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TITLE: CUBA HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993 DATE: JANUARY 31, 1994 AUTHOR: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE CUBA Cuba is a totalitarian state dominated by President Fidel Castro, who is Chief of State, Head of Government, First Secretary of the Communist Party, and Commander in Chief of the armed forces. President Castro has sought to control all aspects of Cuban life through a network of directorates ultimately answerable to him through the Communist Party, the bureaucracy, and the state security apparatus. The Party is the only legal political entity and is headed by an elite group whose membership is ultimately determined by Fidel Castro. The Party controls all government positions, including judicial offices. Though not a formal requirement, party membership is a de facto prerequisite for high-level official positions and professional advancement. The Ministry of Interior is the principal organ of state security and totalitarian control. It operates border and police forces, orchestrates public demonstrations, determines whether to recognize nongovernmental associations, investigates nonconformity, regulates migration, and maintains pervasive vigilance through a series of mass organizations and informants. It is charged with suppressing opposition and dissent of any kind. The Ministry is under the de facto control of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, which in turn are directed by Fidel Castro's brother Raul. The mass organizations attempt to extend government and Communist Party control over each citizen's daily activities at home, work, and school. Neighborhood Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR's) mobilize citizens, impose ideological conformity, and report suspicious behavior. The economy remained highly centralized despite some changes during the year, most notably decriminalization of hard currency possession and legalization of some types of self-employment. The Government, however, continued to control the means of production and remained virtually the sole employer. The economy continued to decline dramatically, reflecting the collapse in Cuba's relationship with the former Soviet Union. An annual $4-5 billion in Soviet aid has ended. Total foreign trade was one-fourth the 1989 level. The Government continued its austerity measures known as "the special period in peacetime," which call for draconian efforts toward economic self-sufficiency. The Government sharply restricts basic political and civil rights, including freedom of expression, association, assembly, and movement, as well as the right to privacy, the right of citizens to change their government, and worker rights. Authorities neutralize dissent through a variety of tactics designed to keep activists off balance, divided, and discredited by labeling them mentally disturbed social misfits or hostile agents of foreign nations. To a lesser extent than in the past, the Government used "acts of repudiation," which are attacks by mobs organized by the Government but portrayed as spontaneous public rebukes of dissident activity. The Government also metes out exceptionally harsh prison sentences to activists whom it considers a threat to its control. In March the U.N. Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) passed a resolution endorsing the report of the UNHRC's Special Rapporteur, which made a strong and detailed criticism of Cuba's systematic violations of human rights. The report concluded with seven steps Cuba must take to bring its human rights practices up to minimum international standards. The Government for its part continued to refuse the new Special Rapporteur, like his predecessor, permission to visit Cuba. While there were no systemic changes improving human rights, the Government did release several imprisoned human rights activists and reduced the number of acts of repudiation. The overall human rights situation remained poor, almost as oppressive as in 1992. RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from: a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing Law enforcement officers were responsible for several extrajudicial killings. Five policemen arrested and handcuffed Jesus Acosta Ramos of Manicaragua in Villa Clara province on February 5 and brutally beat him in front of eyewitnesses. Acosta died later that day; his autopsy certified that he had died of a heart attack, failing to mention the injuries sustained. Rogelio Carbonel Buevara died on March 7 in a police holding cell after being beaten near his home by three policemen from the Malecon unit in Havana's Vedado district. Carbonel's widow was told days later that his death was due to natural causes. Police officer Cariel Gonzalez shot and killed 13-year-old Simon Heredia Alvarez in Cespedes in Camaguey province during a May 1 celebration, reportedly after Heredia complained to Gonzalez that he should not mistreat people who were waiting in line. This led to disturbances involving a few hundred of the town's inhabitants, who chased Gonzalez to the police station. They were finally dispersed upon a show of force by police. In addition, there were several confirmed incidents in which border patrols killed people trying to leave the country (see Section 2.d.). b. Disappearance There were no reports of politically motivated disappearance. c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment The Constitution prohibits abusive treatment of detainees and prisoners. However, police and prison officials frequently employed beatings, neglect, isolation, and other abuse in dealing with detainees and prisoners convicted of political crimes (including human rights advocates) or those who persist in expressing their