"Regulated Ones" on a War Footing

Since 2018 the strategy of informing activists of their “regulated” status at the moment of reaching the immigration counter has become more common. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, September 25, 2019 — The list of Cuban citizens whom the Government has labeled as “regulated” by now includes 150 people. This mechanism, with which the authorities arbitrarily restrict the free movement of activists, journalists, and opposition figures in general, has been consolidated in two years as a regular repressive method.

The free movement of persons is enshrined by Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as Article 52 of the Cuban Constitution. Although in both cases, and in all states, it is a right subject to regulations, the Government of Havana applies its regulations in an arbitrary manner, limiting the room for maneuver of those affected, which can sometimes make them face the judicial avenue and other times turn to activism.

That’s the case for the reporter from the magazine El Estornudo, Abraham Jiménez Enoa, who since June 2 of 2016 has been subject to a migratory regulation from the Ministry of the Interior. As appears on a document, this prohibition is valid until the same day in 2021. These five years are what the State considers he “owes” for having been part of the program of “inserted cadets.” The program allows cadets assigned to the Ministry of the Interior to attend (“be inserted into”) university programs in lieu of other duties. Jiménez Enoa was able to study journalism through an agreement for which he would afterward complete five years of social service, which is why he is not allowed to leave Cuba and has no option to turn to.

For the reporter, the mode in which the Government impedes “the free movement of individuals is worthy only of dictatorial and totalitarian systems” and he believes that it is “another proof that in Cuba the Government violates many human rights.”

“The idea is to punish and intimidate those who dissent, put the lash to their shoulders. If the internet has brought anything to us Cubans, it’s the possibility to show the Island that many people don’t know. An Island where, sometimes, they force you to remain trapped there for raising your voice and confronting the regime,” Jiménez tells 14ymedio.

Katherine Mojena, a member of the opposition organization Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu), has been “regulated” since December of 2016.

“From then until now they have prevented me from leaving Cuba on more than five occasions. Just now I was selected to participate in a training program on how to confront and report on gender violence. It will take place in the United States and it’s directed by Washington’s embassy in Havana. When I went to ask, I was still ’regulated’,” says Mojena.

The activist assures that during several exchanges with State Security they have told her that “the condition” for letting her leave Cuba is that she remains “permanently” in any other country. “My husband Carlos Amel Oliva and I have categorically refused that. This is my country and they are the ’surplus’ ones,” she believes.

In her opinion, there are many factors influencing the Government’s decisions on a person’s movement.

“It’s not my goal to cause harm with this comment but, in our particular case, this long time with this restrictive measure of the dictatorship is a kind of recognition of how unyielding we have been with our activism. Peaceful but firm in favor of freedom, democracy, and respect for human rights in Cuba.”

Mojena believes that it is necessary to fight from within the Island, which is the path she has chosen and she will not accept conditions. “They can ’regulate’ me, arrest me, rob my home, like they have done, and even put me in prison. I’m ready to face them. Amel and I, and also the ’regulated’ activists from Unpacu, we prefer for Guillermo del Sol to stay alive and we recognize the great and exceptional sacrifice he is making in the interests of all the victims of this arbitrary measure.”

Guillermo del Sol, 53, has been on a hunger strike since August 12 and insists that he is determined to fight the arbitrary practice of the Cuban Government of “regulating” nonconformists.

Others have opted for the legal route. That is the case of the opposition figure Abdel Legrá Pacheco, for whom Immigration authorities suspended the prohibition on leaving the country after he brought a lawsuit before the provincial court of Havana.

The reporter Boris González Arenas also turned to the law to confront the prohibition on leaving that was imposed on him in June. “I already missed a trip to Panama, to Colombia, an invitation to participate in ASCE, in the United States, and finally, another to the United Kingdom, where I was invited by the British parliament,” he told this newspaper.

“I presented a request to Roilan Hernández, the legal person in charge of immigration. The current Cuban Constitution has a rudiment that isn’t habeas data [although it is similar], but through which one can ask the State about the information that it has about him. I asked Immigration to know the reason for my ’regulation.’ Of course there was no response. I went to the military prosecutor, to sue for Hernández’s abuse of authority, and it passed the case to the Attorney’s Office of the Ministry of the Interior, which has not yet answered me.”

In January of 2013 a Migratory Reform went into effect which significantly liberalized the processes for traveling outside of the Island, with the old “exit permit” being eliminated, but with the passage of years the list of opposition voices who cannot leave the country has been growing. At the beginning, State Security prevented dissidents from traveling via arbitrary arrests.

Since 2018, however, the strategy of informing activists of their “regulated” status at the moment of reaching the immigration counter has become more common.

After the modifications made by the Decree-Law 302 in October of 2012, immigration authorities have the capicity to deny certain citizens the issue of a passport or prevent them from leaving the country.

The law provides for various cases: being subject to a penal process, having an outstanding fulfillment of a penal sanction or security measure, being in the course of fulfilling Military Service, or being considered “a work force qualified for the social and scientific technical development of the country.”

However, where more discretion applies is in reasons “of public interest or of National Defense and Security.” The lawyer Eloy Viera maintained in an article published in El Toque that he opposes the use of vague concepts like Defense, National Security, or Public Interest to justify the limitation of rights by immigration authorities. They are variables “that are used with impunity to limit fundamental rights.”

Translated by: Sheilagh Herrera


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