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TITLE:  CUBA HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE:  FEBRUARY 1995









                              CUBA


Cuba is a totalitarian state controlled 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 exercises control over all 
aspects of Cuban life through a broad network of directorates 
ultimately answerable to him through the Communist Party, as 
well as through the bureaucracy and the state security 
apparatus.  The Party is the only legal political entity, and 
President Castro personally chooses the membership of the 
select group which heads the Party.  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.  The Revolutionary Armed 
Forces (FAR), directed by President Castro's brother Raul, 
exercise de facto control over the Ministry.  In addition to 
regulating migration and controlling the Border Guard and the 
police forces, the Interior Ministry investigates nonconformity 
and actively suppresses organized opposition and dissent.  It 
maintains a pervasive system of vigilance through undercover 
agents, informers, the Rapid Reaction Brigades (BRR's), and the 
Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR's).  The 
Government has traditionally used the CDR's as a means to 
mobilize citizens against dissenters, impose ideological 
conformity, and root out "counterrevolutionary" behavior.  
However, given the severe economic decay, CDR's are not as 
strong as they once were.  Other mass organizations also inject 
government and Communist party control into every citizen's 
daily activities at home, work, and school.

The Government continued to control the means of production and 
remained virtually the sole employer, despite some foreign 
investment and legalization of some types of self-employment.  
The economy remained in a depression, a result of the severe 
inefficiencies of the economic system as much as the collapse 
of Cuba's relationship with the former Soviet bloc and the end 
of $4 to $5 billion in annual Soviet aid.  Gross domestic 
product declined to one-half of the 1989 level, and total 
foreign trade remained at around one-fourth of the 1989 level.  
The Government continued its austerity measures known 
euphemistically as the "special period in peacetime" and 
permitted citizens to hold foreign currency.  For the first 
time in years, the Government permitted a limited resumption of 
agricultural markets.  The system of "tourist apartheid" 
continued, in which foreign visitors received preference over 
citizens for food, consumer products, and government services, 
as well as access to hotels and resorts from which Cuban 
tourists were barred.

The authorities were responsible for the extrajudicial killings 
of citizens fleeing the country.  The Government sharply 
restricts basic political and civil rights, including the right 
of citizens to change their government; the freedoms of speech, 
press, association, assembly, and movement; as well as the 
right to privacy and various workers' rights.  The authorities 
neutralize dissent through a variety of tactics designed to 
keep opponents marginalized, divided, and discredited, or to 
encourage them to leave Cuba.  Following a large antigovernment 
protest on August 5, the authorities detained several hundred 
people for several days without charges, including about 30 
human rights leaders.

While the Government normally restricts emigration severely, it 
suspended its policy regarding unauthorized departures in 
August and allowed about 30,000 Cubans to depart in privately 
owned boats and homemade rafts.  It reinstated the prohibition 
on unauthorized departures following the conclusion of the 
U.S.-Cuba migration agreement on September 9, but it agreed to 
use "mainly persuasive methods" to prevent unsafe departures 
and did not reimpose criminal penalties for such departures.

To a lesser extent than in the past, the Government continued 
to employ "acts of repudiation," which are attacks by mobs 
organized by the Government but portrayed as spontaneous public 
rebukes, against dissident activity.  The Government also metes 
out exceptionally harsh prison sentences to democracy and human 
rights advocates whom it considers a threat to its control.

In March the U.N. Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) once again 
passed a resolution endorsing the report of the UNHRC's Special 
Rapporteur, which strongly criticized Cuba's gross violations 
of human rights in great detail.  As it did with his 
predecessor, the Government continued to refuse the Special 
Rapporteur permission to visit Cuba.  However, in November the 
Government permitted a noninvestigatory visit by the U.N. High 
Commissioner for Human Rights, who sought to begin a dialog 
with the authorities.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

The authorities were responsible for the extrajudicial killing 
of dozens of people.  In two separate incidents, government 
vessels rammed and sank boats used by citizens to flee the 
country.  In April the Border Guard sank the Olympia, killing 
three people.  In July government vessels sank the Trece de 
Marzo, killing some 40 people (see Section 2.d.).

     b.  Disappearance

There were no reports of disappearances.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

The police and state security officials systematically 
harassed, beat, and otherwise abused human rights activists and 
political dissidents in public and private as a means of 
intimidation and control.  In January state security operatives 
severely beat Rene del Pozo of the opposition Socialist 
Democratic Current on his way to a meeting with another 
dissident.  Four men beat Francisco Chaviano of the Council for 
Civil Rights in his home in March.  The men threatened to kill 
Chaviano and then stole his motorcycle, which was spotted early 
the next morning at a nearby Ministry of Interior parking lot.  
While Lazaro Garcia, a leader of the Marti Association--Golden 
Age of Cuba, was collecting written allegations of human rights 
abuses from human rights advocates in May, two men attacked and 
beat him.  They told him that he had already been warned 
against continuing his human rights activities.

