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15/11/2018

Perspectivas / Perspectives

How many political prisoners are there in Cuba?

Cuba Archive has published on its website a report entitled "How many political prisoners are there in Cuba?" Following is a summary of the 4-page report (see the report for details and sources). 

Files recovered from the former Stasi, political police of the communist German Democratic Republic, indicate there were 18,000 prisoners in Cuba in 1965 and 3,300 in 1978. The Mitrokhin archives of the former Soviet KGB has at least one reference of 8,000 prisoners in Cuba in 1974. Cuban researcher Efrén Córdova reports of 19,000 political prisoners in 1967. Former prisoner of conscience Ambassador Armando Valladares that when he was imprisoned (1960 to 1982), the number of "counterrevolutionary" prisoners island-wide was, according to a blackboard at the Castillo del Príncipe prison, 82,000. According to Valladares, his fellow political prisoners estimated that there were at least 200 prisons and labor camps in Cuba.

In June 2018, the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, CCDHRN, reported 120 prisoners for political reasons as of May 31, 2018. It notes that these individuals are "held in maximum security” -96 are opponents or disaffected to the regime and 24 are prisoners accused of employing or planning to use some form of force or violence to carry out "acts against the security of the State.” The list does not include individuals held in minimum security facilities or labor camps or many thousands of Cubans who are not members of an opposition political movement but are believed to be imprisoned for underlying political reasons yet sentenced and reported otherwise.

Given the nature of the Cuban system, the definition of "political prisoner" reflects changing circumstances. Once the mass executions ceased, armed insurrections were defeated, the remaining resistance was mostly exiled, and the massive political imprisonment of the 1960s diminished, the regime was able to institutionalize terror and indoctrination to subdue the population; this considerably reduced direct confrontation with the government. Also, mass migration from the earliest days of the revolution has allowed the most disaffected Cubans to leave the country or devote their hope and energies to finding ways to do so, reducing interest and resources to oppose the regime. It is, thus, not necessary to impose patently political prison sentences.

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The UN Human Rights Council’s lousy election

Members of the UN's Human Rights Council
(some members will be replaced on January 1st, 2019)

Afghanistan - 2020, Angola - 2020, Australia - 2020, Belgium - 2018, Brazil - 2019, Burundi - 2018, Chile - 2020, China - 2019, Côte d’Ivoire - 2018, Croatia - 2019, Cuba - 2019, Democratic Republic of the Congo - 2020, Ecuador - 2018, Egypt - 2019, Ethiopia - 2018, Georgia - 2018, Germany - 2018, Hungary - 2019, Iceland (elected on 13 July 2018 to serve as a member from 13 July 2018 to 31 December 2019 to replace the vacancy left by the United States following its decision to withdraw its membership), Iraq - 2019, Japan - 2019, Kenya - 2018, Kyrgyzstan - 2018, Mexico - 2020, Mongolia - 2018, Nepal - 2020, Nigeria - 2020, Pakistan - 2020, Panama - 2018, Peru - 2020, Philippines - 2018, Qatar - 2020, Republic of Korea - 2018, Rwanda - 2019, Saudi Arabia - 2019, Senegal - 2020, Slovakia - 2020, Slovenia - 2018, South Africa - 2019, Spain - 2020, Switzerland - 2018, Togo - 2018, Tunisia - 2019, Ukraine - 2020, United Arab Emirates - 2018, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland - 2019, United States of America (resigned its membership in the Human Rights Council , effective 1700 hours EDT, June 19 2018), Venezuela - 2018.

Oct. 17.– Those who argue that the UN’s Human Rights Council is a force for good were greatly disappointed last week by the election to the council of Bahrain, Cameroon, Eritrea and the Philippines; those who praised President Donald Trump’s decision in June to pull the United States out of the council have taken succour from the elevation of four known human-rights abusers. America’s ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, described the council as “a protector of human-rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias”, especially against Israel. Human Rights Watch, a New York-based monitor, expressed outrage at the election, criticising in particular Eritrea and the Philippines. Cuba, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are already serving on the council.

