5. An attachment to the claim dated April 16, 1974, reads as follows:17
“ … We, the political prisoners of the Prison of Boniato in the province of Oriente, Cuba, have been confined for years without seeing our families, without being allowed even to communicate with them, unable to receive or send letters, shut up worse than wild beasts in cells hermetically sealed with iron sheets. With a hole in a corner as the sole sanitary facility where urine and excrements accumulate, making the little air available so foul as to be almost unbreathable: without sun, without light, in constant semidarkness, almost blind and strictly prohibited from receiving medical assistance of any kind or any medicaments, we are being submitted to the most inhumane and heartless plan of physical annihilation and biological experimentation ever known in the history of the western world. Russian, Czech and Cuban communist doctors direct this Extermination and Experimentation Plan.
“We are weighed in the cells, we are observed, our reactions are evaluated, our metabolism is altered with unknown substances incorporated in the food, to meals consisting exclusively of spaghetti, corn meal, and boiled rice, with a daily total of under 200 calories. Whole months with no salt whatsoever followed by weeks in which the food is so salty that it almost cannot be swallowed. These brusque changes upset our metabolism, raise our blood pressure, cause kidney problems, and the like. Some are monstrously swollen, with the so-called “hunger edemas” produced by malnutrition. We are not men, we are specters, skeletons covered by skin, human scarecrows. We are like those pictures of concentration camps that caused such consternation the world over. If you could see us you also would be filled with consternation; but here no one can take photos; this is a communist prison. Our health is worse each day. Generalized polyneuritis and avitaminosis play havoc among us, we are being killed slowly but inexorably. There are problems with reflexes, with coordination, lack of balance; there are nervous and digestive disorders of all kinds and we are absolutely denied any medical assistance. Our eyelids are inflamed, reddened, our gums bleeding and receding, our teeth loose, dropping out. Lips and mouths cracked, full of sores, bodies full of dark pustules; groins, genitals, feed and neck invaded by fungus, skin scaly, grey … and we are denied all medical assistance. Scurvy is now producing in many of us nose hemorrhages if we merely sneeze. There are here aged men, invalids, heart cases, tuberculosis and asthma cases who have been deprived of their aids and are denied any liquid during their attacks as one more instrument of torture. None of these chronically ill people or indeed anyone has received medical assistance of any kind for over two years. The state of malnutrition and exhaustion, of generalized anemia, keeps many of us in a state of prostration, without strength to stand any longer. We have been beaten in a savage and brutal manager, heads, faces and arms have been broken by sticks and iron bars, systematically, cell by cell.”
In another place in the same claim, the following is denounced:18
“José Luis Prado was imprisoned from January 7, 1961 to January 6, 1970. Count 461-64, condemned by the Revolutionary Tribunal No. 1 of Havana, according to a document issued by Lieut. Agustín B. Alemán Purchena, Director la “La Cabaña” prison.
“(Prado) was in the Isle de Pines prison, in ‘5 and a half’ of Pinar del Río and in La Cabaña, where he was set free on expiry of his sentence. He summarizes his experience thus:
I was placed in solitary confinement twice. Three months in a cold cell in Isle de Pines and 10 months in ‘5 and a half’ in Pina del Río. During the second period I was kept entirely naked because I refused to don the blue uniform of the ‘rehabilitated’ which the guards gave me, because I refused the so-called rehabilitation. On another occasion, from March to December 1967, ten of us were confined in a single six by twelve foot cell. There were only two beds and we had to take turns every two hours to sleep. On one occasion I was kept 72 hours without being able to take a bath or wash in any way.
I was beaten many times. Each time they made a round of inspection they beat us. Once I was beaten because I refused to give the name of a prisoner who had a small radio hidden away. After that time I was sent to solitary confinement for three months. That was the occasion I saw Francisco Navales assassinated, one month before we were removed from the Isle de Pines.
He was murdered, as far as I know for no specific motive. He told me that when they came for him he though he would at last be taken to see his sick mother. But they took him to the cell where I was. That was when he told me he thought he would go to see his mother. He did not know why he had been taken there. After he had been with me one hour a guard entered with a baseball bat and went up to him. Francisco tried to escape from the cell and flee from the guard. He did not know there was another guard behind the door of the cell waiting for him. When he started to run the guard fired a burst at point-blank range. Blood, bits of liver and intestines, were strewn over the floor and walls of the cell.
From the prison ‘5 and a half’, I was transferred to La Cabaña, to a cell black below floor-level, together with another hundred prisoners. The walls of this block are running with water. They are extremely hot in summer and cold in winter. During the winter, they kept us shivering in our underwear, because they did not allow us to put on the khaki uniform of those who had not been ‘rehabilitated.’ They wanted to make us put on the blue uniform again. We went on a hunger strike in protest for 35 days.
