An Open Letter to the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Cuba

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
December 10, 2018

   

December 7, 2018

His Excellency
Bruno Eduardo Rodriguez Parrilla
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Of the Republic of Cuba
Havana

Dear Mr. Minister:

The United States has for decades expressed profound concern regarding Cuban political prisoners. Such prisoners include those charged with pre-criminal "dangerousness," defined as "the special inclination an individual has to commit crimes demonstrated by conduct in manifest contradiction to the rules of socialist morality." Former President Castro, in a news conference with then President Obama in March 2016, said that if U.S. officials presented him with a list of political prisoners, they would be released that very night. He received such a list, but political prisoners remained in detention. U.S. representatives raised the issue during the October 2016 Human Rights Dialogue in Havana. They were told all prisoners were in jail for sound reasons and that, if we had questions as to the reasons, we could raise them. Our representatives were also advised that pre criminal "dangerousness" was no longer used as a basis for imprisoning people. The illustrative list the U.S. government provided to your ambassador in January 2017 contained a number of political prisoners serving time for this offense. The United States received no response to our request for the promised explanations. Over 100 political prisoners remain in jail.

During the June Bilateral Commission meeting, we sought to provide an updated list to your vice minister. He refused to accept it and said Cuba never had any intention of responding to the list it had accepted in 2017. He also advised us to request a Human Rights Dialogue by diplomatic note, which we sent in July 2018. Again, your government has not provided a formal response.

Under these circumstances, we have little option but to raise these questions in public fora. At an October 16 U.S.-organized event at the United Nations, the Cuban delegation - instead of responding substantively - shouted, pounded the tables, and destroyed U.N. property.

I am now asking you to provide a substantive explanation of the detention of the political prisoners on the attached list. First, I ask whether your government continues to incarcerate those listed as charged with "pre-criminal dangerousness." Second, I ask for an explanation of the charges and the evidence against the other individuals. The United States recognizes the sovereign right of every state to try and to convict individuals for violating criminal laws, provided they are afforded fair trial guarantees by an independent and impartial tribunal. That principle, however, does not justify the imprisonment of Cuban individuals for simply exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of religion, expression, assembly, or association.

We urge you to live up to the assertion made during your October 24 press conference that the Cuban government is willing to engage with us on any topic including human rights. We are ready to do so. In the meantime, I ask that you provide the answers to these questions that your leadership has promised the world. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Michael R. Pompeo

Enclosures:

As stated.

ILLUSTRATIVE LIST OF CUBAN POLITICAL PRISONERS

Yosvany Sánchez Valenciano
Unión Patriótica de Cuba (UNPACU)
Charges: Desacato (“Contempt”) (two charges)
Sentence Length: Four years each, eight years total

Melkis Faure Echevarria
Unión Patriótica de Cuba (UNPACU)
Charges: Desorden Publico, Atentado y Resistencia
Sentence Length: Two sentences of three and four years, respectively (seven years total)

Yanier Suárez Tamayo
Unión Patriotica de Cuba (UNPACU)
Charges: Desacato (“Contempt”)
Length of Sentence: Three years

Eduardo Cardet Concepción
Movimiento Cristiano Liberación (MCL)
Charges: Atentado, Desacato, Difamación de las Instituciones, Organizaciones, Héroes y
Mártires de la Revolución

Sentence Length: Three years

Yoeni de Jesús Guerra García
Journalist; Consejo de Relatores de Derechos Humanos
Charges: Robo, Sacrificio Ilegal de Ganado (Theft, Illegal Slaughter of Livestock)
Sentence Length: Seven years

Martha Sánchez
Damas de Blanco
Charges: Desacato, Desobediencia, Perjuicio
Sentence Length: Five years

José Rolando Casares Soto
Mesa de Dialogo de la Juventud Cubana
Charges: Atentado, Desacato, Ultraje Sexual
Sentence Length: Five years (since 2/23/17)

Yamilka Abascal Sánchez
Mesa de Dialogo de la Juventud Cubana
Charges: Desacato en contra de los máximos líderes del estado
Sentence Length: Two years (since 2/23/17)