OEA/Ser.L/V/II.77 rev.1
doc. 7
17 May 1990
Original:  Spanish





Under its mandate to promote the observance and defense of human rights, the IACHR has been reviewing the status of human rights in the countries of the Hemisphere and has drawn up special reports on some of them.  Those reports have been prepared on the Commission’s own initiative, or on instructions from an organ of the Organization of American States, and, in some cases, at the spontaneous request of the country concerned.


The Commission feels that these reports, their later dissemination, and discussion of them have helped to change the behavior of particular countries as regards their observance of human rights, and in some cases, the reports have placed on record that the behavior of a country is in accord with international commitments it has undertaken in the field of human rights.


In recent years, the Commission has drawn up reports on 14 countries some of which, such as Chile, Cuba Guatemala, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Suriname, have been the subject of several reports.


Follow-ups on these reports have usually been included in the Commission’s annual reports to the General Assembly when warranted by the State’s behavior in the human rights area.


The Commission’s Annual Report submitted to the eighteenth regular session of the General Assembly included a chapter with sections on the status of human rights in Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Suriname from September 1988 to September 1989.


In the Commission’s view, there are reasons to warrant the reviewing all of those member countries again in this Annual Report.


In order to make the information available to it as complete as possible, the Commission, on February 26, 1990, requested the countries mentioned to provide it with any information they deemed appropriate, but particularly information on how they had complied with the Commission’s previous recommendations; on the progress they had made and any difficulties they had encountered in effective observance of human rights; and on the text of any statute enacted or case law that might have affected the observance of human rights.  With regard to Haiti, the Commission has prepared a special report as a result of the in loco visit carried out to that country from April 17 to April 20, 1990 as per request made by the Permanent Council of the OAS.


Where warranted, the Governments’ responses and any other information from various sources to which the Commission has had access have been taken into consideration in drafting this chapter.


The following sections will cover the status of human rights in Chile, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay and Suriname, since September 1989 up to the approval date of this report.


The Commission reiterates that the inclusion of these sections is not designed to give an overall and complete description of the status of human rights in each of the eight countries mentioned.  The Commission’s intent here is rather to give an update covering the period of one year since the last general reports.




The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has continued observing with special attention the status of human rights in Cuba.  This section presents the findings of those observations during the period covered by this annual report.  It supplements the information presented in the Commission’s seven special reports on Cuba and the pertinent sections of its annual reports.


In its preceding annual report, the Commission referred to the regression that it had perceived in connection with the harassment of several human rights activists and the request it sent to the Government of Cuba to rectify its position and give those agencies the guarantees they need to carry out their valuable work.  Unfortunately, the Commission must note that the government has not only kept those negative practices in force but has stepped them up through a genuine campaign of harassment, court sentencing without due process, deprivation of work and imprisonment under extremely negative conditions.


The Commission reported in its preceding annual report that on August 6, 1989, state security personnel had detained the following leaders:  Professor Elizardo Sánchez Santa Cruz, Chairman of the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation;  Mr. Hiram Abi Coba, of the Pro Human Rights Party; and Mr. Hubert Jerez Marino, Chairman of the Marti Human Rights Committee.  After six weeks at the Villa Marista state security jail facility–where these persons were kept in separate cells lighted 24 hours a day, but deprived of reading or writing materials and allowed no physical exercise–they were transferred to the Combinado del Este facility on September 13.


The persons named above were accused of violating Article 115 of the Penal Code which punishes those who spread false news intended to disrupt international peace or endanger the prestige of the Cuban state or its good relations with another state with a prison term of one to four years.  The Penal Code views this crime as an infraction of state security.  The accusation was based on statements these persons made to international journalists about the trial of General Ochoa and his co-defendants which ended with the executions of June 12, 1989.  It should be mentioned that at that time the leaders of the human rights agencies were afforded the opportunity to select defense attorneys.  Messrs. Sánchez Santa Cruz, Jerez and Cobas were sentenced by the People’s Provincial Tribunal of Havana on November 24, 1989, to two years of imprisonment, the first of these, and 18 months of imprisonment, the latter two.


The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has received information on the negative conditions in which the aforementioned leaders are serving their sentences.  After they were sentenced, these persons were initially placed in solitar5y confinement at the Combinado del Este.  Due to his poor state of health, Hiram Abi Cobas has spent much of that time in the Carlos J. Finlay military hospital.  Elizardo Sánchez and Hubert Jerez were later transferred to jails located 200 kilometers (Aguica) and 500 kilometers (Kilo 7) from Havana.  The distance made it difficult to receive visitors, thus adding to the difficult prison conditions in which Mr. Sanchez, in particular, finds himself.