A year before that, we went on a hunger strike that lasted 20 days. Carmelo Cuadra died during that hunger strike, without receiving medical assistance.”
7. In the Memorandum dated October 24, 1974, it is stated that:19
“ … At our appearance on April 16, our denunciation report was accompanied by a letter smuggled out of La Cabaña Prison in Havana, in which it was stated that there were growing irregularities in the scant provisions of food (boiled macaroni and boiled cabbage). The writer told of how the prisoners in one block did not eat for one day so that prisoners in another block could have full rations. The are plotting against us in some way, said the letter. They want to make us go on a hunger strike in protest, but we will not, it added.
“On June 24, Commander Medardo Lemus, Head of the Prisons, ordered that the hard-core prisoners, that is, those who refuse to wear the blue uniform of the ‘rehabilitated’ and reject the hard labor involved in the Marxist-Leninist indoctrination and who, as a result, have been kept for years in their underwear in the damp cell blocks of the two-hundred year old military fortress, should put on the blue uniform and join the common prisoners in their meals. When they refused, the already notorious Commander (well-known for achieving his promotions by means of beating after beating and murder after murder) declared the 44 most recalcitrant prisoners to be on a hunger strike, confined them to block 12, and ordered that all medicine, including the breathing apparatus needed for those with asthma, and even aspirin, be taken away from those who were ill.
“The outrage continued until August 12. It was ended, perhaps, because of international pressures brought by the massive protest by the Cuban exile community. With one exception, the hard-core prisoners bore the terrible repressive measures without yielding in their attitudes. It was a heroic struggle between courage and degradation. But all struggles have their casualties. Six of the political prisoners were victims of polyneuritis, resulting from the lack of food, and they remained invalids. They will walk again only if they receive extensive physiotherapy and adequate nutrition. Neither of the two oases is receiving such treatment. The names of the invalid prisoners are: Rolando de Vera Méndez, Oscar Rodríguez Terreno (‘Little Napoleon’), Pedro Gallardo Batista, Fernando Gómez Fonseca, Israel Domínguez Rodríguez and Armando Valladares Pérez.
“Another group of ‘hard-core’ prisoners has been transferred to one of the worst underground blocks in La Cabaña. Their situation is intolerable. Five of them have been bitten by rats.
“After the forced fasting was over, they were visited by a doctor from the Ministry of the Interior, a certain Dr. Valdés, who announced that he is first a foremost a Communist; he told them: ‘From time to time, the Revolution has to beat the bushes so that some Capitalists will crawl out.’
8. In a communication dated July 11, 1974, the following denunciation was made:20
“Since the beginning of June, 44 Cuban political prisoners have been beaten and deprived of all food or medical assistance in cell umber 12 of La Cabaña Prison in Havana. One f their number is the journalist Pablo Castellanos, who is gravely ill. We urgently request the intervention of this organization in order to prevent further deaths in the imprisonment of political prisoners in Cuba.”
The Commission, in a cablegram dated July 12, 1974, requested the Government of Cuba to provide the relevant information, and submitted to it the pertinent parts of the denunciation, in accordance with Articles 42 and 44 of the Regulations. This request for information was repeated on August 9 of the same year, and the urgent and grave nature of the complaint was stressed. Again, in a note dated December 17, 1974, the Commission insisted that the Government of Cuba send the data necessary to an examination of the denunciation, and reminded the Cuban Government of the time-limit imposed by Article 51 of the Regulations and of the regulation which presumes that the truth of the case is presumed confirmed if the information is not provided within this time-limit.
The processing of the case having been completed, the Commission, in view of the failure of the Government of Cuba to respond, adopted a resolution on this case at its thirty-fifth meeting (May 1975) (OEA/Ser.L/V/II.35 doc.5, May 29, 1975).
The resolution set out the situation of the 44 political prisoners who were the subjects of the denunciation, and noted that, given the urgency of the case, the Government of Cuba had been requested to provide the relevant information in a cable dated July 12, 1974; that the request had been repeated on the following August 9, and that these measures were based on Article 9 of its Statute; it also observed to that as of the date of the thirty-fourth meeting (October 1974), the aforementioned government had still not replied to the request, even though the time-limit of 180 days established in the Regulations had expired.
The Commission also notes that no practical purpose will be served by making recommendations to the present Government of Cuba, as envisaged in Articles 9, paragraph b. and 9 (bis), paragraph b., given that government’s systematic failure to respond to the requests made to it for information, but that this would not prevent the presentation to the General Assembly of a proper assessment of the facts of the denunciation.
