Last Updated: Friday, 17 October 2014, 15:58 GMT

Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2006 - Cuba

Publisher International Federation for Human Rights
Publication Date 14 March 2007
Cite as International Federation for Human Rights, Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2006 - Cuba, 14 March 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48747cdb2b.html [accessed 20 October 2014]
DisclaimerThis 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.

Release on parole of Messrs. Oscar Espinosa Chepe, Marcelo López Bañobre and Hector Palacios Ruiz107

On February 28, 2006, the Municipal Court of Playa extended the release on parole of Mr. Oscar Espinosa Chepe, an independent journalist, on medical grounds, stressing that he would be under the surveillance of the "political factors" of his neighbourhood, and that his release could be revoked on the basis of the information they provided108.

On December 5, 2006, Mr. Hector Palacios Ruiz, an active member of the Varela Project109 and an independent bookseller, was also released on parole on medical grounds.

Similarly, by the end of 2006, Mr. Marcelo López Bañobre, a member of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (Comisión Cubana de Derechos Humanos y Reconciliación Nacional – CCDHRN), remained on parole.

Arrested in March 2003 amidst a wave of mass arrests of Cuban human rights defenders, Messrs. Espinosa Chepe, Palacios Ruiz and López Bañobre had been sentenced to 20, 15 and 25 years' imprisonment respectively on charges of "conspiracy".

The three men have been placed under constant surveillance and face arrest at any time.

Ongoing acts of harassment and detention of members of the Cuban Human Rights Foundation110

Ongoing acts of harassment against Mr. Juan Carlos González Leiva and his relatives

Acts of harassment perpetrated against Mr. Juan Carlos González Leiva, president of the Cuban Human Rights Foundation (Fundación Cubana de los Derechos Humanos), persisted in 2006, although his four-year house arrest sentence ended on March 10, 2006111.

Indeed, loudspeakers placed near the doors and windows of his home play music day and night, preventing him from sleeping, and about one hundred people constantly wander around his house, carrying out acts of vandalism or threatening to enter and set it on fire.

Ms. Tania Maseda Guerra, a member of the Foundation, and Mr. Luis Esteban Espinosa, an independent journalist, who both came to join him as a token of their support, also faced repeated acts of harassment. Many activists and relatives of Mr. González Leiva, who regularly attempted to help him, including Ms. Yodalis Calderín Nuñez, his niece, and the psychologist Antonio Legón Mendoza, were pushed around or beaten by these individuals.

Moreover, the Cuban government has prevented Mr. Agustín González, Mr. González Leiva's father, from leaving Cuba, although he had obtained a visa to go to the United States.

On November 2, 2006, sympathisers of the regime once again gathered in Ciego de Ávila in front of his house.

Ongoing detention of Mr. Virgilio Mantilla Arango and house arrest of Ms. Ana Peláez García and Mr. Lázaro Iglesias Estrada.

By the end of 2006, Mr. Virgilio Mantilla Arango and Ms. Ana Peláez García, members of the Cuban Foundation who were convicted in April 2004 in the same circumstances as Mr. González Leiva, remained in detention and under house arrest respectively. In April 2004, Mr. Virgilio Mantilla Arango was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment and Ms. Ana Peláez García to two and a half years of house arrest for "damage to the image of the Cuban President","opposition and disobedience to the public authority" and "incitement to public disorder".

As for Mrs. Odalmis Hernández Márquez, who was sentenced to three years of house arrest, she left Cuba in September 2006. Her husband, Mr. Lázaro Iglesias Estrada, was banned from leaving the Cuban territory, even though his family had already left and the fact that he had obtained a visa. He has been kept under house arrest since then.

Finally, Mr. Carlos Brizuela Yera, a member of the Camagüey College of Independent Journalists (Colegio de Periodistas Independientes de Camagüey), who was sentenced to three years' imprisonment in 2004, has been placed under tight surveillance by the State security forces since his release on March 3, 2005.

Administrative inquiry against Messrs. Antonio and Enrique Garcia Morejón112

By the end of 2006, Messrs. Antonio and Enrique Garcia Morejón, two brothers and members of the Christian Liberation Movement, and promoters of the Varela Project113, remained subjected to an administrative inquiry that was launched in 2005 on suspicion of "incitement to public disorder" by the National Revolutionary Police of the Vertientes municipality, Camagüey.

They had both been sentenced to three and a half years' imprisonment in April 2004 and released in March 2005. However they have since then remained at the risk of being arrested and detained at any time for their efforts to establish an independent library.

Ongoing acts of harassment against Ms. Martha Beatriz Roque114

In 2006, Ms. Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello, president of the Assembly for the Promotion of Civil Society (Asamblea para la Promoción de la Sociedad Civil – APSC) and a member of the Institute of Independent Economists, who was released on parole on July 22, 2004, continued to be subjected to constant acts of harassment by security forces, civilians, military and paramilitary officers.

