Why So Many Prisoners in Cuba?

By Yanelys Nunez Leyva

HAVANA TIMES – Cuban laws, so restrictive, so absurd, so cruel, can lead anyone to serve deprivation of liberty, having committed a minor crime, or for NOT having committed any crime.

If you read the report presented in January 2020 by the organization Prisoners Defenders, we verify that Cuba has the highest prison population rate in the world, with 794 incarcerated for every 100,000 inhabitants.

How are these figures justified?
Organized crime?
Extreme drug trafficking?
Human trafficking?

There may be a little of all this, but not so much for there to be currently 90,000 inmates in Cuban jails; for there to be more than 200 prisons on the island. For us to be a country of prisoners.

Just under the law of Pre-criminal dangerousness, that is, without having committed any crime, there are 11,000 people deprived of their liberty.

Then there’s the group who are a doubly vulnerable population, the political prisoners, of conscience, that small group of confessed opponents and activists who are charged with fabricated common crimes to justify punishment.

Given the spread of COVID-19 in Cuba, all prisoners matter to me, but political prisoners hurt a little more.

Less than a year ago, a Lady in White, Xiomara Cruz, was the victim not only of the abuse of power by a system, but of its indolence.

While serving an inexplicable sentence, Xiomara became seriously ill in a place that she should never have inhabited, a prison.

Later, her diagnosis was hidden, her illness unattended, her health neglected by the Health Power that has medical missions in more than 60 countries.

At the moment, and faced with the threat of COVID-19, groups such as Estado de Sats, the Cuban Observatory for Human Rights, and independent activists and journalists, demand the release of 123 political prisoners. Joining these initiatives is the least we can do.


Yanelys Nuñez

Yanelys Nuñez Leyva: Writing is to expose oneself, undress before the inquisitive eyes of all. I like to write, not because I have developed a real fondness for nudity, but because I love composing words, thinking of stories, phrases that touch, images that provoke different feelings. Here I have a place to talk about art, life, me. In the end, feeling good about what you do is what matters; either with or without clothing.

Yanelys Nuñez has 146 posts and counting. See all posts by Yanelys Nuñez

13 thoughts on “Why So Many Prisoners in Cuba?

  • BLOCKING FOOD AND MEDICINE IS A WAR CRIME—–the usa is blocking over 3 billion that people send from the usa—-and this money allows the flow of medicine and food.

    A sovereign nation has the right to determine how it is run—-not the ilegal usa private corporate overlords—-1886 the railroads bought the supreme court to create personhood as the founding fathers called private corporations evil.

  • The misdeeds of one country do not excuse or mitigate those of a politically different country. Methinks ron that you choose to forget Cuba’s military intervention in twelve additional countries to Angola. What was Cuba’s purpose in being party militarily to the invasion of Israel on Yum Kippur? What was the Castro’s purpose in endeavoring to foment political strife on other continents? What was Dr, Ernesto Guevara de La Serna Lynch doing in Bolivia under a false name, posing as being from the UN and funded by the Castro regime?
    One doesn’t need to be a US sycophant to recognize the military transgressions of the Cuban communist regime.
    Then ron, there is the question of degree! As a journalist you must agree that for example there is a major difference between the D notices in the UK and the laws of Cuba which make criticism of the PCC or the puppet government a criminal offence?
    Finally, you omitted a couple of words when you wrote: “Angola where the government ASKED Cuba to come and help to preserve their revolution” just when ron had that “government been elected?

  • To critics of my critique. I do not turn a blind eye to discrepancies within the Cuban society, within the Cuban government and the bureaucracy. I lived and worked in Cuba for eight years. Editorial José Martí and Prensa Latina. I know about censorship firsthand in Cuba. I also know about censorship in the US and Denmark media as well since I have lived and worked in media in those “democratic” countries.
    Show me, however, how many times Cuban communists have invaded other countries, murdered and attempted to murder other nation’s leaders? Sure, you will point to Angola where that government ASKED Cuba to come and help preserve their revolution against the invading apartheid South African government backed by the US and ironically China. And, apparently, can syncophants can simply ignore the fact that the US has invaded, militarily-economically-politically intervened in every Latin American country over its two centuries+ of existence. How can you self-declared “freedom lovers” simply ignore that the US has conducted approximately 535 aggressive wars against more than 60 countries. (If want facts you can find them, among other places in my books and on my website.)
    Those who attack Cuba from within and without prefer to condemn the Cuban government for misdeeds, which do exist and are relevant to criticize and correct, but you have no right if your are interested in justice and peace to look to the greatest terrorist state in the world for any sort of guidance. The US is a Military Empire and has no mercy, and is not at all interested in what happens to the Cuban people, or any other peoples, for that matter. It is only after wealthy and global power. Wake up and stop whinning.

