CORBACHO DAUDINOT v. PUIG VALDES et al
Second AMENDED COMPLAINT against YASIEL PUIG VALDES, MARITZA VALDES GONZALEZ, filed by MIGUEL ANGEL CORBACHO DAUDINOT. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A, # 2 Exhibit B, # 3 Exhibit C, # 4 Exhibit D, # 5 Exhibit E, # 6 Exhibit F, # 7 Exhibit G, # 8 Exhibit H, # 9 Exhibit I, # 10 Exhibit J, # 11 Exhibit K, # 12 Exhibit L, # 13 Exhibit M, # 14 Exhibit N, # 15 Exhibit O, # 16 Exhibit P, # 17 Exhibit Q, # 18 Exhibit R, # 19 Exhibit S, # 20 Exhibit T, # 21 Exhibit U, # 22 Exhibit V)(Gonzalez, Avelino)
Cuba, with a population of approximately 11.4 million, is a totalitarian state led by
Raul Castro, who held the positions of chief of state, president of the council of
state and council of ministers, and commander in chief of the Revolutionary
Armed Forces. The constitution recognizes the Communist Party (CP) as the only
legal party and "the superior leading force of society and of the state." Fidel Castro,
who formally relinquished power to his brother in 2008, remained the First
Secretary of the CP. The 2008 legislative elections were neither free nor fair; a CP
candidacy commission preapproved all candidates, resulting in the CP candidates
and their allies winning 98.7 percent of the vote and 607 of 614 seats in the
National Assembly. Security forces reported to civilian authorities.
The government denied citizens the right to change their government. In addition,
the following human rights abuses were reported: harassment, beatings, and threats
against political opponents by government-organized mobs and state security
officials acting with impunity; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions,
including selective denial of medical care; arbitrary detention of human rights
advocates and members of independent organizations; and selective prosecution
and denial of fair trial. Authorities interfered with privacy and engaged in
pervasive monitoring of private communications. The government also placed
severe limitations on freedom of speech and press, constrained the right of peaceful
assembly and association, restricted freedom of movement, and limited freedom of
religion. The government refused to recognize independent human rights groups or
permit them to function legally. In addition, the government continued to place
severe restrictions on worker rights, including the right to form independent
The government released more than 40 political prisoners, including many notable
human rights activists arrested in 2003. Although most of these were released on
the condition they leave the country, during the reporting period the government
allowed one to remain in the country. The releases, mediated by the Cuban
Catholic Church, came in the wake of street protests and severe international
criticism following the death from hunger-strike of political prisoner Orlando
Zapata Tamayo. During conversations with the church, the government indicated
that it planned to release all political prisoners in the near future.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:
Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
There were no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or
The law prohibits abusive treatment of detainees and prisoners. However, there
were verified reports that members of the security forces harassed and sometimes
physically assaulted human rights and prodemocracy advocates, dissidents,
detainees, and prisoners, and did so with impunity. Some detainees and prisoners
endured physical abuse, sometimes by other inmates with the acquiescence of
guards, or long periods in isolation cells.
The government continued to stage public protests to harass and abuse activists
and their families. Although the government characterized the mobs as
spontaneous, participants frequently arrived in government-owned vehicles or were
recruited by local CP leaders from nearby workplaces or schools. In extreme cases,
government-orchestrated mobs assaulted the targets or damaged their homes or
property. Undercover police and agents from the Ministry of the Interior's General
Directorate for State Security (DGSE) were often present and coordinated
activities with mob leaders. Government officials at the scene did not arrest those
who physically attacked the victims or respond to victims' complaints. On more
than one occasion, officials took part in the beatings.
Many of these state-orchestrated "acts of repudiation" were directed against the
Damas de Blanco ("Ladies in White"), a group of mostly female relatives and
supporters of political prisoners, many of those prisoners were arrested in the
spring of 2003.
During the week leading up to the March 18 anniversary of the 2003 arrests, the
Damas held daily marches to commemorate the anniversary. On March 16, the
government bused in approximately 100 counter-demonstrators who surrounded
the Damas and shouted insults and progovernment slogans. On March 17, the
Damas attempted to march through a neighborhood on the outskirts of Havana, but
as the march progressed, approximately 300 progovernment counterdemonstrators
arrived on buses, surrounded the Damas, shouted insults, and physically assaulted
the marchers. Plainclothes police formed a ring around the Damas, providing
protection from the worst of the blows, while state security officers were observed
coordinating with mob leaders. Eventually, the mob completely blocked the path of
the Damas, and police dragged the marchers onto a waiting bus. Foreign diplomats
also observed state security officials drag a male relative of one of the marchers
away, then repeatedly kick and punch him. All participants in the march were
detained briefly and then released without charges.
In the first half of the year, the government also tried to prevent the Damas from
staging their weekly march after Sunday Mass, which they had been doing
unimpeded since their spouses were arrested in 2003. The confrontation escalated
over the subsequent weeks, as the crowd of counterdemonstrators swelled in
numbers and intensity, while police prevented all but a handful of Damas from
reaching the church. On April 18, progovernment forces surrounded the Damas as
they left the church and prevented them from marching, screaming insults and
obscenities while banging on pots and pans. On April 25, they again were
surrounded after leaving church, forced into a nearby public park where they were
assaulted, taunted, including with sexual and ethnic insults, and prevented from
moving for more than seven hours. State security officials intervened and forced
the ladies onto a public bus. The standoffs ended the following week, when
Catholic Cardinal Jaime Ortega received assurances from President Castro that the
Damas would be allowed to resume their Sunday marches.
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Prison conditions continued to be harsh and life threatening. The government did
not permit independent monitoring of prison conditions by international or national
human rights groups and did not permit access to detainees by international
humanitarian organizations. Food shortages were widespread, available food was
often spoiled or infested with vermin, and many prisoners relied on family parcels
of up to 30 pounds of food and other basic supplies that were brought during each
Prison cells lacked adequate water, sanitation, space, light, ventilation, and
temperature control. Running water was rare and, if available, generally ran only
for a limited time. Water for drinking and bathing was foul and frequently
contaminated with parasites. Many prisoners reported receiving only one small
glass of water per day, even when confined to sweltering cells during the summer.
