Just One Account / Josue, Rojas Marin, Cuban Law Association

I live in a community with more than sixty buildings. Behind them, as is the case with my home, many residents—at the request of the government itself—began planting fruit trees and banana plants. When the marathon of demolishing everything began, I decided to make an estimate of the economic losses that were indiscriminately carried out by people who came from other cities to destroy what had been so passionately harvested for more than a decade.

Josué Rojas Marín

To give you an idea, there were about 300 banana plants when demolition started, some 50 new bunches were uprooted and another 130 were cut and thrown in a corner of the building, their remnants remaining there since July 2012. In that same time frame, 50 or 60 bunches had been collected monthly, which means about 660 per year, or about 16,500 pounds that were contributed to urban consumption and that represent about 9,900 pesos taken from the pockets of those citizens to whom no one came to meet their needs.What is more aggravating is that when the Director of Physical Planning visited the town and I gave him that assessment, he told me that it didn’t matter, that many residents reported that they now had more open space. I responded that people can’t live on open space, but they can live on food. He shut up and couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

Translated by Tomás A.

4 April 2014

Something That Goes Beyond the Law / Josue Rojas Marin, Cuban Law Association

Atty. Josue Rojas Marin

Some landlords from Santa Lucia beach in the Camaguey province find themselves confused before a measure imposed by officials from Immigration and Aliens. Since last year, they have made them sign a document obliging them to be responsible for the cars rented by tourist staying in their homes, in spite of the fact that they sign a rental contract with the agency.  As is logical, there is nothing in the law that imposes a responsibility for property that forms no part of the accommodation.

They also have to keep the home’s door wide open, as we say in good Cuban, in order not to obstruct a surprise inspection, abrogating to the inspectors the right to write or cross things out in the rental registry book, in spite of the fact that it is not they but the Municipal Housing Department that is responsible for controlling this document, so it is required that a responsible person not leave the dwelling unattended, even when there are no guests.

The landlords often suffer unexpected visits by police agents who also write in the registry books, conduct illegal searches, take the registry book without any legal process and return it whenever they want.

All that affects the rental activity and consequently their income.

Translated by mlk.
31 March 2014

Yearning for a Dream / Eliocer Cutino Rodriguez, Cuban Law Association

Eliocer Cutiño Rodríguez

Some time ago, as I began to write a text about my country, I surprised myself with this thought: “… it seems as though a change toward participatory democracy is becoming reality.” That was my inspiration which turned into my written words, but before finishing the text, a friend whom I asked to critique my writing suggested I should eliminate that idea. It was a notorious moment. Although the concept was never devoid of free will, at some point I wanted to convey a very distant but not outlandish hope.  Revisiting after seeing the activities for the 55th anniversary of the Triumph of the Revolution and hearing the speech of the President of the Council of State and Ministers, it is nonsense.

Perhaps the signs that provide guidance to the analysts or the media are not the same that take into account the Cuban people. Continue reading

Who’s Fault Is It? / Alexis Piloto Cabrero, Cuban Law Association

Lawyer Alexis Piloto Cabrero

Juan Miguel Hernández Basulto, Camagüey, was expecting a package sent to his wife from Italy through Globestar agency operated in Havana by Cuban officials enjoying the total confidence of the State for this type of business. Hernandez Basulto was discontented when he received the package. The package was for his daughter’s quinceañera, and it was damaged and stolen before he received it. It hurts more when no one appears to be responsible. He told me that he wanted to make a formal claim for damages, but did not know what was the next step.

When communicating with the Globestar representative in Cuba, Mrs. Martha, she told him that she would take care of the problem. But instead she never gave him an answer to his problem. Will Juan Miguel then demanded from Saverio Cicaroni, the owner of the business in Rome, to explain where the gold articles, footwear, and other contents are, valued more than € 520.

Translated by E.C and A.I

12 March 2014

Capitalist Reminiscence? / Cuban Law Association, Wilfredo Vallin Almeida

Wilfredo Vallin Almeida

Many events throughout our existence can be forgotten, but others leave a deep memory that does not go away. And these events may have had many demonstrations as they can be taken for granted, a dream, an omission, a sentence, and even a poster.

With the latter two, much relegated to memory, I was suddenly assaulted when I least expected it: while watching a video that a friend had sent me.

The video in question relates to an investigation and several arrests made by the Technical Investigation Department (DTI) of the National Revolutionary Police. The detainees are involved in fraudulent transactions whose amount is a whopping 33 million pesos.

The poster that comes to mind at the moment is one I saw I don’t know how many times over many years. It was a big fence on a broad avenue and on a white background highlighted in red:

The future belongs entirely to socialism. 

