Cuban Prisoners Defenders: “CUBA HOLDS THOUSANDS OF POLITICAL PRISONERS”

Cuban Prisoners Defenders

Executive Summary

The NGO Cuban Prisoners Defenders has carried out a huge work of legal analysis of all Cuban political prisoners, restructuring them into 4 categories, focusing on the presence of legal evidence and notorious testimonies, and total absence of violence or crimes in their acts or background. Cuban Prisoners Defenders takes into account both the accusations and the existing evidence, the criminal proceedings and the laws that support these processes. Thus, it has proven, with uncountable cases, that the Cuban judicial system “creates” and “fabricates” false evidence in a clumsy manner, which does not prevent them from continuing until the execution of the sentence without any restraint. Cuban Prisoners Defenders analyses each case and makes legal opinions through a team of eminent international criminal lawyers.

Although the regime has never provided data on Cuba’s prison population in a contrasted way, Cuban Prisoners Defenders’ investigations allow corroborating what other reports and research pointed out: Cuba has the largest prison population per capita in the world, with more of 950 prisoners per hundred thousand inhabitants, distributed in hundreds of prisons and institutions of all kinds scattered throughout the country. In other words, in Cuba the prison population is way over 100,000 prisoners. The detailed prison report, which is being prepared by Cuban Prisoners Defenders, is being finalized and will be presented and disseminated in a short period of time, together with the exact figures obtained by province, prison and the classifications of the prisons and institutions.

Ranking Población Carcelaria (resumen)
Table. Ranking of countries with the highest rates of imprisonment. Source: (1) ICPR (Institute for Criminal Policy Research), (2) Cuban Prisoners Defenders

Cuba, in addition, has thousands of political prisoners. Of these, two groups stand out especially:

  1. A minor group is represented by those who are activists registered as members of dissident organizations, and whose number is 138 political prisoners of diverse nature and severity (88 convicts of conscience, 18 condemned of conscience and 32 more political prisoners), of which 18 of them they have already been in prison for an average of 19 years and 3 months. The latest updated list can be obtained here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1zZVp5hlkQ1HzSCmNxKzZCgv7Vj0ZJHt1.
  2. Among the majority of thousands of political prisoners, anonymous to society, are the thousands of innocent people convicted of “pre-criminal social dangerousness”, a criminal weapon of the regime designed in the Criminal Code to control hundreds of thousands of critics and discontents, and which allows to convict in penal institutions people who have not committed crimes, not even in a tentative degree. Of those convicted of conscience (88), for example, 11 inmates are condemned with “pre-criminal” measures with an average sentence of 3 years in prison.

The country with the largest inmate population in the world

Cuban Prisoners Defenders’ investigations result in figures of more than 100,000 inmates, that is around 1% of the total population, exactly more than 950 prisoners per 100 thousand inhabitants, distributed in hundreds of prisons and institutions of reclusion all over the island.

The study, which is at its final elaboration stage, has begun to give light to a reality that has been conveniently hidden by the Cuban authorities as reality confirms that Cuba is the most repressive country in the world. As a result, Cuba has also the most docile and intimidated population on the planet in terms of political rights. Although Cuba does not publish its official data regularly, the Granma newspaper conveniently cited in 2012 an outrageously false number (57,337 inmates) in an article that was repeated and disseminated by the Castro-Stalinist apparatus all over the Internet (done in the net not to inform its people, of course, which did not have internet in 2012, but for being taken from abroad) including official internet blogs, and whose goal was precisely preventing the world from knowing the real number of prisoners in Cuba and having nothing less than a figure very close to half of the real prison population. The strategy bore fruit, and this served for the ICPR (Institute for Criminal Policy Research) to cite in its latest studies the numbers from Granma newspaper, a purely advertising and propaganda source without corroboration, and apply to Cuba a rate of 510 inmates for every 100,000 inhabitants, placing it in sixth place worldwide in terms of prison population, but conveniently behind the United States, whose figures are official and are corroborated by various sources, both official and independent. The real numbers are as follows.

