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    November 16, 2017

    Ordinary Cubans perceived to be even subtly critical of life in the country face a future of harassment at work, or unemployment as authorities use their control over the job market as an additional tool of repression, Amnesty International said in a new report today.

    Your mind is in prison explores how decades of arbitrary use of criminal laws and other unlawful practices -- including discriminatory and wrongful dismissals from state-employment and further harassment in the emerging self-employed sector -- translate into a system where even Cubans who are not politically active have to avoid criticizing the government if they want to hold a job.

    “Many Cubans feel suffocated by a web of state-control over their daily lives. Part of that control is: if you want to hold a job, you have to agree with everything the government says,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    August 25, 2017

    Yulier-Pérez-cuba.jpg

     

    Photo credit: via Translating Cuba

    Download PDF of UA 189/17 Cuba

    March 22, 2017

    A three year sentence against the leader of a Christian pro-democracy movement after he criticized Fidel Castro is a stark illustration of ongoing restrictions to the right to free expression in Cuba, said Amnesty International.

    Dr. Eduardo Cardet Concepción, leader of the Christian Liberation Movement (Movimiento Cristiano Liberación, MCL) was sentenced on Monday 20 March, his wife told Amnesty International. 

    He was charged with attacking an official of the state (atentado) after he publicly criticized former Cuban leader Fidel Castro a few days after his death. During an interview with Madrid-based radio station esRadio, aired two days before his arrest, Cardet described the mourning in Cuba following the death of Fidel Castro as imposed, and said: “Castro was a very controversial man, very much hated and rejected by our people.”  His lawyer has ten days to file an appeal.

    January 24, 2017

    Amnesty International sent this case as an Urgent Action on November 29 2016.

     

    On January 21 2017, Cuban graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado Machado (also known as ‘El Sexto’) was released from El Combinado del Este, a maximum-security prison on the outskirts of Havana, the capital.

    November 26, 2016

    Fidel Castro’s achievements in improving access to public services for millions of Cubans were tempered by a systemic repression of basic freedoms during his time in power, Amnesty International said following the death of the former Cuban leader.

    "There are few more polarizing political figures than Fidel Castro, a progressive but deeply flawed leader," said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    After his accession to power following the 1959 revolution in Cuba, Castro oversaw dramatic improvements in access to human rights such as health and housing. This was accompanied by an unprecedented drive to improve literacy rates across the country.

    "Access to public services such as health and education for Cubans were substantially improved by the Cuban revolution and for this, his leadership must be applauded. However, despite these achievements in areas of social policy, Fidel Castro’s forty nine year reign was characterised by a ruthless suppression of freedom of expression,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas.

    March 18, 2016

    On the occasion of President Barack Obama´s upcoming historic visit to Cuba, followed by a two-day visit to Argentina, Amnesty International would like to take this opportunity to highlight to the three Presidents a number of major human rights concerns which we hope will be prioritized as part of your discussions.

    UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

    Detentions at Guantánamo Bay

    While we recognize the current administration’s commitment to end the detentions in the US naval base at Guantánamo Bay, the fact that dozens of detainees remain there more than six years after President Obama’s original deadline for closure of the detention facility is a cause for huge international concern. We reiterate that any Guantánamo detainee the USA does not intend to charge for prosecution in proceedings that fully comply with international fair trial standards should be immediately released.

    December 10, 2015

    Cuban human rights activists are at increased risk of detention or harassment from the authorities amid demonstrations on International Human Rights Day, 10 December, said Amnesty International following a wave of almost 1,500 arbitrary arrests in just over a month.

    Yesterday, police in the capital Havana arbitrarily restricted the movement of members of the prominent Ladies in White (Damas de Blanco) group of activists as they prepared for today’s demonstrations. This came after at least 1,477 politically motivated detentions in November 2015, the highest monthly total in many years, according to the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN).  

    “For weeks on end, the Cuban authorities have used a spike in arrests and harassment to prevent human rights activists and dissidents from protesting peacefully. This is a systematic problem that silences Cuban activists in their own streets. For years, harassment on Human Rights Day has been the rule rather than the exception, and is absolutely unacceptable,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    October 27, 2015

    A UN vote to lift the US embargo on Cuba today sends, once again, a strong message to US President Barack Obama and Congress about the dire human rights impact of the economic embargo on ordinary Cubans, said Amnesty International. 

    “Claiming to be open to fostering a new kind of relation with the Cuban authorities on the one hand and maintaining an economic embargo that prevents ordinary Cubans from accessing medicines and other basic commodities on the other is a complete incongruence on the part of the US and greatly contributes to further undermine human rights in Cuba,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.  

    “The US Congress must listen to the loud message sent by the international community through the UN today and lift an embargo that has no place in today’s world.” 

    Earlier today, 191 countries voted in favor of the resolution calling on the USA to lift its economic embargo against Cuba. Only the USA and Israel voted against it. 