It’s a sign that I no longer see, but it was present during the youth of Cubans of the generation of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, when it was assumed that the “moribund capitalism” was terminal and that, who could doubt it?, socialism would be victorious.

The other phrase, I also was reminded of by the sign is:

Crime is reminiscence of capitalist society and will disappear to the extent that socialism advances.

I read that phrase many times in textbooks of law and Marxist texts that college students had to study and examine mandatory.

Watching this film, which ends with the words of General President Raul Castro admits theft where in the country is huge, at all levels and at all levels, and as, moreover, I see it now flourishing and vigorous than ever before in the history of Cuba, I then subtracted one question:

What happened to the “capitalist reminiscence”?

10 February 2014

Preface for an Economic Study / Cuban Law Association, Eliocer Cutino Rodriguez

Eliocer Cutiño Rodríguez

As an attorney, to speak in economic terms is a litmus test or a tightrope walk, and which both situations demand respect for a central issue in the lives of other social spheres in which man intervenes.

I will not elaborate further, I will comment as to my views on the new, but limited, economic opening that is being talked of in the country today.

The current environment of small and smaller private Cuban businesses, as we can not speak of medium enterprises, are generally characterized by lack of rights of the owners, higher personal income taxes and sometimes for alleged profits are actually received by the self-employed. Continue reading

Discordant Note / Cuban Law Association, Eliocer Cutino Rodriguez

Eliocer Cutiño Rodríguez

The issue of development in Cuba goes back and forth between dissimilar solutions, between truths and errors, heading toward new labyrinths that contain new and more complex situations difficult to control with a simple decree.

Last year Decrees 305 and 306 were issued in order to establish as a source of law a rule which itself shelters disadvantages with exclusive principles of new forms of non-agricultural cooperatives.

Centralization for approval undermines the facilities they could count on and sets aside the purely local interests for those they will create, considering that they are also municipal and provincial local bodies, and are evaluated by the Standing Committee and Council of Ministers. Continue reading

Correct interpretation of the law, a problem for us all / Cuban Law Association, Yureisy Ceballos Pendones

Yureisy Ceballos Pendones

Recently I was consulted about a case in an action which seems to form part of the working style of those who are, one way or another, employed in the law. I am referring specifically to the office of the Port of Cuba.

A young man decided to leave the country illegally, he was repairing a boat on the north coast of Camagüey when he was surprised by the authorities of the said organisation and went through the administrative process with a fine of 3000.00 Cuban pesos (CUP). Continue reading

On Property Rights (VIII) / Cuban Law Association, Mérida de la C. Pastor Masson, Esq.

Mérida de la C. Pastor Masson, Esq.

Following a corresponding written order, in relation to article 168, we will refer to the nature of joint ownership constituted by the participating State or its agencies, organizations, policies, etc., with a participating natural person and, which can be extinguished by a cause such as: Participation and allocation of goods in accordance with its nature.

A purchase by the State or any of its agencies or organizations from participating natural persons.

A purchase by natural persons from the participating State so long as this does not include a farmstead.

The sale of a said property and subsequent distribution of monies shall be allotted to co-owners (State and natural persons) in accordance with corresponding quota allocations.

In all all cases, purchase and selling operations shall –  let us be clear — be carried out at the official price should this be already fixed or, otherwise, shall be appraised and established by the government body empowered to conduct said proceeding.

From this chapter, we only need to mention that pursuant to article 169 which refers to joint co-ownership derived from matrimonial or community property, said communal holding would be in danger of dissolution when, under certain circumstances in case of divorce, the community of marriage had been dissolved by what our Family Codes 29-42 specify as intent to “malign.”  Future updates on this topic are currently under review.

Translated by: JCD

11 December 2013

Either Planet / Cuban Law Association, Rodrigo Chavez

Lic. Rodrigo Chávez

For my eldest son, Roylier Javier Chávez Dubrocq.

Countless conversations will never happen given the pigheaded, volatile and dim-witted habit our government has for maintaining a monopolistic grip and control on the flow of information, or should I say, disinformation.  Essentially, the State not only keeps us in the dark about our legitimate rights, but is sole proprietor of our intimacy and our ability to move or even think.

My son is back where the four condemned Cuban “anti-terrorists and Heroes of the Cuban Republic,” as they are better known back here, are imprisoned. Thing is: on this planet, all Cuba is like a prison and subjected to the whimsy of just a few.  By whimsy I mean the sort of fanciful cravings and doings of the few that are concealed from view but completely inhibit the people’s access — let alone execution — to even the most basic of rights.

