From the Wolf, a Hair* / Cuban Law Association, Wilfredo Vallin Almeida

Photo: Marcelo López Bañobre

By Wilfredo Vallín Almeida

Like many compatriots, I sat down to watch the appearance of General of the Army Raul Castro during his recent speech before the National Assembly of People’s Power.

I talked with other lawyers about his words before that forum and, unsurprisingly, some were interested in certain aspects of his speech, while others fixed on different details.

Personally, he caught my attention when he said:

We have to have the Party Congress set the course to update the Cuban economic model and to achieve a sustainable and prosperous socialist society, a less egalitarian but more just society .  . .”

It’s with regards to …”a less egalitarian but more just society”that I want to reflect about. continue reading

For many years we have heard of a justice that meant a classless society, and we were witnesses of how those who departed from this scheme were persecuted or segregated.

I remember very clearly that one of the elements that was always reflected in the investigation of a person was their standard of living — whether they had relatives abroad, received outside help, etc. A positive finding of those details was an aggravating factor for their situation.

Until recently, the following paragraph from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was, for the extreme champions of the EGALITARIAN society, a dead letter and condemnable:

“Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of living in larger freedom . . .”

Social progress? Better standards of living? That smacked of ideological deviation.

But time passed, “and an eagle passed over the sea. . .”**

Things change by inner conviction or because there is no alternative. But in the midst of the stagnation that has gripped the country for half a century, the fact that the current head of state speaks in favor of less egalitarianism, may mean that it is already happening somewhat, though still far from what we would want.

But like my grandmother used to say: from the wolf, a hair.*

Translator’s notes:

*The Spanish proverb “Del lobo un pelo, y ése de la frente” can be translated, roughly, “From the wolf [take] a hair, and this from the forehead,” and means, roughly, when you can’t expect to receive good from someone, take whatever little you can.

**From “The Pink Shoes”, a poem by Jose Martí

Translated by Tomás A.

16 April 2013

Tabula Rasa / Wilfredo Vallin Almeida

Tomada de Internet

6-vallin_21 Wilfredo Vallín Almeida

On the 160th anniversary of the birth of José Martí, it occurs to me to say something about two of his writings. The first, extremely well-known: the letter that the Apostle* wrote to his friend Manuel Mercado hours before his death in Dos Rios.

In this letter cataloged by some as his political testament, the Maestro* says:

I lived in the monster and I know its entrails and my sling is that of David.

 This phrase has been repeated countless times by all media in Cuba since 1959, in schools and colleges and has been part of countless political texts. continue reading

The objective of dissemination of the phrase — as widely as possible — l seems clear to me. Therefore I want to dwell a little more on this other, which for some unpardonable omission, I have never heard or read in any appearance or any means of education or mass information.

About the independence of Cuba, the Apostle said in an article published in La América, in New York in October of 1883:

“… man is not guilty of being born with conditions of intelligence raised in a fair, heroic and respectable struggle, about other men, that the combined result of genius, natural talent, and perseverance, virtues more valuable to possess than that of genius, cannot respond as to a crime to he who has put to use the power of the mind and the will of nature; nor does one stop to see that whatever might be the systematic attempts at life, enjoyment and common benefits which come as proof of the remedy of evil will never be resigned to men to nullify the mind that populates the highest reaches of the cranium, nor to drown the autocratic and individual passions that boil in his chest, nor to confuse with the confused work of others, that which looks like a piece of his entrails and the wings ripped from his back, and his victory, his own idea.”

These words bring to mind the “brain drain” of the “traitors who leave for economic reasons and not for political reasons,” the Cubans who can not invest in their own country and that the standard of living of many people has always been viewed with suspicion by those who are obliged to know everything, insert themselves into everything and sink into poverty, absurdly, human nature.

At least from it says here, the most universal of Cubans do not seem very comfortable with the idea of making from all Cubans a tabula rasa.

*Translator’s note: Cubans commonly call José Martí “the Apostle” and “Maestro.”

