Repression in Cuba is 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The principal example of repression in Cuba and the lack of freedom is the existence of a regime that has been in power for over 50 years contrary to the popular will.
That alone is the main proof of freedom’s absence in Cuba. When we speak of repression, it is good to know because there are those who have no idea about the magnitude of repression in Cuba, for example, a declaration such as the one I am making here today would result in punishment: a beating or years of imprisonment.
In Cuba, repression means being punished when there is a gathering [of people] outside the regime’s control. In Cuba any gathering of four or five people who question the regime is an act punishable by beatings or years of imprisonment. In 2001, while I was in Morejon Nieves Prison, I witnessed a phenomenon that would be funny if it weren’t so perverse.
There were three prisoners who, either to ingratiate themselves to the regime or perhaps because of their affinity for it, went on a hunger strike in support of five Cuban spies imprisoned in the United States. The three were punished. Their family and conjugal visits, as well as their families’ food package deliveries were suspended. They were told that protests, even in support of the revolution, must have permission from the authorities. In Cuba there is not even freedom to support the regime.
[In 2001, five Cuban intelligence officers who had infiltrated the United States were convicted in Miami of conspiracy to commit espionage, conspiracy to commit murder, acting as agents of a foreign government, and other illegal activities.]
In Cuba, there is no unionizing except for the CTC [Workers' Central Union of Cuba], a union that is a tool of the regime. In Cuba there is no judicial independence. When you go to court, if you have been accused of a crime against the state, you are legally defenseless. The lawyer, prosecutor and judge are all compromised. There is no independence.
In Cuba, there is no rule of law. Who will you complain to? That is one of the most important questions. All over the world human rights are violated. All over the world there are cowards who, shielded by their uniform or post, violate human rights. The difference being that in democracies there are channels, institutions, and bodies to which you can bring grievances.
In Cuba the primary vehicle for racial discrimination is the silencing of the race issue. According to [the regime], there is no racial discrimination [in Cuba] but it cannot be debated politically, it cannot be questioned, and it cannot be discussed. Cuba is an environment of constant repression. There are crimes within the penal code that are legal aberrations and have no basis in international laws.
For instance, for the law “breach of the duty to condemn,” what is the crime? Nothing. It’s an incitement to betray or to accuse. If you know that a person commits an alleged crime you are obligated to turn them in. If not, you are involved in the crime.
In Cuba there is a “crime” called “social hazard” which states, having no basis in international law, a person can go to prison, not for a crime he commits, but for a crime he might commit. This law is a sword of Damocles in the hands of a corrupt military that can imprison you on a whim.
In Cuba there are crimes for which you could go to prison such as “spoken or written enemy propaganda,” which is any public or written criticism of the regime. There is also an umbrella crime, “other acts against state security.” It means you can go to jail for anything you do against the regime that is not legally categorized.
When [the regime] attacked civil society during the [Black Spring] of March 2003, it wasn’t just against the opposition, but to send a message to the people as to the consequences of joining the opposition’s ranks.
There has been much fear. I feel fear. All of us feel fear, but the most important thing that is happening in Cuba is the loss of fear. Often we bury ourselves in emphasizing the repression because it pains us that our brothers are beaten or punished. It pains us that they do the same to us, but in Cuba, repression is not the most important thing that is happening. It is actually the loss of fear.