Military Service and Religion in Cuba

September 9, 2012 4 comments

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

The Assemblies to Nominate Candidates Begin

September 8, 2012 Leave a comment

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

Accessing the Internet in Cuban Churches

August 28, 2012 1 comment

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

Cuba in Elections / Laritza Diversent

July 20, 2012 1 comment

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

Increase in Penal Cases Filed in Courts of the Capital / Yaremis Floris

July 18, 2012 Leave a comment

By Yaremis Flores

The increase in police reports and criminal trials held in the capital, were among the topics discussed a few weeks ago in a meeting among presidents of municipal courts in the former Audiencia de la Habana*, facing the Capitol.

A judge who participated in the meeting and requested anonymity, said that the filing of cases has doubled. “One of the objectives of the meeting was to strategize about the increase in crime in the capital Havana” he said.

“The Municipal Court in Central Havana has the most cases reported in the country,” confessed another judge, on condition of anonymity. However, according to figures from the National Statistics Office, until 31 December 2011, Centro Habana ranks eighth in population density, with 149,995 inhabitants.

“The Criminal Chamber of ordinary procedure (crimes carrying sentences of 1-3 years in prison)  settled 132 cases this year, by July 2, similar to the number filed in 2011 up to December 12 of that year.”

“In the same court, the Criminal Chamber of summary procedure (offenses punishable with from 3 months to one year imprisonment) has already had 212 cases filed, while in 2011 it closed the year with 240 criminal cases, excluding 53 cases of complaints that are pending review,” the source said.

Police stations in Central Havana receive a total of 900 crime reports a month, the judge said, with threats, robbery with violence, theft between homosexuals, and carrying a weapon, are the most common crimes.

“By way of a solution, the police applied excessive fines to prevent cases reaching the Court. But they have imposed this measure on ex-offenders, contrary to the provisions of the Legal Code,” he said.

According to unofficial forecasts crime is expected to keep growing, with the celebration of carnival in Havana starting in mid-July. Traditionally in these celebrations, injury offenses and public disorder predominate even more.

 *Translator’s note: The “Real Audiencia de la Habana” was a crown court established in 1838 when Cuba was under Spanish rule.

July 18 2012

First International Congress for Public Law Firms will be held in Cuba / Yaremis Flores.

July 9, 2012 Leave a comment

ImagenBy Yaremis Flores

The National Organization of Legal Collectives (ONBC) announced this past Tuesday, June 5th, on the official radio its first international congress: Advocacy 2012. The event will take place from the 19th to the 21st of September at the Conventions Palace, in Havana.

Co-sponsored by the National Union of Jurists of Cuba and the School of Law of the University of Havana, the event will host all legal operators and law students. However, the organization did not communicate to the public the registration fees:

Delegates: $240 USD (approx.)

Presenter and students: $180 USD (approx.)

Guests: $80 USD (approx.)

According to the ONBC’s website, registration will be open to the last day of the month. Fifty papers, from throughout the nation, have been pre-selected to present. Ariel Mantecón, President of the National Executive Board of the ONBC, highlighted that the theme of the event will be “Management and Solutions for Legal Disputes.”

“The event will empower the commercial contracts sphere through the exchange with professional of Latin America, North America, and Europe”, said Mantecón. The procedural protection laws in agrarian-legal relations, the efficiency of the economic processes, and the new technologies in the notarial field are among the main topics for debate.

Nonetheless, after discussion with several attorneys not affiliated with State sector, they all agree that legal practices in Cuba demand immediate attention towards other issues. The delayed intervention of lawyers in the criminal process and the free exercise of law are among them. In Cuba only those who belong to the ONBC are legally recognized as lawyers.

July 9 2012

Readers of Granma in an Angry Struggle Against Retailers

June 27, 2012 Leave a comment

by Laritza Diversent

Readers of Granma, the official daily publication of the Communist Party of Cuba, are requesting real action against the sellers of various household items, one of the self-employment categories most in demand by Cubans.

J.C. Mora Reyes, this last Friday, complained about the lack of governmental action to repress it, in the Letters to the Editor section on June 8. According to the commentator, along with the denunciation, the retailers have crossed a line: “What was sneaky before and supposedly ignored, now is known.” However, he asserted that “everything stays the same, thereby encouraging transgressive tendencies as something quasi-normal.”

“I’ve read, heard, and given many opinions about the resale of articles commercialized by the State with inflated prices formed only by the law of supply and demand and the pretense of innocence by those who should and are obligated to protect the consumer,” commented J.P. Granados Tapanes, in the same section.

The weekly section in Granma, in less than one month, published around 10 opinions of readers who were against the retailers. The majority of readers think these people are not self-employed and accuse them of strangling the economy for those who are working.

According to official data, before expanding and creating flexibility in the types of self-employment in October 2010, the sector constituted approximately 87,889 people, 0.78 percent of the population. Presently there are 378,000, and it is hoped that the number will grow to 500,000 this year.

Right now the category of Contracted Workers is the one most requested by Cubans. Next comes Producer-Seller of Food, Transportation of Cargo and Passengers, and Producer-Seller of Various Household Items (retailers).

“It’s sad to see how all types of merchandise, in many cases subsidized by the State, and other things that come from outside in hard currency, are for sale publicly at inflated prices with self-employment licenses,” comments J.P. Granados Tapanes.

Legislation prohibits self-employed Cubans from selling industrial articles acquired through established state networks. It also requires them to market their own products exclusively, with the possibility of freely setting prices.

Grandos Tapanes called the self-employed cuentapropistas “workers by means of extortion” and held them responsible for “the deterioration in the ability of any employed Cuban, no matter what his economic level, to buy things with his salary, which is worth less all the time.”

The solution for these retailers is a wholesale market, where they can acquire merchandise in quantity and at lower prices than those offered to the population in retail markets, only the ones legally recognized by the authorities. This is a problem that, according to the recorded guidelines approved by the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party, will be worked out before the end of 2015.

According to Mora Reyes, public denunciation doesn’t have any effect when “there exists tolerance, procrastination, inability, expediency, or defections on the part of the authorities in the application of energetic measures” against these demonstrations.

According to the reader, to go on the offensive is not something to be taken lightly. It’s “a pressing responsibility from the moment in which you become conscious of a situation incompatible with human dignity. Acting is better than talking,” is the conclusion.

There’s no doubt that the government’s inactivity in the face of these denunciations converts this section of the only daily newspaper into a national tirade. It airs complaints and laments without giving any solution, in the style of the accountability of the municipal delegates. However, the cuentapropistas are worried about the influence that these opinions could have on the upper echelon of leadership.

Translated by Regina Anavy 

June 25 2012

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