The authorities continued to use acts of repudiation to 
intimidate human rights advocates and as a pretext for their 
arrest, although to a much lesser extent than previous years.  
Government security forces staged acts of repudiation by 
massing crowds of people outside homes of activists to harass 
and ridicule them, yell insults, and vandalize property.  At 
times, police forced the targeted activist through the crowd, 
which physically beat or abused the person.  During such acts, 
police often arrested advocates "for their own protection," 
then charged them with counterrevolutionary activity and 
sentenced them to prison terms.  Carlos Urquiza Noa, president 
of the Cuban Workers Union, was the object of an act of 
repudiation on June 4.  The following day, a state security 
official threatened to revoke his house arrest and send him to 
Camaguey prison if he continued his union activities.

The Constitution prohibits abusive treatment of detainees and 
prisoners.  However, police and prison officials often used 
beatings, neglect, isolation, and other abuse against detainees 
and prisoners convicted of political crimes (including human 
rights advocates) or those who persisted in expressing their 
views.  State security officials often subjected dissidents to 
systematic psychological intimidation, including sleep 
deprivation, in an attempt to coerce them to sign incriminating 
documents or to force them to collaborate.

The UNHRC special rapporteur has found prison conditions, which 
are characterized by habitual beatings of prisoners, severe 
overcrowding, and the lack of food and medical care, to violate 
Cuban law.  Prison officials severely beat Carlos Carrodegua 
Zamora, imprisoned for "enemy propaganda," at Kilo 8 prison 
when he asked for a mattress for his prison cell.  He was 
unconscious for 2 days.  Jorge Luis Domingues Rivas, imprisoned 
for "dangerousness," declared himself a prisoner of conscience 
and refused to wear his prison uniform.  State security 
officials handcuffed him and beat him repeatedly, before 
placing him in a small, windowless punishment cell.

At the Voisin prison in Guines, eight prisoners died between 
April and June as a result of poor prison conditions, including 
lack of food and medical attention and an outbreak of 
leptospirosis (rat fever).  The authorities denied medical care 
to political prisoner Guillermo Mejias, held at Boniato prison 
in Santiago de Cuba, despite his personal appeal to the prison 
director in April.  His medical condition causes severe 
pulmonary problems involving convulsions.

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 Cuban human rights 
advocates, the authorities frequently withdrew these 
hypothetical rights, especially from political prisoners.  
There has never been any indication that the authorities 
investigated reports of abuse or took disciplinary action 
against the agents responsible for abuses against political 
prisoners.

Jailers often place dissidents in cells with common, and 
sometimes violent, criminals.  The Government sentenced 
Sebastian Arcos, vice president of the Committee for Human 
Rights in Cuba (CCPDH), to 4 1/2 years' imprisonment for enemy 
propaganda in 1992.  Other prisoners severely beat the 
62-year-old Arcos in his cell late at night in February, after 
weeks of threats and harassment.  The authorities took no 
action against Arcos' attackers.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The authorities routinely use arbitrary arrest and detention.  
The Law of Penal Procedures requires police to file formal 
charges and either release a detainee or bring the case before 
a prosecutor within 96 hours of arrest.  It also requires the 
authorities to provide suspects with access to a lawyer within 
10 days of arrest, but they routinely deny these guarantees to 
those detained on state security grounds.  The Constitution 
states that all legally recognized civil liberties can be 
denied anyone actively opposing the "decision of the Cuban 
people to build socialism."  The authorities invoke this 
sweeping authority to justify lengthy detentions of human 
rights advocates on the grounds they constitute 
counterrevolutionary elements.  The UNHRC Special Rapporteur 
found that the legal system lacks laws and institutions 
providing due process.

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 critics and opponents by threatening prosecution 
under this article.  If the police decide a person exhibits 
signs of dangerousness, they may bring the offender before a 
court or subject him to "therapy" or "political reeducation" 
(see Section 1.c.).

Following the large antigovernment protest on August 5, the 
authorities detained several hundred people for several days 
without charges, including about 30 human rights leaders, most 
of whom had not participated in the protests.  Several reported 
that the authorities beat them while they were in prison.  
Gloria Bravo, a member of the Association of Mothers for 
Dignity, had scars on her neck, chest, and arms from deep 
gouges made by long fingernails and welts on her back from a 
whipping.

