Is Leaving Cuba a Crime?

Cuban migrants may be the only ones who lose all rights as citizens in their homeland. The government implements legal provisions that prevent them from retaining their properties.

Law 989 of December 5, 1961, still in force in the legal system, establishes “measures to take over the property – movable, immovable, or of any other kind with value, etc. – of whoever leaves the national territory with unforgivable contempt.”

This rule nationalizes the property of emigrants through confiscation, without the right of compensation. But the Constitution of the Republic of 1976, amended in 1992, provides in Article 60 that “the confiscation of property shall be used only as a punishment by the authorities in those cases and by those procedures as determined by law.”

It is confiscated when a law or regulation gives an authority the power to impose the penalty of deprivation of property on citizens who violate its precepts. It is clear: there must be a violation of established law. So then it has to be asked, is leaving Cuba a crime?

The Cuban government, in its report for the periodic universal review of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations, states that the 1976 Constitution embodies the defense of human rights. However, it does not mention Law 989, which punishes emigrants with confiscation of property and income.

Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in paragraph 2 stipulates: “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including their own.” The second paragraph of Article 17 provides that “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of their property.”

None of these rights are recognized or guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic. As evidenced by the fact that the government confiscates all assets and income of those who migrate. As if leaving Cuba were a crime.

Laritza Diversent

Translated by: Tomás A.

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