January 28 2013

Santiesteban: The Fundamentals of Law and Reasonable Doubt / Angel Santiesteban #Cuba

1359244819_6-vallin_21Wilfredo Vallín Almeida

The case of the honored and prize-winning writer Angel Santiesteban Prats has been appealed to the Supreme Court by his defense attorney, using the right to appeal to the highest court in the land.

In a previous post I analyzed the facts that were present in the case and now I will do the same with the law that, in my opinion, is also involved in this controversial issue. continue reading

First of all, let me start with what has been called the principle of immediacy. This principle refers to the time that may elapse between the events and the trial and essentially proposes that this time should be as short as possible.

When so much time has elapsed between the events that are going to be addressed in the trial and the holding of that trial (as in the present case because between the events and the trial it was more three years), the passage of time can:

  • Distort memories, erase details, change impressions;
  • Lead to the absence of important witnesses for one reason or another;
  • Other undesirable and disruptive elements of objectivity, truthfulness and accuracy that in a case of this nature should be avoided.

Moreover, article 70 paragraph 4 of the Criminal Procedure Act reads: “When not expressed clearly and strictly in the judgment, the facts are considered proven, or there a manifest contradiction between them.”

And this is the case with Santiesteban: there was a contradiction in the facts given by the court and proved by other evidence presented at the trial and the testimony of several witnesses. Also there is a lack of clarity because of “the omission of essential elements legal significance.”

To add another legal element (I could add others), I will refer to Article 350 of the Criminal Procedure Act itself when it says:

“If some element or circumstance has been omitted that, without substantially altering the facts, can affect the classification of the crime, or if an error has been committed regarding this or the degree of participation of the accused or the aggravating circumstances of criminal responsibility … “

The judgment requires compliance with this article, but the formalities have not been observed.

A final detail (for reasons of space):

The Provincial Court itself recognizes in its judgments the personal merit and prizes awarded to Santiesteban. Moreover Instruction 175 of 21 July 2004 the Governing Council of the People’s Supreme Court directs, when the penalty of imprisonment does not exceed five years, such a penalty can be replaced with one that does not involve incarceration.

However, for Ángel Santiesteban the sanction does not refer to these substitutions, leaving jail as the only option.

Is there some special problem with Santiesteban that has been ignored in this trial?

Cuban Law Association

January 26 2013

End of Year Gift / Wilfredo Vallin Almeida #Cuba


Wilfredo Vallín Almeida

One of a country’s most precious things is its traditions They constitute the people’s soul and shape identity and belonging.

And culture and traditions are shaped by the nuances and vicissitudes of popular history over a long period of evolution and development of nationality and personality.

We Cubans have many and they are and very beautiful. For their authenticity, they have remained despite efforts to make them disappear following the dictates of an absurd and dogmatic social engineering.

One of these was the Christmas festivities and, among them, the gifts placed under the tree to be opened on the morning of the birth of baby Jesus, and the pleasant and emotive sound of a Christmas carol.

That was an experience so beautiful as to never be forgotten.

Then there were no more Christmases or New Years, or Three Kings or gifts under the tree or under the bed.

Then came adulthood, after maturity, and it has not crossed my mind that the possibility of a return with a huge cargo of human warmth, familiarity and Cubanness.

However, unexpectedly, they have returned, no less than in these last Christmases, to receive a gift that fills my heart with joy and hope, and it comes from an unexpected place: INTERNET tells us that the Cuban Law Association (AJC) ends 2012 with more than 110,000 visits to its blog.

The fact that a blog of legal issues, often highly technical and difficult to understand, created with much effort as we try to write in an understandable way for those not versed in the law, has reached that impressive figure can only fill us with joy and a sense of accomplishment in a fair fight.

Within Cuba are more than 1,200 entries to the AJC blog. In a country like ours, without INTERNET and where the overwhelming majority of the population does not have a computer, that number is not negligible.

