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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.  (###)


[end of document]

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