On January 14, 2006 for instance, a neighbour who was obviously drunk uttered insults against her, while knocking several times at her window.

Furthermore, on March 4, 2006, the Rapid Response Brigade (Brigada de Respuesta Rápida) prevented four Europeans from visiting Ms. Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello. When she stepped out of her house to speak to them, several people standing opposite her home insulted her and one of her neighbours assaulted her.

Acts of harassment against Mr. Roberto de Miranda Hernández and his wife115

On February 28, 2006, four agents of the State Security Department (Departamento de Seguridad del Estado – DSE), in Havana, searched the home of Mr. Roberto de Miranda Hernández, head of the Cuban College of Independent Teachers (Colegio de Pedagogos Independientes de Cuba – CPIC) – who is on parole -, and of his wife, Mrs. Soledad Rivas Verdecia, a member of the organisation Ladies in White (Damas de Blanco)116. The State agents seized toys and sports equipment.

Arbitrary arrest and acts of harassment against CJM members117

On February 28, 2006, members of the DSE, the National Revolutionary Police (Policía Nacional Revolucionaria – PNR) and the political police, carrying a search warrant for "opposition propaganda", searched the home of Mr. David Díaz Oliver, president of the Martiana Youth Coalition (Coalición Juvenil Martiana – CJM), in Santo Domingo, province of Villa Clara.

Messrs. Yunieskí Rodríguez González and Yuniel Ima Rodriguez, both CJM members who were present on the scene, were arrested and detained for several hours, before being released without charge.

Mr. David Díaz Oliver was taken to the Santo Domingo police station and was questioned for three hours about his possible participation in the Congress of Independent Libraries, organised by APSC on October 10, 2006.

The police officers also seized several items and documents, including leaflets containing photographs of Ms. Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello and Mr. Oscar Elias Biscet González, president of the Lawton Foundation118.

Threats against several FLAMUR members119

During the days following their participation in the celebration of the International Women's Day on March 8, 2006, several members of the Latin American Federation of Rural Women (Federación Latinoamericana de Mujeres Rurales – FLAMUR), in the province of Pinar del Río, received threats from the political police, as was the case of Ms. Aurora Gonzáles Veliz.

Release of Mr. Oscar Mario Gonzalez Perez and ongoing arbitrary detention of Mr. René Gómez Manzano120

On November 20, 2006, Mr. Oscar Mario Gonzalez Perez, co-founder of the independent press agency Grupo de Trabajo Decoro, which regularly denounces human rights violations committed by the Cuban government, was released from prison after being detained for 16 months without being tried or receiving suitable medical care for his serious health condition.

On July 22, 2005, about thirty people were arrested in Havana, the day before a peaceful demonstration was due to be held outside the French embassy, in protest of the "standardisation" of EU-Cuban relations and to request the release of political prisoners. All of them had been released except for Mr. Oscar Mario Gonzalez Perez, Mr. René Gómez Manzano, a lawyer and APSC vice-president, and Mr. Julio César López Rodríguez, vice-president of the Hard Line Front (Frente Línea Dura), a political movement.

Mr. René Gómez Manzano remained in detention as of the end of 2006. As for Mr. Julio César López, he was released on February 3, 2007.


[Refworld note: This report as posted on the FIDH website (www.fidh.org) was in pdf format with country chapters run together by region. Footnote numbers have been retained here, so do not necessarily begin at 1.]

107. See Annual Report 2005.

108. "Political factors" are, among others, members of the Communist Party and Youth (Partido y Juventud Comunista), of the Committee for the Defence of the Revolution (Comité de Defensa de la Revolución) and of the Cuban Women's Federation (Federación de Mujeres Cubanas), in charge of giving information on the "social attitude" of certain opponents on regular basis.

109. The Varela Project (2002) calls for a referendum on the issue of freedoms of expression and association, the possibility of creating companies, the release of all political prisoners and amendment of the electoral legislation.

110. See Annual Report 2005 and Open Letter to the Cuban authorities, January 19, 2006.

111. Mr. González Leiva was convicted in 2004 for having peacefully protested, two years earlier, against the assault on the independent journalist Mr. Jesús Alvarez Castillo.

112. See Annual Report 2005.

113. See above.

114. See Annual Report 2005, Open Letter to the Cuban authorities, January 19, 2006 and Urgent Appeal CUB 001/0306/OBS 029.

115. See Urgent Appeal CUB 001/0306/OBS 029.

116. The Ladies in White movement gathers the wives of Cuban political prisoners, who meet, dressed in white, every Sunday in Havana and other cities in the country to ask for their husbands' release.

117. See Urgent Appeal CUB 001/0306/OBS 029.

118. See Annual Report 2005. The Lawton Foundation is an independent human rights organisation in Cuba.

119. See Urgent Appeal CUB 001/0306/OBS 029.

120. See Annual Report 2005 and Coalition of Cuban-American Women (Coalición de Mujeres Cubano-Americanas).

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