Vermin and insect infestations were common, with inmates reporting rats,
cockroaches, fleas, lice, bedbugs, stinging ants, flies, and mosquitoes. Prisoners
reported that they lacked access to basic and emergency medical care, including
dental care. Prisoners engaged in hunger strikes throughout the year to demand
Reports of beatings of prisoners were commonplace, and included beatings by
prison officials as well as among prisoners. There were some reports of prisoneron-prisoner sexual assaults, generally due to lax security by prison guards, and at
least one report of rape by prison guards, although reports of sexual abuse were
On February 24, political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo died in government
custody after conducting an 11-week hunger strike. Zapata's family alleged that
prison officials denied him adequate care and medical treatment during the strike.
Government officials, including President Castro, countered that Zapata received
adequate treatment and had been informed of the health risks of a hunger strike.
On June 12, the government released political prisoner Ariel Sigler Amaya, who
suffered from paraplegia as a side effect of severe malnutrition, after seven years in
prison. On July 28, Sigler Amaya departed the country to seek medical treatment
Prison cells were overcrowded, requiring prisoners to sleep on the floor and
limiting freedom of movement during the day. Prisoners often slept on concrete
bunks without a mattress. Where available, mattresses were thin and often infested
with vermin. Prisoners reported that slight improvements at the end of 2009 (such
as increases in mattress distributions and some alleviation of overcrowding) did not
continue during the year.
Prisoners, family members, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) reported
inadequate health care, which led to or aggravated hypertension, diabetes, heart
conditions, asthma, skin disease, infections, digestive disorders, and conjunctivitis,
among other maladies. Prisoners also reported outbreaks of dengue, tuberculosis,
and hepatitis. Prison health workers often reused syringes, despite the existence of
communicable diseases among inmates.
The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation
(CCDHRN) reported multiple prison deaths from heart attacks, asthma attacks, and
other chronic medical conditions, as well as from suicide.
The government did not publish the number of prisoners or detainees, nor did it
provide information regarding the number or location of detention centers, which
included not only prisons but also work camps and other kinds of detention
facilities. Estimates from unofficial sources of the prison and detention center
population size vary widely, from as low as 30,000 to as high as 80,000. Men and
women were held in separate prisons and police detention facilities. Generally,
women reported suffering the same poor prison conditions as men, including lack
of access to basic and emergency medical care. Women also reported lack of
access to feminine hygiene products and adequate prenatal care. The government
did not release information on the treatment of minors at either youth or adult
prisons or detention centers. There were reports of inmates as young as 15 in
Political prisoners and the general prison population were kept in similar
conditions. By refusing to wear standard prison uniforms, political prisoners
frequently were denied certain privileges such as access to prison libraries and
standard reductions in the severity of their sentence (for example, being transferred
from a maximum security to a medium security prison, or to a work camp).
Political prisoners also reported being threatened or harassed by fellow inmates
whom they thought were acting on orders of prison authorities.
Prisoners reported that solitary confinement was a common punishment for
misconduct and that some had been held in isolation for months or even years at a
time. In general prisoners in isolation had restrictions on family visits. The
government sometimes placed healthy prisoners in cells with mentally disturbed
Prisoners and pretrial detainees had access to visitors, although some political
prisoners' relatives reported that prison officials arbitrarily canceled scheduled
visits. Prisoners were permitted limited religious observance. Both the Catholic
Church and the Cuban Council of Churches (CCC) reported improved access to
prisoners during the reporting period. In 2009 member churches of the CCC began
holding regular services in selected prisons, mostly in the province of Havana. The
CCC reported that the government allowed continued expansion of this program
during the year, with services offered in most if not all provinces. As in 2009, there
were isolated reports that prison authorities did not inform inmates of their right to
religious assistance, delayed months before responding to such requests, and
limited visits to a maximum of two or three times a year.
By law, prisoners and detainees may seek redress regarding prison conditions and
procedural violations, such as continued incarceration after their prison sentence
has expired. Prisoners reported that in practice government officials often refused
to allow or accept complaints, or failed to respond to the complaints once
submitted. However, the family of a political prisoner reported that central
authorities resolved their complaints regarding prison living conditions after local
authorities failed to do so. In another case, central government authorities
instructed the local prison to stop denying privileges to a political prisoner who
refused to wear the prison uniform. It is not clear whether the government
investigated or monitored allegations of inhumane conditions. If investigations did
occur, the results were not publicly accessible.
Although the government had invited the UN special rapporteur for torture and
other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, to conduct a factfinding mission to the country, no such visit occurred during the year. In June
Special Rapporteur Manfred Nowak announced that the government had failed to
provide him with a date for the visit, despite several attempts on his part to come to
an agreement. Nowak was not able to conduct the mission before his mandate
expired on October 31.
Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
The code of criminal procedure broadly governs arrests, pretrial, and trial
procedures. Police have wide discretion to stop citizens and request their
identification and to carry out arrests and searches.
The law provides that police officials provide suspects with a signed "act of
detention," noting the basis, date, and location of any detention in a police facility,
and a registry of any personal items seized during a police search. In practice
police officials routinely failed to comply with these requirements during
detentions or searches. Arbitrary stops and searches were most common in urban
areas and at government-controlled checkpoints located at the entrances to
provinces and municipalities. There were reports that police disproportionately
stopped and questioned Afro-Cubans, particularly within Havana and in tourist
Police and security officials frequently utilized short-term detentions to prevent
those it perceived as government opponents from assembling freely. Detentions
generally lasted from several hours to several days. For example, on December 10
police detained dozens of political activists who attempted to participate in
demonstrations marking International Human Rights Day. Most of the detainees
were released within a few hours, after the demonstrations had been prevented.
The CCDHRN reported that the government increasingly relied on short-term
preventive detentions to harass opponents rather than prosecution and
incarceration, citing at least 2074 such detentions during the year, compared with
fewer than 900 in 2009. Long-term incarcerations to punish opponents decreased,
according to the CCDHRN. However, sources reported several cases late in the
year in which the government detained human rights activists who remained in
detention at year's end.
On December 25, brothers Marcos Maikel Lima Cruz and Antonio Michel Lima
Cruz were detained for accusations of desecrating the Cuban flag and public
disorder. The detentions followed a celebration the night before in which they
reportedly danced on the street with the Cuban flag to the music of a well-known
rap group that is sometimes critical of the government. On December 9,
Guantanamo-based activist Nestor Rodriguez Lobaina was detained as he was
preparing to participate in events marking International Human Rights Day on
December 10. On December 13, Rodriguez was moved to a maximum security
prison. In November independent journalist Jose Agramonte Leyva was detained in
Camaguey. At the end of the reporting period, all four continued to be held without
House detention without due process was another method commonly employed by
the government to prevent free assembly. Throughout April supporters of the
Damas de Blanco reported being told that they would be arrested if they attempted
to join public demonstrations. In Holguin Province the mother and supporters of
deceased hunger striker and prisoner of conscience Orlando Zapata Tamayo
reported throughout the summer and fall that state security agents, uniformed
police, and government-organized mobs prevented them from visiting the nearby
Catholic Church or Zapata's grave by blockading their neighborhood. The mobs
often directed insults and ethnic slurs against Zapata's family, and there were
reports that some of their supporters were roughed up. During house detentions,
plainclothes state security officers or uniformed police officers stood directly in
front of their homes or at the corner of their block.