Ranking Población Carcelaria
Table. Ranking of countries with the highest rates of imprisonment. Source: (1) ICPR, (2) Cuban Prisoners Defenders, (3) ICPR based on Granma numbers made up in 2012

Hundreds of prisoners of conscience, thousands of political prisoners

In Cuba there are currently hundreds of prisoners of conscience and thousands of political prisoners. To illustrate this fact, it is enough to indicate that there are thousands of people in Cuba condemned by the so-called “pre-criminal social dangerousness”, that is, without any crime or even attempt committed, inmates are given penalties ranging from months in correctional institutions or domiciliary regime works, to up to 4 years in prison. The Cuban Criminal Code describes it in a way that is embarrassing, if not outrageous:

“ARTICLE 72. It is considered a dangerous state the special proclivity in which a person is found to commit crimes, demonstrated by the behaviour observed in manifest contradiction with the rules of socialist morality.

ARTICLE 76. 1. The security measures can be decreed to prevent the commission of crimes, or because of the commission of these. In the first case, they are called pre-criminal security measures, and in the second, post-criminal security measures.

ARTICLE 78. To the ones declared in dangerous state in the corresponding processes, pre-criminal security measures can be imposed

ARTICLE 80. 1. Re-educational measures are: a) internment in a specialized work or study establishment; b) delivery to a work collective, for the control and guidance of the behaviour of the subject in a dangerous state. 2. Re-educational measures are applied to anti-social individuals. 3. The term of these measures is a minimum of one year and a maximum of four.”

From the 88 Cuban Prisoners Defenders’ inmates declared Convicted of Conscience, 11 of them have been sentenced by pre-criminal security measures, for “pre-criminal social dangerousness”, with an average sentence of 3 years of prison.

Thousands of prisoners of conscience completely “anonymous”

Among the prison population with criminal measures are thousands of cases of prisoners of conscience by pre-criminal measures for social dangerousness that cannot be tabulated as have been sentenced while not in any human rights, civil or opposition organization and therefore had no access to the warning mechanisms that these do have when their members suffer a criminal sentence. They are anonymous people, whom the regime considers “anti-social” for criticizing the system, and who do not “exist” in the official field of human rights.

Unemployment, a first stage before prison for critics, or “disaffected” as the regime officially calls them

Being unemployed is one of the common characteristics before being condemned by pre-criminal dangerousness, given that the only and great employer in Cuba is the State, the first measure that always happens to critics or dissatisfied with the system, and whom it calls “disaffected”, is to lose the employment forcefully.

Therefore, one of the most widespread phobias on the island behind being unemployed is being arrested for “dangerousness” and being interned in a detention centre. The “unemployed” in Cuba, especially the “forced” unemployed, are stigmatized and persecuted by the State and many of them end up in prison.

Therefore, faced with the threat of losing their jobs because they are expelled following a critical attitude either towards the superior or with any state body, the vast majority of the population folds their critical manifestations and choose to act in a “low-level social profile”, to avoid being accused of criticism and perhaps lose their job, because it’s very well known that the next step is to obtain a criminal sentence for “dangerousness”.

The critical self-employed workers (“cuenta-propistas”) also suffer persecution and a high possibility of joining unemployed and therefore having pre-criminal measures, as the activity of self-employed in Cuba is not a free-access one, because its licences are given, denied, and subtracted arbitrarily by the State in an unrestricted manner. The State and its repressive institutions, without any control, can annul the license of self-employed of any citizen.