The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights believes that the arrest, trial and sentencing of Elizardo Sanchez Santa Cruz, Hiram Abi Cobas, and Hubert Jerez constitutes a contravention of international standards protecting freedom of speech and association and reveals the degree of arbitrary action with which the Cuban judicial and penitentiary system represses all manifestation of dissent.  The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights believes these persons should be released promptly.


On November 11, 1989, Edita Cruz Rodriguez, a member of the Pro Human Rights Party of Cuba, was arrested the night before a mass was going to be said at the cathedral to pray for the health of Mr. Alfredo Mustelier Nuevo, who was on a complete hunger strike.  Mrs. Cruz Rodríguez was forced to serve a term of three months in jail, which had been suspended, to which she had been sentenced when she attempted to participate in a protest in Havana on the occasion of President Gorbachev’s visit to Cuba.


The Inter-American Commission was also told about several acts of state security harassment against human rights activists.  The actions included arrests for short periods, summonses to the state security to be warned about the consequences of actions they were taking, raids on homes and seizure of documents.  According to the information provided, these acts affected Rodolfo González González, Roberto Regalado and Angela Rey Miranda of the Cuban Human Rights Committee, Yndamiro Restano of the Independent Journalists Association of Cuba, Juan Jose Moreno Reyes, of the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, and Domingo Hernández Cepero and Danilo Valdéz, of the Pro Human Rights Party.  Also affected were Estaban González González, Mario Fernández Mora, Arthuro Montane and Manuel Pozo, of the Cuban Pro Amnesty Group, as well as Julio Soto Angurel of the Jose Martí Group of Independent Defenders for Human Rights and National Reconciliation.  The actions took place between November 1989 and January 1990.


In addition to these reports on human rights activists, the Inter-American Commission has also received others on harassment by the Government of Cuba of the widest variety of organizations.  For example, Mr. Orlando Polo, a leader of the Ecopacifist Movement of Cuba, was detained from September 22 to October 13, 1989.  His detention followed others carried out during this same year.  The Association Naturista Vida, a farm where Polo worked and lived with his wife, was closed by the government.  Also during the period covered by this report, several persons were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 8 to 18 months.  These were seven members of the Free Pro Art Association:  Pablo Roberto Pupo Sánchez, Juan Enrique García Cruz, Ramon Obregón Sarduy, Gilberto Plasencia Jiménez, Lázaro Angel Cabrera Puentes, Carlos Novoa Ponce and Jorge Luis Marí Becerra.  The charges against them were for illicit association, carrying and bearing arms or explosives and failure to report the commission of crimes.


On October 27, 1989, Mr. Alfredo Mustelier Nuevo, one of the so-called “plantados históricos” [long-term convicts]–persons serving long terms of crimes against state security who have refused to accept the plans of the Cuban penitentiary system–started a complete hunger strike.  The reason for his strike was to request the government to apply a more benign law to him in view of universally recognized legal criteria.  According to information received, Mr. Mustelier Nuevo ended this hunger strike in early December 1989.  The other two “long termers” still in Cuba are Messrs. Ernesto Diaz Rodriguez and Mario Chanes de Armas.


During the month of March, as the United Nations Commission on Human Rights discussed the situation of Cuba, the government undertook several acts against numerous human rights activities.  According to the official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party, Granma, seven human rights activists were detained on March 12 for having sent a letter congratulating the United States delegation to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights for the position it took in the discussion.  On March 5, 1990, crowds of government sympathizers surrounded the house of Gustavo and Sebastián Arcos, of the Cuban Pro Human Rights Committee, who were meeting with Samuel Martínez Lara, Yndomiro Restano, Domingo Hernández, Armando Alonso and Oscar Peña.  The house was attacked, its telephone lines cut and the door damaged until the police intervened somewhat later.  More acts of the same type were repeated on March 14, 1990, according to information provided to the Commission.


Another fact of particular seriousness is the practice by the Government of Cuba of adding sentence time to human rights activists already serving prison terms.  To illustrate, Mr. Roberto Bahamonde Massot, a member of the Pro Human Rights Party and of the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, who was serving a three months sentence for protesting the visit of President Gorbachev, was given an additional year for having carried out illicit economic activities.  According to information provided to the Commission, Mr. Bahamonde has worked as a photographer since 1980 without a permit from the government.