Of course this involves us more, but now, we want to thank from the bottom of our hearts all who come to read to us and give us their comments, which are almost entirely respectful and encouraging.

Thank you all for this delightful, stimulating — and very emotional for us — NEW YEAR’S GIFT.

January 17 2013

Law or Violence / Wilfredo Vallin Almeida #Cuba

19--legalidad o violencia

By Wilfredo Vallín Almeida

I always thought that on the day in which things in Cuba would become as they are today, the people in power would behave with much more good sense and flexibility.

Those of us who now have grey hairs, do not forget the nationalisation without compensation of many properties, the compulsory separation from families who have gone abroad, the persecution for religious belief, the Forced Labor Camps (UMAP), the banning of the Beatles, the notorious “warning” to the intellectuals, the very dangerous installation of nuclear missiles, etc., etc.

All of this, plus the accumulation of five undelivered five-year plans, have worn out the patience of the citizens whom they asked to sacrifice their time and their lives in return for the future of the New Man.

Now we see, for example, the open letter attributed to a group of surgeons from the Calixto Garcia hospital circulated on the internet, where you can read:

The deficiencies in the medical service are so serious … that we cannot provide medical attention which is ethical and which our people deserve, which is our sacred duty.

For how long are we going to be grateful to the centenary generation for having done their duty … while our generation waits to carry out its duty to develop and to give our families and children the life they deserve?

I also never thought that we would be the citizens who use the revolutionary and socialist laws to indicate to those in power (and also to international organisations – why not?); that those who once told us “we are all equal before the law” would put themselves outside the law and allow themselves to disregard it.

It’s what happens when:

– They handcuff and throw in jail a lawyer who has gone to a police station to inquire about the legal position of a prisoner.

– They tell us that “from now on, lawyers will not be allowed into police stations.”

– They tell the activists of the campaign For Another Cuba:

These Agreements are all very nice, but, what you don’t know is that, behind all this is the hand of the enemy who has other aims in mind…

(Please note the implication that Cubans never do anything as a result of their own convictions, but we are always programmed and led by foreign enemies).

– They use violence against people without any basis in law and with the manifest contempt on the part of the political police for peoples’ legal rights as recognised in the nation’s own Magna Carta.

– They send a message to the people which reads:

The only possibility of independence and national sovereignty resides in ourselves. There is absolutely nobody in the 11 million Cubans who has more ability than ourselves to guarantee that sovereignty, as well as the right to stay here all our lives.

Violence only leads to more violence. Many people have already died for that and others have been close to dying for the same reason.

Unfortunately, possibly some more Cubans have to die before this sad story ends. It’s just that those of us who feel love for this country always bet on the first of the two choice in this absurd binomial alternative: law or violence.

Translated by GH

December 30 2012

Santiesteban, the Facts and Reasonable Doubt / Angel Santiesteban, By Wilfredo Vallin Almeida

By Wilfredo Vallin Almeida

The questions mount up in the criminal case of the celebrated writer Ángel Santiesteban leaving the legal officials in Cuba looking very bad in terms of transparency and legal techniques and leaving us with a certain taste of injustice. The case is a good demonstration of that and gives rise to something which in the past used to be unacceptable to legal practitioners; deciding a penalty while doubts persist.

IN DUBIO PRO REO (the accused has the benefit of any doubt) is what they used to say, but this seems to have been excluded from Cuban legal practice.

In criminal law and criminal procedure, the events which give rise to offences normally focus, in terms of process, on two basic aspects:

  1. the facts in themselves (the grounds of fact), and
  2. the relevant legal principles (Articles of Law, Resolutions of the Governing Council of the Supreme Popular Tribunal, legal doctrine, interpretation, etc.)

Let’s start of by indicating some of the irregularities (there are more) in terms of grounds of fact which are evident in this complicated and lengthy business;

The only direct evidence shown in the process is that of his ex-partner, who is the one accusing him. But what we have ended up with is that during the various declarations offered by her in the long-drawn-out preparatory stage, the accusation has repeatedly changed, to such an extent that the Prosecutor had to disregard and ignore some of them on the grounds, as far as we could see, of being ambiguous and hardly able to be taken seriously.