    October 20, 2015

     The release of a Cuban graffiti artist who had been held in prison for nearly a year after he painted “Raúl” and “Fidel” on the backs of two pigs must herald a new approach to freedom of expression and dissent in the country, said Amnesty International.

    Danilo Maldonado Machado -- known as “El Sexto” -- was released, without any warning, from the Valle Grande prison, in the outskirts of Havana, earlier today.

    “Danilo’s release is great news but he should have never been jailed in the first place. Peacefully expressing an opinion is not a crime,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “This long awaited positive move must open the door for much needed political reform in Cuba, where people are routinely harassed, arrested and thrown in jail on spurious charges for speaking their minds. This needs to change urgently if Cuba is serious about respecting human rights, including the rights of people opposing the Cuban government.”

    October 16, 2015

    The Cuban authorities’ failure to keep to their commitment to release a graffiti artist unfairly imprisoned nearly a year ago is a painful illustration of their disregard for freedom of expression, said Amnesty International.

    “Committing to release Danilo Maldonado Machado on 15 October only to keep him behind bars for no reason other than speaking his mind and criticising the government is not only cruel but sends a strong message that freedom of expression is not on the Cuban government’s radar,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “Danilo is a prisoner of conscience, deprived of his liberty as punishment for peacefully expressing his opinions. He must be released immediately and unconditionally and not be made to spend another second behind bars.”

    Yesterday, prison authorities told Danilo’s mother that he had served his time but that they did not know when he would be set free. Danilo, however, has never been brought before a judge or sentenced.

    September 29, 2015

    A Cuban graffiti artist who has been unfairly held in prison for nearly a year after he painted “Raúl” and “Fidel” on the backs of two pigs has been named as a prisoner of conscience, said Amnesty International today as it called for his immediate release.

    Danilo Maldonado Machado, known as ‘El Sexto’, was accused of “disrespecting the leaders of the Revolution” and sent to prison after officers opened the taxi’s boot and found the two pigs. Danilo intended to release them in an art show on Christmas Day.

    “To jail an artist for painting a name on a pig is ludicrous. Cuban authorities are using any cowardly excuse to silence Danilo and send a message to others that any criticism of the government and its officials will not be tolerated,” said Carolina Jiménez, Americas Deputy Director for Research at Amnesty International.

    September 17, 2015

    Cuba is at a human rights crossroads, with important advances such as the recent release of political prisoners and a number of positive reforms to its migration laws overshadowed by the government’s determination to deploy new methods to stifle dissent, said Amnesty International ahead of a state visit by Pope Francis.

    “Over the past few months, we have seen unprecedented openness when it comes to Cuba’s international relations. However, the country still needs to make progress when it comes to allowing people to peacefully express their views without fear of being harassed, detained or attacked,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    Over the past few years, authorities in Cuba have switched from a strategy of incarcerating people viewed as political dissidents for long periods of time to consecutive short term arrests and public smear campaigns.

    January 21, 2015

    Three of the released activists freed by Cuba had been recognized as prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International, including the twins Bianco Vargas Martín and Diango Vargas Martín, who had been imprisoned for “public disorder” offences.
     
    In the days following the initial releases, the Cuban authorities reportedly released dozens of other political prisoners. In total, it is believed 53 were released as relations thawed between Cuba and the USA.

    What happened?

    Government repression in Cuba has long stifled freedom of expression and led to hundreds of arrests and detention. Journalists and political activists faced harassment and intimidation by security officials.

    January 08, 2015

    The release of at least nine jailed opposition activists by the Cuban authorities since last night is a positive step which should be followed by a new human rights agenda on the island, Amnesty International said.

    Cuban activists have confirmed that five political prisoners were released on Wednesday evening, and at least four more activists were released today (8 January). Among the nine men, three were previously recognized as prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International.

    It is believed this could be the first in a series of releases of more than 50 prisoners in Cuba as part of a deal announced last month to “normalize” relations between Cuba and the USA.

    “The release of these nine prisoners is clearly an important step towards righting past injustices in Cuba, and hopefully the first of many such releases of those jailed for politically motivated offences,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    December 17, 2014

    Today’s prisoner exchange between the USA and Cuba presents the best opportunity in more than half a century to forge an agenda for human rights change amid efforts to normalize relations between the two countries, Amnesty International said.

    Alan Gross, an alleged US aid worker imprisoned in Cuba for the past five years after being accused of spying, and the three remaining “Cuban Five” prisoners held in the USA on espionage charges since 1998, had been released and were en route to their respective home countries on Wednesday morning local time.

    “Today’s prisoner swap is a very welcome opening salvo in a long-awaited overhaul of US-Cuban relations after more than half a century of thorny relations, sanctions and mutual recriminations. Any efforts at political and diplomatic change must now go hand-in-glove with historic human rights change in Cuba,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

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