Most Cuban citizens do not know the legal system in force on the Island, and the procedures they must follow to exercise a certain legal action, be it a civil, penal, administrative, family matter, etc., principally those that relate to their civil and political rights. Frequently they are victims of the arbitrary and selective application of the law.
With respect to Cubalex — the Center for Legal Information — tries to expand the pro bono representation and legal analysis available in Cuba, as well as the capacity for self-defense by dissidents, human rights activists and citizens who have no apparent political motivations, living inside or outside the national territory.
Cubalex offers its clients detailed information about the Cuban legal system, the legal the legal rules that apply to their case and the procedures to be followed in response to government, regional or international institutions.
The Manual of Rights and Duties / on-line, offers information about the ways in which Cubans can defend their rights as citizens facing an arrest, official summons, and search of their homes.
8 March 2014
On January 21 the Havana Court suspended Yamilí Barges Hurtado’s eviction, planned for March 22, from her house facing the Cohiba Hotel, as well as that of the heirs of the other partner in the house-swap in the east of Havana.
According to Barges Hurtado, a sheriff from the court of justice announced the decision to representatives of the state-run organizations in her neighborhood, at approximately 5 pm. The official said the court of justice suspended the eviction because of questions of security. “Nobody told me,” Bargas Hurtado said.
Eleazar Yosvany Toledo Rivero, 34, responsible for removing Yamilé from her property, was also informed, by a phone call from neighborhood leaders, of the decision. Supposedly the plaintiff told the court on January 18 of the impossibility of carrying out the eviction for lack of transportation.
The excluded heir asked the Court to nullify the swap undertaken by both families ten years ago, and for the right to occupy Yamile’s house facing the Cohiba. The court granted the property without acknowledging her.
Regardless of the court, he didn’t give up. He called the heirs of Rivero Dominguez heirs and representatives of the state-run organizations of the Vedado and Bahia neighborhoods, to a hearing on 25 January. “I wasn’t summoned” adds Barges Hurtado, who says the eviction is scheduled for February 5.
Yamile learned of the suspension by the heirs of the other property in the trade and neighbors summoned by the court of justice. “It is a psychological war,” she says. On November 15 the eviction was planned to occur and didn’t happened. “I can’t take it anymore, I have psychiatric problems, whatever happens,” she adds.
In Cuba it is not common for courts to order evictions. Evictions, called “extractions,” are made by the Department of Housing, after declaring the occupants of a building illegal. In the case of Barges Hurtado, the administrative body acts when the People’s Provincial Court recognizes the property ownership one of the heirs at issue.
The heirs of the other property in the trade plan to sue Eleazar try to demonstrate their right to the house and to stop the eviction. Yamile will be presented in the process as a stakeholder. She needs legal advice and only the lawyers affiliated with the State-run National Organization of Collective Law, the only one of its kind in the country, can represent people before the courts or state agencies. She does not trust anyone.
According Yamile she contracted the services of three lawyers to defend her. The first, Mrs. Clara Elena Diaz Olivera was bought by the counterparty, Ms. Alba Rosa Perna Recio. The others, on learning who was representing the excluded heir, gave up the case as a lost cause.
Barges Hurtado says there is corruption in the case because with the judge Dania Pardo Garcia, former president of the Judges Commission, there are friendly relations. “At the last hearing, the went to lunch together,” she says.
February 14 2013
Deputy Attorney General of Cuba Questions the Conviction of Inmate Michel Martinez Perez / Yaremis Flores
Young man sentenced to 10 years for “illegal slaughter of cattle” based solely on evidence from a dog, granted new trial.
By Yaremis Flores
Carlos Raul Concepcion Rangel, Deputy Attorney General of the Republic of Cuba, asked the Supreme Court to review the penalty of 10 years imprisonment imposed on Michel Martinez Perez. The common prisoner has gone on hunger strike over 3 times, insisting on his innocence.
“There have been breaches and inaccuracies in the criminal proceedings,” Conception Rangel acknowledged in writing, in his request which was granted by the highest court on the island.
The Provincial Court of Matanzas, in March 2012 found Martínez Pérez, along with other defendants, responsible for the illegal slaughter of cattle, theft and robbery with force. The only evidence against him was an “odor print” taken at one of the crime scenes.
This type of test only indicates his presence in the place, but not necessarily participation in the crime. Its level of certainty does not resemble that of a DNA test. It is debatable how the trace is collected, which relies on the canine technique, because a dog is the one who determines if the smell matches the suspect.