Can you have confidence in the evidence of a person who keeps changing his or her testimony? In the same case, this lady again contradicts herself, this time in terms of the medical certificate she presents, which does not accord with the injuries she claims to have received.

In her testimony, the claimant says that after having been brutally hit, she was raped by the accused. The Prosecutor nevertheless did not take into account this important element in the case.

Prior to this matter, Angel and his ex-partner had been through another case where she accused him of having threatened her. In this case the defendant was found innocent.

The appearance of the teacher and school director of Santiesteban’s son, Eduardo Angel , was important. She testified that the child told her that his mother obliged him to say things against his father. This evidence was also disregarded by the Tribunal.

Obviously, these were not all the issues of fact: I have referred to only some of them – sufficient in my opinion to illustrate to those not well-versed in such matters, what is the meaning of REASONABLE DOUBT.

Translated by GH

December 20 2012

Campaign for Another Cuba: Video #Cuba

This video is less than 4 minutes long.

About Our Justice / Cubal Law Association, Wilfredo Vallin Almeida #Cuba

By Wilfredo Vallín Almeida

One of the fundamental elements required for a credible trial is PUBLIC.

While not synonymous with total transparency, a public trial allows us to be informed about it, as the events take place before our eyes and actions of the court are exposed to the severe scrutiny of those who are watching. Especially when it comes to judicial proceedings that, no doubt, feature in the nation’s history and in the personal history of its players.

When the trial is public and allows any interested party to attend, it’s difficult for things to happen that are not observed and so, to undermine justice.

Thus the importance for participants on both sides.

The trial for the event that cost the life of the winner of the Sakharov Human Rights Prize, Oswaldo Paya Sardinas — promoter and executor of the already historical Varela Project — which was held against the Spaniard Ángel Francisco Carromero Barrios, the person who was driving the vehicle in which Payá was traveling with his collaborator. Harold Cepero and a Swedish citizen, was held in secret.

This event sparked, from the beginning, a series of controversial opinions because the Cuban authorities always considered it an accident and a great many of the government’s opponents did not share this opinion.

They should have acted, then, in ways that would not allow any doubt about this troublesome issue, where it was clear that we were in the presence of an unfortunate accident. Such a practice could only be achieved by strict adherence to the provisions of these cases.

Thus, in the Criminal Procedure Act (LPP), Article 305, we read:

The trial is public unless reasons of state security, morality, public order or the respect due to the person aggrieved by the offense or their relatives suggest it should be held behind closed doors.

The trial was held behind closed doors with a large police presence around the court. If indeed the authorities did not consider what happened as a mere traffic accident, why did not declare their privacy for reasons of state security which is much closer to the real facts and why did they publish that the trial would be public?

Later in the same article 305 mentioned above, we read:

The only people who will attend the sessions of closed door trails are the parties, their representatives, advocates, support staff and people that the President or the Court authorize.

But, inconceivably, they did not allow the children of the deceased, Payá Sardinas, access to the courtroom of the Tribunal in clear contrast to what we just read in Art. 305 of the LPP. Would these two young people have been able to cause public disorder in the courtroom? I doubt it.

Finally, the article we are discussing closes:

The Court can make this decision before the trial, or any state thereof, or upon its own motion, stating on the record the reasons to support that decision.

We already have experienced how simple administrative processes trials are held in secret and with a police deployment without any explanation for it.

In any event, I would like to read in the minutes of the Court the reasons for acting the way they did in this case. But I doubt that’s possible with everything we’re seeing … and despite what is reported at international events about our justice system.

October 12 2012

CONCEPTS: Criminal Code / Cuban Law Association, Wilfredo Vallin Almeida #Cuba

By Wilfredo Vallín Almeida

As our readers know, the legal education of the national population constitutes one of the founding purposes of the Cuban Legal Association.