The body consists of 47 members, about a third of them elected every year for a term of three years, renewable by election for one extra term, with five regional blocs each proposing members for election. This time around, human-rights lobbies were further angered by the fact that every new member was voted in on a “clean slate”, meaning that no candidate faced competition.

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Nobel Peace Prize 2018 honors the fight against sexual violence

Participatory Democracy Cultural Initiative (PDCI) and its subsidiary in the WEB, DemocraciaParticipativa.net wholeheartedly congratulates Dr. Denis Mukwege, one of the two winners of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, which he received jointly with Iraqi Yazidi activist Nadia Murad, both of whom are leading campaigners against rape as a weapon of war.

Dr. Mukwege is a courageous gynecologist and founder of the Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where he made it his mission to treat the horrific injuries suffered by thousands of women who were victims of violent rape by the combatants in the protracted and brutal war in Eastern Congo.

In 2014 Dr. Mukwege obtained a grant to help him fund a documentary about his initiatives and work: “The Man who Mends Women,” was an award-winning film by director Thierry Michele and Collette Brackeman, co-produced by Les Films de la Passarelle and Ryva Productions. Screened throughout Congo and internationally, including the United Nations, the House of Commons, and the European Parliament, the film raised awareness of atrocities committed by the Congolese army and armed groups against women in Eastern Congo and highlighted Dr. Mukwege’s achievements through his heroic work to empower victims of sexual violence.

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El Consejo de DDHH de la ONU reclama un pasillo humanitario en Venezuela

La Oficina de la Alta Comisionada detalló las violaciones perpetradas entre julio de 2015 y marzo de 2017 con un saldo de, por lo menos, 505 muertos a manos de las fuerzas de seguridad hasta entonces.

Ginebra, Oct.2.– Después de reiteradas gestiones ante el Consejo de Derechos Humanos (OHCHR) por parte de diveras organizaciones defensoras de los derechos y libertades de los venezolanos, para lograr la intervención activa de la OHCHR en la tragedia que abate a Venezuela y que se agrava por momentos, el Consejo aprobó una notable resolución sobre la situación en Venezuela, en la que expresa su preocupación por las "graves violaciones de los Derechos Humanos" que se están registrando en el país y reclama al Gobierno de Nicolás Maduro que acepte ayuda humanitaria internacional. Estas gestiones lograron su objetivo tras el espaldarazo del "Grupo de Lima"**, que fue el que logró introducir el caso de Venezuela en la agenda del Consejo.

Tras reconocer que cientos de miles de venezolanos "se han visto forzados a abandonar su país" como resultado de la situación que "afecta seriamente sus Derechos Humanos", el Consejo ha pedido al Ejecutivo que "acepte ayuda humanitaria para abordar la escasez de alimentos, medicinas y suministros médicos, el aumento de la desnutrición, especialmente entre los niños, y el brote de enfermedades que habían sido anteriormente erradicadas o mantenidas bajo control en América Latina".

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Tragic Self-immolations by Tibetans continue in protest for Chinese oppression

Since February 2009, 94 Tibetans have self-immolated in Tibet as reported up to March this year, with a dramatic acceleration in frequency since the once-in-a-decade leadership transition at the Chinese Communist Party Congress in November.

Two Tibetans self-immolating in Dzatoe township in Qinghai The Chinese authorities in Tibet have intensified measures to prevent information reaching the outside world about the self-immolations. This has been combined with a more aggressive and formalized response to the self-immolations, involving harsh sentencing and torture for those suspected of involvement, even if that is simply bearing witness. Due to this climate, it is impossible for this list to be fully comprehensive, and it is indicated on the list where circumstances of the self-immolations are not fully known.

A map marking the locations of the self-immolations in Tibet can be viewed HERE. For further information and details of the lives of a number of those who self-immolated and the statements they left behind. (ICT report, Storm in the Grasslands: Self-immolations in Tibet and Chinese policy).

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