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Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2004 - Cuba

Publisher International Federation for Human Rights
Publication Date 14 April 2005
Cite as International Federation for Human Rights, Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2004 - Cuba, 14 April 2005, available at: [accessed 31 May 2016]
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.

Conviction of human rights activists152

On 26 April 2004, several members of the Cuban Foundation for Human Rights (Fundación Cubana de Derechos Humanos), including its president, Mr. Juan Carlos Gonzalés Leiva, and independent journalists, were sentenced to harsh prison terms. They had been arrested on 4 March 2002 while peacefully demonstrating against attacks, that same day, against independent journalist Mr. Jesús Alvarez Castillo.153 There was no trial for two years. They were accused of "insulting the reputation of the Cuban President," "resisting and disobeying public authority," and "contributing to the disturbance of public order." Mr. Juan Carlos Gonzáles Leiva was sentenced to house arrest for four years.

Other members of the Cuban Foundation for Human Rights were also convicted, including Mr. Delio Laureano Requeijo Rodriguez (2 and a half years imprisonment with parole), Mr. Virgilio Mantilla Arango (7 years imprisonment), Mrs. Ana Peláez García and Mrs. Odalmis Hernandez Marquez (3 years' house arrest). The brothers Messrs. Antonio and Mr. Enrique Garcia Morejon, members of the Christian Liberation Movement (Movimiento Cristiano Liberación – MCL) and supporters of the Varela Project1,154 were sentenced to 3 and a half years imprisonment. Last, Mr. Lázaro Iglesias Estrada and Mr. Carlos Brizuela Yera, members of the Camagüey College of Independent Journalists (Colegio de Periodistas Independientes de Camagüey – CPIC), were sentenced to three years imprisonment.

Mrs. Marta Beatriz Roque, Mr. Marcelo Lopez and Mr. Oscar Espinosa Chepe released on parole155

Mrs. Martha Beatriz Roque, a member of the Assembly to Promote Civil Society (Asemblea para la Promoción de la Sociedad Civil – APSC) and the Institute of Independent Economists (Instituto de Economistas Independientes – IEI), was released on 22 July 2004. She had been arrested on 20 March 2003 during a mass wave of arrests of Cuban human rights defenders carried out between 18 and 26 March 2003. On 7 April 2003, she was sentenced, along with 33 of the 79 persons arrested, to 20 years imprisonment for "conspiracy." There is every indication that she was released as a result of the pressure by the international community.

After a meeting between the Cuban minister of foreign affairs, Mr. Felipe Perez Roque, and the Spanish ambassador to Cuba, Mr. Carlos Alonso Zaldivar, on 25 November 2004, Mr. Oscar Espinosa Chepe, an independent journalist sentenced to 20 years imprisonment, and Mr. Marcelo Lopez, a member of the Cuban Commission of Human Rights and National Reconciliation (Comisión Cubana de Derechos Humanos y Reconciliación Nacional – CCDHRN) who was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, were also granted parole ("licencia extrapenal") on 29 November 2004 for health reasons.

However, the majority of the 33 other dissidents, also arrested in March 2003, were sentenced to between 15 and 25 years imprisonment for conspiring with U.S. representatives in Cuba. In late 2004, most of them were still in prison, including Mr. Marcelo Cano Rodriguez, a member of the CCDHRN, Mr. Hector Palacio Ruiz, director of the Center of Social Studies (Centro de Estudios Sociales), and Mr. Ricardo Gonzáles, president of the Society of Independent Journalists (Sociedad de Periodistas Independientes Manuel Márquez Sterling) and the Cuban representative of Reporters Without Borders.

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

151. Idem.

152. See Annual Report 2003 and Urgent Appeal CUB 001/0504/OBS 033.

153. See Annual Report 2002.

154. The Varela Project (2002) is calling for a referendum on freedom of expression and association, the opportunity to create businesses, the release of all political prisoners and changes in electoral law. As of May 2002, its petition had garnered 11,000 signatures.

155. See Annual Report 2003 and Urgent Appeal CUB 001/0403/OBS 018.1.

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