The licensed criminal defense attorney Ramon de la Cruz Ochoa has just made legal news in Cuba as the defense attorney for the American contractor Alan Gross, detained in Havana since a year ago while distributing computers to members of the Jewish community on the island.
Dr. de la Cruz Ochoa is a Specialist in Criminal Law from the University of Havana, where he is Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Law, and he obtained a Master in Public Law at the University of Valencia, Spain. He served as Attorney General of the Republic of Cuba, and currently works as an advocate of Special Services Legal Practice; he has written articles and papers in his specialty and heads the Cuban Society of Penal Sciences.
The good thing about his designation lies in the authority and respect earned by de la Cruz Ochoa within the Cuban legal framework. The experts tell stories about his time as a prosecutor and his “leap into the abyss” because this character is a “player” who switched sides, from top representative of the public prosecutor to advocate for international criminals.
Ramon de la Cruz Ochoa was replaced as Attorney General of the Republic by General Juan Escalona Reguera, who started in 1989 during the exceptional trial against the famous General Ochoa and other officers of the Armed Forces and the Ministry of Interior, which sparked suspicions about possible kinship between the criminal and General Ochoa who was executed.
The former prosecutor who now defends the alleged U.S. spy has in his favor, in addition to vast experience, knowledge and prestige, the fact of having the freedom to express himself beyond what is permitted by the Communist regime to legal operators. Cruz Ochoa is said to be a walking institution and the majority of judges, lawyers and prosecutors have been his disciples.
Despite his advanced age he is still regarded for his professional competence. His reputation as a prosecutor is strengthened by the ineffectiveness of his successor, there are the stories of his wit, wisdom and honesty in taking on the defense of clients represented in the Special Services Legal Practice, for foreigners.
Remaining to be seen, however, are the political interests working behind the scenes with regards to Alan Gross because, apparently, the contractor arrested and subjected to investigations by state security is a bilateral chess piece being played by the governments of Cuba and United States.
The defender of Alan Gross will have to dig deep and even burn his bridges. The case requires the attorney to divorce himself from the official position regarding censorship of the Internet and other taboo subjects on the island, where civil liberties is an unresolved matter. Given the long history of Cruz Ochoa and his commitment to the regime, it is difficult to think he may break away and be fair. We’ll see what happens.
February 26 2011