Royal Order / Miguel Iturria Savón

Some days back, during a friendly toast to the new year, a Havana lawyer was referring to the most absurd trials of 2011 in which he was involved as an advocate. According to the jurist, almost no one calculates the implications of the environment and the events leading up to certain crimes, not only for victims and offenders, let alone those in the legal profession, who sometimes have to deal with inscrutable ordinances that influence decisions.

The lawyer said that among the “jewels of law” in the recent past there was a sensational trial in the Provincial Court of Havana, motivated primarily by a visit from the Chief of the National Botanical Gardens, located on the outskirts of the capital, where it borders with other “green lungs” such as Lenin Park and the National Zoo.

Walking through the Botanical Garden areas with the Director, the President asked about the provenance of several species, conservation work and scientific projects in development. Finally he reported that the biggest problem of the institution was due to indiscriminate felling of timber trees of African origin by poachers, against which ordered exemplary measures were ordered to put an end to the practice.

As always, the energies of the police were activated to capture and prosecute those lumberjacks caught red-handed, who would have to pay as if they were the perpetrators of the trees ravaged for years on the site and in surrounding areas, as if presumed responsible for the hole in the layer ozone and global warming.

Consequently, the men caught with the ax in hand were prosecuted for “ongoing burglary of trees,” before television cameras filming the spectacle, which one assumes they passed on to the ruler.

During the hearing they brought up facts and exaggerated claims, such as that the logging had an impact on basins in the region, and deteriorated the quality of oxygen in the capital of Cuba, affecting the lungs of the city.

In short: a universal and general phenomenon like the logging of trees in a botanical garden with limited perimeter boundaries, fell on the shoulders of a group of offenders, whose sentences ranged to ten years in prison.

Maybe that’s why one of the defense lawyers, at the start his concluding oral arguments, said that listening to the rhetoric used by prosecutor, he felt that he could not breathe and his throat was parched. Is it too much?


January 30 2012