About political prisoners who are registered members of critical social organizations

Among the prisoners of the known political organizations with access to the mechanisms of demand and publicity (that is, a tiny minority of cases), have been counted by Cuban Prisoners Defenders active, at this time, a total of 88 Convicts of Conscience (with deprivation of liberty in prisons), 18 additional condemned of conscience (in house arrest or conditional release), and 32 additional prisoners for political reasons that have not yet been declared of conscience for various reasons (among others the absolute opacity of the Cuban criminal system, which denies the sentences to the condemned in numerous circumstances) which make a total of 138 political prisoners of various kinds and severity. Of these, 18 of them have already been in prison for an average of 19 years and 3 months. The list of March 14 2019, can be downloaded at: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1zZVp5hlkQ1HzSCmNxKzZCgv7Vj0ZJHt1. Cuban Prisoners Defenders works a permanently updated list that can be provided to anyone interested.

The 4 lists resulting from this work that are elaborated and maintained constantly updated by Cuban Prisoners Defenders are, therefore:

  • Convicted of Conscience, when they are deprived of liberty in government facilities. 88, as of 14/3/2019
  • Condemned of Conscience, when the prison is domiciliary or of limitation of movement. 18, to date 14/3/2019
  • Political Prisoners, when the reasons for their accusation and incarceration are due to political opposition to the regime, independently of other related actions that could lead to administrative or criminal penalties in a legal system. 32, dated 14/3/2019.
  • Long-lasting political prisoners: those who have been in prison for political reasons for more than 15 years already, whether or not they belong to any of the previous three categories. Therefore, they require special attention because, for political reasons, they have been ruined practically all their lives. In this section we find 18 prisoners with an average of 19 years and 3 months already satisfied.

Judgments’ analysis

As for the duration of sentences, we see that the average penalty for Convicted of Conscience is 3 years and 9 months, being the standard deviation of the series of sentences of 2 years and 9 months. That is, as not being a very scattered series, except for five convictions that are over 7 years, the usual regime’s method to manufacture false crimes for the convicted of conscience has an average of 3 years and 9 months of sentence, which comes to be fulfilled entirely with great frequency.

In other words, the mildest conscience activism in Cuba is paid, on average and usually, with average sentences of 3 years and 9 months of deprivation of liberty:

Distribución Penas Convictos de Conciencia
Figure: Distributions of time sentences in years for Cubans Convicted of Conscience

With regard to political prisoners who cannot be considered of conscience solely for having attended other criminal circumstances in their acts (the political conviction overlapped with that of theft, attempted assault, rebellion, piracy and others), 32 cases, the sentences are distributed in a more radical way, the most usual being life imprisonment:

Distribución de las condenas de Presos Políticos
More than 65% of convictions for political reasons, in which there has been some seemingly real crime in the events of opposition to the system and that can not be framed exclusively within the framework of “conscience”, have penalties exceeding 25 years.

As for the organizations to which the activists belong, the most prominent group is the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), with 50 conscience activists convicted or convicted, 47% of the registered in Cuba[1]:

Prisioneros de Conciencia por Organización Disidente

Analytical Methodology of Cuban Prisoners Defenders

Cuban Prisoners Defenders develops detailed legal reports and investigation of all cases of conscience to submit them to NGOs and Human Rights institutions and policies at a global level. The following cases can serve as an example to confirm the typology of conscience and understand the legal and procedural implications (only a summary is exposed here, if you want any of the reports, you can request them as indicated below in this press release):

