Cuba: Whether a meeting of human rights organizations took place in Havana in February 1996 and if so, whether it resulted in arrests and imprisonment of participants
|Publisher||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada|
|Publication Date||1 May 1999|
|Citation / Document Symbol||CUB31967.E|
|Cite as||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Cuba: Whether a meeting of human rights organizations took place in Havana in February 1996 and if so, whether it resulted in arrests and imprisonment of participants, 1 May 1999, CUB31967.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aaaa20.html [accessed 12 December 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
The following information is additional to that found in CUB27792.E of 17 September 1997 and CUB24090.E of 18 June 1996.
Several sources state that a human rights conference organized by a national coalition of opposition groups, Cuban Council (Concilio Cubano), was to take place between 24 February and 27 February 1996 in Havana (AFP 20 Feb. 1996; Caribbean and Central America Report 4 Apr. 1996, 7; Chicago Tribune 18 Feb. 1996; Latinamerica Press 29 Feb. 1996, 4). It was to have been the first national conference of Concilio Cubano which comprises over 130 human rights and political groups opposed to the Castro régime (AFP 20 Feb. 1996). However, the meeting was banned by Cuban authorities and dozens of activists who were to attend the conference were arrested and detained (Caribbean and Central America Report 4 Apr. 1996, 7; Chicago Tribune 21 Feb. 1996; Latinamerica Press 29 Feb. 1996, 4; The Washington Times 23 Feb. 1996). In a statement following the decision to cancel the meeting, some of its organizers said that the meeting would be held at a later date (AFP 20 Feb. 1996; Latinamerica Press 29 Feb. 1996, 4).
According to The Washington Times report, the arrest and the harassment of participants in the conference began on 15 February and by 22 February, more than 100 activists had had "run-ins with state security" and 30 people had been imprisoned (23 Feb. 1996). The Chicago Tribune reported that that among those arrested were delegates Armando Hernandez of Piñar del Rio, Aurelio Sanchez Salazar and Eduardo Garcia of Camagüey, and Rosario Rosabal of Santiago de Cuba, and three members of the Party for Human Rights in Havana, Lazaro Garcia Cernuda, Giosvani Perez Diaz and Antonio Baez Aleman (18 Feb. 1996). Conference organizers, Leonel Morejon Almagro, Mercedes Parada Antunez and Lazaro Gonzalez Valdes, were also arrested during a police raid on Concilio Cubano's headquarters (ibid.). According to AFP, independent journalists, Ana Luisa Lopez and Juan Antonio Sanchez of CubaPress, and Norma Brito of the Independent Press Bureau were also arrested (19 Feb. 1996). The Latinamerica Press report states that Rafael Solano of the independent HavanaPress was arrested on 19 February, while Caribbean and Central America Report states that Solano was arrested on 27 February on charges of "criminal conspiracy" (4 Apr. 1996, 7).
AFP reported that "the pace of the arrests began to pick up late Thursday and Friday two days after anti-Castro groups in Miami said they had sent funds to the dissident organization to help it fund logistics for the planned meeting" (19 Feb. 1996). In The Washington Times report, a spokesperson from the Cuban Foreign Ministry accused the United States of creating and financing Concilio Cubano, an accusation that was denied by the U.S. State Department (also see Caribbean and Central America Report 4 Apr. 1996, 7).
The Research Directorate was unable to find information as to how long the activists remained in detention.
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.
Agence France Presse (AFP). 20 February 1996. "Cuba Bans Opposition Meeting." (NEXIS)
_____. 19 February 1996. "Cuban Dissident Umbrella Group Reports Mass Arrests Ahead of Conference." (NEXIS)
Chicago Tribune. 21 February 1996. Deborah Ramirez. "Cuban Dissidents Cancel Meeting on Human Rights; At Least 2 Dozen Coalition Members Detained in Havana." (NEXIS)
_____. 18 February 1996. "More Dissidents Arrested as Meeting Nears" (NEXIS)
Latinamerica Press [Lima]. 29 February 1996. Vol. 28, N(. 7. "Crackdown Brings Waves of Protest."
Latin American Regional Reports: Caribbean and Central America Report [London]. 4 April 1996. "Crackdown on Concilio Cubano."
The Washington Times. 23 February 1996. "Dissidents in Cuba Hit with New Crackdown." (NEXIS)