  • Remember ron, that China does not count those who it confines for “re-education” and “correction” in its statistics and they as recently shown with the Uighars, prior to reporters being banned, are in the millions. As for Russia, who knows? Are all the Gulags empty?
    But what the statistics don’t reveal, is why those people have been imprisoned? Everyone knows about the crime levels in the US and the racism reflected in ethnic grouping of prisoners, and similarly, visitors to Cuba will relate the low level of crime and safety on the streets, so why are 510 citizens out of every 100,000 in prison there?

  • Ron appears to justify anything and everything by governments he considers enemies of his enemy, the US empire. It doesn’t matter if they are a full-time human rights violator on their own people. To him, all repression including the lack of freedom of the press and association, arbitrary arrests and imprisonment for critics of policies or leaders, and forcing people into exile through harrassment, is all justified as long as the perpetrating government is the enemy of his enemy. To each his own.

  • In the article, the writer gave no sources. In a comment she came up with figures from a group called Prisoner Defenders. How do we know where they came up with any stats. Wikipedia (April 3, 2020) reporting World Prison Brief statistics (which is also used by UN entities) shows that Cuba is fifth with 510 per 100,000. What the writer, who probably is an avid supporter of the USA–which has invaded, murdered, terrorized, subverted, sanctioned Cuba since the beginning of its revolution (let alone innumerable attempts to murder several of its leaders)–is by all accounts the greatest prison incarcerator in the world with 655 per 100,000 (a total of 2,121,600). Its Virgin Island territory is nr. 4 with 542 per 100,000.
    Interestingly as well is that Russia and China are far behind those figures: Russia 363; China 120.
    When you want to attack your own country, which is under attack by the world’s greatest terrorist state that goes about its aggression with impunity, you could at least keep to the facts, traitor.

  • Sitting Down For Dinner With The MINT: This is a Sad Post & Many will Need to Hear the Truth. Why is There Lower #,s in the Cuban Prison System. Explained in person a YOUNG Man explains how the prison is just an Animal Cage & Self in flicked DEATH was the Only Way out for so Many. I will never forget the Smile as this young man took pride in his work, For He Knew he was on the right side of that Animal Fenced in a Cage, & We Sit Back & Forget, I will Never Forget Dinner that Evening.

  • Yanelys – a good article on a sensitive subject –
    Dick K from Cape Coral, Florida
    The cussed virus has caused our favorite Cuban Bakery to close for two weeks but, hopefully, our Cuban friend, Tony will bring some over from Miami.

  • Hola!
    en enero de 2020 en conferencia de prensa la organización prisioners defenders dio estas cifras en un informe.
    Varios diarios hicieron público dichos datos que, por supuesto, se encuentran en franca contradicción con los que aporta el gobierno cubano a bancos estadísticos como el Instituto de Investigación de Política Criminal (ICPR, por sus siglas en inglés)

    In January 2020 the organization Prisoners Defenders held a press conference where they presented a report with those figures on imprisoned Cubans. Several newspapers made public those statistics which are in obvious contradiction with the lower figure supplied by the Cuban government to data bases such as the Institute for Criminal Policy Research.


  • Yes Bob, my understanding is that the US has the staggering level of 698, followed by Turkmenistan at 583, Virgin Islands (US) at 542 and Cuba at the figure you gave of 510, making it fourth in the world. But statistics – especially in Cuba, are sometimes dubious. Anyone who knows Cuba well, knows that a large number of fit people in the working age group (16 – 65) sit around all day, playing dominoes and chess, or just twiddling their thumbs. But what is the official unemployment rate given by the Cuban regime? 1.7% ! It would take a moron to believe that!

  • I searched but cannot find any references that support the Cuban incarceration rate of 794 per 100,000 quoted in the “Prison Defenders” article. Everyone else quotes a rate of 510, lower than the US.

    I am not challenging you, just want to make sure I have my facts right. Can you give us some citations for the statistics you use?

  • In Cuba Ginni, a very high number of those in prison have been put there without trial, usually for criticizing the communist government, which is a criminal offence.”Making sense” like common sense, is not a factor. As for being humane, remember that the regime has a history based upon execution without trial. Power in Cuba still lies in the hands of Raul Castro Ruz as First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, everything stems from him.

  • Here in the USA the US Attorney General has given State Governors the power to oversee the release of lots of prisoners into the local community due to the chance they may be vulnerable to the virus, that they committed minor crimes, or those that are vulnerable with their age in contracting it, or have less time on their sentencing to endure or bother with by giving them house arrest into the community at a half-way house or with family.
    It just makes sense in being humane and protecting the other prisoners.

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