A Cuba civil liberties round up

The New York-based Human Rights Foundation has issued a report on its inquiry into the death of Cuban dissident Osvaldo Paya in a car accident three years ago, stating that the “evidence, which was deliberately ignored, strongly suggests that the events of July 22, 2012 were not an accident, but instead the result of a car crash directly caused by agents of the state.” The complete report can be downloaded from the Foundation’s web site: http://humanrightsfoundation.org/news/cuba-hrf-report-on-oswaldo-payas-death-evidence-suggests-government-may-have-killed-him-00446

The Associated Press reports on how visiting US congressional delegations are ignoring Cuban dissidents during their recent visits to Havana, in order to meet Cuban officials:

Legislative staffers say Cuban officials have made clear that if Congress members meet with dissidents, they will not get access to high-ranking officials such as First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel, the man expected to be the next president of Cuba who has met with U.S. politicians like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont.


For a look at the Cuban legal system, here’s an interesting article published two months ago by the Daily Business Review, about Havana lawyer Osvaldo Miranda Diaz’s presentation to a delegation from the Florida Bar Association. An excerpt:

Miranda Diaz explained the criminal justice system in Cuba to the shocked Americans. When a Cuban is arrested, he can be jailed without the right to see a lawyer or make a phone call for 72 hours. After a week, the prosecutor decides whether to grant the person bail or not.

At that point, he or she has just five days to hire a lawyer and does not get access to his or her criminal file until the case is through. This is despite the fact the island country claims an “innocent until proven guilty” philosophy.

“They can keep you in jail for one week and do what they want—interrogate you, do anything,” he said. “It’s like the Soviet system.” http://www.dailybusinessreview.com/id=1202727711630/Havana-Lawyer-Assesses-Cuban-Legal-System#ixzz3gjvCb4wh

There’s a sidebar to this article. Julie Kay, a reporter who accompanied the delegation, wrote the article on the Cuban lawyer’s presentation, and “basically regurgitated everything the lawyer had said. I did no independent research, put no “spin” on the story.” She filed the story from her hotel and a short time later her group’s guide confronted her with the article, and told the lawyers in the group that she should be kicked off the tour. She was allowed to remain, but decided not to file any more stories until she returned home. http://www.dailybusinessreview.com/id=1202728015496/She-Learned-Firsthand-Just-How-Lacking-in-Basic-Freedoms-Cuba-is

Someday Cuba will have an official inquiry into human rights abuses, but until that time the Cuba Archive Truth and Memory Project has been doing what it can with limited resources to document as much as possible. Its reports can be viewed on its website: http://cubaarchive.org/home/