Crime of associating
with others to commit crimes.
Cuba's "criminal Law"
Article 207, which defines the crime of asociación para delinquir, or "associating with others to commit crimes." It states that if three or more persons join together in a group to commit crimes, they can be imprisoned for between one and three years, simply for meeting together. If the only objective of the group is to provoke disorder or interrupt family or public parties, spectacles or other community events or to commit other anti-social acts, the penalty is a fine or a prison sentence of between three months and one year.
Roxana Carpio Mata, sister of Daula Carpio Mata (see above). When Daula Carpio was re- arrested on 9 October 1997, a group of twelve PPDHC members who were gathered together at the home of Iván Lema Romero (see below) in Santa Clara, started a fast in protest at the arrest. Their action, which involved consuming only liquids, attracted public attention because it coincided with the state funeral of Ernesto “Che” Guevara(5), whose remains had recently been returned to Cuba from Bolivia, and many foreigners, including journalists, were in the town for the event. On 14 October police entered the house and at different times arrested 12 people, including the mother, sister and 15-year-old daughter of Daula Carpio Mata. On 23 October ten of them were brought to trial in the Santa Clara municipal court (the other two detainees, including Daula Carpio's daughter, had been released). They were charged with "asociación para delinquir", "associating with others to commit a crime", and "disobedience". Amnesty Internatinal believes that the action against them was taken solely to prevent them from peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression. Roxana Carpio Mata was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment, confirmed on appeal, and initially sent to Guamajal Womens' Prison, Villa Clara province, where she continued her fast. On 20 November she was transferred to hospital where it was discovered that she was pregnant. She then reportedly gave up her fast and was returned to the same prison.
Also reported to be under pressure to leave is Alberto Perera Martínez, an alternate member of the National Coordinating Committee of Concilio Cubano. He had been fined for disrespect following his arrest in February 1996. Subsequent reports indicated that he was also facing a further charge of asociación para delinquir, associating with others to commit a crime, and possibly others.
At the time of writing, Osmel Lugo is still in detention at the Havana headquarters of the Departamento Técnico de Investigaciones (DTI), Technical Investigations Department. Both were reportedly threatened with a charge of associating with others to commit a crime. According to some reports, the charge is connected with activities they had allegedly undertaken to protest at the recent eviction of people from shanty towns which have developed around Havana in recent years.
From 27 February to 8 April 1996 Rafael Solano was held in detention at Villa Marista, charged with asociación para delinquir, associating with others to commit crimes (Article 207 of the Penal Code - If three or more people meet together in a band created to commit crimes, they can be imprisoned for between one and three years, simply for meeting together. If the only aim of the band is to provoke disorder or interrupt family or public parties, spectacles or other community events or to commit other anti-social acts, the punishment is a fine or a prison sentence of between three months and one year.), which carries a maximum prison term of three years. He was also threatened with having other charges brought against him such as enemy propaganda and difusión de falsas informaciones contra la paz internacional, dissemination of false information against international peace. (Article 115 of the Penal Code - Anyone who spreads false news with the aim of disturbing international peace or putting in danger the prestige or credit of the Cuban State or its good relations with another state can be imprisoned for between one and four years.) While in Villa Marista, he said that he was not physically ill-treated but that he came out feeling psychologically battered [psicológicamente muy deteriorado]. He was held in a cell with constant artificial lighting and no windows for 45 days, which caused him to lose all notion of time. He was also brought food or taken for questioning at irregular intervals, with questioning sometimes taking place every two or three hours. He was not permitted access to a lawyer but did receive weekly visits from members of his family. Such visits take place in the presence of officials and it is forbidden to talk about anything relating to the reasons for the arrest of the detainee.
Joaquín Torres Alvarez, who took over the presidency of Habana Press when Rafael Solano was forced into exile, was reportedly threatened with imprisonment by two State Security officials who visited him at his home on 31 May 1996. He later said that he was told that he would be charged with associating with others to commit a crime, illegal association, spreading false news and enemy propaganda if he did not give up his activities and was warned that he could face up to fourteen years imprisonment.
On 23 October 1999, 10 of the members of the unofficial Partido Pro Derechos Humanos en Cuba (PPDHC), Party for Human Rights in Cuba, who had been arrested on 14 October 1997 in Santa Clara after going on hunger-strike, were brought to trial in the Santa Clara municipal court. They were charged with associating with others to commit a crime [asociacion para delinquir] and disobedience [desobediencia]. All 10 were convicted and received the following sentences: Ivan Lema Romero, Roxanna Carpio Mata and Jose Miguel Llera Benitez were sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment. Danilo Santos Mendez, Vicente Garcia Ramos and Jose Antonio Alvarado Almeida were sentenced to 18 months' "correctional work with internment" [trabajo correccional con internamiento]. Lilian Meneses Martinez and Ileana Penalver Duque were sentenced to 18 months' "correctional work without internment" [trabajo correccional sin internamiento] which means that they will have to attend a work camp (granja] during the day but may return home at night. Maria Felicia Mata Machado and Arelis Fleites Mendez were sentenced to 18 months' "restricted liberty" [limitacion de libertad] and payment of a fine. They reportedly intend to appeal against the sentences.
More on Cuba's abusive laws: Repressive Laws in Cuba abusing human rights