Role of the Police and Security Apparatus
The Ministry of the Interior (MOI) exercises control over police, the internal
security forces, and the prison system. The National Revolutionary Police (PNR) is
the primary law enforcement organization and was moderately effective in
investigating common crimes. Specialized units of the MOI's state security service
are responsible for monitoring, infiltrating, and suppressing opposition political
groups. The PNR supports the MOI by carrying out house searches, arresting
persons of interest to the MOI, and providing interrogation facilities for state
Police routinely violated procedural laws with impunity and often failed or refused
to provide citizens with legally required documentation, particularly during
arbitrary detentions and searches. Members of the security forces acted with
impunity in committing numerous, serious civil rights and human rights abuses.
While the PNR ethics code and MOI regulations forbid brutality, security forces
continued to employ aggressive and physically abusive tactics. The government
did not announce any investigations into police misconduct during the year.
Although the law on criminal procedure prohibits the use of coercion during
investigative interrogations, police and security forces routinely relied on threats
and harassment during questioning. Detainees reported that officers threatened
them with long-term detention, loss of child custody rights, denial of permission to
depart the country, and suggestions designed to intimidate, such as that an elderly
relative might suffer an accident or that a child might not pass the end-of-year
For example, during a December 1 detention, state security officers told former
political prisoner Darsi Ferrer and his wife that if they continued to engage in
dissident activity, the government might take custody of their nine-year-old son.
There were no mechanisms available to investigate government abuses.
Arrest Procedures and Treatment While in Detention
The code of criminal procedure broadly governs arrests, pretrial, and trial
procedures, including investigative and pretrial detention. After an arrest, police
have 24 hours to present a criminal complaint to a police official called an
instructor. The instructor then has 72 hours to investigate and prepare a report for
the prosecutor. The prosecutor then has an additional 72 hours to recommend to
the appropriate court whether to open a criminal investigation.
Detainees have no right to counsel during this period. By law, after the 168-hour
detention period, detainees must be informed of the basis for the arrest and
criminal investigation, and have access to legal representation. Detainees facing
formal charges must retain counsel within five days of being charged or the state
can appoint an attorney on their behalf. Those charged can be released on bail,
placed in home detention, or held in continued investigative detention.
In practice, however, officials often disregard many of these procedures. Suspects
often are detained longer than 168 hours without being informed of the nature of
the arrest or being afforded legal counsel. In a survey of fellow prisoners
conducted in 2009 and 2010, a noted dissident reported that 64 percent of pretrial
detainees where he was being held had spent weeks and sometimes months without
having ever seen an attorney or being informed of the charges against them.
Once the accused has an attorney, the defense has five days to respond to the
prosecution's charges, after which a court date usually is set. There were many
reports that defendants with public defenders met their attorneys for the first time
only minutes before their trials. Prosecutors can demand summary trials "in
extraordinary circumstances" and in cases involving crimes against state security.
Bail was available, although typically not granted in cases involving alleged
antigovernment activity. Time in detention before trial counted toward time served
Detainees can be interrogated at any time during detention and have no right to
request the presence of counsel. Detainees have the right to remain silent, but
officials do not have a legal obligation to inform them specifically of that right.
By law, investigators must complete criminal investigations within 60 days.
Prosecutors may grant investigators two 60-day extensions upon request, for a total
of 180 days of investigative time. This deadline, however, can be waived by the
supervising court in "extraordinary circumstances" and upon special request by the
prosecutor. In that instance, no additional legal requirement exists to complete an
investigation and file criminal charges. Detainees have been held for months or
years in investigative detention, in both political and nonpolitical cases. In
nonpolitical cases delays were often due to bureaucratic inefficiencies, a lack of
checks on police, and prosecutorial or judicial excesses.
Foreign development worker Alan Gross was arrested in December 2009 and at
year's end had been held for over a year without having been informed of the
charges against him or ever having been brought before the courts. Darsi Ferrer
was held for 11 months before being formally charged, tried, convicted, sentenced,
and released for time served, all on June 21. In August prosecutors charged
political dissidents Ihosvani Suris de la Torre, Santiago Padron Quintero, and
Maximo Pradera Valdez, who had been detained without charges since 2001.
Denial of Fair Public Trial
While the constitution recognizes the independence of the judiciary, the judiciary
is subordinate to the imperatives of the socialist state. The National Assembly
appoints all judges and can remove them at any time. Through the National
Assembly, the state exerted near-total influence over the courts and their rulings.
Civilian courts existed at the municipal, provincial, and Supreme Court levels.
Military tribunals, which are governed by a special law, assumed jurisdiction for
certain "counterrevolutionary" civilian cases (almost always political in nature).
Military tribunals may also have jurisdiction over civilians in cases where any of
the defendants were members of the military, police force, or other law
enforcement agency. In these tribunals defendants have the right to know the
charges, the right to an attorney, and the right to appeal.
Due process rights applied equally to all citizens as well as foreigners, but courts
often failed to protect or observe these rights. The law presumes defendants are
innocent until proven guilty, but authorities often ignored this in practice, placing
the burden on the defendant to prove innocence rather than on the prosecution to
Defendants generally have the right to a public trial, but politically motivated trials
are often held in secret, citing exceptions for crimes involving "state security" or
"extraordinary circumstances." The law does not provide for jury trials. Almost all
cases concluded in less than one day.
The law provides the accused with the right to be present during trial and requires
that defendants be represented by an attorney at trial, if necessary at public
expense. Defendants' attorneys can cross-examine state witnesses and/or present
witnesses and evidence on the defendants' behalf.
Criteria for presenting evidence were often arbitrary and discriminatory. According
to numerous reports, prosecutors routinely introduced irrelevant or unreliable
evidence, such as character witnesses who testified about the revolutionary
background of a defendant.
