955 political prisoners in Cuba during 2021

According to Prisoners Defenders

AFP/YAMIL LAGE  -   Thousands of Cubans took part in protests

In the year 2021, 955 political prisoners in Cuba have been added to the Prisoners Defenders list. January 2021 began with 138. Between then and the end of December 2021, 817 new political prisoners were added to the list during the whole of 2021, leaving 842 political prisoners at the moment.

But this is only a fraction, between 40% and 50% of the real figures, whose total verification is simply unattainable by any organisation.

Political prisoners currently suffering sentences and prosecutions

Prisoners Defenders, out of the 1,500 to 2,000 cases of release restrictions under indictments or sentences applied to protesters arrested in their thousands since 9/11, has been able to establish a list of 842 cases of political prisoners as of this past December. 

AFP/ADALBERTO ROQUE - A man is arrested during a demonstration against the government of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana, 11 July 2021.

Of these 842 cases, 700 cases analysed belong to the repression of 11J and 15N in Cuba, which is still less than 40% of the total generated by the repressive wave, as it is impossible to know the number of cases among the population. There are 26 minors prosecuted (14, 15, 16 and 17 years of age when they were arrested). Fifty percent of them, 13 minors, are accused of sedition. In total, 132 verified political prisoners have been prosecuted on the charge of Sedition. 387 prisoners have already been sentenced, 137 of them with sentences of more than 10 years, or 35%. 107 women are political prisoners of the Cuban regime.

Are there up to 13,000 political prisoners and convicts in Cuba?

Prisoners Defenders recognises, for the month of December 2021, 842 political prisoners, but it also recognises, as it does every month, the other 11,000 young civilians who do not belong to opposition organisations, 8,400 of them convicted and 2,538 sentenced, with average sentences of 2 years and 10 months in prison, through "pre-criminal" sentences, i.e. without a crime (as indicated in article 76 of the Penal Code). 1 for these 11,000 convictions), as the Penal Code considers them to be people who are likely to commit crimes in the future "due to the conduct they observe in manifest contradiction to the norms of socialist morality" (Art. 72 of the Penal Code). Thus, they are sentenced to 1 to 4 years in prison. This is how the Cuban state survives, destroying society and its foundations: the youth. 

AFP/YAMIL LAGE - View of Havana's Capitol during a demonstration against the government of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana, 11 July 2021.

The 842 political prisoners verified for their exercise of their fundamental rights are divided into Convicts of Conscience, Convicts of Conscience and Other Political Prisoners. The classification of these prisoners is as follows:

- 545 Convicts of Conscience, who are prisoners deprived of their liberty solely for reasons of conscience, i.e. of strict exercise of their most fundamental human rights, on charges either completely and demonstrably false and fabricated, or of a non-criminal nature and absolutely related to thought.

- 205 Convicted persons of conscience, who are subjected to prosecutor's indictments or court sentences of forced labour at home, measures of limitation of freedom, probation under threat, and other limitations to freedom, including those under final sentence without execution, and which the regime, moreover, is in the habit of revoking and inserting in prison if the activist does not cease his pro-democratic activity, as we have seen month after month for years. 

AFP/YAMIL LAGE - A man is arrested during a demonstration against the government of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana on July 11, 2021.

- 92 Other Political Prisoners, not falling into the above categories, but identified as political prisoners behind bars. Those on this list cannot be defended as Convicts of Conscience. Either violence has been present in some way in their cases, or they have committed punishable offences in addition to their political imprisonment. There are also quite a few cases in which it is not possible for us to fully verify the fabrication of their alleged crime. However, in all of them, the political overtones, the lack of access to effective defence, and the excessive harshness of the sentences make them political and defensible cases, in some cases in order to adapt the sentences to what they have done and in others because of the right to have access to an effective defence that would possibly free them from any charges.

Latin America Coordinator: José Antonio Sierra.