Cuba is not an electoral democracy. The Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) controls all government entities from the national to the local level. All political organization outside the PCC is illegal.
Freedom of the press is sharply curtailed, and the media are controlled by the state and the PCC. The government considers the independent press to be illegal. Independent journalists are subjected to ongoing repression, including terms of hard labor and assaults by state security agents. Access to the internet remains tightly restricted, and it is difficult for most Cubans to connect in their homes. In 2009, Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez was denied a visa to receive a prestigious journalism award in the United States, and in November Sanchez reported that she and another opposition blogger, Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, were forced into a car, beaten, and denounced as “counterrevolutionaries” by three men they assumed to be government agents.
Cuba continues to employ authoritarian measures to control religious belief and expression. Churches are not allowed to conduct educational activities, and church-based publications are subject to censorship by the Office of Religious Affairs. The government restricts academic freedom. Teaching materials for subjects including mathematics and literature must contain ideological content. Limited rights of assembly and association are permitted under the constitution. However, as with other constitutional rights, they may not be “exercised against the existence and objectives of the Socialist State.” The unauthorized assembly of more than three people is punishable with up to three months in prison and a fine. The Council of State, presided over by Raul Castro, serves as a de facto judiciary and controls both the courts and the judicial process as a whole. Freedom of movement and the right to choose one’s residence and place of employment are severely restricted. Attempting to leave the island without permission is a punishable offense.
Copyright Freedom House