[MIAMI] – The Cuban American Bar Association sent an open letter to the Biden Administration regarding Human Rights.
Dear President Biden:
In light of various policy decisions presently being undertaken by your administration with regard to Cuba, we, the Cuban American Bar Association (“CABA”), a voluntary bar association of lawyers across the United States, write to you with urgency concerning the continued dismal human rights situation on the island. We submit that the effectiveness of policies intended to increase support for the Cuban people and to empower them to determine their own future must be evaluated by their impact in mitigating and eliminating the human rights abuses committed daily against Cuban citizens by the Cuban regime.
Your administration’s new policy decisions come just shy of a year after the Cuban regime unleashed waves of repression and violence against the Cuban people for demanding freedom through peaceful protests across the entire island.
Since July 11, 2021, Cuba’s totalitarian state has continued to mercilessly suppress dissent among its populace, engaging in systemic human rights violations documented and denounced by leading international human rights organizations. It has conducted hundreds of sham trials against those who participated in the peaceful protests that took place nearly a year ago. In the process, the Cuban regime has likewise arbitrarily detained individuals (including minors) for months at a time, in many cases with a delay of any formal pending charges against them. It has also handed down exorbitant penalties for participation in the demonstrations, including sentences ranging from fifteen to thirty years of incarceration.
Among the throngs of Cuban citizens who bravely joined their neighbors to openly voice discontent for the Cuban regime, CABA has followed the particular cases of 42 Cuban citizens, who for their participation in July demonstrations were alleged to have committed a number of so-titled “crimes,” including: “public disorder,” “sabotage,” “corruption of minors,” “propagation of the pandemic” and even “maliciously spreading an epidemic.”
As documented in CABA’s Petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, submitted in November of 2021, in perpetrating human rights abuses against those who dissent, the Cuban regime has repeatedly violated recognized international norms of human rights inclusive of the right of their citizens: (1) to freedom of expression, assembly, and dissemination of ideas; (2) to due process and a fair trial, (3) to humane treatment; (4) to liberty and to be free from arbitrary arrest and detention; (5) to protection, honor, dignity, privacy and inviolability of the home; (6) to vocation; and (7) to participate in their own government. The repressive reaction of the Cuban regime has had a chilling effect on all aspects of daily life for Cuban citizens on the island, as well as for those now desperately seeking asylum outside of its borders. Indeed, the Cuban regime has recently doubled-down, having just approved changes to the penal code which further criminalize expressions of freedom and which aim to further limit the Cuban people’s access to independent media.
Supporting and empowering the Cuban people is a laudable and worthwhile goal. So too is holding the Cuban regime accountable for its actions against its citizens. CABA believes that both must be considered and weighed. A true commitment to the Cuban people requires that the human rights crisis systematized and perpetuated by the Cuban regime be appropriately addressed. We invite the administration and would welcome the opportunity to discuss the substance of this letter in more detail.
Miriam Soler Ramos
Cuban American Bar Association