Desde Dentro de Cuba

Distribuído por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

La Habana, 22 de julio de 1998, Cuba Free Press.

ELECTORAL ABSENTISM, which is one of the expressions of freedom that citizens of other countries enjoy, in Cuba is considered a disturbance that creates uneasiness in elections and referenda and that, ultimately, endangers the nation. More than one Cuban is in prision today because of the exercise of absentism. By Ofelia Nardo Cruz, Cuba Free Press.

La Habana, Cuba Free Press.- The right to absentism in the so-called Cuban elections is recognized by the law, but promotion which could inspire others to its exercise, is not. In contrast, in any other country, an organization or any individual person may practice absentism or promote its practice without interference or further consecuences.

In Cuba, to promote the practice of absentism is a transgression among those considered to attempt against national security, and the organization created to "defend it," Seguridad del Estado. What to other societies constitute prove of the freedom enjoyed by their citizens, here it is considered a disturbance to the celebration of elections and referenda and a danger to the nation.

This behavior, --comprehended within the transgression called sedition - is described in Article 100 of the Penitenciary Code which establishes the sanction in accordance to the estimated seriousness and which states in pertinent part: "Those who provoke riots and by expressed or implied conspiracy employing violence, disturb the socialist order or the celebration of elections or referenda . . . are sanctioned: A) With imprisonment from 10 to 20 years or death if the transgression occurs in times of war or affecting the security of the nation or during a serius public disruption or in a military zone with the use of arms or excersising violence, B) With imprisonment of 10 to 20 years, if the transgression occurs without the use of arms or violence and with the concurrance of any of the other circumstances, C) With imprisonment of 1 to 8 years in all other cases."

In reality, the probitions in Section "C" are used, up to 8 years of imprisonment, to sanction any one who peacefully tries to "disturb elections" by placing telephone calls promoting absentism, which, in itself, represents a wide and liberal interpretation of the law and a clear violation of a right recognized around the civilized world to all citizens.

More than one Cuban is today imprisoned because of this type of behavior. People which consider that the election system does not reflect democratic practices or that ask for the oficial recognition of existent non-gubermental political trends or that the existent election system is nothing but a form to perpetuate in power those who have exercised absolute control for more than 38 years.

Sanctioning a person who tries or promotes other to exercise absentism during an election could seem ilogical to those who enjoy freedom of expression, of press and of all the liberties proclamed by the Univesal Declaration of Human Rights, but this is only a small example of how the citizens rights are infringed in our country and how these infringements are considered and incorporated into the institutional order as criminal transgressions, and because of this institutionalization in the Penitenciary Code, one can assert - by a logic beyond any doubt - that in Cuba there are no "political transgressions" and much less political prisoners.

Ofelia Nardo Cruz, Cuba Free Press.

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