Crime of Resistance.

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Cuba's "criminal Law"

Article 143, which defines the crime of resistencia, or "resistance." On occasion, the crime is referred to as desobediencia, or "disobedience." It states that anyone who resists an official in the exercise of his duties can be imprisoned for between three months and a year or fined. If the official is trying to apprehend a criminal or someone who has escaped from prison, the penalty is a prison term from two to five years.

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Emilio Leyva Pérez and Lázaro Miguel Rodríguez Capote are leaders of the unofficial Partido Pro Derechos Humanos de Cuba, the Cuban Pro Human Rights Party. The two were reportedly arrested on 22 February 2002. Like several others, it was believed that they were taken into custody to prevent them from participating in activities to commemorate the 24 February 1996 downing of two planes belonging to a Cuban exile group by the Cuban airforce.

Family members have been told unofficially that charges may include ‘resistencia,’ resistance; ‘desacato,’ disrespect; and ‘desorden público,’ public disorder. However they apparently have yet to be officially charged, and Amnesty International is not aware that any trial date has been set.

At end August, both men joined a hunger strike of other detainees to protest at six months’ detention without trial, Emilio Leyva in Quivicán prison with Leonardo Bruzón and Lázaro Rodríguez in Valle Grande prison with Carlos Alberto Domínguez. Family members and friends of both men have reportedly expressed grave concern at the state of their health. Both have reportedly ended their hunger strike

Among other activities, over the last year Emilio Leyva and Lázaro Rodríguez were reported to be active members of the Proyecto Varela campaign for a referendum on constitutional human rights reforms in Cuba. Numerous activists involved in the petition drive have been harassed and detained.(3) Both men were reportedly held in custody for several hours in early February following a prayer service on behalf of political prisoners, in which Leonardo Bruzón was also said to have taken part.


The government targeted for the harshest penalties two young leaders who had emerged during the formation of the Concilio Cubano: the 31-year old Dr. Leonel Morejón Almagro and the 35-year-old Lázaro González Valdés. Aside from their duties on the National Secretariat, both were members of the Concilio Cubano youth commission, Pinos Nuevos, New Pines. In a three-hour trial on February 22, González Valdés was found guilty of "disrespect" and "disobedience" and sentenced to fourteen months in prison. His defense lawyer was only able to speak to him minutes before the trial began and the court building was surrounded by police and a Rapid Response Brigade armed with metal bars and sticks. The next day, Dr. Morejón was tried and convicted of "resistance." He was sentenced to six months in prison. When he appealed, he was given an additional nine-month prison sentence on a charge of "disrespect."110

On June 6, 1996, in Havana, 32-year-old Néstor Rodríguez Lobaina and 27-year-old Radames García de la Vega, president and vice-president of the Movimiento Cubano de Jóvenes por la Democracia, Cuban Movement of Youth for Democracy, were arrested, charged with "disrespect" and "resistance" and sentenced respectively to twelve and six months’ "restricted liberty" and "banishment," or internal exile. The arrest was in connection to a project they had initiated, Universidades Sin Fronteras, Universities Without Borders, to demand that universities be made autonomous of the government, an old Latin American tradition. After being beaten while in police detention, Rodríguez Lobaina and García de la Vega were removed to their respective homes in Baracoa, Guantánamo province, and Palma de Soriano, in the province of Santiago de Cuba.185

In January 1997, Rodríguez Lobaina, García de la Vega, and 29-year-old Heriberto Leyva Rodríguez, also a vice-president of the Movimiento Cubano de Jóvenes por la Democracia, signed an open letter to Fidel Castro calling for academic freedom in Cuba’s universities and an end to professors and students being fired or thrown out of school because of their political beliefs, what they referred to as "ideological apartheid." The letter also protested their previous arrests, death threats, beatings, trials without due process and internal exile. Rodríguez Lobaina was again arrested on April 8, 1997, and two days later sentenced to 18 months in prison in the Combinado de Guantánamo prison for "disrespect" and "resistance." García de la Vega was arrested on April 30, 1997, charged with "disrespect," and tried and sentenced on July 23, 1997, to 18 months at Santiago de Cuba prison. Days after the trial, Leyva Rodríguez was fined 1,000 pesos, the equivalent of nearly five months’ wages, for "disrespect of the Court" and "violating the solemnity of a trial," after he uttered statements in support of García de la Vega.186 On April 8, 1997, Néstor Rodríguez Lobaina’s mother and his father, Ramón Rodríguez, were taken to a police station and forced to sign an acta de advertencia, an "official warning," and told they if they continued to defend their son they would be arrested.187

two of the known independent environmental groups are Concilio Cubano members. One is the Movimiento Ecologista y Pacifista Naturpaz, NaturePeace Ecological and Pacifist Movement, founded by lawyer Leonel Morejón Almagro, who was later elected Concilio Cubano national delegate and served fifteen months in prison in 1996-97 on charges of "resistance" and "disrespect." The other is the Grupo Ecológico Alerta Verde, Green Alert Ecological Group, based in Piñar del Río province, whose president is Raúl Pimentel. They are commonly referred to as, respectively, Naturpaz and Alerta Verde.


More on Cuba's abusive laws: Repressive Laws in Cuba abusing human rights


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