Human Rights Defenders Accuse Cuba Regime of Intensifying Crackdown On Dissent with Virus Restrictions
Human Rights Watch accused the Cuban regime on Tuesday of taking advantage of the regulations aimed at preventing the spread of the Wuhan virus pandemic for an increase of the repression of the dissident.
The Cuban authorities have taken advantage of the regulations against COVID-19 to expand the long list of repressive tools they use against their critics, informed Mr. José Miguel Vivanco, director for the Americas of the organization.
The Human Rights Watch representative stated that it had documented 34 cases of abuses in this regard.
In a statement, the human rights body assured that, under the pretext of enforcing the regulations on the pandemic, the Cuban authorities have made arbitrary arrests, opened abusive criminal proceedings, and detained people in the unhealthy cells that allow for the spread of the disease caused by the Wuhan virus.
The Cuban Communist regime have taken advantage of the regulations against the Wuhan virus to expand the long list of repressive tools they use against their critics.
This is part of a larger pattern in which the government blatantly uses any excuse to suppress the dissent, said Mr. Vivanco, HRW Americas director.
The Cuban Communist regime have taken advantage of the regulations against the spread of Wuhan virus
to intensify crackdown on the political opposition, pro-freedom movement
The organization specifically cited what happened on November 26 in Havana, where the police forcibly evicted a group of creators belonging to the San Isidro Movement after alleging that one of them had breached the anti-virus protocol.
The eviction of the members of the San Isidro Movement sparked the next day a peaceful protest by more than 300 Cuban artists and intellectuals in front of the Ministry of Culture, something unprecedented in Cuba, where there is no de facto right to demonstrate outside the State.
In addition to that case, Human Rights Watch stated that, between July and November of this year, it interviewed 35 people in Cuba by telephone and, through this and other channels, managed to document “abuses against 34 victims, in which cases the authorities invoked norms regarding the pandemic to act against critics of the Government and others ”.
Prison sentence for the propaganda of epidemics, a fine for incorrect mask-wearing
Thirty of the victims were arrested, harassed, fined, or threatened with the possibility of being criminally prosecuted for allegedly violating regulations related to covid-19; Among them, nine were accused of not wearing the mask correctly, the statement said.
Two other people were threatened with criminal prosecution for the propaganda of epidemics because they disseminated information about cases of covid-19 on the island, while two more received fines or reprimands not related to specific offenses established in the Cuban legislation, he added.
Human Rights Watch recalled that, in Cuba, the crime of the so-called propaganda of epidemics is punishable by fines and up to nine months in prison; and that, besides, the Castro regime has approved specific legislation on this pandemic, which enforces fines and ultimately, with up to six months in prison if they are not paid.
Restrictions on freedom of expression and association due to a public health emergency, the organization continued, are only justified when they have a legal basis, are strictly necessary and proportionate, are not arbitrary, and have a limited duration, among other criteria.