» Cuban Political Prisoners

Cuban law greatly limits freedom of expression, association and assembly. Anyone attempting to voice views, attend meetings, or form organizations that do not conform to government policy or state ideology is likely to be persecuted, the punishments ranging from harassment and loss of employment to imprisonment and beatings.

For this reason, in Cuba there are hundreds of which we know, probably many more of which we do not know, who are political prisoners and/or prisoners of conscience. Political prisoners are generally thought as individuals incarcerated for political reasons. Amnesty International defines prisoners of conscience specifically as "people who are imprisoned by reason of their political, religious, or other conscientiously held beliefs or by reason of their ethnic origin, sex, colour or language, provided they have not used or advocated violence" ("Cuba: Current prisoners of conscience must be released," AMR 25/36/99).

Cuban political prisoners and prisoners of conscience run the gamut of age, sex, and color. Some have been explicitly convicted for political reasons, such as "enemy propaganda" or "desacato," a vague legal term that can be translated as "contempt for authority." Others have been detained on fictional criminal charges to disguise the political motivations for their arrests.

The judicial system in Cuba has little in place to protect these individuals since lawyers are employed by the Cuban state and are often reluctant to question seriously the arguments put forth by prosecutors or the Department of State Security. Furthermore, lawyers are not always given adequate time to prepare a defense, or alternately, detainees are held for long periods of time without access to a lawyer and sometimes even pressured to sign incriminating documents. ("Cuba: Current prisoners of conscience must be released,"AMR 25/36/99).

Directorio Democrático Cubano
P.O. Box 110235
Hialeah, Florida 33011
Tel. 305-220-2713

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