Crime of illicit association.
Cuba's "criminal Law"
Articles 208 and 209, which define the crime of asociación ilícita, or "illicit association." These articles state that anyone belonging to an unregistered association can be fined or imprisoned for between one and three months. The promoters or leaders of such an association can be fined or imprisoned for between three months and a year. Anyone who participates in illegal meetings or demonstrations can be fined or imprisoned for between one and three months. The organizers of illegal meetings or demonstrations can be fined or imprisoned for between three months and a year.
The IACHR was also told that Roberto Valdivia Hernández, delegate of the Cuban Committee for Human Rights and representative of the Citizens’ Steering Committee for the Varela Project in Ciego de Ávila, was visited on October 1, 2003 at his home by officials of Carlos González and Fernando, State security agents, who told him they would not permit any more meetings of the opposition group he led, and that he would be charged under Law 88 for the alleged crimes of subversion and illicit association, which would send him to prison for 10 years. The officers told the activist that the Varela Project is “a counterrevolutionary hotbed” and that all activists of the Cuban Committee for Human Rights would receive an official warning. In addition, officers visited the following activists: Guillermo Rodríguez Duarte, Sergio Aguiar Cruz, Magalys García, Ismael Borroto, and Emilio Martín Morales. On September 23, 2003 young Roger Rubio Lima, a second-year art student, was expelled from the Jose Martí Pedagogical Institute in the city of Camaguey for having signed the Varela Project.
According to reports, in May 1995 Eduardo Díaz Fleitas was detained along with 13 other members of the illegal Partido Pro Derechos Humanos en Cuba, Cuban Human Rights Party. He was charged with "asociación ilícita", "illicit association", but released the same day with the charges pending. No further information is available.
Reports of arbitrary arrests of human rights monitors continued unabated. On June 22, plainclothes police picked up Maria Celina Rodriguez, president of the opposition group "Liberty and Faith," and her 6-year-old son and took them to a nearby house, where they were interrogated for 7 hours regarding her human rights activism. Police detained Roberto Pintado of the "Marti Youth Organization" in June and told him to stop his
dissident activities or be tried on charges of "illicit association" and sentenced to 2 or 3 years in prison. The
Government also preempts dissident activity by arbitrarily prolonging prison sentences by bringing new charges against detainees for human rights activities allegedly committed during imprisonment.
The Penal Code forbids "illegal or unrecognized groups." The Justice Ministry, in consultation with the Interior Ministry, decides whether to recognize organizations. Apart from "recognized" churches and a few carefully monitored groups such as the Masonic Order, small human rights groups represent the only associations outside the State and party. Authorities continued to ignore numerous applications for legal recognition by human rights groups, whose members were often jailed for "illicit association" or became the targets of reprisals. Human rights activists were fired from their jobs for such reasons as being "connected to counterrevolutionary groups" or being a "focal point for political deviation" with "ideas very contrary to those of our revolution."
In total, during the period 1991-1993, dozens of prominent dissidents associated with the Concertation and the CCPDH were convicted and given substantial prison sentences or placed under prisión domiciliara, house arrest, for an array of offenses, particularly "enemy propaganda," but also including "rebellion," "illicit association" and "disrespect."77
Following a summary trial on March 21, 1996, Monzón Oviedo was sentenced to six months in prison for "illicit association." López Montañez was tried on July 16, 1996, and sentenced to one year in prison for "disrespect" and three additional months for "falsifying documents."112
On May 25, 1995, Pastor Orson Vila Santoyo, a Pentecostal minister in Camagüey province was arrested for refusing to cease holding religious services in his home. He was convicted of "illicit association" and sentenced to 18 months in prison.302 The mass closures of private houses of worship and the imprisonment of Pastor Vila indicates the Cuban government is increasingly anxious about the growing popularity of evangelical Christianity. In 1996, the government warned religious leaders in Havana that they would impose fines from $550 to $2,800, imprison leaders and withdraw official recognition from the religious denomination itself unless private houses of worship were closed.303 In mid-1996, there were reports that an evangelical pastor and a Protestant minister had been "banished" to their home provinces.304
More on Cuba's abusive laws: Repressive Laws in Cuba abusing human rights