Cuba: The Gag Law / Laritza Diversent

In the first of the two annual sessions of the National Assembly, held in the final days of last July, the International Relations committee agreed to instruct its counterpart on Constitutional and Legal Matters, an aggravation of the measures contained in the No. 88.

The Gag Law, as this statutory provision is known internationally, was enacted by the National Assembly on February 16, 1999, in order to protect the independence and economy of Cuba.

The crimes under this law, sanctioned acts which, according to the Cuban government, are aimed at supporting the objectives of the “Helms-Burton” Law and the economic blockade, disrupting internal order and liquidating the socialist state.

Generally it is considered a crime to collaborate in any way with radio or television, newspapers, magazines or other foreign media if not serving as a foreign reporter accredited to the island.

It is also considered a violation to accumulate, reproduce, disseminate materials considered subversive by the Cuban government or to bring them into the island from the United States or to provide any kind of information to private or public entities in this country.

Also sanctioned is promoting, organizing, inciting or disturbing public order or the execution of these events, receiving or distributing financing, material or otherwise, from the northern country, or a third State that collaborates with it.

In 9 of its 12 articles, a criminal offense is identified with penalties of imprisonment from 2 to 15 years and/or a fine of 3 thousand to 250 thousand pesos. The penalty may increase to up to 20 years imprisonment, if the events involve two or more persons, or is performed for remuneration or any benefit or using illegal means.
The penalty also increases if there the events relate to the economic relations of the Cuban state, or national or foreign entities, both state and private, or to the U.S. Government, taking action against these or against any of the communist leaders or their relatives.

September 5 2011