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Two Yardsticks for Measuring the Cuban Government

April 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Saturday April 3, members of the Ministry of the Interior, in the name of the Cuban government, visited the home of Laura Pollán, and with her other Ladies in White, and verbally communicated the adoption of a series of measures.

In one of those measures, to justify its decision to impose conditions to exercise their legitimate right to protest, reference was made to an international practice (requesting permission from the police for assemblies and demonstrations in the streets), which is not a legal regulation established within the Cuban legal system

The international instruments that regulate citizens’ right of assembly and demonstration in the public thoroughfare, among them the Universal Declaration of the Human rights, signed by Cuba in 1948, and the Pact of the International Civil and Political Rights, pending of ratification by the Cuban State, does not establish general practices, but they regulate the essential requirements that allow the practice of that right.

Each State, in its national legislation, can provide the specific details required for the exercise of that right, within their respective territories. Until now, the government of Cuba has not legislated on the matter.

It is a great hypocrisy to refer to an international practice, when the Cuban State not only has not ratified international treaties in the matter of human rights, but when it considers that these treaties constitute unacceptable agreements and impositions within the Island.

The referred international legal instruments recognize also as legitimate the peaceful demonstrations and assemblies, establishing as the only limit the protection of the public interest and the rights and liberties of the others. In this sense, in the internal legislation of different countries, common elements can be seen in regulating the exercise of this right.

For example, among others the laws of Spain and Venezuela allow demonstrations in public streets, as long as the corresponding authorities are notified in advance, communicating the site, time and objective of the march among other details.

Those laws recognize the faculties of the authorities to adopt measures, should their organizers do not satisfy the demanded legal requirements, disrupt the public order, or when the demonstrators use paramilitary uniforms. In addition, the citizen right is recognized to appeal governmental decisions before a court.

Although in Cuba there are no domestic regulations in this area, there are frequent demonstrations and parades through downtown streets, all called and organized by the rulers themselves and with a distinctly political-ideological character.

In addition, the organized Action Rapid Brigades (paramilitary) repudiation meetings of the very excited masses against the dissidents are very common, and with the participation of uniformed and military personnel dressed in plain clothes. The official communication media ratify these violent meetings of action and words as legitimate.

Also common are the “rallies of repudiation” of the “enraged masses” organized in a rapid response brigades (paramilitary) and with the participation of uniformed and plainclothes military of civil control, directed against dissidents. The official media guarantee these demonstrations, violent in word and action, as legitimate.

Nevertheless, However, criminal law punishes causing fights or altercations in public places. The penalty is tripled if the acts were done with the purpose of altering in any way the established order.

What if one of the participants in a demonstration was hurt or killed at the hands of a protester authorized to arm themselves roughly with sticks, rods and cables? Also, who would pay for the damages caused to public property or that of third parties?

Who would respond? The administrator or the party responsible for carrying out the plan against disruption of the order and counterrrevolutionary disturbances or their superior, a member of the Communist Party or State Security, in representation of the government?

The members of the Rapid Action Brigades act with total impunity because the ones in charge of carrying out the laws do absolutely nothing, in spite of the disruption to the public order, the traffic interruptions and the possible violent confrontations that could occur during these encounters.

The limitation to the right of assembly and demonstration that the Cuban government wants to impose to the Ladies in White is motivated by questions of political interest. The government applies a double standard, irrefutably discriminatory, when it tries to justify its attitude citing that it is an international practice.

Laritza Diversent

Translated by: Marcus Fredric; Mari Mesa Contreras

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