Given the importance of the topic and its need, we intend to continue working in this direction in this space, to assist with the preparation so necessary for everyone given current conditions.

So, we begin with a question and an answer: What is the Criminal Code?

Usually a Criminal Code is a compilation of those human behaviors deemed detrimental to social harmony and therefore  punishable because of theirs damage to the established order and organized peaceful relations that should exist in any civilized human community.

When the dangerousness of a human act (or even a failure to act) or conduct for the rest of the people in society is defined by the state as seriously harmful, it is considered and then defined as a “crime” and comes to occupy a place in the conduct to which we referred in the previous paragraph.

Each and every one of those human behaviors designed and offenses are listed, then retained and reflected in articles written consisting of the Criminal Code in question, so that individual behavior can be collated as described in the article prohibiting it, and which is understood that if it occurs, the subject’s behavior is criminal.

If the behavior of the subject in question does not match closely to the provisions of the letter of the law, then there is no crime.

So, in short, a criminal code is not simply the compilation of state-forbidden behavior, but also cover other aspects relating to the adequacy and enforcement of criminal justice.

Non-observance of its precepts will entail the suffering of a punishment (sentence) imposed by the state apparatus established for this purpose (the judicial system).

The Cuban criminal code, opens with some Preliminary Provisions which describe the objectives of the code in force in our country and which, in my opinion, it would be interesting to analyze in detail in future editions.

October 17 2012

Loyalty and Integrity / Cuban Law Association, Wilfredo Vallin Almeida #Cuba

By Wilfredo Vallín Almeida

We are at a difficult time in our history. So difficult that even nature seems to have conspired to bring us trouble. You have to be totally blind not to see the continuing and rapid deterioration of Cuba’s social health.

What happens around us is not new for history lovers. Similar situations have occurred in other places and other times. No wonder scholars say that “history repeats itself every so often.”

The deterioration of the environment should not lead, however, to loss of internal values. These values are the only ones that can save us amid the general disaster.

And it can’t happen, that between ourselves we have same situations that we criticize and fight. That is something that should be very clear to all of us in the Cuban Law Association.

Every day we see (and deal with) corruption, crime of all kinds, the little or no integrity of entities which should be paradigms for the country, constant violations of the law, ignorance or evil intention of their agents … all types of misconduct.

It is, moreover, what Cubans have called “to resolve,” that is, to get money by any means, without considering how in order to alleviate the shortages and general need we all suffer.

But beyond  all the hardships and vicissitudes, is the legacy left to us by the founding fathers of the Cuban nation and the sense of probity that we maintain at all costs. And that legacy reads verbatim:

When there are many men without decorum, there are always others who bear in themselves the honor of many men. Those are the ones who rebel with terrible strength against those who rob a people of their liberty which is to rob men of their decorum. In those men are thousands of men, a whole people, human dignity.

We will not and cannot renounce these paradigms . This would be to lose everything in this country and to sink the few handholds with which we can rescue the nation tomorrow.

The Cuban Law Association will always require absolute adherence of its members to the previous paradigms at any cost, even that of running out of members. And the lawyers who are not at the level that this time requires and who are carried away by human misery to which we may be exposed, because we are in Cuba, must abandon the Cuban Law Association, without distinction of person.

Because all we need now, greatly need, is LOYALTY AND INTEGRITY

November 5 2012

Crossroads / Cuban Law Association, Wilfredo Vallin Almeida

By Lic. Wilfredo Vallín  Almeida

Three youths were arrested violently, forced into a police car, and taken to a national police station where they were held for about 24 hours under interrogation by the State Security.

The reason: Handing out leaflets for the Citizen Demand for Another Cuba which, weeks before, had been delivered by its developers to the People’s National Assembly where it was received and given the number 1207, on June 20, 2012.

Although police violence is a fact that occurs almost daily in our country — the record of it is shown in photos, videos and interviews by independent media, bloggers and others — this case in particular, by its connotation, deserves special consideration.

