Customs Authorities Against the Dissidents
The General Customs of the Republic (AGR), which is sheltered by Resolution No. 5 (in effect since 1998 and dictated by Brigadier General Pedro Ramon Pupo Perez) confiscated legal shipments from abroad to dissidents.
The government regulation prohibits the import of foreign shipments of “any object considered to be detrimental to good morale, good customs, or against the general interests of the Nation”.
This norm was recently applied to the correspondent Aini Martin Valero. They confiscated pens and pencils, globes, tooth paste, band-aids, toilet paper, and other useful items, according to Cubanet, a site for the independent Cuban press.
Yusnaimy Jorge Soca, wife of Dr. Darcy Ferrer Dominguez, prisoner of conscience, was also affected by Resolution 5/96. They seized a digital camera, an MP3-4, bandages, gauze, water purifying tablets, a box of crayolas and 5 balloons for their son, and other helpful items, according to the same independent source.
They also confiscated two packages (coming from abroad) for Yoani Sanchez, author of the blog “Generation Y”. The first box contained a Spanish version of her book titled “Cuba Libre”, while the second had a catalog of an exposition organized by the artist Tania Bruguera.
On AGR’s website, there is a list of all the products whose non-commercial import is prohibited. They mention drugs, narcotics, psychotropic or hallucinogenic substances, explosives, needles, pornographic or obscene literature, articles, or objects, as well as anything that goes against the general interests of the nation.
Resolution 5/96 also states that such products which are intended to be used as imports or exports will be confiscated by the customs authorities and turned into the corresponding section of the Ministry of the Interior.
When seized imported products are being held by this resolution, the person affected could attempt to get them back within the next 30 days. A written appeal could be turned into the authorities who ordered the confiscation, which then moves the case up to their superior. The decision of that last superior cannot be appealed twice in the administrative sphere, but it can be appealed in the judicial procedure.
According to the fundamental laws and rights, Resolution 5/96 allows the application of the International Convent on the Repression of the Circulation and Traffic of Obscene Publications of 1923 and 1910 respectively within national territory. Both these instruments are supported by the protocols of 1947 and 1949, in use for Cuba since 1983.
Resolution 5/96 includes the general interests of the nation but it does not specify which ones it protects. The majority, in this case, allows the governmental authorities to interpret and apply the legal seizures arbitrarily according to their political interests. This is an example of how the judicial norms of the system are utilized as a means of repression and asphyxiation against the dissidents.
Laritza Diversent. Esq.
Translated by Raul G.