The operative part of the resolution applies Article 51 cited above, taking as proven the facts of the case; it was decided to include the resolution in the annual report to the Assembly, and stating that the facts of the denunciation constitute a grave and repeated case of a violation of the right to a fair trial and the right to protection from arbitrary arrest as defined in Articles XVIII and XXV of the American Declaration.21
This resolution was transmitted to the Government of Cuba with a note dated April 12, 1974, the following denunciation is made:22
(text unreadable) … undressed in order that their bodies may be searched before receiving one of the view visits allowed in some prisons (in others, such as Boniato, there are no visits whatever) has left its mark of ignominy on the Political Prison System in Cuba. The refusal of the prisoners to allow themselves to be searched has resulted in brutal beatings. But let one of these very prisoners, who is still serving a sentence in the Guanajay Prison in the Province of Havana, tell it himself:
(text unreadable) … turn my monthly visit, but the head of the prison told me that day that in order to go out to our visit, we would have to undress completely (before that, we were in our underwear), and nearly all of us in the jail, about 65 per cent, refused. They–the Communists–very cleverly took a group of only three to the visiting room, whereas always before, it had been everyone together. Once they were there, they found about 30 guards to carry out the inspection (before, with everybody, there had been only 4). Our companions refused to take off their underwear. Then the guards were on top of them, trying to take off their underwear by force. In spite of their struggles, the prisoners had their underwear taken off, and were brutally beaten.
This happened to about 20 more companions, and whoever refused to take off his underwear suffered the same fate–that is, he was beaten. Naturally, we missed our visit. The family waiting outside heard the noise we were making, since while this was going on in the visiting room, we were shouting and beating the cell bars in protest. Until then, I had not been touched, they left me for last. The Communists realized that they would have to do this with everybody, and the whole thing stopped for a while.
At 8 p.m., about 300 guards came into the yard, armed with guns and tear-gas launchers. At their head was the notorious assassin Lemus These guards threw a cordon around buildings D and C. Then, they began to take the inmates out of buildings D and E. About 180 companions were there. They took them out three by three, they made them take off their underwear. If you refused, they beat you until you were exhausted, bleeding, and naked. From there, they took you out to the dungeons. The same thing happened with all the inmates of the two buildings.
This went on until 10:30 a.m. on the 21st. At that time, they stopped for a while because they had no place to put the inmates. Then they brought 6 cages and took everyone away, some to La Cabaña and the most seriously hurt to El Principe. They kept the wounded for three days without medical assistance. Already by that time, there were about 18 seriously injured, and 48 slightly injured.
With us, in building C, they changed their tactics. They took us out in threes from the cells, and took us to a room between the two corridors. There, they beat us. There were about 40 guards, including a few judokas from the Minit (Ministry of the Interior). They beat us with clubs, steel bars, chains, and kicked us, etc. etc. This all ended at 11 p.m. By that time, there were about 27 gravely injured and about 62 slightly injured. The dangerously injured were: Alfredo Mustelier, facture of the skill; Miguel Cantón, 4 broken ribs; César Nicolardes, fractures on both sides of the left arms, and two cracked ribs; Ramón Cueto Pérez (Monín), facial disfigurations and some bruised ribs; Osvaldo Fernández Izquierdo (Nicaragua), a fractured foot and blows to the head; Gustavo Arnes, two fractured ribs and a wound on an eyebrow; Antonio Berto Soto (Cuatro Caminos), fractured ribs and black eyes; Juan José Reboredo, still unknown–he’s under observation with a blow on the head and blood running down his neck, he has his eyes closed and passes out frequently; Jesús Rodríguez Mosquera, a dislocated left elbow, three cracked ribs, black eyes and bruises over the rest of his body; and so on to all 27.”
1. One of the supplementary documents to a complaint dated march 24, 1974 consists of a partial listing of Cuban political prisoners, specifying their sentences, the facts which were used as the basis of each proceeding and the true reasons the plaintiffs believe were behind such sentences.24
2. The following charge is contained in an attachment to a complaint dated April 16, 1974:25
When a prisoner finishes serving the term to which he is sentenced, in keeping with the laws, he should be released. This is what happens everywhere but in Cuba. There, if the prisoner has not accepted Communist indoctrination and given up his political and religious convictions, his sentence is arbitrarily extended one or two more years, and this extension is repeated as long as the prisoner refuses to renounce his principles or surrender his basic rights.