Regarding the smell test, “Irregularities appear in the proceedings that cast doubt on the quality of it,” said the Deputy Prosecutor, adding that there is a “logical contradiction” between testing and inspections of the scene.
The deputy prosecutor said Michel denied involvement in the events at all times, but it his co-defendants identified his as involved at the start of the investigation. This was placed into doubt when, after the investigative phase, the co-defendants recanted during the trial, but the judges only considered the incriminating statements.
The law of criminal procedure requires a court to rule on the basis of the evidence presented at trial. But Cuban judges, given the authority to freely assess the evidence, often violate that mandate.
“Since his arrest in August 2011, Michel tried to draw the attention of the authorities to the process,” said Iván Hernández Carrillo, a former prisoner of conscience who has supported and followed Michel’s case.
Pérez Martínez was reported under the care of physicians when, in June 2012, he began a hunger strike that would extend to almost 50 days. His last voluntary starvation was undertaken from October 19, after the results of the judgment on appeal of the Supreme Court.
The same court that agreed today to review the decision of the Matanzas judges, maintained the same sentence against Michel when it re-examined the record in 2012.
As a consequence, the prisoner refused to eat for 48 days. He then spent almost two months in hospital. “My son has lost weight and his health deteriorated, everything that happened is an injustice,” said Jesus Lázara de Jesus, his mother, by telephone.
Within 10 days, as of January 28, Michel should hire a lawyer for the holding of the new trial. In acceding to the request of deputy prosecutor, the conclusion that he committed the crime should be set aside and another reached, conforming to the guarantees of due process.
According to a source that will not be revealed for security reasons, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights allegedly requested information from the Cuban government about the legal status of Michel Martinez Perez.
February 12 2013
By Laritza Diversent
A 23-year-old nurse murdered her two minor children on the afternoon of January 3, in Mantilla, in the capital municipality of Arroyo Naranjo. It all started when the young mother, her hands covered in blood and with marks on her neck, called the police from the nearby pharmacy, according to what this reporter was told by Juan — a spectator who observed the actions of the criminal investigators.
“She said it was the second time she called and the didn’t do anything,” commented Juan, “they said she said on the phone she’d done something very bad,” he added. “Minutes later a police car came and confirmed the murders,” he concluded.
She worked at the Mantilla polyclinic, in a suburban neighborhood with a incidence rate of violence. For two months she had illegally occupied the medical office as a home. A source who preferred not to be name said that the murderer tried to commit suicide when they studied together in junior high school, although she did not remember her name.
The event shocked the community, however, law enforcement authorities do not usually give explanations about the crimes committed in the city or nor does the local media touch these issues. There is speculation in the neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods about why and how the incident occurred. Some say she beat her children to death, because her partner abandoned her. Afterwards she tried unsuccessfully to commit suicide.
In the streets they said that she suffered from schizophrenia and is currently hospitalized in Mazorra psychiatric hospital in Havana. Others say she had threatened to take the life of the children. The age of the children is also unknown. According to comments they were a girl and a boy between two and six years. The funeral for the children was held in Mauline on January 4.
February 11 2013
HAVANA, Cuba, December, http://www.cubanet.org. On November 15, the People’s Provincial Court (TPP) in Havana planned to evict Yamilé Barges Hurtado from her home, located across from the Hotel Cohiba, after annulling a home-exchange that made nine years ago.
That day they also planned to evict the heirs of Teresa Luisa Rivero Domínguez, the other party in the home-exchange in the Bahia neighborhood, a suburb to the east of Havana, Yamilé’s birthplace. According to anonymous sources, the eviction was not due to lack of transportation.
To date, the TPP of Havana has not changed its decision, an action taken at the direction of the Municipal Housing Office (DMV) in Plaza. In the Cuban legal system there is no eviction action. Evictions, euphemistically called “extractions” are made by the DMV, after declaring the occupants of a building illegal.
Yamile Barges Hurtado received a court notice on November 27 to appear on December 6. The Rivero Dominguez heirs were also cited.
In judicial practice, after a sentence has been handed down it is not usual to summon the parties again. But the judges warned that in January they would be cited again to review the case and carry out the eviction, although Yamilé is not an illegal occupant.
The Plaza DMV must act when the TPP recognizes the property to one of the heirs of the dispute. The action of the court is limited to communicating its decision to the Housing officials.
