, where
they took x-rays that showed that he had a dislocated cervical
vertebra. At around one
that afternoon, a number of journalists and human rights activists
gathered at the hospital to protest the attack on Álvarez Castillo.
In the group were Léster Téllez Castro, director of the
independent news service Agencia de Prensa Libre Avileña, and
Carlos Brizuela Yera, a reporter with the independent news agency Colegio
de Periodistas Independientes de Camaguey.
When the demonstrators shouted anti-government slogans, they
were attacked by the police, forced into police cars and taken to the
local unit of the Technical Investigations Department (DTI).
Álvarez Castillo was released from the hospital that same
afternoon. On March 11,
2002, police transferred Brizuela Yera to a detention center in the
eastern province of Holguín, while Téllez Castro was taken to
facilities in the province of Cienfuegos, in southcentral Cuba.
Álvarez Castillo is at home recovering from his injuries.
The journalist is taking anti-inflammatory medications and
medications for pain and dizziness.
Although no charges have been brought against him, the police
have him under surveillance. Ann
Cooper, Executive Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists
(CPJ), observed that “”Cuban
journalists have long faced systematic harassment, criminal
prosecution, and jail because of their work.
These recent attacks represent a disturbing escalation in the
Cuban government's ongoing efforts to silence independent journalism
in the country."
The organization “Reporters without Borders” protested in
July 2002 over the detention of Ángel Pablo Polanco of Servicio
Noticuba, an independent news agency.
Ángel Polanco was arrested in his home on July 30, 2002.
On the morning of July 30, State security agents did an
in-depth search of his home, which lasted several hours.
The agents seized technical equipment, personal papers and
money, only to return that night and forcibly detain the journalist.
He was incarcerated at the general headquarters of the State
Security agency in Villa Maristas, Havana.
Two other members of the opposition were also detained at
nightfall. These arrests
were made in anticipation of a peaceful anti-government protest
planned for August 5, 2002. It
should be noted that on February 23, 2002, two agents from the
department of State Security (DSE) arrested Polanco for having
published reports on the proceedings undertaken against Dr. Oscar
Elías Biscet, President of the Lawton Human Rights Foundation.
Ángel Pablo Polanco was detained five times in 1999.
Agustín Cervantes García, 27, and José Alberto Castro
Aguilar, 30, who were running the Varela Project in the city of
Contramaestra, in Santiago de Cuba province, have been in custody
since November 16, 2002, the date on which they were the victims of a
public censure [acto de repudio] organized by State security. These
young men, who are accused of the supposed crime of “contempt for
authority against the person of Fidel Castro,” were first held at
the Contramaestre Police Unit. State
security then transferred them by government bus to the Moscú prison,
where the common prisoners, upon learning the story of these two young
men, began to shout “Viva Varela Project” and “Down with Fidel”.
When that happened, they were transferred again, this time
under heavy police escort, to the Mar Verde maximum security prison.
Another case that occurred in the same city, also related to
the Varela Project, is that of activist Lázaro Rosales Roja.
On November 19, 2002, four individuals appeared at his place of
residence. One showed Rosales his identification, which was
Revolutionary National Police officer
Nº 21592. He told Rosales Roja that he should come with them.
When Rosales Roja refused, the agents forced their way into his
home, threw him to the floor and beat him, injuring him with a piece
of glass that cut his left cheek.
When the victim went to the Police Unit to file a complaint
about what happened, they told him that the assailants were thugs,
that he should look for them himself and turn them in.
On November 22, 2002, the manager of the Varela Project,
Rogelio Travieso Pérez, was taken by State security agents to a place
he was unable to identify, because they forced him to keep his head
down in the car. There
these agents questioned him for several hours.
The Commission has also received reports to the effect that
State security is threatening and pressuring friends and other persons
who have some association with Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas or with some of
his relatives. Similar
incidents have occurred with other Varela Project managers.
These events are deeply troubling to the Commission, as all
they do is illustrate the Cuban authorities’ utter contempt for the
people’s basic rights. By
law and in practice, the Cuban State has imposed limitations and
restrictions on freedom of expression, assembly and association for so
long and to such an extent that those limitations and restrictions
have by now become government routine.
It pays no attention to the recommendations that the IACHR and
other organizations in the inter-American human rights community have
made time and time again.
Once again, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is
compelled to remind the Cuban State that “the imposition of legal
mechanisms to exercise control over the media and other social
communicators has a negative effect on the respect for and protection
of freedom of expression. Such impositions deny individuals their
fundamental right to participate fully in social, political, economic
and cultural life”, and “[a]ny
obstacle to the free discussion of ideas and opinions restricts
freedom of expression. Prior
conditioning of expression, such as truthfulness, timeliness or
impartiality, among other conditions, is incompatible with the rights
provided for in international instruments. The Special Rapporteur for
Freedom of Expression believes that the prohibition of speech that
does not conform with the purpose of a socialist society is a form of
of Human Rights in Cuba, Seventh
Report, IACHR, OEA/Ser.L/V/II.61, Doc.29 rev. 1, (1983) p 10,
of Human Rights in Cuba, Seventh Report, op.cit.,
para. 36, p. 11.