The Government also uses exile as a tool for controlling and 
reducing internal opposition.  During the rafters' exodus in 
August and September, many human rights advocates reported that 
representatives of state security visited them and threatened 
them with detention if they remained in Cuba.  In some cases, 
the agents offered them "assistance" in finding a raft or 
boat.  Through these means, the authorities succeeded in 
forcing at least 10 human rights leaders to leave the country 
during the exodus.  State security officials reportedly offered 
one imprisoned leader, Mercedes Parada Antunez, immediate 
release from prison and a place on a boat for herself and her 
two children if she agreed to accept exile.  She refused.  The 
Government also repeatedly offered exile as the condition for 
release to several prominent political prisoners, including 
Sebastian Arcos, Francisco Chaviano, Rodolfo Gonzalez, and 
Yndamiro Restano (see Section l.e.), but none of them would 
accept such terms.  In December the authorities released Luis 
Alberto Pita Santos, leader of the Association for the Defense 
of Political Rights, and Pablo Reyes Martinez, on condition of 
their exile to Spain.  Santos had been serving a 5-year 
sentence for illegal association, clandestine printing, and 
disrespect since 1990; Reyes had been serving an 8-year 
sentence for enemy propaganda since 1992.

Between mid-October and late November, the Cuban Government 
detained approximately 55 human rights advocates, including 
some of the most prominent dissident leaders, for periods 
ranging from several hours to several days.  Several were 
detained twice during this period, including Corriente Civica 
Cubana leader Felix Bonne, who was detained for 4 days in 
October and 3 days in November.  The authorities warned these 
dissidents against contacts with diplomatic missions, 
specifically the U.S. Interests Section, and the international 
press during the November visit of U.N. High Commissioner for 
Human Rights Jose Ayala Lasso.  State agents visited other 
activists at their homes and delivered similar warnings.  The 
agents variously threatened the dissidents with formal arrest, 
imprisonment, and retaliation against their children if they 
continued to denounce human rights abuses in international 
forums.  Some activists reported that agents even threatened 
them with "disappearance" and death.  Those detained were held 
in small, overcrowded cells without light or ventilation or a 
sufficient number of beds, forcing many to sleep on the 
concrete floors.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

Cuban law and trial practices do not meet international 
standards for fair 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 (ANPP) and the Council of State, which is 
headed by Fidel Castro.  The rubberstamp ANPP and its lower 
level counterparts elect all judges.  The subordination of the 
courts to the Communist Party further compromises the 
judiciary's independence.  Human Rights Watch/Americas has 
reported that "trials staged in courts that lack independence 
ended in convictions and prison sentences that rank among the 
stiffest for thought crimes in the last 10 years."  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.  Panels composed of a mix of professionally certified 
and lay judges preside over them.  There are no jury trials.  
Military tribunals assume jurisdiction for certain 
counterrevolutionary cases.  Most trials are public; however, 
trials are closed when state security is allegedly involved.  
Prosecutors may introduce testimony from a CDR member as to the 
revolutionary background of a defendant, which may contribute 
to either a longer or shorter sentence.  The law recognizes the 
right of appeal in municipal courts but limits it in provincial 
courts to cases 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 advocates, are arbitrary and discriminatory.  Often the 
sole evidence provided, particularly in political cases, is the 
defendant's confession, usually obtained under duress and 
without the legal advice or knowledge of a defense lawyer.  The 
authorities regularly deny defendants access to their lawyers 
until the day of the trial.  Several dissidents who have served 
prison terms say they were tried and sentenced without counsel 
and were not allowed to speak on their own behalf.

On September 10, a military court tried 11 alleged participants 
in the August 5 antigovernment protest.  The seven defense 
attorneys reportedly sought to have the cases dismissed for 
lack of evidence that the defendants even participated in the 
demonstration.  Nevertheless, the court found eight of the 
defendants guilty and sentenced them to from 6 months to 1 year 
in prison.

The law provides an accused the right to an attorney, but the 
ideological control the Government exerts over members of the 
state-controlled lawyers' collectives, especially when they 
defend persons accused of state security crimes, thoroughly 
compromises their ability to represent clients.  Observers have 
reported reluctance among attorneys to defend those charged in 
political cases out of fear of jeopardizing their own careers.