views. State security officials often subjected dissidents to systematic psychological intimidation in an attempt to coerce them to sign incriminating documents or to collaborate. The UNHRC Special Rapporteur found prison conditions, especially habitual beatings, severe overcrowding, and the lack of food and medical care, in violation of Cuban law. Dissidents are often placed in cells with common criminals. The Government claims that prisoners have guaranteed rights, such as family visitation, adequate nutrition, pay for work, the right to request parole, and the right to petition the prison director. However, according to human rights activists, these purported rights are often and capriciously withdrawn, especially from political prisoners. There has been no indication that authorities investigated reports of abuse or took disciplinary action against the agents responsible. Among the many reported cases of brutality by prison guards and police was that of human rights activist Luis Alberto Pita Santos, whose arm was broken during a severe beating by prison guards in Boniato prison in January after refusing to wear a prison uniform. Ten guards handcuffed and severely beat activist Juan Carlos Aguiar Beaton in front of other prisoners at Guanajay prison in July. Human rights activists and political dissidents are systematically harassed, beaten, and otherwise abused in public and private by police and state security officials as a means of intimidation and control. Three plainclothes policemen in December 1992 accosted Nelson Eduardo Cruz Cabeza, an activist with the group Edad de Oro, and told him to stop his activities; they then beat him, causing an injury to his head which required six stitches. Authorities continued to use acts of repudiation to intimidate activists and as a pretext for their arrest, though to a lesser extent than in 1992. Crowds of people are amassed outside homes of activists to harass them, yell insults, and vandalize property. At times, the targeted activist is forced through the crowd by police and physically beaten or abused. During such acts, police often arrest activists "for their own protection," and later charge them with counterrevolutionary activity, resulting in prison terms. d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile Arbitrary arrest and detention are commonplace. The Law of Penal Procedures requires police to file charges and either release a detainee or place him before a prosecutor within 96 hours of arrest. Authorities are also legally required to provide suspects access to a lawyer within 10 days of arrest. These procedures are routinely denied to those detained on state security grounds. The Constitution states that all civil liberties can be denied anyone opposing the "decision of the Cuban people to build socialism." Authorities invoke this open-ended article to justify lengthy detentions of activists on the grounds they constitute "counterrevolutionary elements." The UNHRC Special Rapporteur found that the legal system lacks laws and institutions needed to afford due process. According to human rights activists, there were between 1,500 and 2,000 Cubans incarcerated for illegal exit and at least another 2,000 imprisoned for various political crimes. The Penal Code contains several articles prohibiting "counterrevolutionary" activity. Activists are often imprisoned for "enemy propaganda," "illicit association," "contempt for authority" (usually for criticizing Fidel Castro), "clandestine printing," or the broad charge of "rebellion." The latter is brought against advocates of peaceful democratic change. The Penal Code also includes the concept of "dangerousness," defined as "the special proclivity of a person to commit crimes, demonstrated by his conduct in manifest contradiction of socialist norms." Government authorities continue to intimidate activists by threatening prosecution under this article. If the police decide a person exhibits such behavior, the offender may be brought before a court or subjected to "therapy" or "political reeducation" for 1 to 4 years. In late 1993, there was a sharp increase in the number of convictions for dangerousness as several hundred people, possibly more in the Havana area alone, were sentenced to prison. Some were human rights activists such as Felipe Lorens, head of the Marti Youth Organization, who was sentenced to 4 years in prison in October. Reports of arbitrary arrests of human rights monitors continued unabated. On June 22, plainclothes police picked up Maria Celina Rodriguez, president of the opposition group "Liberty and Faith," and her 6-year-old son and took them to a nearby house, where they were interrogated for 7 hours regarding her human rights activism. Police detained Roberto Pintado of the "Marti Youth Organization" in June and told him to stop his dissident activities or be tried on charges of "illicit association" and sentenced to 2 or 3 years in prison. The Government also preempts dissident activity by arbitrarily prolonging prison sentences by bringing new charges against detainees for human rights activities allegedly committed during imprisonment. e. Denial of Fair Public Trial Cuban law and trial practices do not meet international standards for fair and impartial public trials. Almost all cases are tried in less than 1 day. Although the Constitution provides for independent courts, it explicitly subordinates them to the National Assembly and the Council of State, which is headed by Fidel Castro. Judges are elected by the rubberstamp National Assembly and its lower level counterparts. The judiciary's independence is also compromised by the subordination of the courts to the Communist Party. There is no known case in which a court has ruled against the Government on any political or security