The Prosecution: The Case of Sulmira Martínez Pérez / CUBALEX

Cubalex, 21 June 2024 — Sulmira Martínez Pérez could face a ten-year prison sentence, according to the provisional findings of the Prosecutor’s Office, for expressing herself on social media against the Cuban regime and advocating peaceful protest.

Prosecutor Edward Roberts Campbell has requested a combined sentence of ten years’ imprisonment for the 22-year-old, currently held in the Western Women’s Prison known as El Guatao in Havana.

Does it adhere to the principles of legality and fairness?

The legal characterisation offered by Prosecutor Edward Robert Campbell to the Chamber for Crimes against State Security of the People’s Provincial Court of Havana, in the second of his provisional conclusions presented on 24 April 2024, is incorrect. The legal grounds for this assertion are set out below:

The prosecutor has legally classified the facts described in the first of his provisional conclusions as constituting the crimes of Contempt (Articles 185.1 and 2) and Against Constitutional Order (Article 119.3 in relation to 119.1) of the Criminal Code (Law 151/2022). In this regard, he said:

“(With respect to acts committed before the entry into force of Law 151. It is integrated into the offence provided for in Article 99 of Law 62, which has the same sanctioning framework)”.

The prosecutor proposed, and the court accepted, a legal position that violates the principle that criminal laws cannot be applied retroactively. This principle has an exception: it can only be applied retroactively when the law is more favourable to the accused person.

In determining which law is more favourable, the court must consider which law produces the more beneficial result for the accused person, objectively assessing the facts of the case and the laws in force at the time of the decision. It is not a matter of comparing individual provisions of the two laws, but of assessing their entire content, including the penalty, the elements of the offence and the aggravating circumstances of criminal liability. For example, if in the specific case it is possible to apply a penalty of limitation of liberty or correctional work without detention, the current Penal Code would be more favourable than the repealed one, even if it provides for harsher penalties in other respects.

The court must consider both theoretically co-existing laws, assessing which one is more applicable to the particular case, and not only which one is in force.

How should the court proceed in this case?

1. Hypothetically apply the criminal law in force at the time the crime was committed and subsequently do the same with the law in force at the time of the trial.

2. Compare possible outcomes and choose the one that is more favourable to the accused person.

3. The comparative examination should conclude with the choice of one of the two laws, the old or the new one.

It is wrong to apply provisions of both laws simultaneously, as this creates a new law made to suit the prosecutor, whose aim is to impose harsher sanctions to punish dissent, censor free speech and restrict the right to protest.


Sulmira, like everyone else in Cuba, is unable to exercise her right to peaceful demonstration, despite the fact that this right is enshrined in article 56 of the Constitution of the Republic. The main reason is that the Cuban government, despite its legislative promise, has not enacted a supporting law that would allow the full exercise of this fundamental right.

This omission allows the criminalisation of any citizen action of criticism, protest, disagreement and opposition to the authorities, who are responsible for the economic crisis, violence and total decadence that the island is experiencing today.

The post La acusación fiscal: El caso de Sulmira Martínez Pérez appeared first on Cubalex.

Translated by GH

Human Rights in Crisis and the Closure of Civic Space in Cuba / CUBALEX

Cubalex, 20 June 2024– Latin America faces serious human rights challenges, including social crises, closure of civic space, criminalisation of protests, persecution of journalists, repression, intimidation and harassment of critical voices that differ from or oppose power structures. These issues, among others, are evidence of a regional emergency.

In this context, and in the framework of the 54th General Assembly of the Organisation of American States (OAS), the Latin American Human Rights Consortium (HRC) is convening the event “Human Rights as a Pillar of Hemispheric Security in the Americas”, to be held on 26 June in Asunción, Paraguay.

At the meeting, participants will analyse in depth the social, political and economic crises affecting several countries in the region, with a particular focus on Cuba, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

Cubalex will present the report “Closure of civic space in Cuba”, which analyses how the state has implemented a systematic mechanism of harassment against civil society, with the aim of preventing the active participation of citizens in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the country.

 See details of the Cubalex report.

The post Derechos Humanos en crisis y cierre del espacio cívico en Cuba appeared first on Cubalex.

Translated by GH

Monthly Report on the Human Rights Situation in Cuba (July 2023) / Cubalex

Cubalex, 8 August 2023 — The month of July was marked by the second anniversary of the 11 July 2021 (11J) anti-government protests and the internal and external reactions it generated.

Inside Cuba, the date provoked a considerable increase in the level of repression, which will be detailed below;  there were several protests in prisons including posters and chanting anti-government slogans, fasting, hunger strikes, shaving of heads and refusal to use mattresses, sewing up mouths, requests for transfer to punishment cells, wearing white clothes, and other forms of peaceful protest. On the streets some people remembered 11J with fasts, walks and individual protests in front of government buildings. During the month there were three street closures in Havana by people protesting against power cuts, lack of water and neglect by the authorities.

In mid-July, the National Assembly of People’s Power (ANPP) met and approved the Military Penal Code Law, which establishes two to five years in prison for anyone who tries to evade military service, which is compulsory in Cuba for male citizens. In presenting the law to the ANPP, the president of the People’s Supreme Court (TSP) Rubén Remigio Ferro defended the continuation of the death penalty in Cuban law as “an element of defence of the Revolution”. ANPP president Esteban Lazo also referred to fines, confiscations, withdrawal of licences and prosecutions of self-employed workers who violate state price control regulations.