  • Mitzael Díaz Paseiro (FRCOZT): he was convicted of pre-criminal dangerousness, textually as written in the judge’s report, “not having a recognized employment relationship, maintaining an unadjusted behaviour in violation of the rules of social coexistence, since meeting with citizens of bad morality and conduct”. His case from the legal point of view is embarrassing and the analysis was very evident for all the jurists involved.
  • Aymara Nieto Muñoz (UNPACU and Lady in White): although they accuse her of disorder and attack for the reasons and the manner in which her arrest took place, her complete detention that day, and two others, were filmed entirely in audio and video, so that the falsity of the accusation is irrefutably demonstrated, since everything contrary to what was narrated by the prosecution occurred. The accusation was, per se, unpresentable, and the arguments of the entire trial have completely fallen with the given proofs.
  • Dayamí F. Lay Sangronys (CID): in addition to being the accusation unforgivably inconsistent and political, once again there was a complete video of the moment of her detention that discredited even the vainest statements of the prosecution.
  • Melkis Faure Hechavarría (UNPACU): She was arrested along with the previous one and the case and the accusation were joint, so the same paragraph for Dayamí F. Lay Sangronys applies.
  • Edilberto R. Arzuaga Alcalá (UNPACU): in prison for non-payment of arbitrary fines, his case is not juridically supported in any way by procedural elements contrary to Cuban law, so the sentence is obviously violating even Cuba’s law in a shameful way. In addition, in the area of ​​probatory, Edilberto irrefutably managed to prove that he was being threatened to become an informant against José Daniel Ferrer and the prison was a retaliation for not doing so. CPD has had access to the threatening messages he received and has verified by Cuban internal sources, publicly verifiable, both the origin and ownership of the numbers from which the threats originated: the Ministry of the Interior.
  • Eliécer Bandera Barreras (UNPACU): accused of pre-criminal dangerousness. With the judicial documentation of the case we have been able to prove falsehoods and procedural errors, even beyond the pre-criminal accusation, which in itself is a nonexistent crime by nature, which makes it a scandalous case, equally to the previous ones.
  • Humberto Rico Quiala (UNPACU): besides giving him an immense beating, the National Revolutionary Police and the prosecution wanted to make believe that it was him who carried out the acts of aggression. The evidence, the study of the legal documentation, and various testimonials demonstrate another scandalous case of conscience, aggravated by the immense beating that the innocent and peaceful man also suffered.

ABOUT CUBAN PRISONERS DEFENDERS

Cuban Prisoners Defenders is an independent group of analysis, study and action, with the collaboration of all dissident groups on the island and the families of political prisoners to gather information and promote the freedom of all political prisoners, as well as to maintain the updated weekly lists of Convicted of Conscience (cases of deprivation of liberty and correctional work), Condemned of Conscience (in-house arrest), Political Prisoners (general total and also includes cases of confrontation or acts not properly of conscience) and Long-lasting political prisoners imprisoned.

The group from Cuba is coordinated by Iván Hernández Carrillo (ASIC), Adolfo Fernández Sainz (FNCA) and Javier Larrondo (UNPACU), without these organizations controlling to any degree, allowing a dedicated work to all political prisoners without distinctions and equally. In Madrid’s office, the legal reports have the contribution of another one of the founders of Cuban Prisoners Defenders, the international criminal lawyer Mr. Sebastián Rivero, who, among other experiences, has been a collaborating jurist of the Permanent Ambassador of Spain at the United Nations. The organization also has different patrons from all ideologies, among others several deputies of the National Congress of Spain of different parties, as well as D. Blas Jesús Imbroda, president of the International Criminal Bar (ICB, elected in 2017) and Dean of the Bar Association of Melilla, Spain.

The works of Cuban Prisoners Defenders are adopted by numerous institutions and are sent, among others, to FNCA, ASIC, UNPACU, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Inter-Amercan Comission for Human Rights, Organization of American States, European Parliament, Congress and Senate of the United States, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain, CubaArchive, Spanish Transition Foundation, International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights, FANTU, Party for Democracy Pedro Luis Boitel, Independent Pedagogues Bar of Cuba and Citizen Movement Reflection and Reconciliation, among many other institutions and organizations.

REQUEST FOR REPORTS: Entities wishing to receive the work of Cuban Prisoners Defenders (list of political prisoners and of conscience, legal studies of political prisoners, legal studies on Cuba, studies on repression and prisons in Cuba, etc) please contact Cuban Prisoners Defenders at info@cubanprisonersdefenders.org or by phone / whatsapp at +34 647564741. Our official Twitter, in addition, is @CubanDefenders.

[1] From the total of the CPD’s declared Convicted of Conscience and the Condemned of Conscience. That is, 107 = 88 + 19

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