• Press Release

Cuba: 100 days in, new administration has yet to dismantle repressive state machinery

July 27, 2018

The Cuban national flag flies at half-mast in tribute to the victims of a plane that crashed shortly after taking off from Jose Marti airport and killed 107 people, in Havana, on May 19, 2018. - Cuba begins two days of national mourning Saturday for victims of the crash of a state airways plane that killed all but three of its 110 passengers and crew. President Miguel Diaz-Canel said an investigation was under way into Friday's crash of the nearly 40-year-old Boeing 737, leased to the national carrier Cubana de Aviacion by a Mexican company. (Photo by Yamil LAGE / AFP) (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)

On the 100th day of Miguel Díaz-Canel’s term as president of Cuba, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, said:

“The news that Cuba’s National Assembly has signed off on a new constitution that, among other things, opens the path to legalize same-sex marriage if approved by referendum in the coming months, is a potentially huge step forward for the rights of LGBTI people in Cuba and the Caribbean. We welcome this advance and urge the government to embrace dialogue with all sectors of society and allow plurality of voices as it makes further reforms.

“However, during the first 100 days of the Díaz-Canel presidency, we continued to receive frequent and alarming reports of Cuban authorities arbitrarily detaining human rights defenders and holding them in short-term detention. Environmental activist Ariel Ruiz Urquiola was conditionally released earlier this month, although the authorities could still return him to prison for the rest of his sentence, while another prisoner of conscience, Eduardo Cardet, remains behind bars almost 20 months after his arrest simply for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression.

“Clever showmanship by public officials at Cuba’s Universal Periodic Review before the UN in May failed to mask the reality of life on the island, where the authorities maintain a web of control through practices such as arbitrary use of criminal law and discriminatory dismissals of state employees. Cuba’s new administration still has an opportunity to dismantle the repressive state machinery that continues to overshadow any other advances in its fulfillment of human rights.”