Internationally, Cuban President Díaz-Canel headed the Cuban delegation that took part in the European Union-Celac Summit, where, under pressure from the bloc of Latin American countries allied with Russia, the meeting’s declaration did not openly condemn Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. Furthermore, one of the clauses of the document condemned the US embargo against Cuba and denounced the inclusion of the Cuban regime on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. Members of Cuban state and public organisations participated in the People’s Summit, which ran parallel to this event. During the Summit, the Cuban leader held meetings with the President of the European Council and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The complete report can be read here: Informe-Julio-2023

Translated by GH

Solitary Confinement: More Cruel and Inhuman Treatment of Detained Persons by the Cuban State / Cubalex

The solitary confinement of persons deprived of liberty in Cuba.

Cubalex, 4 April 2023 — Cuba’s Law of Penal Procedure (LPP) obliges police officers to permit communication between detained persons and their family members, as a required formality when they are being charged. Nevertheless, the absence of judicial control over detention has permitted use of institutionalised practices such as prolonged solitary confinement and coercive isolation. These systemic practices constitute cruel and inhuman treatment and place the person at risk of torture and enforced disappearance. Furthermore, they are evidence that the persons detained are not properly instructed as required by law.

In police stations, although the authorities generally do not deny to the relatives of arrested people who are trying to locate them that the person has been detained, they do prevent them from knowing the physical and psychological conditions in which they are being held and the exact place of detention. This practice amounts to enforced disappearance. They also sometimes take on the role of intermediaries to hinder direct communication between detainees or prisoners and their relatives.

Solitary confinement occurs in the context of deprivation of liberty in penitentiary establishments, through the suspension of telephone calls and regular visits to persons charged or accused in pre-trial detention and those punished under conditions of internment.

According to international standards and national legislation, prisoners have the right to receive visits and to communicate regularly with their families and friends, while prison authorities have the obligation to guarantee such communication. This right is guaranteed through the public service provided by Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba Sociedad Anónima (ETECSA). This state entity has a monopoly on communications at the national level and controls and manages the public telephones installed in prisons. The enjoyment of this right depends on family and friends being able to recharge the prepaid cards, usually from outside the country.

Nevertheless, to prevent inmates from reporting conditions inside prison, ETECSA has resorted to disabling ETECSA’s “Propia” prepaid cards, as well as blocking recharging from outside. As a telecommunications service operator, the company has an obligation to ensure that government authorities use its telecommunications systems and new unified information and communication technologies to monitor, control and intercept communications, as well as to cut or suspend service at their discretion. This type of complaint can be defined as a cybersecurity incident, under the category of Ethical Harm. continue reading

In the penitentiary system, it is considered serious indiscipline to formulate complaints or petitions individually or collectively, as an expression of assuming positions of force or disobedience to the penitentiary authority; as well as “disseminating false information by any means of communication or social networks”. These types of complaints have been described by the government as “spreading false news, offensive messages, defamation with an impact on the prestige of the country”, to which they attribute a high level of danger.

Such a prohibition renders the realisation of the right to make complaints illusory and violates the right to address, without censorship as to substance, a request or complaint about their treatment to the central prison administration and to the judicial or any other competent authority, including authorities with review or appeal powers. Furthermore, it violates prisoners’ right to information, in relation to authorised methods of enquiry, as well as access to procedures for making petitions or complaints.

Persons deprived of their liberty and their relatives are exposed to reprisals, intimidation or other punishments for filing a complaint, petition or grievance, or for reporting an official for mistreatment or corruption, which would be sufficient cause for prosecution for the crime of contempt, defamation or assault on authority.

During 2022 the situation of political prisoners and their families worsened. Many of the 11 July 2021 (11J) protesters were tried, while the government launched a disinformation campaign, trying to show that the trials of the protesters respected all legal guarantees or denying that any minors were imprisoned for 11J. As a result of the violations of the right to a fair trial or because of the conditions in prison, several political prisoners started hunger strikes in prison, as a method of peaceful protest.

The topic: Solitary confinement: more cruel and inhuman treatment of detained persons by the Cuban state, was first published in Cubalex

Translated by GH

Monthly Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Cuba (February 2023) / Cubalex

Cubalex, 14 March 2023 — In February 2023, the human rights situation in Cuba continued to worsen. The two most frequent factors were state repression and the authorities’ inability to satisfy basic social needs such as provision of electricity, medicine and food. In a context where Cuban citizens are unable to achieve a decent life due to the failure of the state to meet its obligations, repression is generalized and sustained over time.

Among the incidents recorded by Cubalex the applied practices of state agents are notable. Most of the acts were documented in Havana, although some also occurred in Matanzas, Camagüey and Mayabeque. In February we documented an increase in repressive practices.

The full report can be read and downloaded here.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez

Monthly Report on the Human Rights Situation in Cuba: January 2023 / Cubalex

Cubalex, January 2023 — In January 2023, the human rights situation continued to worsen in Cuba. The two main factors that were most influential were state repression and the inability of authorities to satisfy basic social needs such as supplying electricity, medicine, and food. In a context where it is impossible for Cuban citizens to live a decent life due to the failure of the state to comply with its obligations, the repression is generalized and sustained over time. In addition, the attempts by the Cuban government to advance its relationship with the United States gained media attention.

