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Country Reports
Cuba, Landmine Monitor Report 2003


Mine Ban Policy

Cuba and the United States remain the only countries in the Americas region that have not yet joined the Mine Ban Treaty. Cuba’s position has not changed since a detailed June 2000 Ministry of Foreign Affairs policy statement provided to Landmine Monitor, in which the government described its full support for “humanitarian efforts made by the international community to prevent or mitigate the effects of the indiscriminate use of this kind of weapons.”[1] Cuba does not view the Mine Ban Treaty as taking into consideration its “legitimate national security concerns” and states it will “continue to use antipersonnel mines exclusively for the defense and security of the country.”[2]

Cuba participated as an observer in the Fourth Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty in September 2002, and was registered to participate in the May 2003 meetings of the treaty’s intersessional Standing Committees.

As it has done every year since 1996, Cuba abstained during the November 2002 vote on UN General Assembly Resolution 57/74, which promoted universalization and implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. The Cuban representative stated that the government was “forced to abstain.... After all, [Cuba] had been declared the enemy of the country with the greatest economic and military might in the world,” and could not therefore, “give up [its] rights to self-defense.”[3]

Cuba is a State Party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), but has not yet ratified Amended Protocol II (Landmines). It participated in the Fourth Annual Conference of States Parties to Amended Protocol II in December 2002 as an observer.

In June 2003, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined a request by the ICBL to hold its 2004 regional meeting in Havana, due to other commitments.[4] The government previously hosted a visit by an ICBL delegation to Cuba in September 2001, including Havana and the mined areas surrounding the US Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay.[5]

Production, Transfer and Stockpiling

Cuba’s state-owned Union of Military Industries (Unión de las Industrias Militares, UIM) is believed to continue production of antipersonnel mines.[6]

In June 2003, the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, in response to the suggestion that Cuba institute a formal moratorium on export of antipersonnel mines, “The Cuban government has expressed publicly and informed the Secretary-General of the UN that the country has never exported nor exports these types of arms.”[7] It added that Cuba has expressed its willingness to participate in the adoption of an international agreement prohibiting the export of all types of landmines.[8]

No official information is available on the size and composition of Cuba’s stockpile of antipersonnel mines.

Landmine Use and Mine Clearance

Both the US and Cuba planted landmines around the US Naval Base at Guantánamo in the southeast of Cuba. Cuban authorities have stated that the Cuban minefields are duly “marked, fenced and guarded” to ensure the protection of civilians, as stipulated by the CCW's Amended Protocol II.[9] During the ICBL visit to Guantánamo this was confirmed and it was evident that the minefields were well maintained.

Clearance by the US of antipersonnel and antivehicle mines from the US minefields around Guantánamo began in September 1996 and was completed in 1999, with verification of the mine clearance completed in May 2000.[10]

No foreign humanitarian mine clearance activities were reported by Cuba in 2002 or early 2003.

Landmine Casualties and Survivor Assistance

While in the past several Cubans have been killed or injured by landmines as they tried to cross over to the US Naval Base at Guantánamo, no incidents were reported in 2002 or the first quarter of 2003. In 2001, two mine incidents were reported in which one person was killed and three others injured.[11] It is estimated that at least five Cuban asylum seekers have been killed in the minefields. Eighteen US servicemen have been killed over the last 35 years, the last in 1990.[12]

Cuba has a free and universal healthcare system.[13]

[1] See Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 329. The response is available in full on the Landmine Monitor web site at www.icbl.org/lm/comments/.
[2] Letter to Landmine Monitor (MAC) from Juan Antonio Fernández Palacios, Director, Directorate of Multilateral Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 13 June 2003.
[3] UNGA, Fifty-seventh session, First Committee, A/C.1/57/L.36, 10 October 2002.
[4] Letter from Juan Antonio Fernández Palacios, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 13 June 2003.
[5] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, pp. 640-642.
[6] For production details, see Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p. 316.
[7] Letter from Juan Antonio Fernández Palacios, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 13 June 2003.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Statement of the Directorate of Multilateral Affairs of the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Landmine Monitor, 19 June 2000.
[10] For more details on the US clearance operation, see Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p.332.
[11] See Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 407.
[12] “US Marines Clear Mines from Cuba Base,” Reuters, 10 December 1997.
[13] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 642.