Years of Activities 1971-1981, General Secretariat of the
Organization of American States, Washington D.C., 1982, p. 334.
Report 2001, General Secretariat of the Organization of American
States, Chapter IV, Human
Rights Developments in the Region, Cuba, p. 679,
Every citizen has the right to file complaints and petitions
with the authorities and to receive the pertinent attention or
response within the legally prescribed time period.
Article 88(g).- Citizens may propose laws.
If so, the legislative initiative must have the support of at
least ten thousand citizens, all of whom shall be voters.
Varela Project and the Political Rights of Cubans, Testimony of
Marcelino Miyares, Ph.D., before the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights, Washington, D.C., October 17, 2002.
Those who signed the Varela Project are petitioning for
citizens to be guaranteed
right to associate freely, in keeping with one’s interests and
ideas, so that persons, either individually or in groups, are able
to express their ideas, beliefs and opinions by means of the spoken
and written word and by any means of dissemination and expression;
the laws that guarantee these rights take effect within no more than
sixty days after this referendum is held;
an amnesty be decreed for all those detained, punished and
incarcerated for political reasons and who have not participated in
acts that constituted direct assaults against the lives of other
persons. The amnesty
law would take effective within thirty days of this referendum;
amendments be introduced in the law in order to guarantee citizens
their right to form private businesses, both individual and
cooperative, their right to engage in business activity, which may
be either a productive business or service business in which
contracts can be made between the workers and the businesses for
their operation, under conditions that are just, where no one can
profit by exploiting the work of another.
These new laws should also guarantee respect for the rights
of workers and citizens and the interests of society, and should
take effect within sixty days of this referendum;
the Election Law be rewritten and its new provisions guarantee:
election districts be determined for elections of delegates to the
municipal assemblies, delegates to the provincial assemblies, and
deputies to the National Assembly;
the voters in each election district carved out for the municipal
elections shall themselves elect one delegate to the municipal
assembly. A voter may
vote for only one candidate for delegate;
the voters in each election district carved out for the provincial
elections shall themselves elect one delegate to the provincial
assembly. A voter may vote for only one candidate for delegate;
a citizen shall be nominated as candidate for the office of delegate
to the municipal assemblies, or candidate for the office of delegate
to the provincial assemblies, or as candidate to serve as deputy in
the National Assembly, only after he/she gathers signatures in
support of his/her candidacy directly from the voters in his/her
municipal, provincial or national election district, as appropriate,
in accordance with the terms and conditions set forth in points
4.A.4, 4.A.4.1, 4.A.4.2
and 4.A.4.3 of this petition;
the necessary and sufficient conditions that must be met for a
citizen to be nominated as a candidate shall be as follows:
citizen satisfies the conditions stipulated in Articles 131, 132 and
133 of the Constitution for a citizen to have the right to vote and
to be elected to office;
signatures in support of the citizen’s candidacy are presented to
the appropriate authorities no later than thirty days before
election day; these signatures must represent no fewer than 5% of
the number of voters in the district the prospective candidate
aspires to represent. A
voter can give this kind of support to only one person aspiring to
be nominated for the office of Delegate to the municipal assembly,
only one person aspiring to be nominated for the office of delegate
to the provincial assembly, and only one person aspiring to be
nominated for the
office of National Assembly deputy;
citizen must live in the election district he/she aspires to
represent in the municipal assembly; must live in the province
he/she aspires to represent in the Provincial Assembly, and in the
country if he/she seeks to be nominated a candidate for the office
of National Assembly deputy. To
be nominated, a citizen must have lived in the country for at least
one year prior to the elections;
those seeking to be nominated, and the nominees have the right to
meet in assemblies, provided they respect law and order, to explain
their platforms and ideas. Every
candidate shall be entitled to equitable use of the mass media;
new election law, with the terms herein expressed, is to take effect
no later than 60 days after this referendum.
Varela Project and the Political Rights of Cubans, Testimony of
Marcelino Miyares, Ph.D., before the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights, 116th regular session, Washington, D.C., October 17,
Watch, Cuba’s Repressive
Machinery: Human Rights Forty Years After the Revolution, 1999,
International, The Situation
of Human Rights in Cuba, May 2002, p. 2, at: AMR 25/002/2002/s.
Miyares Ph.D., The Varela
Project and Cubans’ Political Rights, Testimony given before
the IACHR, op. cit., Repressive
Actions of the Cuban Political Police against Members of the
Christian Liberation Movement from July to September 2002.
dated October 15, 2002, in the files of the IACHR.
The identity of the person who supplied the information in
question is being withheld for security reasons.
Cuban-American Women, Laida Carro, communication dated October 23,
2002, Miami, Florida, United States.
News from the
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), New York, March 14, 2002, Police
Without Borders, communication dated August 2, 2002.
Bureau of the Cuban Human Rights Movement,
Miami, Florida, United States, December 4, 2002, reporting
information received from Havana, Cuba, through members of the
Christian Liberation Movement.
Report 2000, Volume III, p. 62.