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Radiography of the Cuban penal system

The Cuban regime is, on a regular basis, condemned for its use and abuse of the penal system, particularly with regard to the persecution of political dissidents. To see how far the communists are capable of going, it is necessary to analyze their scope and arbitrariness, as well as their willingness to hide their actions from the international community.

Cuba has the highest number of prisoners per capita in the world; a conviction rate greater than 90 percent; the dictatorship uses the release of “non-political” prisoners as a tool for budgetary and social control; and daily there are cases of “preventive imprisonment” as an excuse for the persecution of dissidents with an exponential increase in the last two years.

Around 40,000 people receive criminal charges each year in Cuba. Of them, 93 percent are found guilty, which totals a figure that ranges between 32,000 and 37,000 people. 69 percent – that is, between 22,000 and 25,500 people – receive custodial sentences, which are divided into prison time and “correctional work” in prison. It has recently been discovered that the Cuban regime has forced political prisoners into a forced labor camp in Cienfuegos, where they are forced to cut marabou and produce charcoal for export in subhuman conditions, Martí Noticias reported.

The number of convicts and sentenced annually in Cuba reaches more than 127,000 people: 90,000 of them are in prison and the rest in “situations of judicial and police control.” “Therefore, Cuba would be the first country in terms of people deprived of liberty in the world if the ranking of the Institute for Crime and Justice Policy Research (ICJPR), instead of contemplating a false data provided by Granma (the Cuban state media) in a informal in 2012, take into account the real data”.

The paragraph refers to the fact that, in that year, the publication cited state figures that stated that the prison population was approximately 57,000 people. The figure, which placed it in sixth place in the ranking, is the last one that is still valid on the aforementioned institute’s website. However, if the report is considered, Cuba would have 794 prisoners per 100,000 inhabitants, in contrast to the 510 that currently appear in the ICJPR.

In turn, of the 90,000 people in prison, “38,000 lack records, or these have been previously canceled.” “That is to say, there is an imposing group of people who are being deprived of liberty as their first criminal sanction, something of extreme rigor and really unusual in most penal systems,” the document explains.

However, another category is the one that stands out above the rest. It is that of prisoners for “antisocial behavior.” They are prisoners who have not committed crimes, but the regime ensures that their “behavior contrary to socialist morality” makes them potential criminals and sentences them to between 1 and 4 years in prison.

The conviction rate is even higher in these cases: 99.5 percent are convicted of misconduct. “If we take into account that at the national level 3,833 new “antisocial” cases are dealt with each year, every year there are 3,814 convicted. Of these, 76.8 percent are hospitalized, that is, 2,929 and 885 suffer alternative compliance measures (community work and police surveillance),” the report specifies. In total, he determined, there are around 11,000 people convicted and deprived of liberty “for antisocial behavior, without having to have committed a crime.”

However, the regime does not have sufficient funds to meet the expenses of the size of the prison system. Therefore, the document indicates, there is an explicit political will to increasingly release prisoners.

Every year around 21,600 common inmates obtain early release benefits and, in this way, Cuba maintains a policy of penal rigor while draining the prisons of inmates. This double game serves the purpose of the Ministry of the Interior of maintaining order through criminal rigor while not excessively increasing the costs that this entails.

However, the policy does not apply to political prisoners. The Cuban Penal Code itself prevents them and their relatives from requesting their early release. Only the direction of penitentiary establishments at the order of the Ministry of the Interior can do it. Consequently, the percentage of political prisoners over the total increases every year that policies for the release and prison drainage of prisoners are made.

After July 11, 2021, 1,484 arrests have been documented, irregularities in trials have been denounced, the high sentences in jail, the fabrication of evidence and breach of due process have been criticized.

As the Cubans say; Cuba the prison island.

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José Martí
José Martí
Nacionalista cubano, poeta, filósofo, ensayista, periodista, traductor, profesor y editor.

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