Among the incidents reported by Cubalex the practices applied by agents of the State stand out. Most of these events reported were in Havana, although they also occurred in Cienfuegos, Pinar del Río, Matanzas and the special municipality of Isle of Youth. Most of these practices are selective and individualized, but on occasion they include entire families. In January, there was an increase in the number of repressive practices such as arbitrary detentions and threats and harassment, not only physical, but also digital.

The complete report is available to read and download here, in Spanish: Report-January-2023-with-Corrections.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez

Statement of Human Rights Organizations on the Situation of Cuban Political Prisoners / Cubalex

Cubalex, 20 February 2023 — The recent release of 222 political prisoners in Nicaragua and their immediate deportation to the United States, has raised the alarm among Cuban civil society regarding a similar “solution” to the current context on the Island. The protests of 2021 and 2022 resulted 768 protesters behind bars, a five-fold increase in the number of political prisoners since July 2021 (152).

The alarm is caused by conversations between the Cuban government and organizations such as the Catholic Church, the European Union and the United States Government, which have expresses positions in favor of the unconditional release of the political prisoners.

A precedent, two events in Cuba’s recent past: the release and exile in 2010 of most of the political prisoners of the Black Spring (2003), as part of a negotiation process to modify the Common Position of the European Union with regard to Cuba. Also in 2015, the release 53 political prisoners and subsequent exile for some as the only path to leave behind the pressures of State Security, as part of the negotiation process for reestablishing relations between Cuba and the United States.

Rappoteurs of the special proceedings of the UN Human Rights Council have expressed concern over the “forced exile” and threats of forced exile and have stated that “authorities would be directly involved in the physical expulsion of those affected”, or would have created a “markedly cohersive context of continuous threats, harassment and violations of human rights,” also against family members of those affected.

Although the Cuban case is referenced, in 2019, it is a valid warning for other scenarios. Sadly, it is a systematic practice of repressive regimes. The Nicaraguan political prisoners didn’t participate in the negotiation process either. They were not informed that the condition of their release was forcibly exiting their country.

Thus, the signing organizations:

1-Maintain that the deprivation of liberty as a form of punishment for continue reading

exercising freedom of expression, assembly and association, and forced exile are reportable practices. The Cuban government uses them repeatedly to gain advantage in political, diplomatic and economic negotiations, as as a method of exerting social control and demobilizing civil society.

2-We consider, faced with an eventual negotiation between governments for the release of Cuban political prisoners, that it must be a process of humanitarian value. No citizen should be deprived of freedom for exercising their right to express themselves and protest. Their release, therefore, should be immediate.

3-We highlight that forced exit from the country as a condition for freeing or releasing political prisoners is a violation of the right to freedom of movement, as stated in the first paragraph of Article 12 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. No person, much less those deprived of liberty under inhumane conditions in Cuban prisoners, can be forced to abandon the country as a condition to achieve their release or ultimate freedom. Whoever negotiates with the Cuban government should request guarantees that the person deprived of their liberty will decide on whether to leave the country without pressure from State Security. The pressure in these cases is a form of forced exile.

4-We believe that the participation of those deprived of liberty and their family members in the exit negotiations should be prioritized. The victims must be at the center of the negotiations. In addition certain minimum guarantees would be necessary for those who freely and voluntarily decide to leave the country, such as facilitating the processes for relocation and for obtain legal status and access to rehabilitation services.

5-We propose that prisoner releases and subsequent deportations that do not consider the mentioned guarantees for the victims be subject to questioning by human rights organizations and democratic governments, regardless of whether they are part of the negotiations. We oppose any laudatory pronouncements such as those made by the U.S. State Department, in which acts violating human rights are presented as “positive steps” for the consolidation of relations between countries and a path toward democracy.

The signing organizations have accompanied the Cuban government’s victims of repression, including those incarcerated as a result of the protests in the last two years. We welcome with hope the idea that they will be release, under any possible form. At the same time, we warn that the causes of this citizen unrest, as well as the repression–reinforced by the new Criminal Code — remain in effect. The spiral of violence, resistance and punishment will not cease until a Democratic State of Law governs Cuba, with full respect for human rights. A search for that Justice, in the present and in the future, calls to us and unites us.

On this 20th day of February, signed:

The declaration can be found here.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez

Note: TranslatingCuba has modified its practice of not including links to sources only available in Spanish, because the ease of instant translation through browsers now makes these sources easily readable.

Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Cuba: November 2022 / Cubalex

Cubalex: Monthly Report for November 2022: Situation of Human Rights in Cuba

Cubalex, 27 December 2022 — The critical human rights situation in Cuba worsened during the month of November 2022. It was a period marked by the Cuba-United States bilateral negotiations, the municipal elections and the sinking of a boat with migrants in the municipality of Bahía Honda (Artemisa province).

Sustained state repression and the inability of the authorities to meet basic social needs such as the supply of electricity, medicine and food continue to be the main obstacles for Cuban citizens to have access to a decent life.

Cubalex recorded incidents in 13 provinces and 38 municipalities of the country, Havana, Matanzas and Santiago de Cuba being the territories with the highest number of victims nationwide. The practices applied by State agents, although mostly selective and individualized, involve entire families. The use of criminal law as an instrument of repression and criminalization of fundamental rights, mainly against human rights defenders, is the most frequently used measure. The use of practices that constitute serious violations of human rights and that are susceptible of being considered torture techniques, a national and international crime, was maintained.