When we speak at the police station with the agents of the political police who handled this case, we noticed several things to be discussed below.

First they told us that these young people had been arrested “for distributing propaganda in the public street.” Although they didn’t use the term “enemy,” it was obvious that in referring to propaganda it had to be, because otherwise there was no justification for the arrests.

When we showed the agents that this document had been delivered to the National Assembly of People’s Power without objections on the part of those who received it, they then went on to say “they resisted arrest.”

We will not detail here the argument under International Law that an arrest that begins by being illegal it is not valid for the powers-that-be to later turn it into one that is. That is, at least for now, another issue.

What the agents seemed to look at most strongly was where those sheets had been printed. So what is “important” to them is the printing, not the content. And that can be logically understood because what really worries them is not the actual printing, but the issue that plays out on those sheets.

And the issue is the Covenant of Civil and Political Rights and the Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Human Rights, both of the United Nations (UN).

And we can understand the official concern because:

Cuba is a member of the UN.

Cuba participates in the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

It is seen as an International Rights Organization violating rights, which they reserve to themselves.

There is a plan, for the second or third time, for a UN rapporteur for torture to visit the Island, it’s not known when.

The Cuban government signed its intention to introduce these Covenants on the island on February 28, 2008.

In the case of such documents they cannot characterize them as an “imperialist maneuver against the country” or something like that.

Nor can they imprison those who disclose these covenants or support this campaign because this act would be wholly inconsistent with the principles of the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

They know that, across the whole country, if their content and perspectives are made know to Cubans, there would be countless citizens who would support that demand.

The problems with the UN are not the same as with the harmless, unarmed and defenseless peaceful Cuban opponents.

And this only highlights some aspects of the problem.

Now the question is, of course, very difficult, in the hands of those who can resolve it, or who can conceal it Cuba, if they continue to speak in the tone of arrogance and power with which they spoke with us at the Sixth Police Station.

I think that for those who run things in the government in the country, the defining word today is: CROSSROADS.

September 13 2012

The U.N. Covenants on Human Rights: A New Crime In Cuba? / Cuban Law Association, Wilfredo Vallin Almeida

By Wilfredo Vallín Almeida

As we have seen, there seems to be a new offense under the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Act (LPP), a “crime” that seems interesting to analyze with regards to what it might mean to the future.

And I begin this analysis with what — over so many years — has been understood to be a CRIME and when it does and doesn’t exist.

People like the Italian Cesare Bonesana, Marquis of Beccaria, with his famous book On Crimes and Punishment published in 1764, and the well-regarded author German Paul Johann von Feuerbach who, in 1813, issued the famous legal maxim Nullun crime, nulla poena sine praevia lege (“No crime, no punishment, without a previous punishment law”), gave a sharp twist to what was then called “criminal law.”

Those words of Feuerbach, translated into our language and brought to the present, mean that “for a person to be arrested for certain behavior, it is essential that their conduct is registered as a crime in the Penal Code prior to its commission. Otherwise, there is no crime. ”

Of course, in the case of an infraction, (I repeat, previously defined and sanctioned by law) it proceeds from the arrest of the person and taking him to a police station to clarify the facts… but I am referring to the violation of a REAL criminal standard, not an invention.

The Criminal Procedure Act explains, as the name suggests, the ways in which the authorities and the law enforcement agents can respond to criminal behavior.

Thus, in Title IV, Chapter I, Articles 241-244 of Cuba’s criminal statutes it states, clearly, the cases where an individual shall be arrested and, precisely by being defined in it, the principle of legality applies to everyone and we are subject to it without exception.

To detain someone, except in cases established by law, and inventing, for that purpose, “offenses” that do not exist in the Penal Code or situations not falling under the Criminal Procedure Act, is simply to invade a sphere that belongs only to the legislative body, which in the Cuban case is called, as far as we know, the National Assembly of People’s Power.