This turns a 9, 10, or 12-year sentence into life even though no punishable crime has been committed, no recourse to appeal was available, nor any legal proceeding conducted involving minimum guarantees for the accused.
In order to set forth this case, we cite another political prisoner who relates the outrage in a letter, like all the others, taken out clandestinely:
“ … Here you have the brothers who’ve completed their sentences being submitted to new proceedings in violation of the most fundamental laws. Three thugs holding court behind closed doors in a farce of a trial. Here’s a list of the latest comrades sentenced after they had served their ten years: Reynaldo Cordero Izquierdo, Pedro Baquet, Vidal Arocha Cubillas, and Amado González Hesta, Bolo Capote, from the Guanajay Prison; Evaristo Sardiñas Cruz, Baudilio Exheverría Yánez, Alfonso Loo Sú, Luis de los Santos Naranjo, at the dreaded San Severino Castle; Carlos Más Guerra, Juan Cruz González, Reynaldo Aquit, Eduardo Cuencio, Blas Camacho, César Ja, José Luis Márquez, Nerin Sánchez, Heriberto Trujillo Montes, at the Las Villas Prison.
“The sentence copied below, which extends the terms of imprisonment of one of these political prisoners, is the height of arbitrariness and illegality
“To the Revolutionary Court of the District of Las Villas.
“The Prosecutor states: That in keeping with the provisions of Article 70 of the Procedural Law of the Republic of Cuba in Arms, he presents case No. 3 to the Special Jurisdiction of this Revolutionary Court, and formulates the following conclusions:
“First: That the prisoner Edward Cuencio Sobrino, who was sentenced in case 21/62 of the Revolutionary Court of Las Villas to ten years loss of liberty for a crime against the Powers of the State, during which time he has maintained a reactionary attitude with respect to the revolutionary process, especially the Progressive Regime (N.B., this “Progressive Regime” refers to the prisoner’s submittal to Marxist-Leninist indoctrination), the following being the instances when the prisoner’s attitude was poor: on July 28, 1967, he refused to put on the regulation blue uniform and sent nude until August 5, 1967 when he agreed to wear the yellow uniform; on September 30, 1968 he began a 30-day hunger strike at the La Cabaña Prison; on April 8, 1970, he was punished for breaking penitentiary regulations; on October 1, 1971 he was again punished for violating penitentiary procedures; on November 28, 1970 he was placed with a group of 18 prisoners who were on a sit-down strike in the disciplinary cell, joined with them and remained in that cell until March 18, 1971; on March 28, 1971, he was sent back to the Minint’s Center No 4 and when he and the others were ordered out of the prison care they refused and had to be removed forcibly, and organized a disturbance that spread to the rest of the prisoners; and, finally, on December 15, 1971, questions involving work were discussed with the prisoner and as a result he said:
“That he considers himself a political prisoner and as such does not have to work’; this has been his attitude since he has been in prison. In accordance with the foregoing, said prisoner is considered highly dangerous which makes it necessary to apply post-criminal danger measures.
“Second: That the facts mentioned above involve a state of post-criminal danger, as provided for in Articles 585-C.1 and 586.D of the Social Defense Code.
“Third: The aforementioned prisoner Cuencio Sobrino is responsible for charges that he is dangerous.
“Fourth: There are no circumstances to extenuate his criminal responsibility.
“Fifth: The security measure to be imposed on the prisoner in question is – ASSIGNMENT TO A WORK BRIGADE – for a period of not less than one year under the control and regulation of the pertinent penitentiary.
“FURTHERMORE: Evidence this State Prosecutor is attempting to obtain is:
a. a confession from the accused if he would cooperate in providing it.
b. testimony of Lt. Abraham Claro Cruz, Director, Center No 4, MININT, Las Villas
The Prosecutor. Santa Clara, January 6, 1972. ‘Year of Socialist Emulation’”
3. In another part of the same document there is the following statement:26
Briefly, the Government of Fidel Castro put into force and action so-called “revolutionary justice,” which consists of relentless persecution, the encouragement and intensification of hatred in the community, and terror. At first, this was applied to members of the deposed government, their families and persons more or less associated with them. A little later, revolutionary justice reached out to anyone who differed with the government’s measures and its political, economic or social tendencies.
“Thus while the volleys of the firing squads were thundering across the island, the usual practice was going on, then and later. Arbitrary persecution, illegal detention, suspension of habeas corpus, violation of universally recognized juridical principles, such as the right to be arraigned, to appoint a lawyer who is free to act in his client’s defense, the holding of an impartial trial by competent courts, the non-retroactive nature of penal laws to the detriment of the criminal and the hallowed nature of the law.”