You may download our monthly report here.

Translated by: Hombre de Paz

Repression, Besieged Activists and Threats: These Were the Elections in Cuba / Cubalex

Source (El Toque)

Cubalex, 30 November 2022 — On 27 November 2022, municipal elections were held in Cuba, to choose constituency delegates. Cubalex monitored the human rights situation on election day, which was principally notable for violation of the right to political participation.

The data gathered by our organization demonstrates that the Cuban authorities continue to employ criminal investigation procedures, as set out in the law, as an instrument of repression. Our team recorded 26 incidents of repression in seven of the fifteen provinces of the country, including the special Isla de la Juventud Council. The most cases were reported in Havana (12) and Matanzas (7).

Of the 13 incidents of hostage-taking identified by Cubalex, with 34 victims (20 women and 14 men), obstruction of political participation, arbitrary detention, surveillance operations and selective cutoffs of internet connection were noted. continue reading

In at least two events related to exercise of political rights it was not possible to register the victims. The first also related to selective internet cuts on pro-democracy activists trying to carry out electoral observations, and the second involved control and threats to health professionals that they had to declare when they went to vote, by way of private messages.

The repression was focussed on prevention of electoral observation, in spite of the fact that there is no legal prohibition on that. At least 13 people were harassed by way of surveillance and home confinement; among them Marthadela Tamayo, Osvaldo Navarro  and Juan Antonio Madrazo Luna.

Cuban Siblings Frank Artola Plasencia and Hillary Gutierrez Plasencia Remain in Prison / Cubalex

Repression during the protest in Vedado RAMÓN ESPINOSA AP
Along with hundreds of innocent people incarcerated for exercising their right to peaceful protest: they all should be released immediately and the Cuban government should halt this repressive practice.

Cubalex, 10 December 2022 — Cuban siblings Frank Artola Plasencia (18 years) and Hillary Gutiérrez Plasencia (26) were beaten and arrested in the early hours of October 2nd, 2022, by Cuban paramilitary forces during protests at Línea and F streets in the Vedado area of Havana. Since then, they remain unjustly incarcerated by the island’s government.

On the night of October 1st the young people met at a peaceful protest to demand freedoms and reestablishment of electrical service at the intersection of Línea avenue and F street, in El Vedado, a neighborhood in the municipality of Plaza de la Revolución, Havana. Hours later, in that same location, they were surrounded by security forces with uniformed police and paramilitaries in civilian clothing, according to the description provided by local witnesses.

Once the protest dissolved, the government forces began the violent arrests. In the days that followed, photographs taken by Associated Press (AP) correspondents were published, showing the violence exercised during these arrests, where Frank Artola Plasencia appears severely beaten; he required medical attention at the Calixto García hospital.

Artola Plasencia was beaten to unconsciousness and bloodied by five individuals. He suffered multiple injuries in his abdomen, legs and face, including a broken nose and lips.

Later, the siblings were transferred to the police unit on Zapata and C in Havana, where they remained under arrest without being able to see their parents until October 7th when they were allowed to see their parents separately during a visit of a mere ten minutes. It is important to highlight that during the month when both were under arrest in the same police station, they were not allowed to see each other.

During his parents’ first visit, what was most notable was Frank Artola Plasencia’s deplorable physical condition. He still had visible signs of the beating; his face still bruised and swollen, lacerations in his abdomen and multiple friction burns on his legs. He told his mother he had trouble sleeping due to the pain.

The authorities informed their parents that Frank and Hillary are accused, supposedly, of the crimes of contempt and resistance. To date, the Prosecutor has denied various requests for a change in status for them to await the trial at home. Havana’s Provincial Tribunal also denied the Habeas Corpus request which denounced the arbitrary and illegal nature of the arrest.

On November 7th, more than a month after their arrests, the siblings were transferred to Cuban penitentiary system facilities. Hillary Gutiérrez was transferred to the Mujeres de Occidente prison, commonly known as El Guatao or Manto Negro; and Frank Artola Plasencia to a prison for minors known as Jóvenes de Occidente.

As of this writing, we are unaware of any open criminal investigation against the perpetrators who were denounced in statements presented to the prosecutor and the tribunal. If those who abused their power and continue reading

exercised state-sponsored violence are not investigated, tried and sanctioned, the Cuban government will continue to be responsible for torture and mistreatment for not complying with its international obligations such as ensuring that these acts are not repeated.

Their parents are demanding the immediate release of the siblings.

Cubalex calls on the government to immediately release all peaceful protesters from July 11, 2021 (11J) and later protests and for the citizenry to continue denouncing the repressors to fight against the impunity.


Eighteen-year-old student, Frank Artola Plasencia, and his sister, 26-year-old self-employed single mother Hillary Gutiérrez Plasencia, were beaten and detained on October 2nd, 2022 by Cuban paramilitary forces and since then remain unjustly incarcerated by the Cuban government.

On Saturday, October 1st, at approximately 9:00 pm, local time in Cuba, a group composed mostly of area residents met to peacefully protest at the intersection of Línea Avenue and Calle F, in El Vedado, in the Plaza de Revolución municipality of Havana. At that time, some members of the accredited foreign press in Cuba were present to cover the events.

