3,522 Pardoned in order to Cover Up Cuba’s Sad Reality / 14ymedio,
Marlene Azor Hernandez
Posted on September 20, 2015
14ymedio, Marlene Azor Hernandez, Mexico City, 18 September 2015 – The
pardon of 3,522 ordinary prisoners in Cuba is excellent news, above all
for their relatives. At the beginning of July something similar occurred
when the Pope visited Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay. In the first two
countries, the governments also took the measure with respect to the
incarcerated, but it was not of this breadth. In Ecuador 24 inmates
benefitted from the measure; in Bolivia there were no pardons, but
hundreds of the more than 5,000 prisoners in the most populous jail in
the country, Palmasola, would finally be sentenced and be visited by the
Pope in his tour of the country.
Ecuador has more than 16 million residents, a penal population of 21,000
prisoners and 24 penitentiaries. In Cuba, for a population of 11 million
residents, there are at least 200 jails, and the penal population is
estimated at 70,000 prisoners. It seems that the elevated number of
pardons is due also to prison overcrowding on the Island.
The Cuban government has staged “a positive coup” in international
politics, above all with respect to those countries and institutions
that need gestures from Havana in order to be able to give it their
support. For a curious observer, the pardon figures raise other
questions in the wake of the announcement.
In Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay, there are no political prisoners
because public demonstrations in the street and freedom of association,
movement and expression are guaranteed. That is not the case in Cuba
where the dissenters suffer long jail sentences, beatings, and moral
stonings on Cuban television.
The Cuban Penal Code, like that of the Soviets in the 1930’s and perhaps
the North Korean one, punishes “illegal” exit from the country, contempt
(resisting warrantless arrest) and the so-called “pre-criminal
dangerousness,” that aberrant legal concept that is applied to crimes
not yet committed. The gag law also remains in effect (Ley 88) which
penalizes the mere fact of speaking against the government or publishing
in the international press (as happened in the Black Spring of 2003 when
75 people were sentenced to 20 and 25 years in prison). None of these
criminal laws exist in Bolivia, Paraguay or Ecuador, although censorship
of the non-government press does exist.
In the Cuba that Pope Francis will visit there are today some 60
political prisoners according to the Cuban Commission on National Human
Rights and Reconciliation (CCDHRN), and civic and political activism is
prohibited. The pardon of the 3,522 prisoners will try to cover up this
Translated by Mary Lou Keel
Source: 3,522 Pardoned in order to Cover Up Cuba’s Sad Reality /
14ymedio, Marlene Azor Hernandez | Translating Cuba –
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