News and Facts about Cuba

Political Decisions Above Cuban Laws / Laritza Diversent

Political Decisions Above Cuban Laws / Laritza Diversent
Laritza Diversent, Translator: Raul G.

The American contractor, Alan , was sentenced this past March 4th
in Havana for carrying out acts which uphold the interests of a foreign
State with the "objective of damaging Cuban state independence or
territorial integrity", according article 91 of the Penal Code.

The choice of the precept made it clear what the Cuban authorities were
seeking, as they tried to apply one of the most imprecise and severe
aspects of their legislation. However, Law 88/99 in regards to "The
Protection of Cuban Independence and Economics" is less ample, and the
penal infraction regulated by its Article 11 is related more to the case
in question.

The precept establishes sentences of 3 to 8 years in , including a
sanction of a fine of one thousand to 15 thousand pesos to anyone who
directly distributes financial, material, or any other kind of means
that come from the United States or any of its private entities.

In December 2009, Gross was detained without any charges for trying to
bring satellite equipment to the Jewish community on the island.
Fourteen months later, the public prosecutor asked for a 20 year prison
sentence to Gross for actions against the territorial independence or
integrity of the Cuban state.

The Public Minister took the opportunity to apply Law 88/1999, popularly
known as the Gag Law, which is more benign and less ambiguous. The
tribunal also returned the proceedings for an incorrect legal

However, when the judicial process should be the same throughout the
entire island, the interpretation and application of the law is anything
but uniform. During the Spring of 2003, the Cuban courts condemned 75
dissidents to very long jail sentences. Only because the precept the
Penal Code allowed it, and at least 43 of them were sentenced under it.
They used the Gag Law on the rest of them.

In the case of the 75, the prosecutors office solicited the application
of Article 91 of the Penal Code in the Provincial Tribunal of Las Tunas
against one of the sentenced dissidents. In the sentence declared on
8/2003, the organ of justice rejected the prosecutor's petition due to
the special characteristics of Law 88/1999 which states in its text that
it can be preferentially applied towards any other penal legislation
which precedes it.

However, the Provincial Tribunal of Santiago de Cuba, in its 7/2003
sentence, rejected a legal mandate and the thesis of the defense to
sentence according to the crimes of the Gag Law; because "the accused
were seeking to undermine the sovereignty, to enslave the nation, and to
annex Cuba to the United States of America".

The fact that Alan Gross is a United States citizen worsened his
situation before the Cuban authorities, due to all the differences which
have existed for more than half a century between Cuba and the United
States. The subordination of revolutionary justice to the mandates of
the communist government also conspired against him.

The decision to sentence him and apply the most severe rule to him was
the result of political reasons which, in the island, are above the law.
As long as the State Council has the constitutional duty to impart
instructions to the Prosecutor's Office and the tribunals, it will
continue working that way.

Translated by Raul G.

April 6 2011

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