University of Minnesota

Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Cuba, Inter-Am. C.H.R., OEA/Ser.L/V/II.48, Doc. 24 (1979).




Information received by the IACHR reflects the gravity of the situation of political prisoners in Cuba. Even though it was not possible to consider any observations the Cuban Government might have presented in connection with the facts denounced, the Commission considers it appropriate, in view of the importance of the information obtained, to give its opinion on those denunciations. With this qualification, it submits the following conclusions.

1. The legal system in Cuba prevents free expression and any expression of disagreement with the socialist system. There are individuals who are in prison for the mere fact of having expressed their opposition to the system.

2. The Cuban Penal Code punishes illegal immigration and emigration; with regard to the latter the penalties are disproportionate. In turn, the Cuban Government hinders “legal” emigration. There are hundreds of persons in prison for having attempted to emigrate from the country.

3. The precriminal and postcriminal security measures in some cases serve to intimidate and oppress individuals for having expressed their political views. There are people in prisons who have never been given the opportunity to defend themselves before an impartial judge, for merely having been considered “harmful.” Further, according to information received by the Commission, there are some prisoners who were resentenced after having served their original sentences, through application of postcriminal security measures.

4. Political prisoners are subjected to forced labor, which is a violation of ILO conventions on this subject, ratified by the Government of Cuba. Forced labor is used as a form of punishment for having expressed ideological opposition and as a means of using manpower for purposes of economic development.

5. Three thousand six hundred political prisoners were released, most during 1979, in keeping with the “dialogue” between the Government of the Republic of Cuba and representatives of the Cuban Community in exile.

6. Approximately one thousand political prisoners continue to be imprisoned, many of whom are serving thirty-year sentences.

7. The treatment of “intransigent” prisoners is characterized by mistreatment, absence of medical attention, lack of proper food and absence of due process. The Government of Cuba has the obligation to respect the minimum standards on treatment of these and other prisoners.

8. The Cuban Government's decision to release 3,600 political prisoners is a demonstration of its interest in resolving this problem. However, the Commission hopes that this step is just the first in a process aimed at putting an end to political imprisonment in Cuba.


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