And that is precisely what happens when a citizen is taken to a police unit and there is no Act of Detention, or he is taken and what is written as justification for his arrest is … “Interest of CI (counterintelligence ),” a reason for detention that does not appear at all where it should be mandatory: in the aforementioned Penal Code.

We can not give legitimacy to bodies that take on a function that is not theirs and which is so important for social relations: the creation of law.

Moreover, lawyers for the Cuban Law Association have never seen a legal prohibition stating that the behavior of citizens urging the government to ratify the U.N. Covenants signed by a Cuban representative four years ago in New York City, is an offense of any kind.

But, as might occur with the regulations for whether to grant an exit permit — the so-called “white card” — to citizens who want to leave the country and that we have never seen, perhaps it is in these Covenants which we still cannot read.

If so, then please publish it so that we citizens will know that, in Cuba, there is a new conduct prohibited by law: that of invoking the UN Covenants.

September 10 2012

Our People’s Lawyers / Cuban Law Association, Wilfrido Vallin Almeida

Wilfrido Vallin Almeida

The news hits me because it’s so inconceivable: as he was trying to find out the situation of a person detained in Santiago de las Vegas, the young lawyer Veizant Boloy, of the Cuban Law Association, was arrested.

This arrest took place inside a police station. Veizant was handcuffed and locked in a cell as well. There are no charges; there is no Arrest Record; there is nothing. Now in Cuba not only are the lawyers who are not pro-government not allowed to inquire about an imprisoned person, but those who question and demand compliance with the law must be punished.

The officer, obviously irritated, told him:

“We no longer tolerate lawyers in police stations taking an interest in those who are detained.”

And in a different moment:

“For us you guys are not lawyers.”

For some time we have known the defenseless situation existing in Cuba regarding those who are detained and that we lawyers cannot be with them from the moment they are taken prisoners. We can only do it after a certain amount of time, when the police have already done what they deemed appropriate.

But this matter of not allowing us even to inquire about the situation of a person who is detained is the height of arbitrariness… but only to demonstrate to what extents goes the harassment of those for whom the laws were not written.

And that harassment results — I have no doubt — from the fact that many people are willing to inform other Cubans of the Citizens’ Demand that was delivered to the headquarters of the National Assembly of the People’s Power on June 20th of the current year.

That demand urges the government to ratify the UN Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which seems to be the last thing it wants in this world.

In acting in a repressive and violent way against what they themselves signed, those who do it show their true face to the international community… who observe what is happening not only in Syria or Africa.

Finally, whether they want it or not, those Covenants will be ratified and we will continue to work to that end, we who — although some may not like it — are OUR PEOPLE’S LAWYERS.

Translated by: Espirituana

September 24 2012

Alea jacta est — The die is cast / Cuban Law Association, Wilfredo Vallin Almeida

Oswaldo Payá has died and, despite his death, his enemies don’t hesitate to throw dirt on his corpse and present him as a reprobate.

Whether his death is the result of an accident or of a machination, it’s clear for those of us who knew him, the class of person he was, and that up to now his Varela Project has been the only one with the virtue of having shaken the government to its foundations.

In the Republic of Cuba sovereignty resides in the people from whom originates all the power of the State, says article three of the Constitution in force in the country.

Faced with the almost twenty-five thousand signatures that Payá presented, our government  of 54 years felt itself in danger, because these signatures represented a fraction of that sovereignty.

And now, again, that sovereignty is standing up to raise another petition, also covered in article 63 of the Supreme Law, only on this opportunity this new request is called the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of the United Nations.

The promoters of this campaign are demanding: given that the government offered a first signature in this direction, it should ratify these important documents of the international community and even the Optional Protocols, because only in this way is the government going to offer a serious manifestation of its will to change.

But what will happen if the organizers of this new campaign manage to collect 100,000 signatures in support of their petition that the government ratify these Pacts that they signed in 2008 in the city of New York?

Will the government refuse to respond publicly before such a great manifestation of the popular will?

Will it say that these signatures should be “authenticated by a notary”?