In March the State prosecuted Rodolfo Gonzalez Gonzalez, a 
prominent human rights advocate arrested during a government 
crackdown in December 1992, on charges of enemy propaganda.  
The prosecution charged that Gonzalez lied about the treatment 
of political prisoners and the existence of civil disturbances 
in statements to the international press.  The court admitted 
in evidence unsworn videotaped testimony and testimony by 
persons who admitted they did not witness the events in 
question.  Despite strong evidence in Gonzalez's favor and weak 
evidence against him, the court found Gonzalez guilty and 
sentenced him to the 7 years' imprisonment requested by the 
prosecution, one of the most severe sentences meted out to a 
human rights advocate in several years.  After his 
imprisonment, the authorities twice offered him release if he 
would agree to accept exile; Gonzalez refused both offers, 
explaining that the State had unfairly charged him and that it 
could not condition his release on obligatory exile.

According to human rights advocates, there were at least 2,000 
people imprisoned for various political crimes and probably far 
more who were imprisoned for dangerousness.  The Penal Code 
contains several articles prohibiting counterrevolutionary 
activity.  The authorities often imprisoned advocates for enemy 
propaganda, illicit association, contempt for authority 
(usually for criticizing Fidel Castro), clandestine printing, 
or the broad charge of rebellion.  They often bring the charge 
of rebellion against advocates of peaceful democratic change.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
         Correspondence

Although the Constitution provides for the inviolability of 
one's home and correspondence, official surveillance of private 
and family affairs by government-controlled mass organizations, 
such as the CDR's, remains one of the most pervasive and 
repressive features of Cuban life.  The State has assumed the 
right to interfere in the lives of citizens, even those who do 
not actively oppose the Government and its practices.  The 
Communist Party controls the mass organizations which permeate 
society, although to a lesser extent than in the past because 
of the collapsing economy.  Their ostensible purpose is to 
"improve" the citizenry, but in fact their goal is to discover 
and discourage nonconformity.

The authorities utilize a wide range of social controls.  The 
educational system teaches that the State's interests have 
precedence over all other commitments.  In September Minister 
of Higher Education Fernando Vecino Alegret affirmed that 
commitment to the revolution, including a willingness to defend 
the revolution in the streets, was a condition for admission to 
the university.  The Ministry of Education requires teachers to 
evaluate students' ideological character and note it in records 
the students carry throughout their schooling, which affect 
their future educational and career prospects.

The Interior Ministry employs an intricate system of informants 
and block committees (the CDR's) to monitor and control public 
opinion.  Guardians of social conformity, CDR's are neighborhood
security committees tasked with closely monitoring the daily 
lives of residents.  CDR's often report on suspicious activity, 
including conspicuous consumption, unauthorized meetings--
including those with foreigners--and defiant attitudes toward 
the Government and the revolution.

State security often reads international correspondence and 
monitors overseas telephone calls and conversations with 
foreigners.  Citizens do not have the right to receive 
publications from abroad.  Security agents subject dissidents, 
foreign diplomats, and journalists to surveillance.  In March 
the Government lodged a formal complaint against two U.S. 
diplomats for distributing enemy propaganda; the diplomats had 
given a few copies of a Miami newspaper to fellow passengers on 
a train to Santa Clara.

The authorities regularly search people and their homes without 
probable cause to intimidate and harass them.  In August police 
searched the home of Pastor Herrera, a leader of the human 
rights group "Alternative Criteria," and confiscated written 
human rights allegations, membership information, copies of a 
Miami newspaper, and Herrera's appointment pass to visit the 
U.S. Interests Section.

The authorities regularly detained human rights advocates after 
they visited the U.S. Interests Section, confiscated their 
written reports of human rights abuses, and seized copies of 
U.S. newspapers and other informational materials.  Police 
stopped two women, Isabel del Pino and Maria Valdes Rosado of 
the dissident religious group "Christ the King" on March 9, 
took them to a nearby police station, and subjected them to a 
strip search.  Police carefully searched their belongings and 
confiscated reports of human rights violations they had 
written.  Two state security officials then threatened them 
with arrest if they did not stop their activities.  In November 
the authorities detained several activists following their 
meetings with a visiting Spanish official.

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 against antigovernment propaganda, graffiti, 
and insults against officials carry penalties of from 3 months 
to 1 year in prison.  If President Castro or members of the 
National Assembly or Council of State are the object of 
criticism, the sentence is extended to 3 years.  Local CDR's 
inhibit freedom of speech by monitoring and reporting dissent 
or criticism.  Police arrested Lazaro Rivero de Quesada for 
wearing a T-shirt with the words "Abajo Fidel" ("Down with 
Fidel"), took him to a nearby police station, severely beat 
him, and then held him incommunicado for 8 days.  A court 
subsequently convicted him of contempt and sentenced him to 6 
months in prison.  Even implicit criticism is subject to 
punishment.  When Angel Luis Rodriguez Barrios asked police why 
they had not yet found the person responsible for robbing and 
killing his father the previous month, the police beat him and 
broke his jaw.