4. An attachment to the statement dated October 24, 1974, contains the following:27
“The status of human rights in Cuba continues to be very serious. Since April 16, 1974, when we had the honor or appearing before the Commission, the situation has deteriorated with the continuation of a repeated pattern of violations of human rights characterized by inhuman crimes, ideological genocide, and institutionalized terror.
“Thus, we can state that the system of arbitrary detentions continues, with indefinite confinement of the accused in G-2’s jails and dungeons and with no sign of trial or compliance with the most elemental requirements of juridical, legal proceedings. Not in the arraignment, the holding of trials, the exercise of the right to a defense represented by a lawyer, nor the possibility of recourse to appeal before competent courts.
“It is also painful for us to report to and denounce before the Commission the fact that the same abominable conditions mentioned in our previous denunciation have continued and become worse with regard to prison operation for political prisoners. To summarize, they lack adequate food and medical care; denial of permission for the prisoners to receive visits from members of their family, mail or medicine; arbitrary re-sentencing of prisoners who have completed the sentences they were serving; physical and mental torture; solitary confinement; brutal beatings, and subjection to harassment and humiliating measures such as nudity.”
5. Another part of the same communication says:28
(“Arbitrary re-imposition of sentences”)
“To the names supplied in our previous denunciation, we now add the following:
“Roberto Cardés Valdés, 36, employee, sentenced to 9 years in case 501 of 1963, completed July 25, 1972. Sentenced to one year of hard labor, by trial.
When a year had passed and he had not worked, he was sentenced to another year, without trial.
“Pablo Arenal Piñón, 33, student, sentenced to 12 years in Case 294, of 1961, completed on April 16, 1973. He was sentenced to one year of hard labor.
“Angel Luis Bice, 43, carpenter, sentenced to 9 years in Case 702, of 1963, completed November 14, 1972. He was sentenced to two years of hard labor.
“Julio Rodríguez Lamelas, 54, salesman of medical supplies. He was sentenced to 6 years in Case 569, of 1965, which were completed November 29, 1971. He was sentenced to two years of hard labor, by trial. When two years had gone by and he had not served this sentence he was sentenced to two more years, without trial. He has suffered two heart attacks and suffers from chronic hypertension.
“Pablo Castellanos Caballero, 50, journalist, former director of the Radio Morón New report. He was sentenced to 12 years in Case 105, of 1962, which were completed October 30, 1973. He was sentenced to one year of hard labor. He has had one heart attack, suffers from chronic hypertension. He has an ulcer and suffers from bursitis and asthma.
“All the above-mentioned prisoners are in cell 12 of La Cabaña prison. For over 7 years the only clothes they have been wearing are their underwear.
“Segundo de la O Elejaldo Cepero, 32, construction worker, sentenced to 10 years in Case 325, of 1963. The term was completed on May 18, 1973. He was sentenced to another year on April 11, 1973.
“Manuel Hernández Gómez, 33. He completed a ten-year sentence in 1973 and was sentenced again to two years for not doing hard labor. Before he was in prison he worked at Central San Antonio, in the Municipality of Madruga.
“Eddy Carrera Vallina, 38, university student (5th year Business School), was sentenced to 12 years in Case 301, of 1961. This sentence was completed April 16, 1973. On March 19, 1973, he was sentenced again to two years because he refused to work while in prison.
“Federico Rodríguez Avila, 44, merchant, sentenced to 9 years in Case 356 of 1963. The term was completed on May 2, 1972. He was sentenced to another two years on April 28, 1972.
6. A communication dated November 8, 1974, denounces the following:29
“Herbert Mates Benítez has been imprisoned in Cuba October, 1959. He was arrested and sent to prison only because he resigned his post of Commander in the Rebel Army. He was charged with being a traitor because ideologically he disagreed with the leaders in power in Cuba and was sentenced to twenty years in prison without any evidence against him.
“During the 15 years of his unfair imprisonment he has been the victim of incalculable ill-treatment and abuse. On several occasions he has kept incommunicado for periods of over a year in the cells of La Cabaña jail. He has been physically maltreated for complaining against the ill-treatment given by the prison wardens and once in 1971 he suffered two broken ribs. For fifteen years he has been denied medical assistance, although he needed it. More than once he has been left lying on the floor, writhing in pain owing to a nephritic colic, without receiving any assistance at all. He was kept naked in his cell almost two years because he refused to participate in an indoctrination program, called rehabilitation, in which prisoners wear a special uniform, attend Marxism lessons and participate in activities in favor of the Government.