matter. Civil courts exist at municipal, provincial, and Supreme Court levels. All are presided over by panels composed of a mix of professionally qualified and lay judges. Military tribunals assume jurisdiction for certain "counterrevolutionary" cases. Most trials are public; however, trials are closed when state security is allegedly involved. Testimony from a CDR member may be introduced on behalf of a defendant and may contribute to either a shorter or longer sentence. The law recognizes the right of appeal in municipal courts. In provincial courts, some cases are appealable, such as those involving maximum prison terms or the death penalty. The law requires that an appeal be filed within 5 days of the verdict. Criteria for presenting evidence, especially in cases of human rights activists, are arbitrary and discriminatory. Often the sole evidence provided, particularly in political cases, is the defendant's confession. It is usually obtained under duress and without legal advice or knowledge of a defense lawyer. Defense lawyers often are not allowed to meet with defendants until the day of the trial. Several activists who have served prison terms say they were tried and sentenced without counsel and were not allowed to speak on their own behalf. The law provides an accused the right to an attorney, but the latter's impartiality and independence are compromised by the absence of an independent bar association and by ideological controls exerted over members of the state-controlled lawyers' collectives, especially when defending persons accused of state security crimes. Observers have reported reluctance among attorneys to defend those charged in political cases. f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence Although the Constitution provides for inviolability of one's home and correspondence, official intrusion into private and family affairs remain one of the most repressive and pervasive features of Cuban life. Party-controlled mass organizations permeate society. The State has assumed a virtual right of interference into the lives of citizens, even those who do not actively oppose the Government. These intrusions aim ostensibly at "improving" the citizenry but are calculated to encourage ideological conformity. Authorities possess a wide range of social controls. The educational system teaches that the State's interests have precedence over all other ties and commitments. Teachers, selected in part for their ideological commitment, emphasize Communist doctrine in the classroom and may penalize students whose families question orthodox opinion. Teachers are required to evaluate students' ideological character, which is noted in records carried by students throughout their education and which affect their future prospects. The Interior Ministry employs an intricate system of informants and neighborhood security committees (CDR's) to monitor and control public opinion. Guardians of social conformity, the 80,000 CDR's are tasked with closely monitoring the daily lives of residents. Participation in them is described as voluntary; it is, in fact, obligatory. CDR's report suspicious activity, such as reception of foreign radio or television broadcasts in the home, conspicuous consumption, unauthorized meetings, including with foreigners, and attitudes toward the Government. Activist Sergio Seco Cordero, for example, was denounced in a report by his CDR as "disaffected" because of his "active participation against our Socialist system." Such people are often harassed and fired from their jobs (see Section 2.a.). Cubans do not have the right to receive publications from abroad. Their international correspondence is often read by state security. Overseas calls are difficult to make and are monitored; conversations with foreigners are reported. Activists, diplomats, and foreign journalists report surveillance by security agents, though this seems to have decreased. Authorities regularly search people's homes without probable cause for purposes of intimidation and harassment. Police broke into the home of activist Carlos Negrin on February 3 and seized three pairs of foreign-made shoes. They told Negrin that his mother-in-law had accused him of illicit economic activity. Negrin and his wife were arrested, taken to the police station, and placed in a holding cell. Negrin's wife had a miscarriage and was taken to a hospital; though doctors ordered bed rest, she was returned to the station, where she and Negrin were held for 5 days. They were both released after paying a fine equal to 1 month's salary. Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: a. Freedom of Speech and Press The Government does not allow criticism of the revolution or its leaders. Laws are enforced against antigovernment propaganda, graffiti, and insults against officials. The penalty is 3 months to 1 year in prison for contempt. If Fidel Castro or members of the National Assembly or Council of State are the object, the sentence is 1 to 3 years. Rosa Campos Hernandez, for example, was sentenced to 3 years' imprisonment because she allegedly made defamatory statements about Castro and other ministers while standing in the door of her Havana home. Local CDR's inhibit freedom of speech by monitoring and reporting dissent or criticism (see Section l.f.). The Constitution states that electronic and print media are state property and "cannot become, in any case, private property." The media are controlled by the Communist Party and operate under its guidelines. They faithfully reflect government views and are used to indoctrinate the public. No other public forum exists. TV Marti and Radio Marti, which broadcast from the United States, are often jammed; however, other foreign broadcasts are not. Police and Interior Ministry officials