Yamilé’s mental state deteriorates with each threat of “extraction.” She broke the doors, windows and floor that she managed to build with so much effort. “I will not leave my house with the amenities that I created for my family to anyone,” she said.
She argues that she can’t live any more with the uncertainty. “I think my problem is already solved,” she added. Her daughter stopped going to the university so as not to leave her alone for a single minute. Her depressed state and the effects of her medication are obvious.
February 4 2013
By Yaremis Flores
The afternoon of November 7th I couldn’t imagine that I’d trade my name for a number. I went out at approximately two in the afternoon to take a serving of soup over to my father, who’d been admitted into a hospital. While I was going down the street I live on, the #950 patrol was driving slowly around the area. When I was almost crossing the road, I heard a sharp braking. An agent from State Security called me by my name and said the usual: “You have to come with us and turn off your cell phone.”
I had made the made the call to which I have a natural right and no one can deny me beforehand. Thus I at least was able to report my arrest. Because of my short height, the fact that I’m a woman and unarmed, I didn’t deserve the corpulence of badge numbers 29128 and 29130, by whom I was taken to the back seat of the patrol car without knowing the reason for nor the place of my destination. When I asked, the agent limited himself to saying “you’ll see where we take you, I felt like meeting you, but today you’re going to find out who I am.”
My surprise wasn’t much at seeing my destination was 100 and Aldabó. I’ll confess I thought at first it would only be a few hours’ detention. Under the pretext of spreading false news against international peace, they took blood samples from me and seized all my belongings. An officer told me that I must read a sign on which are listed the rights and responsibilities of detainees, as if they were worth much. Then I was led into a small room where they gave me a gray uniform and told me to always carry my hands behind my back: so that I’d not be reprimanded!
They gave me two sheets, a blanket, a towel and a mattress pad. I forget who, but someone said “she will spend a few days here.” During more than three hours of questioning, the case officer tried to decipher my thinking and collaboration with Cubanet. He sought an explanation of what his superiors classified as a process of metamorphosis: “from a judge to a counterrevolutionary.” Making it clear that that would not be our only conversation, an officer took me to a cell with two other prisoners, who had been there more than 30 days.
Many worries came to mind: my father’s health, my little 3 year-old girl, and the reaction of my husband, friends, and family. I showed calm. That night I ate nothing. I tried to sleep. When I almost succeeded, some blows to the cell bars and the jailer’s shouts startled me. “54033, 54033!!!” I didn’t answer. When she opened the cell, the bitter woman looked at me and said “Girl, you don’t hear me calling you, or they gave you a beating with gusto.”
Then I remembered that I had in a small blouse pocket a little piece of cardboard that said “54033/201.” It meant my prisoner number and my cell number. One of the girls told me “now this is your identity card.” Meanwhile, the jailer told me to get all my things together. A little dazed, I began to fasten my shoes and she warned me: don’t fix up so much, you’re not going very far, you’re going to another cell. “Then I’m going to another cell,” I answered. This was my first night in Aldabó.
Translated by: JT
November 12 2012
If you want to learn how Cuban laws discriminate on religious grounds, read the last post published by Cubalex:
Yaremis Flores, Attorney at Law
According to Cuban law, religious belief is not a justification for avoiding Military Service. Specifically, Circular No. 129 of the Governing Council of the People’s Supreme Court states that “young members of the Jehovah’s Witness sect who are called to active military service and refuse to perform this duty would be committing a criminal offense under the existing Criminal Code.”
The circular also stated:
1. The policy of sanctions to be applied in these cases should be the highest possible within the punishment guidelines.
2. Because the accused’s membership in this particular religious sect is not an element of the crime, the judgment should make no reference to that fact.
3. In cases where the penalty imposed is imprisonment, or correctional labor with internment, the acronym “JW” should be recorded in the upper margin of the commitment order that is delivered, in order that the agencies of the Interior Ministry responsible for carrying out the punishment will know the status of the punished accused.
According to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights all people are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. Accordingly, the law should prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinions, national or social origin, economic status, birthplace, or any other social condition.
But the distinction made in the previous circular is discriminatory, and severely punishes people solely because of their religious beliefs.
September 8 2012
By Yaremis Flores
The summons for the citizens to attend the nomination of candidates assemblies are already spreading around the neighborhoods. Some are attending like robots, simply to make an appearance and so as not to be “branded” in the zone.
After the candidate election process, on October 21 they will elect the delegates, who are committed to communicate the community’s opinions and difficulties to the local Assembly and Administration. They must also inform their constituents about the resolutions adopted to solve those problems or the obstacles to doing so.