The director of the Pro Human Rights Party, Samuel Martínez Lara, for his part, who was serving time for having participated in a demonstration during the visit of President Gorbachev to Havana, was informed in December 1989 that he would not be released when his sentence was up in January since he had committed “disrespect” against President Fidel Castro and because he had made an offensive reference to the situation in Panama.  Martínez Lara was released on February 22, 1990, one month after having served his sentence, with charges pending in connection with the allegation of disrespect.  A similar situation was true of Vladimir García Alderete, a member of the Free Pro Art Association, who was given three more months and also charged with “disrespect” of President Fidel Castro.  García Alderete was first of all sentenced to eight months in jail for having incited public disorder when he attempted, along with other members of the Association, to celebrate the Cuban culture day in a way other than set out in the official celebration.  García Alderete was finally released in November 1989.


One particularly serious case because of the type of family reprisals adopted by the Government of Cuba relates to two children, Alexander Hernández and Lissette Vásquez, and the mother of the girl, Mrs. Rosa Miranda Díaz.  All of these persons are family members  of two instructors of the Cuban cycling team, José Alberto Menéndez Suárez and Roger Vásquez.  The first of these two sought asylum at the United States embassy in Panama in 1987 and the second, in Mexico in 1988.  While the wife of Menéndez was authorized to leave Cuba to rejoin her spouse, their child, Alexander Hernández, has been denied permission to travel to the United States to join his parents.  According to information provided to the Commission, the Hernández child has been expelled from the “Pioneros” organization of school children, detained with his grandmother for several hours at the Villa Marista state security jail, threatened with being sent to a reformatory if he did not withdraw his departure application from Cuba, summoned by a your reformatory to Jague Grande in Matanzas–where he stayed for a week–and has been forced to stop going to classes because of the way he is treated at school.  The Inter-American Commission finds outrageous the treatment given to a 14-year-old boy by the Cuban state simply because he has requested to move abroad in order to join his parents and believes that by so doing the state is making the son serve the sentence that applies to the father.  This is a complete and flagrant mockery of the standards of human rights and the most elementary humanitarian sentiments.


Mrs. Rosa Miranda Díaz and her daughter, Lissette Vásquez Miranda, find themselves in a similar situation.  Their request for authorization to leave Cuba was answered with a letter, signed by Chancellor Malmierca, the authenticity of which has not been denied by the Government of Cuba, whose test appears below:


Mrs. Miranda:


We received your letter of December 14 of this year requesting that you and your daughter, Lissette Vásquez Miranda, be granted permission to leave.


For your information, I inform you that your spouse, Roger Vásquez in union with another deserter called José Alberto Menéndez, has orchestrated a defamatory campaign against the Government of Cuba in common agreement with the United States authorities and anti-social groups of Cubans exiled in that country.  By using despicable forms of misinformation such as press and news agencies that employ aggressive verbal diarrhea, all in the service of that empire, these traitors attempt to tarnish the achievements of our revolution.


I ask you, why does your husband not denounce the incarceration of Nelson Mandela?  Why does he not denounce the cruel imperialist invasion of Panama?


It is with greatest regrets that we inform you that your application, as well as that of the traitor who is accompanying your husband, have been denied and may be reviewed only when he ceases the hostile campaign against our people and government.



Isidoro Malmierca


The statement set out in this section makes it clear the extremes to which the Government of Cuba will go to repress all forms of dissent.  In that effort the government uses all the resources of a body of legislation prepared for the purpose of subordinating individual rights to state demands which, in these cases, are those of a small group holding power.  It is this characteristic which led the Commission to qualify Cuba’s present political system as totalitarian in the Seventh Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Cuba and to state that in that country a state of law does not exist.


The Government of Cuba has stated that by acting in this way it is dealing with an external aggression from the United States which is joined by the activities of human rights organizations which, combined with measures such as broadcasts of Radio and TV Marti, add to the long-standing commercial blockade and repeated threats of the use of force.  Continuing the words of the Government of Cuba, the objective of such actions is to create a favorable situation for the destruction of the current political system, as has been occurring in other latitudes.


In view of this, the Commission finds it pertinent to reiterate is final conclusion of the Seventh Report on the Status of Human Rights in Cuba, that is:


The Commission believes that there are elements in the Cuban political system whose development would permit the progressive installation of a democratic order–lacking today–which is the only way of perfecting the advances made in the social arena and to overcome the profound distortions that affect its economy.  The Commission hopes that internal and international conditions will be created to permit the attainment of effective participation of Cuban citizens in the attainment of effective participation of Cuban citizens in the political decisions that affect them, within a framework of liberty and pluralism that is essential to bring about true effectiveness of all human rights.


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