Annual Report: Cuba 2011

May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Cuba 2011

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  • On 15 February, Rolando Rodríguez Lobaina, José Cano Fuentes and other members of the Eastern Democratic Alliance were arrested by state security officials in Guantánamo and held in detention to prevent them from taking part in the Alliance's anniversary celebrations. They were released without charge four days later.
  • On 12 August, state security officials detained Néstor Rodríguez Lobaina, his brother Rolando, and three other members of the organization Youth for Democracy at Néstor Rodríguez' house in the town of Baracoa, Guantánamo Province. The five were protesting at the arrest of two other members of the organization at the time. The two initial detainees were released on 16 August without charges while Néstor Rodríguez Lobaina and the four others were released after nearly three weeks in detention and warned that they would be charged with "public disorder". However, no formal charges had been filed against the five men by the end of the year.

Death penalty

In December, the People's Supreme Court commuted the death sentences of Salvadoran nationals Raúl Ernesto Cruz León and Otto René Rodríguez Llerena to 30 years in prison. They were both convicted of terrorism charges in 1999. On 28 December, Humberto Eladio Real Suárez, a Cuban national sentenced to death in 1996 for the killing of a police officer in 1994, had his sentence commuted to 30 years in prison. By the end of 2010, no prisoners remained on death row.

Freedom of movement

  • Guillermo Fariñas, a psychologist, independent journalist and political dissident, was forbidden from travelling to Strasbourg in December to collect the 2010 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought awarded by the European Parliament. He was the third Cuban dissident awarded the prize since 2002 who had been prevented by the authorities from travelling outside Cuba. Guillermo Fariñas went on hunger strike for more than four months. He ended the protest in July when the Cuban government announced the release of prisoners of conscience.

US embargo against Cuba

The US embargo continued to affect the economic, social and cultural development of the Cuban people and in particular the most vulnerable groups.

According to the UN Population Fund, treatments for children and young people with bone cancer and for patients suffering from cancer of the retina were not readily available because they were commercialized under US patents. The embargo also affected the procurement of antiretroviral drugs used to treat children with HIV/AIDS. Under the terms of the US embargo, medical equipment and medicines manufactured under US patents cannot be sold to the Cuban government.

In September, US President Barack Obama renewed the extension of economic and financial sanctions against Cuba as provided for in the Trading With the Enemy Act. In August, he relaxed travel restrictions on academic, religious and cultural groups under the "people-to-people" policy. For the 19th consecutive year, a resolution calling on the USA to end its embargo against Cuba was adopted by an overwhelming majority (187 votes to two) in the UN General Assembly.