Defense attorneys have the right to review the police investigation file at any time,
unless the investigation involves "crimes against the security of the state." In these
cases defense attorneys are not allowed access to the file until charges have been
filed. In practice many detainees reported that their attorneys had difficulties
accessing their files due to bureaucratic and administrative obstacles. Attorneys of
political detainees reported that they often had greater difficulty gaining access to
their clients' files.
The Penal Code includes the concept of "potential dangerousness," defined as the
"special proclivity of a person to commit crimes, demonstrated by his conduct in
manifest contradiction of socialist norms." The authorities mostly applied this law
to target prostitutes, alcoholics, young persons who refused to report to work
centers, and repeat offenders of laws restricting change of domicile. The CCDHRN
estimated 200-300 people were convicted on charges of potential dangerousness
during the reporting period.
On September 15, twenty-five-year-old Yanisleidys Ramirez Teruel of Ciego de
Avila was sentenced to four years in prison on dangerousness charges. According
to trial documents, the prosecutor alleged that since July 23, Ramirez had engaged
in sexual relationships with foreigners in Havana "with the goal of obtaining
economic benefits." Family members reported that Ramirez had been living in
Havana with her aunt, and that both she and her family were longstanding
opponents of the government. They also noted that Ramirez's pre-trial
interrogations focused on her connections to various political opposition groups.
Ramirez's defense attorney was allowed 13 minutes before the trial to review the
prosecution's evidence and speak with Ramirez. Because dangerousness is a
"precriminal" sanction, the law does not require evidence of the commission of a
crime in order to convict. The court recounted the prosecution's allegations in its
sentence and stated that, because Ramirez had failed to show a "positive change" in
her behavior despite two meetings with local authorities, "it was necessary to
remove her from her current environment in order to reeducate and, afterward,
reincorporate [her] into society." The court then sentenced Ramirez to four years in
a "Specialized Center for Work or Study" (known locally as a "reeducation camp").
Ramirez was given three days to appeal her sentence; her appeal was denied on
September 24 in a thirty minute trial.
The law recognizes the right of appeal in municipal courts but limits it in
provincial courts to cases involving lengthy prison terms or the death penalty. In
December, for instance, the Supreme Court reduced the death sentences of two
Salvadoran nationals to life imprisonment, following an appeal.
Political Prisoners and Detainees
During the year the Catholic Church mediated the release of dozens of political
prisoners and prisoners of conscience. The government indicated that it not only
would release the remaining 52 political prisoners arrested in March 2003, but that
it would release all political prisoners, including dozens of civil society activists
like independent journalist Santiago Du Bouchet Hernandez, who was arrested in
April 2009 and Agustin Cervantes, a leader in the Christian Liberation Movement's
Varela Project, who was arrested in September 2009.
At year's end the CCDHRN reported that at least 105 political prisoners remained
in jail, compared to 194 at the end of 2009. The government continued to deny the
existence of political prisoners, claiming that all of the country's prisoners had been
justly convicted. International and domestic NGOs and opposition figures note that
the law criminalizes even peaceful anti-government activity or expression.
Political prisoners were charged with crimes such as: "aiding a foreign power,"
distributing "enemy propaganda," "contempt" of authorities, "sabotage," and
violating national security. Others were convicted of attempting to leave the
country illegally, assault, or social dangerousness.
Lack of governmental transparency and systemic violations of due process rights
obfuscated the true nature of criminal prosecutions and investigations, allowing
government authorities to prosecute and sentence human rights activists for
common crimes. This issue continued to complicate attempts by observers to
calculate the number of political prisoners.
Political prisoners were not given the same protections as other prisoners or
detainees. In particular they were frequently denied early parole or transfers to
lower-security facilities that were commonly granted to other prisoners. Political
prisoners also generally were denied access to home visits, prison classes, phone
calls, and on occasion, family visits. Some political prisoners refused to wear a
prison uniform. Although prison authorities generally punished such refusals,
many prisoners reported that they were eventually given permission to wear
clothing of their own choosing.
The government continued to refuse international humanitarian organizations
access to political prisoners, although many political prisoners were able to
communicate information about their living conditions through phone calls to
human rights observers and reports to family members.
Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies
Civil courts exist at the municipal, provincial, and Supreme Court levels, and
oversee civil, administrative, labor, and economic matters. These can include child
custody determinations, marriage annulments, contractual disputes, claims for
economic damages, forced expropriations, and other matters existing between
either natural or legal persons, so long as one party to the dispute is Cuban. Civil
courts, like all courts in the country, lack an independent or impartial judiciary as
well as effective procedural guarantees. Although it is legally possible to seek
judicial remedies through civil courts for violations of administrative
determinations, contacts noted that general procedural and bureaucratic
inefficiencies often delayed or undermined the enforcement of both administrative
determinations and civil court orders. No courts allowed claimants to bring
lawsuits seeking remedies for human rights violations.
Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or
The constitution protects citizens' privacy rights in their homes and
correspondence, and police must have a warrant signed by the prosecutor or
magistrate before entering or conducting a search. In practice, however, police
searched homes and seized personal goods without the legally required
documentation. The government also physically and electronically monitored civil
society activists. The MOI employed a system of informants and block committees
(known as "Committees for the Defense of the Revolution" or CDRs) to monitor
government opponents and report on their activities. DGSE agents subjected
foreign journalists and diplomats to occasional harassment and surveillance,
including electronic surveillance and surreptitious entry into their homes.
To fend off criticism after the death of political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo,
the government aired on state television footage of meetings between Zapata
Tamayo's physicians and family, taken without their knowledge and used without
The CP is the only legally recognized political party, and the government actively
suppressed attempts to form other parties. Party membership is not required to
obtain common government services, like rations, housing, or medical care.
However, the government encouraged mass political mobilization and favored
citizens who actively participated, especially when awarding valued public benefits
like admissions to higher education, fellowships, jobs and other benefits.
Relatives of political dissidents sometimes suffered reprisals. Some wives and
children of opposition figures were denied employment for being "untrustworthy,"
prevented from enrolling at universities, or denied academic distinctions or exit
permits to leave the country and return.
Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
Freedom of Speech and Press
The constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press only insofar as
they "conform to the aims of socialist society." In practice the government had
little tolerance for public criticism of government officials or programs. Laws
banning criticism of government leaders and distribution of antigovernment
propaganda carry penalties ranging from three months' to 15 years' imprisonment.
The government directly owned and the CP controlled all print and broadcast
media outlets and did not allow editorial independence. News and information
programming was nearly uniform across all outlets. Controls on information were
so tight that even the state-run media complained at times, as evidenced by an oped that appeared briefly on the CP Youth newspaper's website before being pulled
down. The government also controlled nearly all book publications, requiring CP
approval before materials could go to press.