“He has been incommunicado for over four years. His father, who is almost ninety years old, has spent days at the prison gates and has not been allowed to see his son. The prison authorities have cruelly told him that “that prisoner does not want any visitors.” In September 1973, he was not allowed to go to his mother’s funeral.
“In view of the arbitrary forced incommunication imposed on my husband the last four years, I am afraid that he is being subject to even more inhumane treatment. I am also afraid that he will be subject to a new trial.”
7. A letter written by a political prisoner in Cuba dated August 30, 1971, states that:
“I am in the same situation. Since February 23, 1970, I have had no visitors, that is, I have been incommunicado for a year and a half, although officially I am neither incommunicado nor punished. To deprive me of the visits from my relatives, the prison authorities claim that I do not comply with the prevailing regulations, regulations that they manage arbitrarily in order to degrade political prisoners. So visits are not officially suspended, but I am deprived of them through the imposition of humiliating conditions and if I now accept to go around naked, tomorrow they want me t crawl on all fours to have a right to receive visitors. I have also been a year and a half without writing letters or sending telegrams. As for the letters that my family sends me, they are rarely given to me. The last one I got is dated January 31 of this year. So without visitors and practically without any mail, I am absolutely incommunicado. To this one should add that I am completely isolated from the rest of the prisoners. The bars of my cell covered or sealed with a bag sewn to them. Most of the time the food is inedible; there’s lack of water almost daily. As far as I’m concerned, I cannot count on medical assistance. That is my situation as a Cuban political prisoner. I have been mistreated rather than imprisoned for twelve years. It seems I shall have to serve the remaining eight years of my sentence in this arbitrary and inhuman situation.”
8. Another paragraph of a communication dated October 24, 1974, states that:31
“The Castro government is bringing another suit, Case 205, whereby former Commanders of the Rebel Army Eloy Gutiérrez Menoyo, Huber Matos and César Páez, as well as ex-Captain Tony Lamas, are accused of plotting a seditious coup in Cuba while in jail.
“We already knew that the said political prisoners were being taken to the offices of the Security Department (G-2) to be interrogated according to the physical and mental torture system that the regime normally applies in these cases. As first results of the initiation of this Case other former political prisoners have already been sentenced, among them Pedro Ortiz Anaya, to 8 years; Alberto Cruz Azcuy, to 9 years; ex-convict Flora Wols, to 5 years; ex-convict Silvino Rodríguez Barrientes, former Lieutenant in the Rebel Army, to 9 years, in spite of the fact that he is serving a sentence of 12 years. Other prisoners that have served over 10 years have other trials pending for this reason. People who have no connection with this jail, such as Narciso Alvarez Quintana and Paulino Villaverde Alvarez have been sentenced to 6 and 4 years, respectively.
“In view of the total lack of communication these political prisoners have been and are being subjected to, without either visitors or mail, it is absurd to think that they might be organizing mutinous groups in jail. Therefore, the reason for this investigation and for the initiation of a new trial cannot be other than that of preventing these former military men and revolutionary leaders from benefiting from some type of negotiation leading to their release from jail. To prevent it they try to classify them as extremely dangerous men who have to be kept in prison during their lifetime or else physically eliminated.
9. A document attached to a complaint submitted January 7, 1975, states that:32
“In the present Cuban prison system there is complete lack of presumption of innocence, of the right to receive information regarding the penalty, the right to legal assistance and to interrogate witnesses, legal definitions of crimes and penalties, appeal, consistent criminal provisions, the right to be heard by a tribunal under due process of law. In the Cuban jail system there prevail retroactivity in criminal matters, the absence of provisions and guarantees in case of arrest, incrimination and interrogation.
Preventive arrest, duties of the defense, public trial, the sacredness of the res judicata, principle, bail, exceptions, civil justices and the scope of individual rights and respect for human rights, are unknown things.
“Although Cuba is a signatory of the Geneva Humanitary Conventions (four treaties) it does not apply them, and it also ignores the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Agreements (three) and its optional Protocol relating to the applicability of Human Rights Mission established therein. As for the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties o Man, it is dead letter for the Cuban government.
Through denunciations submitted to the Commission it has become known that the government of Cuba:
a. Has applied coercive measures against Cuban citizens who wish to leave the country temporarily or definitely, depriving them of the means of work, the possibility of buying food and other essentials for their life and that of their families; depriving them of means of work, the possibility of buying food and other essentials for their life and that of their families;
b. Obliges such persons to carry out forced labor while they wait for their exit permit, the granting of which takes months and even years;
c. Prevents or delays for long periods the departure of foreign citizens residing in that country, particularly of United States citizens who wish to return to their country.
