Uninformed and Vulnerable
That Cuban laws recognize the rights of citizens does not mean that it protects those rights. In order to issue a summons to a person, the current Law of Criminal Procedure in Cuba establishes a procedure that the authorities must follow. But it is not observed. Many political opponents are repressed by means of official summonses.
This is the case with Miguel Amado Reyes Fonseca, a member of the Committee for the Support of Political Prisoners and their Families. He received an official summons from State Security for allowing his house to be used by the Cuban Legal Association to give seminars on human rights and Cuban legislation.
Reyes Fonseca did not know that the document containing the official order had to be sent by the Secretary of the Court. The law requires this. But the summons he received was merely signed by a certain “Lt. Abel”, a pseudonym used by political police officers to repress dissidents.
The authority who seeks a summons must substantiate his charge in a judicial resolution, based on personal knowledge. A written document must then be entered in a book kept by the secretary of the judiciary, who must immediately notify the appropriate court. And it is this court that must consider and sign, approving or dismissing the undertaking. And it is also the one responsible for requiring the citizen to appear before the appropriate authority.
The law is quite clear about which authorities can enforce an official summons. According to Article 86 of the Criminal Procedure Act, this power lies with the investigator, the public prosecutor, or the court. The police and members of the Department of State Security are agents of the authority. They are not authorized to issue a summons to a person. Nevertheless, they do.
When Miguel went to the appointment, he was subjected to intimidation. He was threatened with eviction from his home and with incarceration — if his house continued to be used for teaching courses — under the alleged crime of conspiracy. His oppressors are aware that they violate the Law of Criminal Procedure by their actions. For this reason, they use pseudonyms.
An agent of State Security or the police who in his own name issues an investigative summons is fraudulently exercising a public function.
He has thereby committed a criminal act and could receive a prison term of from one to three years, or a fine of from three hundred to a thousand dollars, for acting on his own, without legal basis, as an authority or public official, under the guise of performing official duties. It is, in this case, the crime of usurpation of public functions (Article 148.1, paragraph a. of the Criminal Code).
Ignorance of the law puts the Cuban people in a position of absolute vulnerability and helplessness. It is time we demand that the violators of the law respect it, and respect the citizens. It is in our hands that the rule of law exists in Cuba.
Photo: Manolo Marrero, Flickr
Translated by Tomás A.