The government does not recognize independent journalism, and subjected some
independent journalists to travel bans, detentions, harassment, equipment seizures,
and threats of imprisonment. DGSE agents have been known to pose as
independent journalists in order to gather information. Twenty of the political
prisoners that the government released into exile this year had worked as
independent journalists prior to their imprisonment in 2003; at least five others
remained in prison.
Catholic priests and other clergy were able to deliver sermons without prior
government approval and in some cases criticized the government without
reprisals. Priests and senior clergy openly and publicly criticized President Castro
and the country's leadership in church publications and media interviews without
reprisals, openly questioning how the country's leadership dealt with criticism and
managed the economy. Catholic publications in Havana and Pinar del Rio often
challenged government policies and assumptions. In February the Cuban Council
of Churches issued a statement lamenting the death of hunger striker Zapata.
The Catholic Church received permission to broadcast Easter Mass on state-run
stations, in addition to the broadcast of Christmas Mass that has been permitted
since the 1990s. On August 8, the government also allowed the broadcast of a
special Mass marking the beginning of a year-long celebration for the 400th
anniversary of the Virgin of Charity, named by the Catholic Church as the patron
saint of the country. In addition, the government authorized the CCC, the
government-recognized Protestant umbrella organization, to host a series of hourlong radio broadcasts throughout the country.
The law prohibits distribution of printed material from foreign sources that are
considered "counterrevolutionary" or critical of the government. Foreign
newspapers or magazines were generally unavailable. Distribution of material with
political content, interpreted broadly to include the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights, was not allowed and resulted in harassment and even detention.
The government continued to jam the transmissions of Radio Marti and Television
The government sometimes barred independent libraries from receiving materials
from abroad and sometimes seized materials donated by foreign governments.
There were significant government restrictions on access to the Internet and
widespread reports that the government monitored e-mail and Internet chat rooms
and browsing. The government controlled all Internet access, with the exception of
extremely limited facilities provided by a few diplomatic missions and some black
market facilities. While the government claimed 14 percent of the population had
access to the Internet, in many cases this access was limited to a domestic
"intranet" which offered only e-mail or highly restricted access to the World Wide
Since there is no fiber optic cable connection to the country, all Internet traffic
passes through dial-up or limited satellite connections. Citing these limitations, the
government granted Internet access only to a chosen few, consisting mostly of
government officials, established professionals, professors, students, journalists,
and artists. Others could access limited e-mail and Internet services through
government-sponsored "youth clubs" or Internet centers approved and regulated by
the Ministry for Information Technology and Communications.
Authorities reviewed the browsing history of authorized users, reviewed and
censored e-mail, employed Internet search filters, and blocked access to Web sites
considered objectionable. Numerous human rights groups reported that authorities
used mobile patrols to search for unauthorized Internet and satellite television
equipment. When police discovered violators, they confiscated the equipment and
fined the owners.
While the law does not set specific penalties for unauthorized Internet use, it is
illegal to own a satellite dish that would provide uncensored Internet access. In
2008 the government instructed providers of public Internet access to block access
to sites "whose contents are contrary to social and moral interests and community
standards" or applications that "affect the integrity or the security of the state." The
same resolution ordered Internet providers to prevent the use of encryption
software and the transfer of encrypted files. Despite the limited access, the
harassment, and the infrastructure challenges, a growing number of citizens
maintained blogs where they often posted opinions critical of the government, with
help from foreign supporters who often built and kept the blog sites. Local access
to the majority of these blogs was blocked.
Both foreigners and citizens were allowed to buy Internet access cards from the
national telecommunications provider and to use hotel business centers, where
Internet access could be purchased only in hard currency. Access usually cost
between five and 10 convertible pesos ($5.40 to $10.80) an hour, a rate beyond the
means of most citizens.
Academic Freedom and Cultural Events
The government restricted academic freedom and controlled the curriculum at all
schools and universities, emphasizing the importance of reinforcing "revolutionary
ideology" and "discipline." Most academics refrained from meeting with
foreigners, including diplomats, journalists, and academics, without prior
government approval, and those permitted to travel abroad were aware that their
actions, if deemed politically unfavorable, could negatively affect them and their
relatives back home.
In a well-publicized case in June, the CP expelled Professor Esteban Morales from
the party after he published an article addressing the challenges posed by
government corruption. Morales, a senior University of Havana professor, had
been a frequent guest on the state-run television nightly news program Mesa
Redonda ("Roundtable") prior to the publication of the article but has not appeared
on the show since.
Public libraries required a letter of permission from an employer or academic
institution for access to books or information.
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."
Freedom of Assembly
Unauthorized assemblies of more than three persons, including those for private
religious services in private homes, can be punished by up to three months in
prison and a fine, although these meetings were more likely to be broken up than
prosecuted. The government did not grant permission to antigovernment
demonstrators or approve public meetings by human rights groups. Early in the
year, the government tried to prevent the Damas de Blanco from marching without
permits, but their defiance in the face of state-organized mobs eventually led the
government to relent (see section 1. c).
Civil society organizations reported continued suppression of the right to assemble.
On October 29, more than three dozen independent lawyers, journalists, and
human rights activists attempted to gather in a private home to discuss UN treaties
and domestic laws that affect civil society organizations. In the hours before the
scheduled meeting, plainclothes security forces surrounded the building and
demanded identification from the people who attempted to enter. With assistance
from uniformed police, several prominent attendees were detained and driven to
police stations where they were held for several hours, then released without
The government continued to allow religious processions in celebration of
important religious holidays, and at least two religious groups held public
processions without obtaining a permit without repercussions.
Human rights activists reported frequent government monitoring and disruption of
cell phone and landline services prior to planned events or key anniversaries
related to human rights.
Freedom of Association
The government routinely denied its citizens freedom of association, and did not
recognize independent associations. The constitution proscribes any political
organization that is not officially recognized. Authorities have never recognized an
independent human rights organization; however, a number of independent
organizations and professional associations operated as NGOs without legal
Recognized churches, the Roman Catholic humanitarian organization Caritas, the
Freemason movement, and a number of fraternal and professional organizations
were the only associations legally permitted to function outside the formal
structure of the state, the CP, and the government-organized organizations. All
religious groups are accountable to the government's Office of Religious Affairs,
which has the authority to deny permits for religious activities and exerts pressure
on church leaders. The authorities continued to ignore applications for legal
recognition from new groups, including several new religious groups as well as
women's rights and gay rights organizations, thereby subjecting members to
potential charges of illegal association.
Freedom of Religion
For a complete description of religious freedom, please see the 2010 International
Religious Freedom Report at www.state.gov/g/drl/irf/rpt.
Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of
Refugees, and Stateless Persons
There are severe restrictions on freedom of movement within the country, on
foreign travel, and on migration with the right of return.
The government tightly restricted foreign and domestic travel and limited internal
migration from rural areas to Havana. Some dissidents reported that they were
prevented from leaving their home provinces or detained by authorities and
Although the constitution allows all citizens to travel anywhere within the country,
changes of residence were heavily restricted. The local housing commission and
provincial government authorities must authorize any change of residence. Anyone
living in a location illegally may be fined and sent back to their place of residence.
While the regulation was in effect nationwide, it was applied most frequently in
Havana. Thousands of people lived in Havana illegally and without access to food
rations or local identification cards. There were cases where police had threatened
to prosecute for "dangerousness" anyone who returned to Havana after having been
The government restricted both migration and temporary foreign travel, by
requiring exit permits and forcing would-be migrants to forfeit most of their
belongings, including houses. The government allowed the majority of persons
who qualified for immigrant or refugee status in other countries to depart.
However, at least 300 citizens who had received foreign travel documents were
denied exit permits during the year. Persons routinely denied exit permits included
medical personnel, men of military age, former military or security personnel, and
members of the opposition. The government requires university graduates to
perform social service work for periods that run for up to five years, during which
they are not allowed to leave the country.
The government denied exit permits for several years to relatives of individuals
who migrated illegally (for example, merchant seamen and sports figures who
defected while out of the country). The government frequently withheld exit visas
Juan Juan Almeida, son of deceased leader of the Cuban Revolution Juan Almeida
Bosque, was repeatedly denied an exit permit to seek medical treatment. Early in
the year, he launched a blog featuring the stories of others who had been denied
exit permits, and in June he began a hunger strike to demand the right to leave. In
August Cardinal Ortega intervened, and the government let Almeida depart.
The law permits authorities to bar an individual from a certain area, or to restrict an
individual to a certain area, for a period of one to 10 years. Under this provision,
authorities may internally exile any person whose presence in a given location is
considered "socially dangerous."
Those seeking to migrate legally alleged they also faced police interrogation, fines,
house searches, harassment, and intimidation by the government, including
involuntary dismissal from employment. Government employees who applied to
migrate legally to the United States sometimes were fired from their jobs when
their plans became known.
Fees for medical exams, exit permissions, passport costs, and airport taxes are
payable only in hard currency and amounted to approximately 630 convertible
pesos (approximately $680) for an adult, or nearly three years' salary. These fees
represented a significant hardship, particularly for migrants who had been forced
from their jobs and had no income. At year's end some would-be migrants were
unable to leave the country because of their inability to pay exit fees. Authorities
dispossessed migrants and their families of their homes and most of their
belongings before permitting them to leave the country.
The law provides for imprisonment of up to three years or a fine of 300 to 1,000
pesos (approximately $11 to $38) for unauthorized departures by boat or raft. In
practice, however, most were detained for no more than two to three weeks and
given a fine. The government sometimes applied a law on human smuggling to
would-be migrants charged with organizing or promoting illegal exits. The law
provides for imprisonment from two to five years for those who organize, promote,
or incite illegal exit from national territory. The CCDHRN estimated that at year's
end approximately 300 citizens had been fined, were awaiting charges, or were
serving sentences on smuggling charges. Jail terms were more common for persons
attempting to flee to the United States through the Guantanamo U.S. Naval Base.
Under the terms of the 1994 U.S.-Cuba Migration Accord, the government agreed
not to prosecute or retaliate against migrants returned from international or U.S.
waters, or from the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo, after attempting to emigrate
illegally if they had not committed a separate criminal offense. However, in
practice some would-be migrants experienced harassment and discrimination such
as fines, expulsion from school, and job loss.
The government generally refused to accept nationals returned from U.S. territory
beyond the limits of the Migration Accord.
Protection of Refugees
The country is not a party to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of
Refugees and its 1967 protocol, but the constitution provides for the granting of
asylum to individuals persecuted for their ideals or actions involving a number of
specified political grounds. Although the government has no formal mechanism to
process asylum for foreign nationals, in practice it provided protection against the
expulsion or return of refugees to countries where their lives or freedom would be
threatened on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a
particular social group, or political opinion. These protections were also provided
to some fugitives from justice, whom the government defined as refugees for
The government worked with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for
Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection
and assistance to the small number of refugees and asylum seekers in the country
while third-country settlement was being sought. In addition the government
allowed foreign medical students who feared persecution in their home countries to
remain in the country after the end of their studies so that an investigation of their
concerns could be conducted.
Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their
While the constitution provides for direct election of provincial, municipal, and
National Assembly members, citizens do not have the right to change their
government, and the government retaliated against those who sought peaceful
In 2008 the National Assembly unanimously elected Raul Castro to succeed his
brother as chief of state and president.
In the 2008 National Assembly elections, the government promoted a unified CPapproved slate of candidates. The CP candidates and their allies won 98.7 percent
of the vote and 607 of 614 seats in the National Assembly.
Elections and Political Participation
Candidates for provincial and national office must be approved in advance by
state-run mass organizations, such as the women's and CP youth organizations. A
small group of leaders selected all senior positions, including the presidency and
vice presidencies, the Council of State, and the members of the CP Politburo and
the Central Committee, to be rubber stamped by the larger bodies of the National
Assembly or the CP. In theory, non-CP members could contest elections, but in
practice CP membership was a prerequisite for high-level official positions except
for municipal assemblies, the lowest elected bodies which are largely symbolic. All
candidates must be approved by CP-dominated candidacy commissions that
approve only one candidate per office.
There was one woman in the 24-member Politburo and 15 in the 107-member
Central Committee. Women held eight seats in the 27-member Council of State
and 265 seats in the 614-seat National Assembly.
Persons of African descent held five seats in the Politburo. Following the selection
of the National Assembly in 2008, the government reported the Assembly's
composition as 64 percent white, 19 percent black, and 16 percent mixed race.
Official Corruption and Government Transparency
The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption, and the government is
highly sensitive to corruption allegations and often conducts anticorruption
crackdowns. In 2009 it created the post of comptroller to handle better the growing
problem of corruption, while during the year, over a dozen high-level officials and
prominent business people were detained under suspicion of corruption. The World
Bank's worldwide governance indicators reflected that government corruption was
a growing problem.