The Government rigidly monitored other forms of expression and 
often arrested people for the crimes of enemy propaganda and 
clandestine printing.  Police arrested eight men and three 
women in April for distributing antigovernment flyers at a 
Havana baseball stadium, and charged them with writing slogans 
against communism on walls.  The courts sentenced three of the 
accused, Ivan and Ileana Curra and Jorge Alfonso, to 3 years at 
a labor camp and the others to from 1 to 3 years' house arrest.

The Constitution states that electronic and print media are 
state property and "cannot become, in any case, private 
property."  The Communist Party controls all media as a means 
to indoctrinate the public.  All media can only operate under 
party guidelines and must faithfully reflect government views.  
No other public forums exist.  The Government continued to jam 
U.S.-operated Radio Marti and TV Marti, although it usually did 
not jam other foreign radio broadcasts.  Radio Marti broadcasts 
frequently overcame the jamming attempts.

The Government's control often extends to the foreign press as 
well.  Although the Government issued visas to large numbers of 
foreign journalists in April for a 2-day dialog with selected 
members of the exile community, 1 week later it prevented four 
members of a PBS news crew from doing an on-camera interview 
with noted dissident Elizardo Sanchez.  While en route to 
Sanchez's house, three men claiming to be police stopped the 
news crew's car.  They forced the crew members out of their car 
and took the car and the television cameras, valued at more 
than $50,000.  Cuban authorities claimed the incident was 
probably an act of banditry and by year's end had taken no 
apparent action.  The Government allowed Havana-based foreign 
journalists present for the August 5 antigovernment protests to 
file stories but not to transmit video footage due to 
unexplained "technical difficulties" in the Government's 
satellite up-link capability.  The journalists had to fly the 
video footage out by non-Cuban couriers; the Government 
subsequently shut these journalists out of official press 
events.

The Government circumscribes artistic, literary, and academic 
freedoms.  The authorities fired Marta Vidaurreta Lima from her 
position as professor at the Institute for Industrial Design 
after she wrote a letter in January to the University Student 
Federation criticizing the Government and its policies.  Her 
dismissal notice stated that Vidaurreta Lima "had exceeded the 
limits of the possible tolerance of ideas and points of view" 
and that in so doing, she had "lost the essential requisites to 
teach at this center."  Similarly, the authorities expelled 
Carmen Gomez Fajo, a high school geography teacher, from her 
job in May because of "her lack of identification with the 
political principles that sustain our teaching."  Gomez had 
expressed her disagreement with the government position that 
the U.S. economic embargo was the cause of all of Cuba's 
problems.

In late October, the University of Havana prevented five 
professors from returning to their jobs for having submitted a 
letter in late September to the Rector of the University in 
which they criticized the Government and appealed for greater 
political and academic freedom.  The University did not 
formally dismiss them since, as the Rector wrote to one of 
them, a formal letter of expulsion would only be used to "do 
damage" with "false accusations about human rights."

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

Although the Constitution grants limited rights of assembly and 
association, these rights are subject to the requirement that 
they may not be "exercised against .... the existence and 
objectives of the Socialist State."  The law punishes any 
unauthorized assembly, including for private religious 
services, of more than three persons, even in a private home, 
by up to 3 months in prison and a fine.  The authorities 
selectively enforce this prohibition and often use it as a 
legal pretext to harass and imprison human rights advocates.  
The authorities have never approved a public meeting of a human 
rights group.  In January and again in March, state security 
forces prevented a meeting of the dissident Socialist 
Democratic Current (CSDC), which was to be held at the home of 
CSDC president Vladimiro Roca, by forcibly barring access to 
Roca's home by group members.

The Penal Code specifically outlaws "illegal or unrecognized 
groups."  The Ministry of Justice, in consultation with the 
Interior Ministry, decides whether to recognize organizations.  
Apart from recognized churches and one or two carefully 
monitored groups such as the Masonic Order, small human rights 
groups represent the only associations outside the control of 
the State, the Party, and the mass organizations.  The 
authorities continued to ignore numerous applications for legal 
recognition by various human rights groups, which then permits 
the Government to jail members of these groups for illicit 
association or target them for reprisals.  The authorities 
discharged Rubiseyda Rojas Gonzalez, director of a trade school 
in San Antonio de los Banos, in March because of her 
association with the CSDC.  Her dismissal papers noted that 
"eminently counterrevolutionary" materials were taken from her, 
including copies of a Miami newspaper and a critical biography 
of President Castro.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

In recent years, the Government has eased somewhat the harsher 
aspects of its repression of religious freedom.  In 1991 it 
allowed religious adherents to join the Communist Party.  In 
July 1992, it amended the Constitution to prohibit religious 
discrimination and removed references to "scientific 
materialism," i.e., atheism, as the basis for the Cuban State.  
While the Protestant Ecumenical Council praised such actions, 
the Catholic Church replied with concern over the gap between 
the Government's rhetoric and actions.  In late 1993, the 
Government harshly criticized the Catholic bishops' pastoral 
letter calling for national reconciliation and dialog.