From that other planet — where all rights are seen, heard and spoken — we are routinely exposed to movies and TV shows where legal recourse and due process are recognized.  On that other planet, all information is publicly shared among  nations.  Routine comparison to what has been called a revolution here really ends up sounding like a complete misnomer.

Big difference: My son is now poignantly aware of what I told him years ago and he can effectively measure the difference between what he studied here but experiences as his true life over there.

For this reason, whenever we speak his words are upbeat but always underscore that the Cuba yearned for should be one where democracy, freedom and ample human rights are given.

We’ll get there one day, son.  Surely we will.

Translated by: JCD

9 December 2013

Impartiality / Cuban Law Association

Wilfredo Vallín Almeida

Last month marked the second anniversary of the death of Laura Pollan, spokeswoman for one of Cuba’s most renowned dissident groups, the Ladies in White.

On that day, we gradually learned, many people in different parts of the country were detained, apparently because of official concern about demonstrations commemorating the anniversary.

Some of those detentions lasted for two to three days, as we learned directly from those affected.

Many of these people came to the Law Society seeking help in bringing charges against their captors for the way they had been treated.

In many countries a situation exists that has no place in Cuba: the independence of the judiciary in relation to the other branches of government.

In Cuba the police, both political and regular, belong to the executive branch, in other words to the state power. The Prosecutor’s Office (military or civilian) also belongs to the apparatus of the state (the government). The same applies to the courts.

Bringing a complaint to the Military Prosecutor to be presented before the court against the military that belongs to the same ministry, and that is also subordinate to government authority, does not seem to have much chance of success, especially when it comes to political issues.

The impartiality spoken of in Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, namely:

Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of their rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against them.

It requires, as you can read in the underlined portion, that the court be independent and impartial; in Cuba neither of these two things exist.

We continue to use that proposition in advising those who come to us, but we must lay out the truth, even if we don’t like it.

It is not likely that these allegations will have any result because the ideological obedience of the state institutions does not allow anything else, much less the punishment of its own members for actions “against the class enemy,” that is, those who don’t think like they do.

In a perfect justice system, every citizen should have the right that we are analyzing. But a critical element does not even exist in our national courts: their impartiality.

Translated by: Tomás A.

25 November 2013

Never-ending Wait / Cuban Law Association, Esperanza Rodriguez Bernal

Esperanza Rodríguez Bernal

Juan José returns to the Cuban Law Association for advice because the Compensation Fund has paid only 3,000 of the 39,000 pesos that he was awarded in the judgment of the People’s Municipal Court of Arroyo Naranjo as compensation for the injuries and damages caused by Ernesto, the driver of the Ministry of Agriculture truck that collided with his vehicle.

He told us that he has gone to the Fund many times and that the answer is always, “we have no money to pay.”

His health condition caused by the accident has deteriorated: he has had to undergo two operations on his arm, and two on his spine, declining a third because of the risk of being rendered completely disabled.

To make matters worse, his wife had to undergo surgery for breast cancer, resulting in expenses for transportation and food that his retirement pension cannot cover.

Juan contends that if he could have recovered the majority of the compensation he could at least have fixed their vehicle, and this would have allowed him to get a taxi-driver’s license in order to improve their economic situation.

A letter from the Director of the Compensation Fund dated March 13, 2012, informed Juan, among other things, that “the obliged or debtor has not begun to pay the civil liability imposed by the Municipal Court of Arroyo.”

The letter added that the Fund serves as an intermediary through which the injured party can collect, but it does not take on the responsibility of the debtors to pay the compensation, and therefore it has no funds for assuming that responsibility.

The judgment declaring Ernesto responsible was dated July 6, 2011, and in May 2012, Juan José had recovered only a fraction of it.

According to Article 26 of the Constitution, Juan has the right to make a request to confirm the legality of the judgment of the Arroyo Naranjo Court because it has not been complied with, as regulated in Article 474 in relation with Article 473 of the Labor and Economic Administrative Civil Procedure Law, as well as that established in Law 82 of the People’s Courts in Articles 6 and 7, paragraphs a), b), c) and f), which expressly states:

The courts must effectively implement the rulings that they issue and monitor compliance with them by the agencies charged with being involved in the implementation process, and must also perform the acts prescribed in the appropriate procedural laws, when the execution of their rulings lies with other state agencies.

How much longer must Juan wait to collect the compensation that the Municipal Court of Arroyo Naranjo ordered in a final judgment?

If the agencies charged with enforcing the law do not take the matter in hand, Juan’s wait will be never-ending.

13 November 2013