There were widespread reports of corruption in the police and courts. Multiple
sources reported that police sometimes conducted searches of homes and vehicles,
then sought bribes in place of fines or arrests. A prominent independent lawyer
reported that prosecutors and judges accepted money in exchange for reduced
charges or shorter sentences.
Government officials were not subject to special financial disclosure laws. The law
provides for three to eight years' imprisonment for "illegal enrichment" by
authorities or government employees. All government agencies, especially the
Ministry of Auditing and Control and the Ministry of the Interior, were tasked with
combating corruption, including through prosecution of government officials.
The law provides for public access to government information, but in practice
requests for information were routinely rejected.
Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental
Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
The government did not recognize domestic human rights groups or permit them to
function legally. Several human rights organizations continued to function outside
the law, including the CCDHRN, the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL), the
Assembly to Promote Civil Society, and the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights.
The government subjected domestic human rights advocates to intimidation and
There are no officially recognized, independent NGOs that monitor human rights.
The government refused to recognize or meet with any unauthorized NGOs who
monitor human rights.
The government continued to deny human rights organizations, the UN, and the
International Committee of the Red Cross access to all prisoners and detainees.
Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
The constitution prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, disability, or social
status; however, racial discrimination occurred frequently.
The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, and the government enforced
the law. The government did not release statistics during the year on arrests,
prosecutions, or convictions for rape, and no reliable information regarding the
incidence of rape was available.
The law does not recognize domestic violence as a distinct category of violence but
prohibits threats and violence, including those associated with domestic violence.
Penalties for domestic violence are covered by the laws against assault and range
from fines to prison sentences of varying lengths, depending on the severity of the
To raise awareness about domestic violence, the government continued to carry out
media campaigns during the year. In addition a few government-organized
organizations held conferences and worked with local communities to improve
services. UNICEF reported that the government ran shelters for women and
children in most communities, with staff trained in assisting victims of abuse. The
director of the Center for Women's Studies (part of the state-run Federation of
Cuban Women) acknowledged the problem during a conference held in November
and expressed the organization's commitment to improving services, especially in
rural areas. Other conference participants discussed reasons many women did not
report domestic violence and ways to encourage more women to come forward.
The law provides penalties for sexual harassment, with potential sentences of three
months to five years' imprisonment. The government did not release any statistics
on arrests, prosecutions, or convictions for offenses related to sexual harassment.
Couples and individuals had the right to decide the number, spacing, and timing of
children, and had the information and means to do so free from discrimination.
Women and men were given equal access to diagnostic services and treatment for
sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Access to information on
contraception and skilled attendance at delivery and in postpartum care were
widely available. The UN Population Fund reported in 2008 that 77 percent of
women ages15 to 49 used some form of birth control and UNICEF reported that
the maternal mortality ratio in 2008 was 53 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.
The law accords women and men equal rights and responsibilities regarding
marriage, divorce, raising children, maintaining the home, and pursuing a career.
The law grants working mothers preferential access to goods and services. The law
provides for equal pay for equal work, and women generally received pay
comparable to men for similar work.
Citizenship is derived by birth within the country's territory.
There was no societal pattern of child abuse.
While there were reports of underage prostitution, there were no reliable statistics
available regarding its extent. The minimum age of consent for consensual sex is
16. There is no statutory rape law; however, penalties for rape increase as the age
of the victim decreases. While the law does not specifically prohibit child
pornography, it prohibits the production or distribution of any kind of obscene
graphic material, with possible sanctions ranging from three months to one year in
prison and a fine.
The government, in cooperation with the British government and a British NGO,
ran a center in Havana for the treatment of child sexual abuse victims, including
victims of trafficking. The center employed modern treatment techniques,
including the preparation of children to be witnesses in criminal prosecutions.
The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of
Child Abduction. For information on international parental child abduction, please
see the Department of State's annual report on compliance at
There were between 1,000 and 1,500 members of the Jewish community. There
were no reports of anti-Semitic acts or other societal abuses or discrimination
based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice.
Trafficking in Persons
For information on trafficking in persons, please see the Department of State's
annual Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/g/tip.
Persons with Disabilities
There was no known law prohibiting official discrimination against persons with
disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, or in the provision of
other state services. However, a Ministry of Labor and Social Security resolution
gives persons with disabilities the right to equal employment opportunities and to
equal pay for equal work. There was no official discrimination against persons
with disabilities. There are no laws mandating accessibility to buildings,
communications facilities or information for persons with disabilities, and in
practice facilities and services were rarely accessible to persons with disabilities.
The Special Education Division of the Ministry of Education is responsible for the
education and training of children with disabilities. The Ministry of Labor and
Social Security is in charge of the Job Program for the Handicapped.
In January at least 26 patients died at the government-run "Mazorra" Pyschiatric
Hospital in Havana when temperatures dropped to near freezing. Havana residents
familiar with the hospital alleged that the deaths were due to negligence, and
reported that the patients, many of them elderly, suffered from severe malnutrition,
lived in unheated rooms with broken windows, and lacked jackets or blankets. On
January 16, the Ministry of Public Health acknowledged the deaths, cited
"deficiencies" in the hospital's administration, and stated that responsible officials
would face criminal charges. On July 22, President Castro replaced the minister of
public health. Unofficial reports at the end of the year indicated that the
government was preparing charges against several people involved in the case.
Afro-Cubans often suffered racial discrimination, including disproportionate stops
for identity checks and searches, and could be subject to racial epithets.
Afro-Cubans were represented disproportionately in neighborhoods with the worst
housing conditions and were economically disadvantaged.
At a conference in July, a prominent University of Havana professor led an open
discussion on racism and discrimination against Afro-Cubans. Students,
community leaders, and local residents participated in the discussion, shared
personal stories of discrimination, and discussed policy and educational
approaches to improving the situation.
Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual
Orientation and Gender Identity
Officially, there was no discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment,
housing, statelessness, or access to education or health care. However, societal
discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity persisted, and police
occasionally conducted sweeps in areas where gay men congregated. In November
gay rights activists reported that police conducted raids on several areas frequented
by gay men in Santa Clara and detained a number of gay men. The men were taken
to local police stations where they were fined and threatened with prosecution for
In September during an interview with the foreign press, former president Fidel
Castro acknowledged and accepted responsibility for the mistreatment of gays and
lesbians during the 1960s and 70s, when they were considered "counterrevolutionaries" and many were sent to re-education camps. Mariela Castro,
President Castro's daughter, headed the national Center for Sexual Education and
continued to be outspoken in promoting gay rights. In January she acknowledged
publicly that some discrimination continued to exist against lesbian, gay, bisexual,
and transgender (LGBT) persons and called on the CP to take steps to eliminate it.
