What do Cubans think about the death penalty?

Results from the first HT survey

The death penalty. Illustration by Carlos
The death penalty. Illustration by Carlos


HAVANA TIMES — At the beginning of July, Havana Times put forward a new initiative: to find out what Cubans think about different national and/or global issues. As far as we know, only the government and government institutions carry out surveys; the results of these are not normally very accessible to ordinary Cubans.

The aim of our project is to contribute towards public opinion surveys not being administered by a centralized body and that the results of these are made easily accessible to everyone. We kicked off this project with a simple survey where the person taking it didn’t have to give any personal information; all they had to do was mark the option they believed to be correct with a cross.

We chose to begin with the death penalty, because it’s a very sensitive and important issue when building a civilized country. In Cuba, capital punishment was abolished by the 1940 Constitution and was later reinstated in 1959; the last executions of this kind took place in 2003 and since then there has been a de facto moratorium, even though Raul Castro publicly reminded us that it still exists, three years ago.

The first question of the survey looked into whether the death penaly should remain or be abolished from our Penal Code.

A slight majority of 52% of those surveyed would like it to be abolished, 35% want this kind of punishment to apply to a more limited number of crimes and 13% stand up for it to stay in our Penal Code just as it is.

Among those who would like to get rid of the dealth penalty entirely, 17% believed this wasn’t a corrective measure; 48% believed that it’s a violation against out most basic individual human rights and 35% think that life sentences should be the maximum punishment given for any kind of crime.

Those who defend the death penalty believe that it’s a necessary evil (16%); believe that it prevents serious crimes from being committed and ensures civil peace (24%); and the majority, (60%), think that Life Imprisonment is not enough to punish someone in extreme cases.

Who should decide whether the death penalty is abolished or remains in the Penal Code?  85% of those surveyed think that a public referendum is the best way to settle these kinds of issues; 4% believe that it’s an issue that lawyers should agree on, and 11% trust that the government should be who decides.


From our survey’s results, we can see that the majority want the death penalty to be abolished. However, this isn’t a great majority, the difference is very small (52% against 48%) and this could change if we had surveyed a greater number of people.

The main argument used by those against the death penalty is that it denies the person being punished their most basic individual human rights.

Amongst those who defend the death penalty, the main justification given is that life imprisonment isn’t enough for certain crimes.

The immense majority of those interviewed believe that this issue should be resolved by a popular referendum, before leaving it to be decided by judges or the government.

The sample taken for this investigation is not representative of the Cuban people because of its small scale and because of the bias that including only people who have access to an email address implies; a minority sector with certain socio-cultural characteristics. Nevertheless, we are happy with this survey because it’s our first attempt to make this kind of very sensitive information accessible to Cubans. We hope that we are able to contribute a little to their emancipation in this way.

7 thoughts on “What do Cubans think about the death penalty?

  • As a Afro Cuban Atty it is past time to end it Many Cubans are still living in hate and retribution/ let Go and let Dios he has this!

  • I bow to your superior knowledge of the Cuban justice system. I should have realised that each country in the world have their own justice system. However I honestly believe that every accused man or woman deserves a fair and open trial to determine their guilt or innocence.

  • In Cuba, the accused if fortunate enough to be given a trial, has to prove their innocence.

  • If it has been proven in a court of law beyond any doubt that the accused is guilty then I believe that the guilty party should forfeit their own life(An eye for an eye)

  • But Gerard wouldn’t that mean that ‘honour’ killings of family members would merely have to hire someone to kill their daughter(s)?

  • If someone takes the life of a family member than that family wants no demands that the guilty person or persons are punished by giving up their own life, so no contest!

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