Cuba’s Law 88, the “Gag Law,” is a statute in socialist Cuba that criminalizes any form of expression advocating for freedom, democracy, or in support of the United States. The law was used in 2003 during Cuba’s Black Spring, where 75 independent journalists and librarians all over the island were rounded up by the Castro dictatorship and imprisoned. Some of them were given sentences of up to 20 years simply for distributing the UN Declaration of Human Rights.
For the most part, the Castro dictatorship shelved Law 88 after the Black Spring when international criticism for their repression became too strong. But after watching what is happening in Venezuela and the Helms-Burton law bearing down on them, the Castro dictatorship is ready to dust off Law 88 and begin an operation of island-wide repression to imprison hundreds of dissidents.
Cuba’s Popular Supreme Court emphasized this week that the Law for the Protection of Cuba’s National and Economic Independence, known as the “Gag Law,” which was enacted 20 years ago and carries a penalty of prison, could be applied to those who support the Helms-Burton Law and speak to the foreign press.
The Popular Supreme Court has published the text of Law 88 on its website’s homepage under the section titled Current News and Laws.
The law has not been enforced since the Black Spring of 2003, when the Castro regime imprisoned 75 dissidents, many of them independent journalists.
The president of the Popular Supreme Court, Ruben Remigio Ferro, took to social media to threaten the law would again be enforced:
“Law 88, which protects the national independence and economy of Cuba, classifies any acts in support of, that facilitate, or collaborate with the objectives of Helms-Burton as a crime and specifies severe penalties for those who violate it,” said Ferro on his Twitter account.
The Gag Law was approved in 1999 and specifies prison sentences and the confiscation of property for anyone who provides, directly or indirectly, information to the United States of America, its agencies, agents, representatives, or officials, any information to facilitate the objectives of the Helms-Burton law.
In addition, it stipulates a prison sentence of eight to 20 years “if the act is committed in conjunction with two or more persons; if there is compensation, a reward or promise of any advantage or benefit, if the culprit came to learn or possess any information in a surreptitious manner or used any other illicit method; if the culprit knows or possesses the information due to his duties; if serious damage comes to the national economy.”
Continue reading (in Spanish) HERE.