The protest, according to local witnesses and the foreign press, developed peacefully. Mostly through chants and banging on pots, the demands of the protesters were centered on demands for freedom and the reestablishment of electrical service, which had been frequently interrupted for months. At one point, around a dozen government functionaries, among them the Secretary of Cuba’s Communist Party (PCC) of the municipality, Plaza de la Revolución, Leira Sánchez Valdivia, and officials of the People’s Assembly appeared on the scene to meet with the protesters and engage in a heated but peaceful discussion. The images show the place surrounded by uniformed police forces and, what local witnesses describe as paramilitary forces dressed in civilian clothing.

During the discussion with protesters, the government officials reiterated the right to peacefully protest, according to local witnesses and the CNN correspondent in Havana, Patrick Oppmann. While the protests developed at the intersection of Línea Avenue and F Street, two blocks away, in the nearby intersection of Calzada and F and the Hotel Presidente, paramilitary forces dressed as civilians and transported to the area in government military trucks, began to assemble. Once the protests dissolved, the government forces began the arrests. In the days that followed, photographs taken by Associated Press (AP) correspondents, showed the violence exercised during the arrests.

As the protests ended, the police and paramilitaries forced the protesters to retreat toward Calle F where there are few street lights, in the direction of a group of paramilitaries who were waiting to attack them. In a series of photographs published by AP, Hillary Gutiérrez can be seen being violently arrested by a member of the paramilitary forces who was also photographed beating an elderly woman, Esmeralda Cárdenas Hidalgo.

Frank Artola Plasencia was beaten unconscious and bloodied by five individuals and had to be transferred to a nearby hospital to receive medical attention for multiple injuries he suffered to the abdomen, legs and face, including a broken nose and lips. In the General Calixto García Hospital, at 2:20 am on October 2nd, Dr. Sanjay Ramanrine of the hospital’s General Surgery Department, issued a medical report which understated the severity of the injuries inflicted upon Frank. The report was filed at the hospital by Mr. Gerardo Limea under order number 05128. The cases of Frank Artola Plasencia and his friend, 38-year-old José Adalberto Fernández Cañizares were especially significant for their cruelty and the severity of their injuries.

They were all held at nearby school facilities occupied by paramilitary forces, State Security agents, National Police and representatives of the Communist Party (PCC). Later, they were transferred in vehicles of the Police Special Forces (known as Black Berets or Special Brigades) to be incarcerated, along with other protesters, at the police station located on Zapata Avenue and C Street, in El Vedado.

The siblings’ father, Frank Artola, arrived at the police station at approximately 12:30 am on October 2nd. The police officers at the station confirmed the arrest of several protesters, his children among them, and said that they would be investigated for the scandalous accusation of possible connections with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States of America. Artola vehemently denied these accusations. The police agents refused him the right to see his children and he was told that he would be notified as to when a visit would be possible.

Other protesters who were detained and released the next day communicated to the family that immediately after his arrest and despite his injuries, Frank Artola Plasencia was being interrogated by police.

On Sunday, October 2nd, around 2:00 pm, Artola (father) was contacted by telephone by First Lieutenant Luis Alberto Montes Navarro of the Police Investigations Headquarters located on 100 Street and Aldabó. The official requested that he go to the station as soon as possible to receive information related to his son’s and daughter’s arrests and they requested that he bring hygiene products for their personal use.

Once at the station, Artola was informed that Hillary and Frank were under investigation for the crimes of contempt and resistance. The officials at the center took the hygiene products, but once again, denied him the possibility of seeing his son and daughter. Mr. Artola firmly believes that this denial was due to the severity of his son’s injuries, a suspicion which was later confirmed. At the end of the meeting, the agents communicated to Artola that they had scheduled a visit for him and another family member to see his son and daughter on the following Friday, October 7th at 2:00 pm, six days after the arrest.

For the case to be opened, a complaint must be filed with the police by a citizen:

— Abel Pers Infante, who is employed at the Municipal Directorate of the PCC in Plaza de la Revolución. This individual was identified as one of the leaders of the paramilitary groups that conducted the cruel beatings an the violent arrests of the protesters.

On Monday, October 3rd, Artola (father) visited the Public Defenders’ Office (National Organization of Collective Law Firms), the only organization, controlled by the state, authorize to provide legal representation to the accused. Two contracts dated October 3rd, 2022, were signed by Artola and attorney Carlos Manuel Pérez Ricardo. Since then Mr. Pérez Ricardo has been Hillary Gutiérrez’s and Frank Artola Plasencia’s legal representative.

On Friday, October 7th, Artola (father) and Ibis Plasencia Torres (mother) went to the Police Investigations Headquarters on 100 and Aldabó for the scheduled visits. Frank and Hillary were taken, separately, to see their parents for a period no longer than 10 minutes. This pattern was repeated during the five visits they were permitted, always on Fridays at 2:00 pm.

The first thing his parents noticed was Frank Artola Plasencia’s deplorable physical condition. Signs of the cruel punishment to which he had been subjected were still visible; his face still bruised and swollen, lacerations in his abdomen and multiple abrasions on his legs. He told his mother he still was having trouble sleeping due to the pain. The agents present declared that he was receiving medical attention.

