Things You Cannot Do in Cuba (Or End Up In Prison For)‏

Thursday, June 18, 2009
by Jorge Moragas Sanchez
1. Travel abroad without permission from the government.  Even if you have an approved visa and an airline ticket, you may only leave Cuba with a government issued "White Card," which may take years to obtain and is usually denied.  Workers linked to health services, government agencies, the armed forces, or high profile athletes, among others, must wait at least five years, but in most cases never get permission to leave.

2. Travel abroad with spouse and/or children.  With the exception of some senior government officials.

3. Switch jobs without prior government permission.

4. Switch homes.
  Home exchanges are subject to endless regulations and is practically impossible.

5. Publish anything without permission from the government.

6. Own a personal computer, a fax machine, or a satellite antenna.

7. Access the Internet. 
 The Internet is strictly controlled and monitored by state security.  Only 1.7% of the population has access to the web.

8. Send your children to a private or religious school.  All schools belong to the communist party.

9. Belong to any religious denomination without penalty.  Adults may be terminated from their jobs and the children can be expelled from school. 

10. Belong to any organization regardless of its national or international presence with the exception of government organizations.  The exceptions are the Communist Party, Union of Communist Youth, Committee for the Defense of the Revolution, etc.

11. Listen to or watch any radio or television station that is independent or privately owned.  All of the media is state property and controlled by the state.  Cubans illegally listen to or watch BBC, Voice of the Americas, Radio Marti, TV Marti, etc.

12. Read books, magazines, or newspapers, with the exception of those approved/published by the government.  All books, magazines, and newspapers in Cuba are published by the government.  There is no authorized independent press. 

13. Receive publications from abroad or from visitors.  This is punishable by jail pursuant to Law 88.

14. Freely communicate with foreign journalists. 

15. Visit or stay in hotels, restaurants, beaches, or resorts for tourists. 
16. Accept gifts or donations from foreign visitors.

17. Search for employment with foreign companies established on the island without prior approval from the government.  

18. Own your own home or business. 

19. Earn more than the wages established by the government for all employees:
  $7-12 monthly for most jobs, $15-20 monthly for professionals, such as doctors and government officials.

20. Sell any personal belongings, services, homemade foods or crafts without the approval of the government.  

21. Fish along the coastline or board a boat without permission from the government. 

22. Belong to any independent trade union.
  The government controls all unions and no individual or collective bargaining is permitted; neither are strikes or protests.

23. Organize any sporting team, sporting activity, or artistic performance without permission from the government.

24. Claim any monetary prize or recognition from abroad.

25. Select a doctor or hospital.  
The government assigns them all.

26. Seek medical help outside of Cuba.

27. Hire an attorney, unless he or she is approved by the government.

28. Refuse to participate in an event or mass demonstration organized by the Communist Party. 
 Refusal to participate in demonstrations results in being categorized as an opponent of the state and leaves you exposed to serious consequences.

29. Refuse to participate in "voluntary" work for adults and children.  

30. Refuse to vote in a single party election with candidates nominated by the government.  

31. Aspire to hold a public office unless the Communist Party nominates you.

32. Criticize or simply question the oppressive laws of the regime or any comment/decision made by the officials or the "Maximum Leader."

33. Transport any food products for either personal or family consumption between provinces.  The police regularly inspect bags and/or luggage in trains, buses, cars, bicycles, and any other mode of transportation, in search of vegetables, sugar, coffee, and meats.  All food products are confiscated and its carriers undergo judicial proceedings.

34. Slaughter a cow.  Farmers who tend livestock cannot sacrifice their animals for consumption and much less to sell the beef.  This "felony" is sanctioned by five years imprisonment.

35. Purchase or sell real estate or land.  

36. Import into the country the following electronic products:
  refrigerators, air conditioning units, stoves, ovens, microwaves, water heaters, showers, fryers, irons, and toasters.

37. Return to visit Cuba after emigrating.  Those who decide to visit their families in Cuba need a visa-permission to return to the land where they were born and must obtain a Cuban passport, even if they already have another recognized nationality.  This process alone costs more than $450 excluding airline tickets and other fees.  If permission to enter the country is denied, the Cuban government keeps the money.

38. Visit a "quitting" member of the family outside of Cuba.  When a Cuban "quits" (defects) while abroad on duty, which the government considers an "official mission" (sports, science, arts, etc.), their family members must wait at least five years for the government to decide whether or not they may travel to visit.

39. Keep belongings when a family member emigrates or is caught trying to do so.  When a Cuban receives permission to leave, their raft is intercepted at sea, or is repatriated; their belongings (home, television, furniture, clothing, etc.) are confiscated.  If repatriated or intercepted at sea, it will also be impossible for them to return to work, they lose their rationing book (the means by which they obtain the right to pay for a portion of the nutrients they need), they are repudiated and/or receive criminal penalties.         

40. Freely select a career to study.  A 12th grade graduate, regardless of their academic record and placement availability, cannot select the career they wish to pursue.  In the selection process for universities (all of which belong to the state), they factor ideological considerations associated to the unconditional support of the applicant and the "needs of the revolution" at the present time. 

41. Invite a foreigner to spend the night at your home.  If the neighborhood CDR (Committee for the Defense of the Revolution) finds an unauthorized foreigner spending the night in the home of a Cuban, investigations begin which generally result in fines for the residents and removal from their home.

42. Refuse to participate in the Militia of Territorial Troops, CDR, Brigades of Rapid Response or any of the regime's oppressive organizations.  The refusal is interpreted as a clear manifestation of dissatisfaction with the revolution and is subject to penalties.

43. Buy milk in a regulated establishment for any child older than seven years.  Only Cuban children up to seven years of age have the right to pay a quota for milk, from that age on, the purchase of milk is forbidden and parents can only obtain milk in the black market, which implies a clear violation of the law. 

44. Live in liberty and with human rights.  Survive like a human being. 

45. Say "Down with Fidel!"  
Jorge Moragas Sanchez is a Spanish Parliamentarian.  He is a Foreign Affairs Spokesman for the Popular Party of Spain.