That is the question / Cuban Law Association, Wilfredo Vallín Almeida

By Wilfredo Vallín Almeida

There is a word that when you hear it, it’s difficult not to evoke the barbarity of the Inquisition that forced a 20th century Pope to apologize to humanity for actions so inappropriate for the Church of Christ.

Faced with the subject it’s common for names such as Dachau, Treblinka, Auschwitz, Gestapo, Gulags, Lubyanka, and Siberia to come to mind, just to cite a few.

The word in question is TORTURE, a method of obtaining a confession from (or punishing) a person at any price, a practice that, unfortunately, has continued from the time since the confession was considered the “queen of evidence.”

Unfortunately, torture has been used in Cuba at different times in its history. We saw chilling photos of these procedures during the Batista dictatorship; this was after the Revolution and during the trials where people shouted “To the wall!” to demand the execution of those who had tortured.

But, like any human creation that persists over time, torture evolved. Its forms and methods have become more subtle, more refined, more painful.

Now it is too coarse to brutally beat a prisoner, pull out his fingernails or put him on the rack. Now there are psychological tortures and others with a ’scientific’ basis.

Faced with the continuation of such practices, Human Rights Organizations of our time have repeatedly tried to curb such excesses that show the worst of human nature.

Thus we read in the United Nations’ Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, from June 26, 1987:

Considering the obligation of States under the Charter, in particular Article 55, to promote universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms…

Having regard also to the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, adopted by the General Assembly on 9 December 1975…

Nevertheless we recently get the news that in the particular case of Cuba, a Rapporteur on Torture has been named to visit (and the government has accepted). Unusual, right?

The point is that this already happened once and the international official designated for this mission… was never authorized to enter the island.

Now history repeats itself because the government says it will accept the visit, but as often happens in our troubled country, the problem turns out to be WHEN, and once again no date is set for this visit.

We regards to this new UN rapporteur for this little island — which should not fear the visit it if has nothing to hide — well, we could paraphrase the great Shakespeare:

To enter or not to enter: that is the question.

July 1 2012