There follow the pertinent parts of the denunciations and a summary of the action taken:
1. A communication of March 3, 1971, dencounces:34
“Another violation of the human rights is the treatment given to Cuban Citizens who have requested authorization to leave the country in the Freedom Flights.
“From the time that a person called by relatives residing in the United States requests departure authorization he is viewed by the communist régime as a political outcast, and subjected to measures that range from depriving him of his job to sending him to labor camps.
“Those labor camps, known under the name of Agricultura, are the worst possible affront to a citizen who has to even been accused by the communist régime of any crime whatsoever against the Red state. There, both men and women, the young and the old, white and colored, nationals and foreigners, have to perform the hardest rural tasks, without any implements or the proper knowledge; without adequate food, almost without clothing, without their family knowing where they are and without the least possibility of medical care and even less of compensation for their work. Do not such facts violate human rights? The sufferings of the Cubans sent to the Agricultura would make a long and sorrowful tale.”
2. In a communication of April 28, 1972, the following facts were denounced:35
“My brother Alberto Castillo, my nephew Arturo Castillo, his wife and four children were among the first group who applied for repatriation as recorded in the Swiss Embassy in Havana. Furthermore, my nephew completed the necessary requirements and arrangements to send his eldest son without delay to the states by way of Spain about six years ago. The funds covering all expenses were sent to Cuba, and that was the end of our transactions. We never heard what happened to the ‘cheque.’
“Alberto Castillo (my brother) born in Key West, Florida (0ver 70 years of age) always lived in the United States where was educated. He attended school in Key West, Atlanta, and Montreal, Canada. Traveled to Cuba for pleasure.
“Arturo Castilo (my nephew) son of my brother Arturo Castillo, M.D. (also American born). This nephew happened to be born in Cuba but legally adopted his father’s American citizenship. His four children were born in Cuba but since they are too young no legal action has been taken to legalize their American citizenship.
“The reason given by the government of Cuba in not permitting them to leave Cuba:
“They frequently visit the Swiss Embassy in Havana to enquire when they are scheduled to leave and the only reply received is that the Cuban government has not yet authorized their departure.”
The Commission requested the Government of Cuba to provide the corresponding information by note of November 1, 1972, which reads as follows:
REF: Case 1742
We have the honor of addressing Your Excellency in connection with a communication regarding human rights in your country.
The Commission has been advised that United States citizens or nationals, some of them elderly, have been prevented from going to their country of origin, where their relatives are living, and that all action taken by them through the Swiss Embassy to obtain the necessary travel permit appears to be constantly hindered by the Cuban authorities.
Should the facts denounced to the Commission be true, they would constitute a violation of Articles VIII and XIII of the American and the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Man.
Consequently, in its twenty-ninth session, held in this city on October 16 through 27, the Commission resolved to request the Government of Cuba to supply information regarding the above facts.
In compliance with that resolution we request your Government to furnish the information it may deem pertinent for the cognizance of the Commission.
Accept, Excellency, the renewed assurance of our highest consideration
Jiménez de Aréchaga
His Excellency Dr. Raúl Roa
The Government of Cuba did not reply to the request for information sent on November 1, 1972.
Taking into account that the Government of the Swiss Confederation represents the interests of the United States Government before the Cuban Government, the Commission addressed itself to the Swiss Government, by note of November 14, 1972, requesting it to inform the Commission, by note of November 14, 1972, requesting it to inform the Commission, to the extent possible and insofar as compatible with its interests, if it was true that action taken by many United States citizens, through the Swiss Embassy in Havana to obtain the authorization to travel to their country of origin (United States) was delayed unduly.
By note of December 1, 1972, the Swiss Government replied to that request saying that “by reason of the juridical nature of the agent’s mandate, it does not behoove the latter to express before other States or international organizations, opinions regarding any attitude adopted by the Government of the state before which it exercises its protection. “Consequently, in the opinion of the Swiss Government only the Government of the United States of America could receive a request for information on this subject from the IACHR.”
As a result, by note of June 15, 1973, the Commission requested the United States Government to provide the corresponding information.
The Government of the United States, by note of December 13, 1973, replies to the request of the Commission. The pertinent part of its reply reads as follows:
“Beginning in 1968 the Cuban Government permitted United States citizens to leave Cuba on monthly flights to Brownsville, Texas via Matamoros, Mexico. These flights were terminated by the Cuban authorities on July 31, 1970. The U.S. Department of State, through the Swiss Embassy, has made repeated attempts since then to ascertain the Cuban Government’s intentions toward continuation of the repatriation flights, however, the Cuban Government has not responded formally to these inquiries. It must be stressed that the only obstacle to the repatriation of United States citizens in Cuba is the refusal of the Cuban authorities to permit their departure.