In practice, the only form of communication between the delegate and his electors is the Accountability Assembly. A bitter pill that the delegate swallows -in a two and a half year term- in an accumulated series of moans and complaints. The solutions are postponed, period after period, by each predecessor in the job.
The delegate cannot count on resources to directly fulfill the voters demands. He is only a mediator, who must endure -not infrequently- the insults of the population, due to the inefficiency of his management.
Local power is almost existent. At that level, there are no verifiable results of his management. Far from solving the local problems, he does the work of monitoring, like a Police sector chief.
In this sense, the delegate is compelled by the law to inform about illegal constructions and confront legal violations in entities of his district, especially against every corruption manifestation, improper use of resources and other felonies.
He is also entitled to control and supervise the activities of the entities of his jurisdiction, regardless the level of subordination; bound to contribute to the socialist legality and the internal order.
Translated by @Hachhe
September 7 2012
By Lic. Yarmis Flores
Liu, reader of the blog, asked the Office, if Cuban churches one can have access to the internet. Since 1996, the Cuban government, has been clear about its policy with respect to full access to internet services, in Decree 209 of the Council of Ministers, “Access from the Republic of Cuba to Information Networks of Global Reach.”
The island’s government established its proposal to guarantee full access to the Internet, but in a regulated form and acting in the national interests, giving priority to the connection of people in the judiciary and the institutions of the most relevance to the life and development of the country.
All the users with access to the internet on the island, be they Cubans or foreign residents in Cuba, need authorization from the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC).
In addition, the IP address has to be registered (the only addressing protocol of the Internet, assigned to each machine or device found on the network) and they are controlled by the Agency of Control and Supervision of the MIC. Penalties are imposed on those who don’t comply with this requirement, like the removal of the license to be an Internet user.
It is not recommended to access the Internet secretly, because if the authorities suspect some irregularity in a church or religious group, an order is not required to carry out a search, because Article 217 of the Law of Legal Procedure establishes that “To enter and search a temple or other place intended for a religious group, handing a message to the attention of the person in charge is all that is required.”
Translated by: BW
August 28 2012
By Laritza Diversent
This 5th of July, the State Council invited Cubans to participate in the elections of municipal and provincial council members and national MPs. This convocation inaugurates the general election, taking place every 5 years, to renew the positions in the Popular Assemblies and the State Council.
Now in 2012, 16-year-old cubans will have the right to vote and to hold office. The Island’s population rises to 11,242,628 inhabitants, according to data from the National Office of Statistics (ONE). Of them, approximately 2,118,156, are minors.
Denied the right to vote are those legally declared mentally retarded, the imprisoned, those on house arrest, and those placed on work camps (open farm). Those who are on probation cannot participate in elections. According to the data offered by the ONE, the number of people prohibited or unable to vote is estimated at 562,202 people.
To exercise the right to vote, Cuban voters must be registered by the Head of the ID office and by the Interior Ministry’s Population Register (MININT). In the last election, there were 8,562,270 voters registered and 95.9% of those registered participated, according to the ONE.
In one of the first moments of the elections, voters will elect the municipal delegates, who are proposed, nominated and elected directly by the citizens. In 2007, 15,236 representatives were elected in the country’s 169 municipalities, according to the ONE.
The date for the election of the national deputies will be arranged later, according to a note published in the newspaper Granma. In 2008, 1201 provincial representatives and 614 national representatives were elected, according to the ONE.
Candidates are proposed by nomination committees composed of members of the Center for Cuban Workers (CTC), the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution(CDR), the Federation of Cuban Woman (FMC), the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP), the University Students’ Federation (FEU), and the students’ federation (FEEM).
The Communist Party of Cuba does not participate in elections. However, most of the nominees belong to the only political organization in the country. Its top leaders are elected to occupy the most important positions in the State and the Government.
They are nominated by the 169 Municipal Assemblies that will be constituted once the municipal delegates are elected October 21, in the first round, according to the Official organ of the Communist Party. The second election will be held on the 28th, for those nominated who do not obtain more than 50% of the votes.
Elections continue to be the only predictable phenomenon within the Cuban system. The same number of candidates that are proposed and nominated, will be elected. And there is no need for electoral campaigns either. We all know that the First secretary of the Party, Raúl Castro Ruz, will be reelected President of the State Council and the Ministers, leader of the state.July 20 2012