For more than half a century, Cuba has been governed by a one-party regime. The State severely restricts the rights to freedom of expression, association, assembly, movement, and due process.
This report examines the situation of freedom of expression in Cuba based on the standards of the inter-American system and, on that basis, offers recommendations to the State that will enable it to contribute to the effective exercise of this right in the country.
Artists and freedom of expression
According to Article 32 of the Constitution of 2019, “Freedom of artistic creation is promoted in all its forms of expression, in accordance with the humanist principles underpinning the cultural policy of the State and the values of socialist society.” On this basis, ideological differences expressed by artistic means
Penalties for noncompliance with the cultural policy were recently established by Decree No. 349 of April 20, 2018 of the Council of Ministers.
Cuban artists must be qualified by the State to practice their profession. Only those listed in the Registry of Creators of Plastic and Applied Arts may hold exhibitions, provide services, or have
They are therefore required to be affiliated with the State in order to be remunerated for their work.
Productions and shows cannot be enjoyed without State authorization. State officials have the power to decide when a work is inconsistent with ethical or cultural values.
Artists who fail to comply with these measures are harassed. In several cases, they have been barred from leaving the country, subjected to internal deportations, summoned to police precincts, had their homes raided, and been interrogated.
Human rights defenders and
freedom of expression
A number of human rights defenders have been arbitrarily deprived of their liberty on criminal charges such as contempt [desacato], assaulting a State official [atentado], and disturbing the peace. They have sometimes been the victims of assaults, threats, and abuse inside prisons. These detentions reflect a regulatory framework that precludes the free exercise of the rights of expression, assembly, and association.
Protests and social demonstrations
State agents and pro-government groups seek to prevent peaceful protests or gatherings organized by human rights defenders, activists, and government opponents.
The right to demonstrate is guaranteed only to those seen as defending the political posture of the State, and not to individuals or groups of individuals who wish to demonstrate or protest for any reason.
Arrests of July 26, 2017
Damas de Blanco
Internet and freedom of expression:
The development of communication technologies has contributed—albeit with severe restrictions—to the development of digital media in Cuba and has created spaces for the circulation of information and ideas outside official control. Thanks to these technologies, independent media have emerged. Even so, access to the Internet and new technologies remains limited.
Currently, there is a set of decrees, ministerial resolutions, and various rules governing the use of new technologies in Cuba. Access to the network is seriously hindered by these extremely restrictive and ambiguous legal provisions, as well as by regulations authorizing the blocking and censorship
of critical media.
Cuba has a legal system that is extremely restrictive of freedom of expression. The country’s existing legal structure provides for the prosecution and criminalization of those who express opinions or disseminate information that is critical of or dissident from the official line. The main legal tools used by the Cuban State to repress freedom of expression have been in force for several years, but new types have been added to the repressive model.