Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. - http://www.cubafreepress.org

HAVANA, October 21, 1998, Cuba Free Press.

JURORS, BEING STATE EMPLOYEES, RARELY RULE AGAINST PARTY By Ofelia Nardo Cruz, Cuba Free Press.

HAVANA – In Cuba, the jurors are employees of the state monopoly. Their jobs depend on those who employ them. And to obtain those jobs they must not just pass a qualification exam but have approval on the basis of their political ability; i.e., they almost always have the backing of the militants either in the Communist Party of the Communist Youth Group.

So it happens that among the dissidents in Cuba, there is no expectation that their juries will be impartial. It is common to hear that even before the trial, the penalties already have been discussed and decided among the judges, prosecutors, officials of the Office of State Security (OSS) and other officers of the court. In other words, the penalty is decided before the defendant is found guilty!

And yet it is not possible to generalize in terms of absolutes, because sometimes there are judges, with consciences, who hold themselves individually responsible for the righteousness of their decisions in the judgement of history. There have been judges who kept an objective position and did not let outside influence affect their decisions. There have been some who went so far as to withdraw in light of the injustice in the process in which they found themselves. In some instances, when a judge was forced to preside in such a situation, he or she may even have dismissed the defendant despite the political implications of the case.

On the other hand, nothing prevents a judge from embracing the Marxist doctrine and identifying with the prosecutor’s position as well as that of the repressive monopoly in the environment. The defendant, if he or she opposes the Marxist doctrine, then becomes the judge’s opponent and obviously is at a disadvantage. In such conditions, how could a judge be expected to understand the concept that a citizen should have a right to express opinions differing with the rulers that the citizen supposedly helped select in an election?

But in any event, even if a judge could understand such a concept, there still exists the law to remind him that the defendant’s behavior constituted a transgression, irrespective of the judge’s personal criteria.

The dissidents, who usually call themselves the “opposition,” have at least two disadvantages: 1) They acknowledge that their behavior is called a crime under the Penal Code; 2) They recognize that their judges may be politically loyal to the state’s socialism. They well know that their sentences may be severe.

They also understand that besides “the policy of the penalties,” written into the law, there are numerous directives, instructions and letters which also are intended to influence the judges to “follow the rules.”

So it is that when a dissident is tried in a court, he or she is completely defenseless.

It might be hoped that the prosecutors would be objective rather than wholly motivated by their socialist Marxist doctrine, but they are even more solidy gripped in the vise of the monopoly.

As for the defense attorneys, even though they may have the best intentions in the world, they can do no more than face the law, which, as said before, intentionally has been codified in a certain disadvantageous way.

The defendant not only is a knowing target of the regulations, but also runs the risk of further endangering her/his position with body language or even a facial expression that a judge might find “improper.” For this reason, the defense attorney must restrain her/him self so as to employ technical defenses with careful moderation. Such an attorney never will be able to address the issues with the depth required for justice in the face of the basic unfairness of laws that violate the most elemental human rights.

There are examples of brave attorneys who had to pay with exile for having had the audacity to try to defend against direct or indirect aggressions, sometimes without even having entered the court.

The penalties against opponents of the doctrine always will be unfair because they punish a legitimate action of a human being exercising basic human rights, even though the law says the contrary.

Ofelia Nardo Cruz, Cuba Free Press.


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