Eye on Cuba: A Closer Look at Repression

Saturday, September 6, 2014
From the European human rights NGO, People in Need:

We would like to draw your attention to the ongoing human rights violations taking place in Cuba. Our project, www.eyeoncuba.org offers proof that these facts happen on a daily basis.

The map displayed on www.eyeoncuba.org presents the total number of cases that have been reported according to the geographical location where they occurred, which allows the viewer to compare the level of repression in different regions of the island. The cases displayed allow one to see first-hand the reality of Cuban civil society, which often faces repression by the authorities.

We have already documented 1000 cases and have discovered some interesting insights that we would like to share with you:

Who is the typical detainee?

He is a 41 year old man male (though 44% of cases are women) who is a member of a dissident group or movement. Usually he will be arrested without a clear charge against him and taken to a police station for 1-2 days where he will likely be threatened and beaten.

What rights are more often violated?

The rights which are most often violated are the right to not be arbitrarily detained and the right to be informed about the reason for one’s detention and the violation of personal freedom. A typical situation are the detentions of members of the Ladies in White each Sunday before they attend Mass in order to prevent them from participating in their weekly march.

Where do most of the cases come from?

The province with the largest number of reported cases of human rights abuses is Santiago de Cuba. This is due to the fact that the group Union Patriotica de Cuba, is active in the region and regularly organizes protests and various activities for its members.

What type of detention is used?

As long detentions are more likely to result in the international community putting pressure on the Cuban authorities, the method that the Cuban state has adopted is to use repeated, short term detentions varying from a few hours to a few days. For example, Keila Ramos Suarez, a member of the Ladies in White Movement, has been detained and assaulted 15 times between March 2013 and April 2014. A second member from the same group, Maria Teresa Gracias, has been detained and assaulted 39 times between January 2013 and March 2014.

What are the abuses?

The types of abuses that are used on most of the detainees to add additional psychological pressure include death threats, threats against their families, and the threat of being given a life sentence. The humiliations range from being kept on the ground face down, to being dropped off in the middle of nowhere with no means of transportation, and having to deal with being repeatedly harassed and offended by state authorities and their proxies.

This is just some of the information that you can find on our website. www.eyeoncuba.org is intended to bring greater international visibility to the victims. Attracting greater public attention has the potential to deter the authorities from persecuting them and their families. It also serves as an acknowledgement of the victims, as well as proof that their actions and sacrifice is being recognized and validated. It is a trustworthy source of information about human rights abuse cases in Cuba based on the fact that these cases are being reported on from within the community.