We invite you to participate in this platform because we have the profound conviction that life is something sacred and should be an indispensable value in the Republic we desire.
We understand that respect for life as a supreme value is a moral principle that can be assumed by believers and non-believers. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in its Article 3, is energetic and affirms that “Every individual has the right to life”.
The abolition of the death penalty in Cuba, now, tomorrow, and forever can be our first commitment as a nation. A commitment that — assumed by Cubans on the island and those in exile — demands of the Cuban Government its immediate suppression and stimulates transition toward an authentic democracy.
Capital punishment remains in effect in the Cuban Penal Code. It is true that at present the regime maintains a de facto moratorium on the application of said sanction, but we all know that it’s due to tactical conveniences and not due to a questioning of the moral nature of the same. For this reason, it was sadly applied in 2003 after several years of not having been used. All Cubans, especially those condemned to death, know that the regime keeps this terrifying resource intact and that it can be applied at any moment.
In the free world the death penalty tends to disappear from legislation or has been overruled by moratoria that make its application a de facto impossibility. Besides defense of human life, there exist different reasons that have motivated these important advances.
The reality is that no judicial system can guarantee the absence of errors that can lead to the execution of an innocent person. It’s a fact that in recent times, thanks to DNA tests, many convicts have been freed, victims of errors or judicial omissions.
Another argument to consider is in the case of a murder, the punishment doesn’t serve as retribution for the crime committed, as it cannot repair the loss of a dear one with the execution of the murderer; on another count, how many times can we execute someone who has killed many? We have one life alone and one death alone.
Also arguable is the example of the death penalty, the crime rate is no lower in countries that apply it and the executions of Nazi leaders in Nuremberg haven’t dissuaded genocide, to cite recent cases alone, such as those of Slobodan Milosevic or Saddam Hussein.
On the other hand, the experience of many democratic countries demonstrates that, if adequate legislation is established and social and political pacts are observed that enable its systematic application, social peace can be guaranteed without the violent physical elimination of its enemies being necessary in a State of Law.
In Cuba’s case, the usual subordination of judicial to political power and the present deteriorating material, moral, and civic conditions make us doubt that Cuban justice, now and in the near-term future, will be able to guarantee due process to anyone condemned to death.
We share the conviction that Cuba’s future has an urgent need of justice and perhaps now is the time to ask ourselves if it is desirable that in this future, the application of the death penalty should continue in effect; if the justice we seek requires the spilling of other Cubans’ blood.
We do not believe that the death penalty serves as retribution for harm committed in our Motherland and, much less, that it contributes to guarantee a social peace that can be fully attained with the restoration of a State of Law and the citizen compromise with adequate legislation, and with social pacts that emanate from democracy.
To proclaim the necessity of the death penalty in Cuba’s future contributes to that our children and grandchildren, parents and siblings of those who might be judged shall be less disposed to accept a justice that might include capital punishment. Eliminating capital punishment from whichever Cuban penal code will bring safety in the process of the transition toward democracy, guaranteeing that said sanction shall not be used as revenge or as a method of eliminating one’s enemy.
We believe that those who wish for and manage change in Cuba — whatever be its level of compromise — would appreciate an agreement of this nature, especially those inside the regime who might wish to move in a direction toward authentic democracy.
This agreement for the abolition of the death penalty in Cuba shares some values that are defended by the chancelleries around the world, especially those of Europe, where the death penalty provokes great rejection; this citizen’s platform will plant an important moral and diplomatic challenge for those who govern in Havana.
Cuban society, for decades, has been doomed to depreciate life and render worship to death: “The Motherland or Death”, “Socialism or Death” have been the slogans par excellence. We have gained nothing on that road, let us allow life — not death — to be the cornerstone of our future.
We invite you to sign this proposal for the abolition of the death penalty in Cuba now, tomorrow, and always.
December 9, 2010