Will it adopt the position of Libya or Syria charging that the signers are “paid from abroad” to destabilize the “socialist” government?

Will it persecute and imprison the activists of this new citizen request like it did the 75, alleging a new media campaign against the Cuban people by its “eternal” enemy?

Cuba is a member of the U.N. We suppose, therefore, that its government is in agreement with with the universal principles and tenets of the Organization and does not repress those who support these same criteria. But in the current national reality, anything is possible.

The disenchantment of the nation is obvious as much as they want to hide this reality; on the one hand the current leaders do not appear disposed to any dialog with their opposition while the country collapses before our eyes, and not only its buildings when it rains a little. On the other hand, the promoters of this new popular motion appear disposed to assume their civic responsibility to its ultimate consequences.

If I’m not mistaken in my views, then, for Cuba, Alea jacta est (the die is cast).

Wilfredo Vallín Almeida

August 30 2012

In Truth / Cuban Law Association, Wilfredo Vallin Almeida

For a moment I thought it would pass without incident, that the funeral procession would arrive without mishap to the Columbus Cemetery and the remains of the winner of the Sakharov Prize for Human Rights, Oswaldo Paya Sardinas, would be laid to rest in peace.

From my place in the long line of vehicles, perhaps because we had 16 or 17in the column, we noticed that something happened at the head of the line, which stopped without those in the back knowing exactly happened. Several minutes later the march was resumed.

Upon arriving at the cemetery and realizing the absence of Antonio Rodiles, director of Estado de SATS and friends traveling with him, I inquired about them. So I knew what had happened: a great fight in Calzada del Cerro, with the violent intervention of the police with fists and truncheons, and the arrest of about fifty people, all opponents of the regime, and put in a bus belonging to the Armed Forces, that just happened to be there, they were taken to police unit Tarara.

Once back in my house, I prepared to go in search of the missing, when Antonio’s mother called and told me that, apparently, he and other friends were detained at the Fourth Police Station at Infanta and Manglar in neighborhood of Cerro. I told them I would meet her and her husband, already there.

Again we started to run up against those who say the country’s laws, the members of the Department of State Security.

On reaching the station of the People’s Revolutionary Police (PNR), no one outside yet knew what was going on. I decided to find out if Antonio and other friends were really there. I talked to the duty officer, with a rank of Major. He looked for a paper he had and told me THESE PEOPLE ARE NOT ON THE LIST OF THOSE DETAINED.

I then told him they could have been brought to this police station by State Security Agents. He made a call. After hanging up he confirmed to me that yes, they were detained there.

The reasons why the political police had brought many of the arrested to the national police stations instead of taking them to one of their own facilities, are not very obvious, although there are many versions. What is clear to us is that Article 244 of the Criminal Procedure Act provides:

Upon the arrest of any person a written report to record the time, date and reason for detention as well as any other particular of interest shall be prepared. The report will be signed by those acting and the detainee.

When, about ten o’clock at night, the independent journalist Julio Aleaga was released, we learned they never filled out an Act of Detention. Nor was this done with Ailer González Mena or many other detainees.

When they did it, in the morning for Antonio Rodiles, the Act of Detention tried to justify the arrest as “in the interest of CI” (Counterintelligence).

I could be wrong, but I think this latter was due to our having already pointed out to the PNR and State Security officials with whom we spoke precisely about the absence of such Acts, making the arrests illegal and saying that the detainees should be released immediately.

From the beginning there were two things that were obvious to all of us citizens who met in front of the police station in solidarity with the detainees:

1) That the PNR of that station was not very pleased with what happened there. The treatment of its officers toward us was measured, correct, without being overbearing, never disrespectful and tried all the time to find a solutions that was, as far as possible, without violence and in a negotiating framework.

We can not say the same for the State Security agents involved.

2) The level at which decisions were made regarding what happened there was always elsewhere, much higher, and where the regulations established in a simple little article of the Criminal Procedure Act do not seem to have, in truth, any relevance.

August 24 2012