frequently confiscate foreign newspapers from members of the Independent Journalists' Association (APIC) and human rights activists. The Government also circumscribes artistic, literary, and academic freedoms. Education is the exclusive prerogative of the State. Schools follow Marxist-Leninist precepts as interpreted by the Government. Beyond the Government's tight control over media, other forms of expression are rigidly monitored. The Government often arrests people for the crimes of "enemy propaganda" and "clandestine printing." Dissidents are physically attacked and intimidated if they try to report on incidents. APIC head Nestor Baguer called one of his contacts abroad in July with news about a large-scale disturbance near Havana. The next day two men posing as telephone company employees beat him in his home and destroyed his telephone. On August 6, three men severely beat APIC member Jorge Casanovas Crespo just outside the offices of the Communist Party's Central Committee as he was heading to an APIC meeting. Casanovas required six stitches; vision in one eye was severely affected. Academic publications and research may not conflict with government or party policy. On January 26, Leonardo Jose Rodriguez Perez, a researcher at the Center for Metallurgic Research, became the latest of several fired from their jobs after signing the "open letter from Cuban professionals to the second (1992) Ibero-American summit." b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association The Constitution does not provide for freedom of assembly or association, nor are these freedoms permitted. Any assembly of more than three persons, even in a private home, is punishable by up to 3 months in prison and a fine. Though not universally enforced, this is often used as a legal pretext to harass and imprison human rights advocates. Even activists who act respectfully towards authority are subject to continuous harassment and persecution. Organizers of "illicit or unrecognized groups" may be sentenced to up to 9 months. The authorities have never approved a public meeting of a human rights group. The Penal Code forbids "illegal or unrecognized groups." The Justice Ministry, in consultation with the Interior Ministry, decides whether to recognize organizations. Apart from "recognized" churches and a few carefully monitored groups such as the Masonic Order, small human rights groups represent the only associations outside the State and party. Authorities continued to ignore numerous applications for legal recognition by human rights groups, whose members were often jailed for "illicit association" or became the targets of reprisals. Human rights activists were fired from their jobs for such reasons as being "connected to counterrevolutionary groups" or being a "focal point for political deviation" with "ideas very contrary to those of our revolution." Because of such restrictions, public demonstrations by opposition groups are extremely difficult to organize. Activists Juan Guarino and Paula Valiente were arrested on April 30 by state security after planning a May Day march outside a Havana church. The following day, 150-200 persons gathered for the march; when activists unfurled the Cuban flag, the police moved in and began beating people with blunt instruments. Several were arrested. Guarino and Valiente were convicted of "inciting public unrest" on May 18 and released on parole, an uncharacteristically lenient sentence. Since their release, however, both have been harassed by state security and kept under tight surveillance (see Section 2.d.). c. Freedom of Religion In recent years, the Government has made legal changes which eased somewhat the harsher aspects of its suppression of religious freedom. In 1991 it allowed religious adherents to join the Communist Party, while in 1992 it amended the Constitution to prohibit religious discrimination and remove references to "scientific materialism," i.e., atheism, as the basis for the Cuban State. Such actions were praised by the Protestant Ecumenical Council, but the Catholic Church stated its concern over the gap between the Government's rhetoric and actions. The Catholic Bishops issued a pastoral letter calling for national reconciliation and dialog. Although harshly critical of the letter, the Government did not directly retaliate against the Church. Despite these changes, religious persecution continues. Members of the armed forces are prohibited from allowing anyone in their household to observe religious practices. Elderly relatives are exempted if their beliefs do not influence their spouses or children and are not "damaging to the revolution." The Government continued to use the Penal Code to persecute Jehovah's Witnesses and, to a lesser extent, Seventh-Day Adventists. Jehovah's Witnesses were often convicted of clandestine printing if a search of their home revealed religious materials or illicit association for having religious meetings. They have also been found guilty of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, of "not complying with duties related to respect and love of country," and of "abuse of the freedom of religion" when, out of religious conviction, they refuse to honor symbols of the Cuban State. Because the Government considers them "active religious enemies of the revolution," Jehovah's Witnesses and Adventists are watched and often harassed by the CDR's, who also maintain surveillance over "spiritualists who give consultations," in addition to such categories as "counterrevolutionary ex-convict" and "common criminal." Church attendance has grown rapidly in recent years, despite government and party efforts to restrict and control church activities. Churches and other religious groups must register with the Government and be officially