Labor sector, tool to "silence" critics in Cuba, complaint AI

The labor sector in Cuba, where the Government acts as the majority employer, is used as a tool of "repression" aimed at "silencing" those who are considered critics with the authorities, reveals Amnesty International (AI).

Mexico, Nov 16 (EFE) .- The labor sector in Cuba, where the Government exercises as the majority employer, is used as a tool of "repression" aimed at "silencing" those who They are considered critical of the authorities, reveals Amnesty International (AI).

The report, released today under the title "In a mental prison", collects cases of Cubans "expelled, dismissed in a discriminatory or improper manner "from their state jobs" for expressing an opinion ", says Efe Louise Tillotson, researcher on the island of AI.

As Cuba is the only country in the entire region where Amnesty is not allowed to make visits, the organization did its research through more than 60 in-depth interviews with migrants Cubans on the northern and southern border of Mexico.

The interviewees, aged between 19 and 65, cover a "wide range" of professions, including teachers, academics, athletes and waiters.

The researcher comments that one of the highlights of the report is that those who suffer "harassment" are not necessarily those who "obviously they are opponents of the Government ", but it affects those who carry out a much more" subtle "criticism.

For example, there is the case of an engineer who was fired for wearing a bracelet with the word "change", a social worker who complained about the lack of resources and was expelled or a waiter who was reprimanded for not having participated in the march of the Day of the Work.

To justify itself, the government simply alleges that the workers are no longer "reliable," according to the testimonies. ideologically these people are no longer acceptable, "says the activist.

If a person is fired in these circumstances, it is practically impossible to find another job in the State sector. control of the Executive, "which goes in the line of Amnesty's previous complaints about the lack of" independence "of the judiciary, argues Tillotson.

In addition, the Central Workers of Cuba (CTC), the only officially recognized trade union, does not support them, and independent trade unions "continue to suffer harassment, intimidation and criminalization," says the report.

Just over 70% of jobs on the island are covered by the public sector. "cuentapropista".

Some of the subjects expelled from the public sector tried to open a small business as "cuentapropistas", says the researcher, but "it is an emerging sector and basically it is very regulated by the authorities ", so the control is still" quite strong ".

Not finding a job in either of the two areas" in many cases it is an element important for the departure of people "from the country, because" they do not have a way of supporting their relatives ".

To this is added that wages in general are low -an average of 27 US dollars per month - and, sometimes, insufficient to cover basic needs.

According to the activist, approximately half of the Cuban migrants They participated in the preparation of the report acknowledged that on another previous occasion they tried to leave the island without success.

The report states that the last few years have been a "bittersweet" period for "those who trust that the authorities will soften their iron fist policy with which they oppress the right of people to freedom of expression and assembly" Cuba.

Tillotson recalls that there have been advances such as the green light for the visit of the International Committee of the Red Cross or that of the UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons. people.

"For many, this gave the hope that (Cuba) began to open up to greater international scrutiny," although on the other hand, in the visit of former US President Barack Obama, to the island last year, Cuban President Raúl Castro "continued to deny the presence of political prisoners in Cuba."

Amnesty asks the Cuban government to stop "laws and practices criminal offenses incompatible with human rights and international standards "and that" cease to exercise the power they have over the labor sector, "says the researcher.

In his recommendations, the organization also requests that workers are not obligated to participate in pro-government activities, nor be punished for not engaging in them, and that the registration of independent unions.

It also calls on the US Congress to lift the economic embargo on the island, "which undermines economic, social and cultural rights" of its inhabitants.