Despite legal changes, religious persecution continues.  The 
State prohibits members of the armed forces from allowing 
anyone in their household to observe religious practices.  It 
exempts elderly relatives only if their religious beliefs do 
not influence other family members 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.  The CDR's monitor and often harass Jehovah's 
Witnesses and Adventists because the Government considers them 
to be "active religious enemies of the revolution" for their 
refusal to accept obligatory military service or participate in 
state organizations.  The CDR's also maintain surveillance over 
spiritualists (santeros) who give "consultations."

The Government also harasses other churches.  State security 
agents arrested Eliecer Veguilla, executive member of the 
Western Convention of Baptists, and Miguel Angel Leon, a 
Baptist minister in Cienfuegos province, in late January for 
counterrevolutionary activities and enemy propaganda, 
respectively.  Officials told Veguilla's family that he was 
under investigation because he had associated with Western 
diplomats.  They released Veguilla after 2 months; but 
continued to hold Leon.

The Government requires churches and other religious groups to 
register with the provincial registry of associations of the 
City of Havana and to obtain official recognition.  The 
Government prohibits construction of new churches, forcing many 
congregations to violate the law and meet in people's homes.  
Official recognition of all religious holidays ended in 1961.  
At that time, the Government prohibited nearly all religious 
processions outside church grounds and denied churches access 
to mass media.  Despite obstacles raised by the Government, 
church attendance has grown in recent years.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

The Government does not impose legal restrictions on domestic 
travel, except for persons found to be HIV-positive, whom it 
initially restricts to sanitoriums for treatment and therapy 
before conditionally releasing them to the community.

The Government allows the majority of persons who qualify for 
immigrant visas or refugee status to leave the country.  
However, the authorities delay or deny exit permits in certain 
cases, usually without explanation.  Many of the denials 
involve professionals who have tried to emigrate and whom the 
Government subsequently banned from working in their 
occupational field.  The Government refuses permission to 
others because it considers their cases sensitive for political 
or state security reasons.  The Government also routinely 
denies exit permits to young men approaching the age for 
military service, even when it has authorized the rest of the 
family to leave.

Author Norberto Fuentes, denied an exit permit to attend a 
conference on Ernest Hemingway sponsored by the PEN American 
Center, undertook a much-publicized 22-day hunger strike before 
the Government allowed him to leave in September.  The 
Government allowed dissident poet Maria Elena Cruz Varela to 
travel to the United States in May to receive an award from an 
international organization, but it refused prominent human 
rights advocate Elizardo Sanchez an exit visa in March to 
attend a conference in Spain because he criticized the 
Government's human rights record during a previous trip abroad.

Until August, unauthorized departures by boat or raft were 
punishable by fines and prison terms of from 6 months to 
3 years.  On April 29, the Border Guard rammed and sank the 
"Olympia," a private vessel which had fled Cuba and was about 
25 nautical miles north of the coast of Camaguey.  Three of the 
21 people on board drowned, including two 6-year-old children.  
The Border Guard detained 10 adult male passengers for 
4 months, using blackmail and threats in an unsuccessful effort 
to obtain declarations that the sinking had been accidental.  
At year's end, the 10 men still faced fines and possible prison 
terms.  The Government awarded medals and bicycles to the 
members of the Border Guard responsible for the sinking.

In a second such incident, on July 13, government vessels fired 
high-pressure water hoses at the tugboat Trece de Marzo in an 
attempt to prevent those aboard from fleeing Cuba.  They then 
rammed and sank the boat.  An official government statement 
admitted that there was a "collision" when the pursuing vessels 
maneuvered to intercept the Trece de Marzo, causing it to 
sink.  The Border Guard rescued 31 people, but approximately 
40 others, including children, drowned.  The Government ignored 
the Archbishop of Havana's call for a full investigation.