Hillary appeared in the visiting room and immediately began crying, wanted to know about her brother’s condition, as they had not allowed her to see him since the arrests, despite being held in the same center. Her mother assured Hillary that her brother was better. Hillary asked about her six-year-old daughter and her family tried to comfort her and provide security in that sense as well.

At the end of the visit, the parents had a brief exchange with the police authorities in charge of the case. The parents expressed their indignation at the abuses to which their children had been subjected. The police officers recognized that some of the behavior during the arrest were inappropriate but dismissed their petition to conduct an investigation. The police declared that the accused had both signed a written confession and voluntarily agreed to film an apology for their actions, a common practice of the Cuban government for propaganda purposes.

During the weeks that followed the same pattern of separate visits was repeated for each of the siblings. During each visit, the parents reiterated, in vain, their calls for authorities to investigate the abuses committed against Hillary and Frank.

The parents were allowed to visit them at this center on five occasions: October 7th, October 14th, October 21st, October 28th, and November 4th.

During these visits the police agents provided various warnings to Hillary and Frank, as well as their parents. They were all warned not to discuss the case or the visits could be terminated; they warned Hillary not to cry in front of her parents. At no point did they allow the whole family to be together. All visits occurred with one or more police agents nearby. Each individual visit was no longer than ten minutes.

The following is a list of some of the public officials implicated in this case:

Officials in charge of the case pertaining to the unit called the Special Crimes Section (Crimes Against State Security): Lieutenant Colonel Jorge Luis Díaz Jacinto, who is  supposedly in charge of this unit. First Lieutenant Yaremis Peña Real, Investigator. Captain Armando Cases Díaz, Investigator. First Lieutenant Luis Alberto Montes Navarro. Captain Michel Carrión.

Prosecutors assigned to the case, members of the Provincial Prosecutor of Havana: Prosecutor Yoandris López Parra, Lead Prosecutor. Prosecutor Yamileidy Rivero García.

On October 19th, the Prosecutor on the case, Yoandris López Parra, in response to a request made by the attorney for the accused, Carlos Manuel Pérez Ricardo, issued a notification denying the request to release the accused to await trial at home. The request was made, taking into consideration, among other circumstances, the young age of the accused, their lack of prior criminal records and the fact that they did not pose a danger to the community.

According to the current law in Cuba, decisions about the length of prison sentences are not made by judges, but by the Prosecutor. The appeal of an unfavorable decision in this sense is also made before the Prosecutor. This appeal was submitted. Later, a resolution was issued confirming they’d be held in jail.

On October 26th, Artola (father) submitted a formal complaint to the Prosecutor, challenging the manner and legality of the arrest. To this day he has not received a response.

On October 31st, a written resolution was issued, signed by Prosecutor Lediher Armas Sánchez of Havana’s Provincial Prosecutor, confirming the incarceration for both of the accused. That same day, Artola (father) presented a writ of Habeas Corpus before the Criminal Court of the Provincial Tribunal in Havana. In this document, he challenges the violent manner and the legality of the arrests of his daughter and son, reiterating the peaceful nature of the protests and stressed that his children do not pose any danger to the community and the peace.

b, three judges of the Second Criminal Court of the Provincial Tribunal of Havana, rejected Artola’s requests detailed in the Habeas Corpus. The judges alleged that, following consultations with the Prosecutor and the police, the did not have proof of mistreatment of the accused and confirmed the legality of their arrest. At no point did the signatory judges request interviews with the accused nor did they request that they be sent before the Tribunal to be interrogated in the case. The signatory judges were:

Judge Ángel García Leyva

Judge Irene Asunción Macía Mondejar

Judge Mérida López Rodríguez

On November 7th, 2022, an appeal was presented before the Criminal Court of the People’s Supreme Court of the Republic of Cuba, challenging the decision made on November 2nd by the Second Criminal Court of the Provincial Tribunal of Havana. According to Cuban law, this tribunal has up to three working days, beginning on the day after the document is submitted, to issue a decision.

On November 7th, both of the accused were transferred from the Police Investigations Headquarters (100 and Aldabó) to facilities of the Cuban Penitentiary System. Hillary Gutiérrez was transferred to the Mujeres de Occidente prison, commonly known as El Guatao or Manto Negro. Frank Artola Plasencia was transferred to a jail for minors known as Jóvenes de Occidente.

On November 8th, Frank Artola Plasencia was allowed a visit in prison by his father and girlfriend. Hillary Gutierrez was denied a visit by her mother; authorities explained that she would remain in isolation for ten days for health reasons.

This entry, Cuban Siblings Frank Artola Plasencia and Hillary Plasencia Remain in Prison, was first published on Cubalex.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez

The Cuban Regime Harasses Laritza Diversent’s Mother to Halt the Work of Cubalex / Cubanet

Maricelis Cambara (l) and Laritza Divrsent (r). (Cubanet)

Cubanet, 4 November 2022 — “If you convince your daughter to stop what she does, then we will resolve your housing issues and the surgery you need,” two State Security agents said on Thursday to Maricelis Cambara, the mother of Laritza Diversent, Director of Cubalex, a Legal Information Center.

Cambara has a physical disability due to a childhood accident and has lost mobility in her left leg. According to the officials, it is within their power for her to have surgery to improve her quality of life and alleviate the pain she suffers.

