Political Prisoners Take Advantage of ‘Passes’ to Escape Cuba as Rafters

In Cuba, 188 adult protesters were charged with sedition, of which 174 are serving an average of 10 years in prison. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 9 December 2022 — With 24 new arrests this November, the Cuban government keeps a total of 1,034 political prisoners incarcerated, according to what Prisoners Defenders (PD) denounced this Friday. In its latest monthly report, the Madrid-based organization exposed the “inhuman repression” that “dominates Cuba since 11 July 2021 (11J).”

PD clarified that thousands of people are systematically persecuted and harassed on the Island, and that the accusations – and subsequent imprisonment – ​​of activists, independent journalists and protesters have not stopped since the massive protests of 2021.

“The general population is fleeing en masse from the repression,” says the report, which reports that many of the prisoners released by the regime — and even several of those who have left briefly “on passes” — take the opportunity to escape the country by throwing themselves into the sea aboard precarious rafts.

Those who have not been able to get out of prison “are tortured,” laments PD, which presented a report on 101 random cases of mistreated prisoners on the island before the Committee Against Torture. In addition, last June they demonstrated before the Committee of the Rights of the Child that Cuban minors are not safe from government repression.

The organization points out the upward trend in the number of political prisoners, from the 805 registered in December 2021 to 1,034. (PD)

Through a graph, the organization points out the upward trend in the number of political prisoners, from the 805 registered in December 2021 to the 1,034 recorded on November 30 of this year. The total number of new prisoners listed up to that date is 576.

The 24 inmates reported in November were imprisoned throughout the national territory. That same month, 17 citizens left the list, after full completion of their sentences, in most cases, and the rest left the country through illegal means.

In its report on the 1,034 Cuban prisoners, PD details that, of these, 29 are boys and 5 girls, for a total of 34 minors serving sentences (27) or going through criminal proceedings (7). Although the Government claims to have detained them in “comprehensive training schools,” the minors are in common penitentiary centers, with appalling living conditions and locked up in cells.

In addition, PD provides the information that an average of 150 children under the age of 16 are imprisoned on the Island for various reasons every twelve months. Not to mention the 260 adolescents aged 16 and 17 who, according to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the regime sends in the same period of time to conventional prisons.

Regarding minors prosecuted for the crime of sedition, the average sentence is 5 years, denounces PD, which constitutes an increase in the sentence requested by the Prosecutor for the same crime before the July 2021 protests.

Likewise, 188 adult protesters were charged with sedition, of which 174 are serving an average of 10 years in prison. Up to 30 years of imprisonment was the sentence for 792 inmates. As if that were not enough, the sentences of 17 citizens exceed 30 years of imprisonment and several of them suffer life imprisonment.

The situation of women and members of LGBTI+ collectives is no more optimistic. Trans women have been confined in prisons for men, in total disrespect for sexual diversity. PD also exposes that, while these citizens were imprisoned, a sector of Cubans applauded the new Family Code, which “eliminated the parental authority of Cuban fathers and mothers [so that the government] can snatch from their families the children of the protesters or those disaffected with the regime,” says the organization.

PD concludes that in Cuba there are 751 ’convicted’ of conscience, 253 ’condemned ’of conscience and another 30 inmates of difficult classification. In addition, the organization indicates the existence of another 11,000 civilians who suffer “pre-criminal sentences,” classified by the regime with people “with a tendency to commit crimes in the future,” who were sentenced to between 1 and 4 years in prison “without [any] crime: neither investigated, nor happened, nor committed, nor attempted.”

The new Penal Code, in force since December 1, predicts new sentences and an increase in the number of political prisoners before the end of the year, says PD, because “the mere report by the police authorities indicating ’inappropriate conduct’ allows, without any crime, summary imprisonment year after year for immediate decisions.”

An aggravating factor in the ethical unacceptability of the Cuban government is, for PD, the fact that its leaders rub shoulders with Russian President Vladimir Putin and congratulate him on his invasion of Ukraine, when it is clear the invasion has “the condemnation of most countries of the world.” Another indicator is the indecency of the island’s diplomacy, which makes a special effort to collect votes of support, in international organizations, for the Russian and Iranian dictatorships.

The international position of Cuba, affirms the text, is that of “enemy of Europe and of the freedom of the world,” but it points out that groups from the European Left have been accomplices of the “pantomime” that Cuba has been carrying out since 1959 at the international level.


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