REPORT ON THE SITUATION OF
Information received by the IACHR reflects the gravity of the situation
of political prisoners in Cuba. Even though it was not possible to consider any
observations the Cuban Government might have presented in connection with the
facts denounced, the Commission considers it appropriate, in view of the
importance of the information obtained, to give its opinion on those
denunciations. With this qualification, it submits the following conclusions.
The legal system in Cuba prevents free expression and any expression of
disagreement with the socialist system. There are individuals who are in prison
for the mere fact of having expressed their opposition to the system.
The Cuban Penal Code punishes illegal immigration and emigration; with
regard to the latter the penalties are disproportionate. In turn, the Cuban
Government hinders “legal” emigration. There are hundreds of persons in
prison for having attempted to emigrate from the country.
The precriminal and postcriminal security measures in some cases serve to
intimidate and oppress individuals for having expressed their political views.
There are people in prisons who have never been given the opportunity to defend
themselves before an impartial judge, for merely having been considered
“harmful.” Further, according to information received by the Commission,
there are some prisoners who were resentenced after having served their original
sentences, through application of postcriminal security measures.
Political prisoners are subjected to forced labor, which is a violation
of ILO conventions on this subject, ratified by the Government of Cuba. Forced
labor is used as a form of punishment for having expressed ideological
opposition and as a means of using manpower for purposes of economic
Three thousand six hundred political prisoners were released, most during
1979, in keeping with the “dialogue” between the Government of the Republic
of Cuba and representatives of the Cuban Community in exile.
Approximately one thousand political prisoners continue to be imprisoned,
many of whom are serving thirty-year sentences.
The treatment of “intransigent” prisoners is characterized by
mistreatment, absence of medical attention, lack of proper food and absence of
due process. The Government of Cuba has the obligation to respect the minimum
standards on treatment of these and other prisoners.
The Cuban Government's decision to release 3,600 political prisoners is a
demonstration of its interest in resolving this problem. However, the Commission
hopes that this step is just the first in a process aimed at putting an end to
political imprisonment in Cuba.