Fidel, the Lawyer Who Never Won a Case / Rene Gomez Manzano

Fidel Castro, “a lawyer without any cases”

The awarding of the National Law Prize to Fidel Castro—who abolished the judicial branch, established “revolutionary courts,” did away with procedural guarantees, and outlawed unfettered advocacy—is a mockery of justice.

I acknowledge that when I read that item my first thought was: “But hadn’t he already been given that?” We know that in these totalitarian regimes dominated by Marxism-Leninism, the bosses, by virtue of being that, are destined for all the distinctions, recognitions, and awards that have been or might be given. That the alumnus Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz had not been previously considered when this Prize was first granted probably cost some bureaucrat in the judicial sector a good scolding.

Now that it is an accomplished fact we should ask: What objective reasons exist for granting it? Was it based on the person’s performance before or after coming to power? The dilemma warrants that we briefly address these issues in order to give a response.

The professional practice of the older Castro after graduating as a lawyer was practically nil. In this he is no different from other figures who have gotten into history carrying a law degree. Internationally: Robespierre, Karl Marx, Lenin. In Cuba: Agramonte, Céspedes, Martí. These are just a few examples.

Fidel and his logorrhea

Of course I’m not making value judgments, simply naming people who, for better or worse, have earned a place in history. “Lawyer” is the title that is generally used to describe those figures. Although the appellation is not false, it is not really accurate nor illuminating. To more accurately describe what is common in these characters, we have to use a slightly longer phrase: “Lawyers without cases.” Continue reading

I Defend My Lawyer / Rene Gomez Manzano

The lawyer Amelia Rodríguez Cala. Photo by X.

The lawyer Amelia Rodríguez Cala. Photo by Jorge Ignacio Pérez

Havana, Cuba, February 2014 – Last week disturbing news circulated throughout the Cuban dissident community: The top permanent body of the National Organization of Collective Law Firms (ONBC) suspended Amelia Rodríguez Cala—the great defender of accused opponents of the regime—from practicing law for a period of six months.

As the days passed, additional details about the clumsy maneuver surfaced. It became clear that, although they invoked other reasons, what is at the heart of this new hoax is the aim of punishing this learned woman because of her upright stand in the exercise of her profession.

As usual, other pretexts are deployed. They initiated disciplinary proceedings against Amelia based on alleged complaints from two clients. At this point, it is reasonable to suspect that at least one of them is a provocateur in the service of the regime. In any case, a cursory examination of the two complaints demonstrates the weakness of the allegations.

In the case of Caridad Chacón Feraudy, it is claimed that the attorney did not submit her evidence in time. Never mind that a technical assistant breached her obligation of notifying and informing the lawyer about the matter. Nor that Amelia ultimately won the case, as the evidence was presented to better purpose, and accepted and used by the Court. Continue reading

Impossible Zone of Peace / Rene Gomez Manzano


Repression of a political dissident in Cuba. Source: EFE

HAVANA, Cuba – In the last several hours the Castro propaganda campaign has come to a climax on the occasion of the Second Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, which will be held in Havana between today and tomorrow. Of course this focus is justified if we consider the swaddling this event implies for the totalitarian regime in Havana.

Meanwhile, the independent press informs us about the intense reservation exercised by the Castro government against all of society. Even beggars and pimps have been affected by the delirium of the conclave. Many of them are warned that, during the great event, they should abstain from exercising their ancient craft.

On a slightly more serious note, it should be remembered that several documents have been agreed to within the CELAC framework. In one of them, dating from just a year ago, it reiterates that this Community is based on, among other things, “the protection and promotion of all human rights, the rule of law at the national and international level and democracy.” Can anyone believe these beautiful words are compatible with the regime imposed in Cuba by the Castro brothers?

Of course not. But the totalitarians usually get by with ease. We have the experience of the clauses about freedoms and pluralism adopted years ago by the Ibero-American Summit in Viña del Mar. With to what was agreed to there, the Havana authorities commented: The documents signed by Cuba we interpret according to our own conception of democracy. And problem solved!

The fact of the matter lies in that the governments of our cultural environment, who for the most part respect Human Rights internally, don’t allow among their members a regime that systematically violates them like that of Havana, but they even selected it to preside and host its meetings, as is happening now with the CELAC Summit in Havana. Its fig leaf is the supposed “uniqueness of Cuba.”

In the interim, Cuban authorities do a disservice to those democratic states. We hope the world press and the internal press of those countries report on the fierce repression unleashed in the Great Antille; in this case, the respective governments confront certain difficulties. Serves them right! For having tried to patronize the only totalitarian regime in the West.

At the same time, in the context of the Summit, Castro spokespeople have recalled the words spoken by General-President Raul Castro in South Africa: “Dialog and cooperation are the way to solve differences and the civilized coexistence of those who think differently.” Events show that this is proclaimed (and applied) in relations between states, not between the totalitarian regime and its subjects.

Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno, told the newspaper Granma a supposed new important aspect of the Havana Summit: “We believe that another contribution is the proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace. This is a proposal that we hope will be adopted during the 2nd Summit by its 33 member countries.”

That’s the way it is! And I thought that CELAC had already solved this in the Declaration of Santiago, agreed on in Chile a year ago! Its Point 14 establishes: “We commit that the climate of peace that prevails in Latin America and the Caribbean be strengthened throughout our region and consolidated in a Zone of Peace, and which differences among nations are resolved in a peaceful way through dialog and negotiation or other forms of solution, and fully consistent with International Law.”

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, at a press conference, affirmed that in Cuban there is no need to hold a summit of the peoples, as is generally held in other latitudes on similar occasions. For him this is because, according to what he said, the delegations meeting in Havana represent the governments as well as the masses.

The minister didn’t say what principles of Bolshevik alchemy apply now to make this happen. Surprisingly, such a thing doesn’t happen when these meetings are held in other sites, where, in the opinion of the radical left, it is necessary that in parallel to the official meetings, there is a Summit of the peoples.

Cubanet, 28 January 2014, René Gómez Manzano

Academic Exchange on Law and Human Rights in Cuba / Estado de Sats

With the independent Cuban attorneys Yaremis Flores and Laritza Diversent (Cubalex), René Gómez Manzano (Agramontista Current), Antonio G. Rodiles (Mathematical Physicist) and students from the New York University Law School.

This video is 44 minutes long. There is a live interpreter translating the session into English in real time.

22 January 2013