recognized. Authorized religious organizations may hold activities only at designated places of worship. Construction of new churches is prohibited, forcing many churches to meet in individuals' homes. Religious holidays were eliminated in 1961. No religious processions outside of church grounds are permitted, and churches are denied any access to mass media. d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation There are no legal restrictions on domestic travel, other than a restricted zone near the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo. Persons who are found to be HIV-positive are restricted to sanatorium communities and allowed to leave those communities only on highly restricted conditions. The Government now allows persons over 20 years of age to apply for permission to travel abroad. The vast majority of persons who qualify for immigrant visas or refugee status are allowed to leave; however, the Government continues to delay or deny exit permits in certain cases, often without explanation. These often include professionals who have tried to leave and who have since been banned from working in their occupational field. Others are refused permission because the Government considers their cases sensitive. Dissident scientist Rolando Roque Malherbe, for example, had been refused an exit visa since 1990 and had been unable to attend conferences abroad. The Government finally permitted Roque to leave in December for a teaching position in Spain. President Castro's daughter, Alina Fernandez, slipped out of the country in disguise, after being refused an exit visa for years. The Government also has coerced some people, mostly activists, into leaving the country. Paula Valiente, head of Mothers for Dignity, was constantly harassed by state security officials to emigrate. Threats were made that her 17-year-old son would be imprisoned on trumped-up charges. To avoid that, Valiente left Cuba with her son in November. The Government also permitted hundreds of former political prisoners to emigrate, including several prominent activists who had previously been denied exit visas. Most notable was Mario Chanes de Armas, a former Castro comrade, who was allowed to emigrate in July. Chanes was released in 1991 after serving a 30-year prison sentence; he had been the longest serving political prisoner in the Western Hemisphere. Nydia Cartaya, wife of Joaquin Movrino Perez, an ex-army officer who defected in the mid-1980's, was also granted an exit visa after having been denied one since 1985. Activist Jose Luis Pujol, who had originally applied in 1986, was allowed to depart. Activists Elizardo Sanchez Santacruz and Rolando Prats were granted exit visas to make extensive trips abroad during the summer and were allowed to return to Cuba, even though Sanchez is out on bond pending trial on charges of contempt for resisting a beating by police in December 1992. The Government continues to use aggressive, often violent, means to prevent citizens from emigrating without its permission. For example, on July 1, border guards in Cojimar opened fire on a boat carrying at least 15 unarmed Cubans who were trying to flee to the United States. Three were killed and at least 10 injured. Guards and police reportedly refused to assist those wounded in the water or allow others to do so. According to numerous accounts, this led to rioting by several hundred inhabitants. In October border guards killed Luis Quevedo Remolino after he tried to leave in a raft. Though the Government stated that he had been shot trying to depart illegally, Quevedo's family and friends assert he was beaten to death. Quevedo's cousins, who were involved in the escape attempt, were also beaten, though not as seriously. The incident led several thousand people to march in a funeral procession on October 14 in Regla near Havana; Quevedo's family reportedly diverted the hearse to the police station and removed the body from the coffin, to show that it was covered with deep bruises and had no bullet wounds. Despite the dangers involved, a record 3,656 Cubans made it to the United States in rafts. It is not known how many perished en route. In five incidents witnessed by U.S. military personnel in late June, border guards used hand grenades and rifle fire against unarmed swimmers trying to escape to the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo in southeast Cuba. In response to U.S. protests over the use of excessive force, the Government denied the reports, calling them "slanderous." Over 30 Cubans are known to have died while attempting to seek asylum at the Base, either shot by Cuban soldiers or killed by Cuban mines, while 821 made it safely. There is no right of repatriation. Exit permits for temporary travel specify that the person must return within 30 days, although extensions are available. Cubans who live abroad must apply for permission to return for visits. A quota of 10,000 visits per year by those who left between 1959 and 1980, as well as a general ban on the return of those who left after 1980, were greatly liberalized in August. Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government Cubans have no legal right to change their government or to advocate a change. The Constitution states that the only political organization allowed is the Communist Party. A small group of leaders select members of its highest governing bodies--the Politburo and Central Committee. In February the Government permitted direct elections to the national legislature for the first time since it was created in 1976. Before nomination, however, every candidate had to be screened by a "candidacy commission" composed of members of party-controlled "mass organizations." Only one candidate per seat was allowed; voters could either vote "yes" or leave the ballot blank; there was no space even to check "no." These procedures were designed to ensure that only those who follow the government line would be on the ballot. Formation of political parties, campaigning, and the making of campaign promises was forbidden. Leadership positions in Castro's Government have been dominated by white males since its inception; there are very few women or minorities in positions with policy responsibility in the Party or the Government. There are 3 women on the 25-member Politburo; the country's first female provincial party secretary was not chosen until 1993. Though blacks and mulattoes make up over half the population, they comprise only 4 of the 25 Politburo members and only 15 percent of over 200 members of the Central Committee. The Government has ignored calls for democratic reform and labeled activists who proposed them "worms" and traitors working to undermine it. Any change judged not compatible with the revolution is rejected, as are proposals by Cubans who seek nonviolent political change or open debate about the political system. The Government retaliates against those who have peacefully sought political change. Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights No domestic or international human rights group is recognized by the Government or permitted to function legally. As noted above, domestic human rights monitors are subject to intense intimidation and repression. In violation of its own statutes, the Government refuses to consider applications for legal recognition submitted by human rights groups. The main domestic human rights monitoring groups are the Cuban Human Rights Committee, the Cuban Pro-Human Rights Party, the National Council for Civil Rights, and the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation. In addition, the Cuban Democratic Convergence, the Cuban Coalition, and the Civic Democratic Alliance are umbrella organizations including a number of smaller human rights groups. The Government has steadfastly rejected international human rights criticism. In 1991 Cuba's U.N. Representative stated it would not recognize the UNHRC mandate on Cuba and would not cooperate with its Special Rapporteur, even though Cuba is a UNHRC member. In March, after the UNHRC passed a resolution condemning human rights violations in Cuba by the largest margin ever, Cuban Ambassador Jose Perez Novoa said the resolution was the result of a "political vendetta" and maintained that "there are no large-scale and flagrant human rights violations in Cuba." Cuba continues to ignore repeated requests by the UNHRC's Special Rapporteur to visit Cuba to meet officials and citizens. Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status Cuba is a multiracial society with a majority of black and mixed racial ancestry. The Constitution forbids discrimination based on race, sex, or national origin, although evidence suggests that racial and sexual discrimination occurs. Women The Family Code states that women and men have equal rights and responsibilities regarding marriage, divorce, raising children, maintaining the home, and pursuing a career. The Maternity Law provides 18 weeks of maternity leave and grants working women preferential access to goods and services. About 40 percent of all women work. They are well represented in the professions, although few are in positions with policy responsibility. Information from human rights groups and other sources indicates that domestic violence and sexual assaults occur, but no statistics are available. Violent crime is rarely reported in the press and, due to cultural traditions, victims of mistreatment are reluctant to press charges. However, the law establishes strict penalties for rape, and it appears to be enforced. Prostitution has increased greatly in the last few years, especially around tourist areas. Children The Constitution states that the Government will protect "family, maternity, and matrimony." It also states that children, legitimate or not, have the same rights under the law and notes the duties of parents to protect them. Education is free and is based on the ideology of Marx and Jose Marti, and state organizations and schools are charged with the "integral formation of childhood and youth." National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities Information about racial discrimination is not readily available. Many blacks have benefited from the social changes of the revolution. Nevertheless, there have been numerous instances of police harassment against blacks, including black foreigners and diplomats who were mistaken for being Cuban. Many black activists report being singled out for harassment. Officials have told them during interrogations that they are "ungrateful" for not appreciating what the revolution did for them and insulted them with racial epithets. People with Disabilities There have been few known cases of discrimination based on disability. There are laws to provide for the disabled, but no laws mandating accessibility. Section 6 Worker Rights a. The Right of Association The Constitution gives priority to state or collective needs over individual choices regarding free association or provision of employment. Decisions and choices of workers are subordinate to the "demands of the economy and society." The law does not permit strikes, nor are any known to have occurred in 1993. Established labor organizations are not trade unions in any real sense and do not act as a voice for worker rights, including the right to strike. Labor is organized under the control of the State and party through one umbrella group, the Confederation of Cuban Workers (CTC). Although a constitutional amendment removed reference to the CTC and its Secretary General's participation in the Council of