The Government temporarily suspended its policy regarding 
unauthorized departures in August and allowed about 30,000 
Cubans to depart in privately owned boats and home-made rafts.  
The Government resumed its prohibition following the conclusion 
on September 9 of the U.S.-Cuba migration agreement, in which 
it agreed to use "mainly persuasive methods" to prevent unsafe 
departures.  Criminal penalties for such departures were not 
reimposed.  There have been no reports that the Government used 
inhumane methods or physical force to stop the unsafe exodus by 
boat and raft.  Under the terms of the accord, the Government 
agreed to accept voluntary returnees through normal diplomatic 
and consular channels.  By year's end, 422 Cubans had returned 
voluntarily, but the Government had not agreed to a reliable 
mechanism that ensured swift return of all those who wished to 
return to Cuba.

In August the Government eased restrictions on visits by, and 
repatriation of, Cuban emigrants.  Cubans who establish 
residency abroad, and who are in possession of government-
issued "permits to reside abroad," may travel to Cuba without 
visas.  Cuban emigrants now are able to return to live in Cuba, 
provided they did not engage in what the Government considers 
to be antigovernment activities while abroad.  The Government 
further reduced the age of people eligible to travel abroad 
from 20 to 18 and extended the period for temporary stay abroad 
from 6 to 11 months.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Citizens have no legal right to change their government or to 
advocate change.  The Constitution proscribes any political 
organization other than the Communist Party.  A small group of 
leaders select members of its highest governing bodies--the 
Politburo and the Central Committee.

The authorities tightly control all elections.  In the 1993 
elections for the National Assembly, a candidacy commission 
composed of representatives of party-controlled mass 
organizations screened every candidate.  The authorities 
allowed only one candidate per seat.  These procedures ensured 
that only government supporters would be on the ballot.  Voters 
had only two options, either vote "yes" or leave the ballot 
blank.  The Government forbids the formation of political 
parties, campaigning, and making campaign promises.

The Government has ignored calls for democratic reform and 
labeled activists who proposed them "worms" and traitors.  It 
rejects any change judged incompatible with the revolution, as 
well as proposals by Cubans who seek nonviolent political 
change.  The Government has systematically retaliated against 
those who have peacefully sought political change.

Government leadership positions continue to be dominated by 
men.  Although blacks and mulattoes make up over half the 
population, they hold only 2 seats in the 26-member Politburo.  
There are very few women or minorities in policymaking 
positions.  There are three women on the Politburo; the 
country's first female provincial party secretary was not 
chosen until 1993.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

The Government does not recognize any domestic or international 
human rights group, nor permit them to function legally.  As 
noted above, the Government subjects domestic human rights 
advocates 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 Committee for Human Rights, the National Council for 
Civil Rights, the Human Rights Party of Cuba, and the Cuban 
Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation.  There 
are also various umbrella organizations that include a number 
of smaller human rights groups.

The Government has steadfastly rejected international human 
rights monitoring.  In 1991 Cuba's U.N. representative stated 
that Cuba would not recognize the UNHRC mandate on Cuba and 
would not cooperate with the Special Rapporteur, despite being 
a UNHRC member.  The Government's position remains unchanged.  
It consistently refused requests by the Special Rapporteur to 
visit Cuba.  However, the Government did allow a brief visit by 
the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights from November 15 to 
19.  He met with a range of government officials, including 
President Castro, as well as 18 human rights activists.  He 
characterized his visit as the beginning of a dialog on human 
rights and distinguished it from the investigatory 
responsibilities of the Special Rapporteur.  The High 
Commissioner reiterated his request that the Cuban Government 
permit the Special Rapporteur to visit Cuba in compliance with 
his U.N. mandate.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

Cuba is a multiracial society with a black and mixed race 
majority.  The Constitution forbids discrimination based on 
race, sex, or national origin, although evidence suggests that 
racial and sexual discrimination often occur.

     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 policy positions in the Government or Party.

Information from various sources indicates that domestic 
violence and sexual assaults occur, but violent crime is rarely 
reported in the press.  There is no publicly available data 
regarding the incidence of domestic violence.  The law 
establishes strict penalties for rape, and the Government 
appears to enforce the law.  Prostitution has increased greatly 
in the last few years; press reports indicate that tourists 
from various countries visit Cuba specifically to patronize 
inexpensive prostitutes.

     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 grounded in Marxist ideology.  State organizations 
and schools are charged with the "integral formation of 
childhood and youth."

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Many blacks have benefited from the social changes of the 
revolution.  Nevertheless, there have been numerous instances 
of police harassment of blacks, including black foreigners and 
diplomats who were mistaken for being Cuban.  Many black 
dissidents also report that the authorities single them out for 
harassment.