Despite these efforts, several nongovernment gay rights activists asserted that the
government had not done enough to stop harassment of LGBT persons.
Other Societal Violence or Discrimination
Some persons with HIV/AIDS suffered job discrimination or were rejected by their
families. The government operated four prisons exclusively for inmates with
HIV/AIDS; some inmates were serving sentences for "propagating an epidemic."
The Right of Association
The law does not allow workers to form and join independent unions of their
choice. The only legal labor union in the country was the Central de Trabajadores
de Cuba (CTC), or the Workers' Central Union of Cuba, whose leaders were
chosen by the CP. The CTC's principal responsibility was to ensure that
government production goals were met. It did not bargain collectively, promote
worker rights, or protect the right to strike. Most workers were required to belong
to the CTC, and promotions frequently were limited to CP members who took part
in mandatory marches, public humiliations of dissidents, and other state-organized
The CTC took a lead role in disseminating information regarding the government's
planned layoffs of one million government workers, which began in October. This
will affect approximately one-fifth of the active workforce of approximately five
million. Although the CTC stated its role included defending workers by ensuring
that the layoff process was fair, it was not clear what, if any, action the CTC took
in this regard. It further stated that "our state cannot and should not continue
supporting businesses, production entities, and services with inflated payrolls; it
will no longer be possible to apply a formula of protecting and subsidizing salaries
on an unlimited basis to workers."
The government can determine that a worker is "unfit" to work, resulting in job
loss and the denial of job opportunities. Persons were deemed unfit for their
political beliefs, including their refusal to join the official union, or for trying to
depart the country illegally. Several small independent labor organizations
operated without legal recognition, including the Union of Bicycle Taxi Drivers,
the Christian Labor Organization, and the National Independent Workers'
Confederation of Cuba. These organizations were subject to police harassment and
infiltration by government agents and were unable to represent workers effectively
or work on their behalf.
The law does not provide for the right to strike, and no strikes were known to have
occurred during the year.
Of the 75 dissidents jailed in 2003, seven were independent labor leaders. All but
one (Iván Hernández Carillo) were released during the year
The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
The law does not provide for collective bargaining, though it does provide a
complicated process for collective agreements. The International Labor
Organization's Committee (ILO) of Experts on the Application of Conventions and
Recommendations continued to raise concerns with restrictions on collective
bargaining and agreements, in particular that government authorities and CTC
officials had the final say on all such agreements. The CTC was the only legally
recognized trade union, and the government continued to take active steps to
prevent the formation of independent trade unions in all sectors.
Foreign embassies and multinational corporations generally did not directly hire
Cuban citizens, but were required to contract them through a government agency.
Multinationals set wages for their employees, and wages and benefits are generally
reported to be in line with national averages. No minimum wage applies to the
There are no export processing zones.
Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
While the law does not specifically prohibit forced or compulsory labor by adults,
statutes forbidding slavery, bondage, and kidnapping would apply to situations of
compulsory or forced labor. Convicts were often forced to work on farms or in
construction, agricultural, or metal work.
The law prohibits forced or compulsory labor by children; in contrast to previous
years, there were no reports that such practices occurred. Also see the Department
of State's annual Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/g/tip.
Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment
The legal minimum working age is 17, although the labor code permits the
employment of 15- and 16-year-old children to obtain training or to fill labor
shortages. However, in practice it was rare that children under 17 worked. The
labor code does not permit 15- and 16-year-olds to work more than seven hours per
day or 40 hours per week, or on holidays. Children ages 13 to 18 cannot work in
specified hazardous occupations, such as mining, or at night.
There were no known government programs to prevent child labor or remove
children from such labor.
Acceptable Conditions of Work
The monthly minimum wage, which is established and enforced by the Ministry of
Labor and Social Security, was fixed at 225 pesos (approximately $10). There is no
fixed period for review or revision of the minimum wage, which was last revised in
2005. The ministry enforced the minimum wage requirement through offices at the
national, provincial, and municipal level and did so effectively. The minimum
wage requirement does not apply to the small non-state sector. The government
supplemented the minimum wage with free education, subsidized medical care
(daily pay is reduced by 40 percent after the third day of a hospital stay), housing,
and some food. Even with subsidies, the government acknowledged that the
average wage of 415 pesos per month (approximately $18) did not provide a
reasonable standard of living.
Multinational companies continued to operate in a limited number of sectors, such
as hotels, tourism, and mining. Such companies operate on the basis of a joint
venture policy, in which the employers are prohibited from paying the workers
directly, though many reportedly made supplemental payments under the table.
The government is the exclusive labor contractor and received the foreign
exchange from such multinational companies. The government subsequently paid
the workers in pesos, an amount which was a small fraction of what the company
paid the state for labor costs. Multinational companies set wages for their
The standard workweek is 44 hours, with shorter workweeks in hazardous
occupations, such as mining. The law provides workers with a weekly 24-hour rest
period. These standards applied to state workers as well as to the small non-state
sector (but not to the self-employed) and were effectively enforced. The law does
not provide for premium pay for overtime or prohibit obligatory overtime but
generally caps the number of overtime hours at twelve per week or 160 per year.
The Ministry of Labor has the authority to establish different caps as needed.
Compensation for overtime is paid either in cash at the regular hourly rate or in
additional rest time, particularly for workers directly linked to production or
services, and does not apply to management. Workers frequently complained that
overtime compensation was either not paid or not paid in a timely manner. The law
provides little grounds for a worker to refuse to work overtime. Refusal to work
overtime could result in a notation in the employee's official work history that
could imperil subsequent requests for vacation time.
Laws providing for workplace environmental and safety controls were inadequate
and the government lacked effective enforcement mechanisms. The law provides
that a worker who considers his life in danger because of hazardous conditions has
the right to refuse to work in a position or not to engage in specific activities until
such risks are eliminated; the worker remains obligated to work temporarily in
whatever other position may be assigned at a salary provided for under the law.
The independent and illegal Confederation of Independent Workers of Cuba
reported numerous violations of health and safety laws at worksites throughout the
country, including inadequate and poorly maintained equipment and protective
gear. The CTC seldom informed workers of their rights and did not respond to or
assist workers who complained about hazardous workplace conditions.
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