Crime of dissemination of
"false" information against "international peace".
Cuba's "criminal Law"
Article 115, which defines the crime of difusión de falsas informaciones contra la paz internacional, or "dissemination of false information against international peace." It states that anyone who spreads false news with 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.
The Cuban Government believes that any activity associated with the defense of human rights is intended to destroy the political system and serve foreign interests that seek to undermine the political system. Thus, most human rights activists brought to trial and convicted are charged with crimes against the security of the State, which are typified in the Cuban Penal Code as follows: "enemy propaganda", "dissemination of false information against international peace", "rebellion", "contempt", "illegal association", "disturbing the peace", etc. Human rights groups have said that the sentences of imprisonment ordered by the government are particularly severe considering the offenses with which the individuals concerned are charged; for example, printing and distributing pro-democratic literature, organizing peaceful demonstrations, painting slogans on walls, etc.
Among those convicted on political charges were independent journalist and prodemocracy activist Reinaldo Alfaro Garcia on August 28 for "dissemination of false news.
On February 13, a Santa Clara court sentenced Cecilio Monteagudo Sanchez, a PSD vice delegate, to 4 years' imprisonment for dissemination of enemy propaganda. Monteagudo was prosecuted for writing a document calling on citizens to abstain from voting. The court also sentenced Juan Carlos Recio Martinez, an independent journalist with the Cuba Press Agency who had been asked to type the document, to 1 year in a labor camp for failing to denounce Monteagudo. Recio unsuccessfully appealed the sentence. On April 24, a Santiago court found Julio Cesar Coizeau Rizo, a member of the Geraldo Gonzalez ex-Political Prisoners Club, guilty of disrespect for authority for posting antigovernment flyers and sentenced him to 3 years' imprisonment.
On August 28, the State sentenced independent journalist and prodemocracy activist Reinaldo Alfaro Garcia to 3 years in prison for "dissemination of false news against international peace." The Government alleged that Alfaro had misreported stories regarding the suspicious death of a soldier in 1994 and a separate incident involving the beating of a woman by authorities. With the exception of Alfaro's immediate family, neither international journalists, foreign diplomats, nor members of the public were allowed into the courtroom, which the Government had packed with its own personnel. Alfaro had been held for 16 months prior to the 5-hour trial. At the end of the trial, Alfaro's family members were asked to leave the courtroom and were told that they could wait to see him leave for prison at a side door to the courthouse. State security personnel then spirited Alfaro out another door and deliberately drove him in a car behind where his family was standing. On discovering the Government's effort to deceive the Alfaro family, some 40 prodemocracy activists chased after the vehicle and staged an impromptu public demonstration to protest the situation. The Government later attempted to blame the disturbance on agitation by a foreign diplomat, despite the presence of other diplomats and journalists who witnessed the incident
Dr Desi Mendoza Rivero, president of the Colegio Médico Independiente de Santiago de Cuba, Santiago de Cuba Independent Medical Association, was reportedly detained on 25 June 1997 in Santiago de Cuba and taken to the State Security headquarters at Versalles. On 12 August 1997 he was transferred to Aguadores Prison, also in Santiago de Cuba. The authorities have not made any public statements about the reasons for his arrest. However, unofficial sources indicate that his detention was related to statements he had made regarding an epidemic of dengue fever in Santiago de Cuba which, according to him, had caused several deaths. He reportedly accused the authorities of covering up the true extent of the epidemic and of not taking sufficient measures to control it. He is believed to be facing various charges, possibly including "enemy propaganda", "dissemination of false news" and "illegal association". Dr Mendoza is said to have lost his job as a doctor after he founded the medical association in 1994. Journalist Juan Carlos Céspedes of the Agencia de Prensa Libre Oriental (APLO), Oriente Free Press Agency, based in Santiago de Cuba, was also arrested on 12 June 1997 and reportedly asked to reveal his sources for an article he wrote about the dengue epidemic. He was released on 18 June and it is not clear if he is facing charges. Another APLO journalist, Daisy Carcasés Valle, who also wrote an article about the epidemic, was detained briefly on 15 August 1997 and threatened with imprisonment.
Carmelo Agustín Díaz Fernández, detained on 19 March 2003, prosecuted under preliminary investigation file No. 347/ 03, with a prosecution request for 15 years' imprisonment, based on article 91 of the Criminal Code for "acts against the territorial independence or integrity of the State", and sentenced by the appropriate court to 16 years' imprisonment. He is the self-styled official of the non-existent "Independent Trade Union Press Agency". His activities, ordered and financed by the United States Government, include fabrication and dissemination of false news, inciting public disorder and direct action, using any means possible, against the constitutional order of the country. Previously, he was expelled from another faction for taking, for his own personal ends, funds received by the faction, taking advantage of his position of "treasurer" in this faction. He has been employed by the purportedly named "Radio Martí" (a subversive service against Cuba of the official radio programme Voice of America) and by "Voice of the Foundation", a peripheral service of the terrorist Cuban-American National Foundation. He has also maintained permanent links with employees of the United States Interests Section in Cuba, who have entrusted him with a number of subversive activities against Cuban constitutional order and the search for information relating to Cuban national security.
More on Cuba's abusive laws: Repressive Laws in Cuba abusing human rights