     People with Disabilities

The law prohibits discrimination based on disability, and there 
have been few complaints of such discrimination.  There are no 
laws which mandate accessibility to buildings for people with 
disabilities.

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.  The "demands of the economy and society" take 
precedence over individual workers' preferences.  The law 
prohibits strikes; none are known to have occurred.  
Established labor organizations do not function as trade unions 
and do not promote or protect worker rights, including the 
right to strike.  They are under the control of the State and 
the Party.  The Party selects the leaders of the sole legal 
confederation, the Confederation of Cuban Workers.  Its 
principal responsibility is to ensure that government 
production goals are met.

Despite disclaimers in international forums, the Government 
explicitly prohibits independent unions.  There has been no 
change since the 1992 International Labor Organization (ILO) 
finding that independent unions "do not appear to exist" and 
its ruling that Cuba violated ILO norms on freedom of 
association and the right to organize.

Those who attempt to engage in union activities face government 
persecution.  Government agents repeatedly harassed Lazaro Corp 
Yeras, president of the National Commission of Independent 
Trade Unions, during the year.  On the night of May 1, for 
example, Corp was injured while riding his bicycle when the 
driver of a car forced him off the road.  The driver then 
yelled profanities and insulted Corp for being a union activist.

     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.  Since all trade unions are government entities, 
antiunion discrimination by definition does not exist.  There 
are no independent unions.

The Government in 1993 removed some of the restrictions on 
self-employment imposed in 1968 and allowed people to apply for 
licenses to work in over 125 different occupations, ranging 
from hairdresser to muleteer.  However, university graduates, 
employees in sectors determined to be government priorities, or 
any state employee whose work is ruled necessary are excluded 
from qualifying.  Also excluded are those who do not show 
proper labor discipline, a category which includes dissidents, 
among others.  Furthermore, the State may revoke permission to 
work outside the state sector if it decides the worker's 
services are again needed.

In May, in a putative effort to crack down on black marketeers, 
the Government approved Decree Law 149 on the "confiscation of 
goods and income obtained by means of improper enrichment," and 
it announced that it would revoke the licenses of many artisans 
for employing others, an illegal act under the law, or would 
arrest them for using materials of "dubious origin."  The 
decree was to be applied retroactively.  Cuban radio reported 
in October that the authorities had confiscated 8,485,706 pesos 
(equivalent to $85,000 at prevailing unofficial exchange rates) 
and a considerable number of vehicles, houses, livestock, and 
work implements under this decree.

There are no known export processing zones in Cuba.

     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 dangerousness.  They are 
forced to work on farms or building sites, usually with no pay 
and inadequate food.  The authorities often imprison internees 
who do not cooperate.  The Government employs special groups of 
workers, known as "microbrigades," on loan from other jobs, on 
special building projects.  They have increased importance in 
the Government's efforts to complete tourist and other priority 
projects.  Workers who refuse to volunteer for these jobs often 
risk discrimination or job loss.  Microbrigade workers, 
however, reportedly receive priority consideration for 
apartments.  The military channels some conscripts to the Youth 
Labor Army, where they serve their 2-year military service 
requirement working on farms which supply both the armed forces 
and the civilian population.

The ILO's Committee of Experts criticized Cuba for violating 
ILO Convention 29 on Forced Labor, based on information 
provided by the International Confederation of Free Trade 
Unions.  In response, the Cuban state labor committee in 1993 
eliminated "merits and demerits" from workers' labor records.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The legal minimum working age is 17 years.  The Labor Code 
permits employment of 15- and 16-year-olds to obtain training 
or fill labor shortages.  All students over age 11 are expected 
to devote 30 to 45 days of their summer vacation to farm work, 
laboring up to 8 hours per day.  The Ministry of Agriculture 
uses "voluntary labor" by Student Work Brigades extensively in 
the farming sector.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The minimum wage varies by occupation and is set by the Bureau 
of Labor and Social Security.  The minimum monthly wage for a 
maid, for example, is 165 pesos ($165 at the meaningless 
official exchange rate); for a bilingual office clerk 
190 pesos; and for a gardener 215 pesos.  The Government 
supplements the minimum wage with free medical care, education, 
and subsidized housing and food.  Even with these subsidies, 
however, a worker must earn far more than the average monthly 
wage to support a family.  The Government rations most basic 
necessities such as food, medicine, clothing, and cooking gas, 
which are in very short supply, if available at all.

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.  
Workplace environmental and safety controls are usually 
inadequate, and the Government lacks effective enforcement 
mechanisms.  Industrial accidents apparently are frequent, but 
the Government suppresses reports of these.


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[end of document]

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