State Dept.: Communist Party Is Only Legal Party in Cuba Staff | November 28, 2016 | 10:54am EST
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President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro at a joint press conference, March 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

( - While Secretary of State John Kerry sent “our condolences to the Cuban people’ on the death of Fidel Castro in a statement issued Saturday, the State Department’s latest report on human rights in Cuba said the Communist Party remains the only legal political party in Cuba and that the Cuban government suppresses basic political rights.

“We extend our condolences to the Cuban people today as they mourn the passing of Fidel Castro,” Kerry said in his statement.

The State Departments Country Report on Human Rights in Cuba for 2015, which Kerry released on April 13 of this year, called Cuba “an authoritarian state” led by Castro’s brother, where the Communist Party was the only legal party.

“Cuba is an authoritarian state led by Raul Castro, who is president of the Council of State and Council of Ministers, Communist Party (CP) first secretary, and commander in chief of security forces,” said the State Department’s report. “The constitution recognizes the CP as the only legal party and the leading force of society and of the state.”

The State Department said that the Communist government of Cuba engaged in “arbitrary arrests” of citizens to suppress freedom of expression and political activity and “routinely and systematically” monitored the private communication of citizens.

The report also said Cuban police conducted unwarranted searches in seizures in citizens’ homes.

“Arbitrary arrests and short-term detentions continued to be a common government method for controlling independent public expression and political activity,” said the report.

“The Ministry of Interior exercises control over police, internal security forces, and the prison system. The ministry’s National Revolutionary Police is the country’s primary law enforcement organization,” said the report. “Specialized units of the ministry’s state security branch are responsible for monitoring, infiltrating, and suppressing independent political activity. The police supported state security agents by carrying out house searches, arresting persons of interest to the ministry, and providing interrogation facilities.”

“[T]there were reports that the government routinely and systematically monitored correspondence and communications between citizens, tracked their movements, and entered homes without legal authority and with impunity,” said the State Department. “Police searched homes and seized personal goods without legally required documentation.”

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