The State Security agents “suggested” that she interfere in her daughter’s work. If she achieves that, as compensation, they’d give her a series of benefits, in addition to medical care, which is supposed to be public in Cuba and to which any one should have guaranteed access. They also promised that they’d cease the aggression, mostly verbal, from her neighbors, which she has been subjected to over the past several years.

Lastly, the political police stated that only if Diversent abandons her work as a defender of human rights will they allow her to reunite with her daughter. Paradoxically, it was that very political police who, in 2017, forced the Cubalex team into exile, without the possibility of returning to the country after it raided the organization’s office and threatened its members with prison.

During the encounter with Cambara, the agents preferred to disguise as “blackmail” their harassment and “soften” the exchange, in contrast to what has occurred in the past. In August 2021, one of those agents who now visited her, along with another repressor, tacitly threatened her. continue reading

At that time, 63 year-old Cambara was warned that even she could be tried for her daughter’s work. At the same time, they also threatened that they could intercept Diversent in the United States or another country and take her to Cuba to try her. At that time, Cambara was with her own mother who was ailing and who died a few days later. Now, once again, the regime’s agents take advantage of a vulnerable situation to attack her; only three days earlier her brother began showing signs of dementia.

The agents told Cambera that they’d visit her again to know her daughter’s response.

With respect to this, the Director of Cubalex stated to CubaNet that State Security is using her mother to pressure her. Apparently, they aim to suffocate the legal aid work the organization does, as well as her ability to provide visibility at the international level to violations of human rights in Cuba.

“This convinces me that we must continue doing the work because we are doing something right. If Cubalex didn’t worry them, they would not harass a 63-year-old disabled woman,” the lawyer told CubaNet.

The lawyer made it clear that she would not negotiate with, nor concede to the Cuban dictatorship or its repressive organizations. “The work of Cubalex transcends me. I am here to direct, but I am not the whole organization. It goes without saying that I will not be blackmailed to use my leadership position to reverse the organization,” she points out.

“If tomorrow I resign so that they leave my mother in peace, Cubalex will continue existing and working, which is what Cuba needs,” she concluded.

*This article was originally published, in Spanish, on Cubanet

Translated by: Silvia Suárez

Why Should This Code Worry Us as a Society? / Cubalex

Cubalex, 20 October 2022 — The Cuban government wants nothing to escape its supervision. Nothing, that might shake its power, has been left unregulated or uncriminalized.

Why should this Code worry us as a society?

#1 It categorizes criminal behaviour in a broad, ambiguous and discretionary manner.

#2 There are around 32 ’crimes’ which threaten freedom of expression.

#3 The use of cyberspace as an aggravation of criminal responsibility.

#4 The ’crime’ of practicing independent journalism.

#5 It maintains the death penalty.

#6 The use of ’therapeutic’ security measures.

#7 Age of criminal responsibility is maintained at 16 years.

#8 No recognition of femicide as a specific crime in its own right.

#9 Criminalization of the illegal transmission of satellite, television, radio or similar signals.

#10 Electronic surveillance is sanctioned.

#11 Monopoly of criminal action on electoral conduct, which should be processed in non-criminal ways.

Translated by Ricardo Recluso 

Cubalex Condemns the Wave of Threats, Coercion, and Psychological Torture Against Independent Journalists in Cuba

Cubalex, 9 September 2022 — We at Cubalex condemn and view with concern the threats and coercions against young journalists who work for independent media outlets in Cuba. We remind the Cuban state that it should abstain from any act which constitutes torture and mistreatment through is institutions and agents, which are absolutely prohibited in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, [and] the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The public resignations are not spontaneous. They all contain expressions such as, “Under pressure and blackmail we find ourselves forced to cease our project,” “I am leaving because they are forcing me,” “I will not be allowed to leave the country until certain conditions demanded by State Security are met.” The fragments above demonstrate pressure by State Security agents for them to stop exercising their profession as independent journalists, an act of censorship and a violation of freedoms of expression, opinion and press.

Thus, the Cuban authorities are committing the crimes of abuse of power and torture described in the Criminal Code, when they provoke mental suffering, intimidate, and coerce journalists in order to obtain a confession, information, a resignation from their workplace, and punish them for exercising their profession; this is contrary to the principle of nondiscrimination. It is worth noting that torture is typified as a crime in the Criminal Code which was approved on September 1, 2022 by the National Assembly of the People’s Power, but which has not yet gone into effect.

Some of these journalists have alleged that they resigned not only for their own mental health and that of their family, but also because they do not want to compromise their right to freedom of movement, especially the right to leave the country.

“I’m leaving because they are obligating me. They are forcing me to leave El Toque and not work for another alternative outlet, and therefore, stow my degree under a mattress. Faced with that greater force, which right now is putting in check my right to leave the country and my wellbeing, I prefer to put my freedom and my personal and family dreams first.”

“I’m leaving because, selfishly and cowardly, I prioritize my mental health and the wellbeing of my family. I’m leaving so I will have the right to freedom of movement. I’m leaving because I do not want to see my grandmother’s high blood pressure through the roof again, nor my father’s tears, nor my mother’s depression. I’m leaving because I am putting my future and my dreams of a better and more free life first,” wrote two of the journalists.

The state violates the right to freedom of movement described in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and in the Cuban constitution, specifically, the right to leave the country.

It is a systematic and generalized practice for state agents to use investigation processes described in the Law of Criminal Procedures, such as citations and interrogations, and to repress, threaten, and torture these people. That is, they take advantage of discretion implicit in the norms to apply them arbitrarily.

Threats are another crime in the criminal law which applies to authorities who force citizens to limit themselves from carrying out activities that are not prohibited by law and which are recognized as constitutional rights such as: the right to work, freedom of the press and speech, the right to human dignity, and free development of one’s personality.

The principle of the law has been violated and those responsible enjoy impunity because the state does not carry out its international obligation to investigate, judge, and apply sanction that would guarantee these human rights violations are not repeated. A misapplication of the criminal law by the state is also evident, when its agents threaten journalists with applying the new Criminal Code, which is not even in effect yet.

When a journalist is prevented from working, not only is freedom of the press being violated, but also all of society’s right to information.

This entry, Cubalex Condemns the Wave of Threats, Coercion, and Psychological Torture Against Independent Journalists in Cuba, first appeared in Spanish on the Cubalex website.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez

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Cubalex’s Assessment of the Sentences Imposed Upon Luis Manuel Otero and Maykel Castillo / Cubalex

Maykel ‘Osorbo’ Castillo Pérez and Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara (Cubalex)

Cubalex, Giselle Camila Morfi, 24 June 2022 — The crimes of disrespecting national symbols, contempt, defamation of institutions and organizations, and heroes and martyrs, are not compatible with international human rights standards. These crimes are an assault on the freedom of expression recognized in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (PIDCP in Spanish), as well as [Article] 13 of the Pact of San José.

The crimes of contempt, resistance, and public disorder are used in Cuba with the goal of censoring and criminalizing the right to protest, based on an ideological imposition that supersedes the right to citizen participation. These crimes are used for social control, rather than for the defense and guarantee of human rights; they are discretionary, lacking clarity and concreteness in the criminal norms. Public order, assessed by judges, has nothing to do with public order within a democratic society.

What is the motivation of judges to destroy these people’s presumption of innocence?

Where are the “sentiments of nationality and pride professed by the Cuban people to the national flag” defined, unquestionably?

The State’s motivation was political punishment to create a deterrent effect, to prevent the rest of society from freely expressing themselves out of fear. We see a great danger in that sentence, with an evidently exemplary effect. The assessment was completely subjective, discretionary, and with a finality that is entirely illegitimate and which promotes a culture of self-censorship.

The result of this and all the sentences against the July 11, 2021 (11J) protesters create an effect not only on the accused but all of society. It is in the public interest to understand everything that happened during the trial and access the sentencing document. continue reading

What judges refer to as “disrespecting, dishonoring and affecting the dignity of the highest authorities of the country, using false, digitally manipulated images of them, which were published on social media,” is nothing more than exercising freedom of expression and legitimate criticism of authorities. In this case, only a meme was shared. Government officials must be accountable to us and are held to a higher degree of public scrutiny, they must be tolerant of criticism because they must respond to the interests of their citizens.

We have very little data with respect to this since the content of the sentencing document is not known, not even the document number, but we can conclude from the information that has been released that none of the limits they refer to are recognized by international human rights standards, rather, it is a punitive abuse of power by the State. None of these reasons comply with the legitimate legality, finality, need, and proportionality required by the Interamerican system’s tripartite test [CHECK: not sure if they mean “test”; I couldn’t find a translation for “tes”. I’m assuming it is something where if three conditions are met, states are allowed to limit this freedom.] allowing states to limit freedom of expression.

Note: Sentences handed down to artists of the San Isidro Movement

5 years in prison for Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, as author of the crimes of disrespecting national symbols, contempt and public disorder.

9 years in prison for Maikel Castillo Pérez, for the crimes of contempt, assault, public disorder, and defamation of institutions and organizations, heroes and martyrs.

The entry Cubalex’s Assessment of the Sentences Imposed Upon Luis Manuel Otero and Maykel Castillo first appeared on Cubalex.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez

A Year Without Justice: Patterns of State Violence Against July 11th (11J) Protesters / Cubalex

Report Cover: A Year Without Justice. Cubalex, July 2022

Cubalex, 7 July 2022

The following report presents issues related to the impact and implications of the protests which occurred in Cuba on July 11th, 2021 (11J). We analyze elements such as the factors which provoked 11J and the reasons for the massive street protests.

As part of the observations of the state’s response, we describe the patterns of repression implemented along synchronic and diachronic axes, that is, throughout the country and over time. This is possible due to the systematic data on the arrests and the criminal and administrative proceedings from July to date, related to the public protests.

Finally, we offer recommendations on how the international community can help victims of repression in Cuba to obtain justice and reparations. Throughout this report, we apply an intersectional and gender lens to highlight the patterns of abuse faced by Cuban women, those of African descent and people from the LGBTQIA+ community as part of the state’s response from 11J to date.

We also highlight other vulnerable groups, such as minors, older adults, activists, journalists, human rights defenders and members of opposition parties and civic organizations.

While this report  contains a balance sheet of what has occurred to date with regard to the state’s response to the July protests and other issues associated with them, it is part of a gradual and systematic process of documentation and analysis, which will not be final so long as the Cuban government continues, through any means possible, repressing the July protesters, their families, and civil society which support them.

As a result, the estimates presented and the patterns described will vary over time. At the time of this writing, we continue verifying information which will be incorporated into our public registries.

Download Report as a PDF (in Spanish) here

Translated by: Silvia Suárez