Ministers, the CTC's union monopoly is reflected in the explicit reference to it that remains in the Labor Code. The CTC serves primarily as a state instrument to enforce political and labor discipline, to encourage productivity and extended hours of "voluntary" labor, to hold down labor costs, and to conserve raw materials. However, some CTC organizations have served as debating forums for a narrow range of labor issues, such as safety or working conditions. Despite Cuban disclaimers in international forums, independent unions are explicitly prohibited. In 1992 the International Labor Organization (ILO) concluded that independent unions "do not appear to exist" and ruled that Cuba violated ILO norms on freedom of association and the right to organize. In May the ILO Governing Body rejected the arguments of the Justice Ministry for failing to reply to the General Union of Cuban Workers' (UGTC) request for registration and legal recognition and requested the Government to make an immediate pronouncement on registration. Those who attempt to engage in union activities face government persecution and harassment. In February state security officials again arrested Rafael Gutierrez Santos, president of the fledgling independent trade union USTC, and detained him without making formal charges. He was released in August, pending trial. In February police raided the home of independent unionist Juan Guarino during a meeting of the National Council of Independent Unions. After searching the house for 7 hours, police confiscated union materials and newspapers and then arrested eight union members, telling them they would be "crushed like cockroaches" if they continued their union activities. They were released several hours later. In March police arrested UGTC executive member Roberto Trobajo and detained him for a week due to his union activities. b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively Collective bargaining does not exist. The State Committee for Work and Social Security sets wages and salaries for the state sector. Because the CTC is a government instrument, antiunion discrimination is only relevant as it applies to government repression of attempts to form independent unions. There are no known export processing zones in Cuba. The Government in September relegalized self-employment, which had been abolished in 1968, by allowing people to apply for licenses to work in over 100 different occupations, from hairdresser to muleteer. However, the regulations exclude university graduates, employees in sectors determined to be government priorities, or any state employee whose work is ruled necessary. They also exclude those who do not show proper "labor discipline" (a category which includes dissidents), among others. Furthermore, permission to work outside the state sector can be revoked if the State decides the worker's services are again needed. c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor Neither the Constitution nor the Labor Code prohibit forced labor. The Government maintains "correctional centers" where people are sent for crimes such as illegal departure. They are forced to work on farms or building sites, usually with no pay and inadequate food. Internees who do not cooperate are often imprisoned. Special groups of workers, known as "microbrigades," on loan from other jobs, are employed on special building projects. They have increased importance in the Government's efforts to complete tourist and other facilities that have priority attention. Workers who refuse to volunteer for these often risk discrimination or loss of their jobs. Microbrigade workers, however, are reportedly rewarded with priority listing for apartments, a strong incentive for such work. The ILO's Committee of Experts criticized Cuba for violating ILO Convention 29 (Forced Labor) based on allegations in a report by the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) that "voluntary labor is, in practice, forced labor under the terms of the Convention, since refusal to do such labor results in the loss of certain rights, benefits, and privileges." In response, the State Labor Committee in January repealed a 1980 resolution, thereby eliminating merits and demerits from workers' labor records. In June the ILO conference committee expressed hope that this marked the first step toward complete elimination of any form of coercion involved in voluntary labor. d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children The legal minimum working age is 17. The Labor Code exempts 15- and 16-year-olds to let them obtain training or fill labor shortages. However, students over age 11 are expected to devote 30-45 days of their summer holiday to farm work up to 8 hours per day. "Voluntary labor" by student work brigades is still used extensively in the farming sector. e. Acceptable Conditions of Work The minimum wage is supplemented by free medical care and education and subsidized housing and food. Even with these subsidies, however, a worker must earn far more than the average wage to support a family. The minimum wage is less than $200 (200 pesos) per month (which is about $3 at the black market rate). Moreover, most basic necessities, like food, medicine, clothing, and cooking gas, are rationed and in very short supply, if available at all. This has worsened dramatically in the past 3 years. The standard workweek is 44 hours, with shorter workdays in hazardous occupations such as mining. To save energy, the Government reduced workdays to 5 hours in many institutions. Worker safety and pollution control provisions are usually inadequate. Effective control and enforcement mechanisms to ensure worker safety are lacking. Industrial accidents apparently are frequent. (###)
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