“Arturo Castillo Escarzaga, who appears to be Alberto’s brother, departed Cuba in December 1966 together with his wife. Other members of that family nucleus registered at the Swiss Embassy in Havana are Arturo Pablo Castillo Vazquez, his wife, and four children. The Department’s files of American citizens requesting repatriation to the U.S. from Cuba do not reveal the name of Alberto Castillo.
“The files do not indicate that in October 1969 the Department asked the Swiss Embassy to ascertain why Arturo P. Castillo had not left Cuba as he was scheduled to do during that year. The Swiss replied that Mr. Castillo could not explain his failure to leave. He was therefore advised to contact Cuban Emigration officials. A monthly subsistence allowance from the United States Government, extended routinely to American citizens awaiting repatriation on the Brownsville flights, was suspended in Mr. Castillo’s case in December 1969. In 1970 the Swiss Embassy advised that Department that Mr. Castillo had renounced his Cuban citizenship, which, according to Cuban law he had acquired by birth in Cuba.
“The Swiss Government has advised the Department on similar cases that dual nationals (Cuban and U.S.) must first renounce their Cuban citizenship in order to apply for permission to depart as aliens. Unfortunately, such applications do not receive expeditious consideration by the Cuban Government, and the Department cannot be very encouraging about Mr. Castillo’s repatriation in the near future.
“As soon as any developments occur in regard to Mr. Castillo’s request to be repatriated to the United States, the Swiss Embassy will promptly advise the Department so that his travel may be facilitated. Mr. Castillo’s relatives in this country will likewise be informed.”
In light of the reports supplied by the Government of the United States, the Commission sent to the Government of Cuba a note dated December 16, 1973, requesting the appropriate information concerning the situation of United States citizens who wish to leave Cuba, in order that the Commission might examine such cases and decide on their merit.
After the period provided under Article 51 of the Regulations and in view of the lack of response from the Government of Cuba, the Commission, in its thirty-fifth session ((May 1975), approved a resolution on this case. (OEA/Ser.L/V/II.35, doc.7 rev. 1 of May 29, 1975).
This resolution sets forth the situation of many foreign citizens in Cuba whose departure is being prevented or delayed. It likewise points out that on two occasions (November 1, 1972 and December 17, 1974) the Cuban authorities were requested to supply the appropriate information concerning the alleged acts. The Commission cites Article 51 of its Regulations as being applicable; under this article the alleged acts are considered proven if the government in question has not supplied the information within a period of 180 days.
The Committee also takes into account the systematic silence maintained by the present Government of Cuba, and sees no practical value in making any of the recommendations contemplated under Articles 9.b and 9 (bis) of the Statute of the Cuban Government.
The operative part of the resolution, applying the aforesaid Article 51, considers the allegations proven, and agrees to include the resolution in the annual report of the Committee to the General Assembly, proclaiming that the facts being considered in this case are a serious and reiterated case of violations of the rights to a fair trial and to protection from arbitrary arrest, established in Articles XVIII and XXV of the American Declaration.36
17. Case 1805 cited.
18. Case 1805 cited. With regard to the proceeding, see Chapter I,A, No. 4 of this report.
19. Case 1834 cited.
20. Case 1847 in the Archives of the Commission.
21. See the complete text of this resolution in Appendix VII.
22. Case 1805 cited.
23. Article XXVI of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man. A similar right is stated in Article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Articles 26, 27 and 28 of Fundamental Law of Cuba, which were mentioned earlier, also establish the formalities and guarantees of due process.
24. See Appendix I.
25. Case 1805, mentioned earlier.
26. Case 1834, mentioned above.
27. Case 1834, mentioned above.
28. Case 1834, already quoted.
29. Case 1887, Commission Files.
31. Case 1834, cited above.
32. Case 1901, Commission files.
33. Article VIII of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man. An analogous right is established in Article 13 (2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Cuban Constitution also establishes that right in Article 30, which reads:
“Any person may enter and remain in the national territory, leave it, move from one place to another and change his place of residence without need of an identity cared, passport, or any other similar requisite, excepting those established in immigration laws and by the authorities in cases of criminal liability.”
“No one shall be forced to change his domicile or place of residence, except by court order in the cases and circumstances established by law.”
“No Cuban may be expatriated or denied entrance into the territory of the Republic.”
34. Case 1710, in the files of the Commission.
35. Case 1742, in the files of the Commission.
36. The full text of this resolution appears in Appendix VIII.