A former high-ranking Cuban judge named Edel González Jiménez criticized the communist nation saying it routinely manufacturers charges against government critics in proceedings run by state security services. The NY Times reviewed documents the judge took with and says they reveal Cuba has the highest rate of incarceration in the world.
A former high-ranking judge in Cuba has joined an antigovernment activist in revealing information from secret government documents that show the government is holding thousands of inmates on dubious charges and has the highest incarceration rate in the world…
Documents reviewed by The New York Times showed that approximately 92 percent of those accused in the more than 32,000 cases that go to trial in Cuba every year are found guilty. Nearly 4,000 people every year are accused of being “antisocial” or “dangerous,” terms the Cuban government uses to jail people who pose a risk to the status quo, without having a committed a crime…
Those accused of being a threat are subjected to summary trials and have no right to a defense or to present evidence, Mr. González said. The records show that 99.5 percent of the people accused of this are found guilty.
…dozens of men received sentences between two and four years in prison for offenses falling broadly under the category of “antisocial” — a phrase that can be applied to people who are unemployed, do not belonging to civic organizations associated with the state, behave disorderly and harass tourists, and associate with similarly “antisocial” people.
The 99.5 percent conviction rate mentioned above (for the “antisocial”) is on par with the overall conviction rate in communist China. In 2013 the Chinese conviction rate was 99.93 percent. The Times reports that documents created to charge the “dangerous” Cubans all use the exact same language, suggesting it is literally being cut and pasted from one dissident show trial to the next.
Despite the evidence he presented, Edel González is still a believer in Cuban communism and still hopes to return home one day. He argues the incarceration rate is high in Cuba because the regime prosecutes crime to maintain “social order.” I suspect if he does attempt to return to Cuba he’ll find that he has become a threat to social order himself.
Eloy Viera Cañive, a legal analyst quoted by the Times, says there’s a simple explanation for the behavior of the Cuban courts. “This is a police state, and the Ministry of Interior has a lot of influence, even on judges,” Viera said. He added, “True independence is impossible.”
Finally, it’s worth noting that the government has downplayed the number of people in Cuba’s prisons and has outright denied that there are any political prisoners being held. In 2016 Raul Castro was asked about this during a joint press conference with President Obama and challenged the reporter to give him a list of such prisoners. (The reporter asking the question in that case was CNN’s Jim Acosta.) Here’s an ABC News report from March 2016: