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The Worst of the Worst 2011 - Cuba

Publisher Freedom House
Publication Date 1 June 2011
Cite as Freedom House, The Worst of the Worst 2011 - Cuba, 1 June 2011, available at: [accessed 21 November 2017]
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.

Population: 11,300,000
Capital: Havana

Political Rights: 7
Civil Liberties: 6
Status: Not Free

Ten-Year Ratings Timeline for Year under Review
(Political Rights, Civil Liberties, Status)
Year Under Review2001200220032004200520062007200820092010

2010 Key Developments: After prolonged negotiations with the Roman Catholic Church and the Spanish government, Cuban authorities in 2010 began releasing the 52 remaining political prisoners from a 2003 crackdown on independent journalists and dissidents. In September, the government announced that it would lay off 500,000 employees, about 10 percent of the country's labor force, and opened 178 activities and professions for self-employment and private cooperatives. In November, President Raúl Castro announced that the long-delayed sixth congress of the Cuban Communist Party would be held in April 2011.

Political Rights: Cuba is not an electoral democracy. Longtime president Fidel Castro and his brother, current president Raúl Castro, dominate the one-party political system. The Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) controls all government entities from the national to the local level. All political organization outside the PCC is illegal. Political dissent, whether spoken or written, is a punishable offense, and dissidents frequently receive years of imprisonment for seemingly minor infractions. The absolute number of political prisoners in Cuba decreased from 201 in 2009 to 163 in 2010. While the government agreed in July to release the remaining 52 people arrested in the March 2003 crackdown, it missed a November 7 deadline for all 52 to be released, as a final group of 13 prisoners refused to agree to leave Cuba. Official corruption remains a serious problem.

Civil Liberties: Freedom of the press is sharply curtailed, and the media are controlled by the state and the PCC. The government considers the independent press to be illegal. Independent journalists are subjected to ongoing repression, including terms of hard labor and assaults by state security agents. Access to the internet remains tightly restricted, and it is difficult for most Cubans to connect in their homes. While the Roman Catholic Church inaugurated its first seminary in the country since the 1959 revolution in 2010, official obstacles to religious freedom remain substantial. Churches are not allowed to conduct educational activities, and church-based publications are subject to censorship by the Office of Religious Affairs. The government restricts academic freedom. Teaching materials for subjects including mathematics and literature must contain ideological content. Limited rights of assembly and association are permitted under the constitution. However, as with other constitutional rights, they may not be "exercised against the existence and objectives of the Socialist State." The unauthorized assembly of more than three people is punishable with up to three months in prison and a fine. This rule is selectively enforced and is often used to imprison human rights advocates. The Council of State, headed by Raúl Castro, controls both the courts and the judicial process as a whole. Freedom of movement and the right to choose one's residence and place of employment are severely restricted. Attempting to leave the island without permission is a punishable offense. Cuba has performed well on gender equality issues; about 40 percent of all women work, and they are well represented in most professions.

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