Among hypocrites it’s a game
A diploma hanging on the wall and a job that gives me no satisfaction is all I have. But I prefer that to being a puppet in the Cuban judicial system. Licensed in the law, that is the title I show as a professional in my country. What sadness and frustration I feel when I say that! I think if I were given another opportunity, I would choose another profession.
When someone asks me for legal advice to resolve a matter, that’s when I most feel failure. It is not unusual to see violations of legal procedures and peoples’ rights. You give them a legal opinion, but you know with 99.9 percent certainty that their case will not be resolved by government authorities nor by the broken legal system.
I become disillusioned when I demand that the organs of the state comply with the law, laws they themselves established. A thousand written complaints, references to violated rules… and nothing happens. With their inaction, the authorities continue to violate the law.
My task as an attorney and dissident is to work so that Cubans know their rights, and so as a consequence they can defend those rights. I also have a dream: that the Rule of Law exists in Cuba. Reality sets in, however, and forces me to let go of the passion that led me to study so that one day there might be justice, respect for human rights, and compliance with the laws.
It is not pessimism, it is impotence. A simple example will do to illustrate for the reader how I feel and what institutionalism, order, and discipline mean in Cuba. The most hypocritical motto the historic leadership has used to reinforce its power.
It is normal for a Cuban, who openly disagrees with the regime, to receive an official summons from the agencies of State Security. It is the most common way to harass a person for having a politically determined opinion. Threats, blackmail and repression of every kind, occur during the “interviews and conversations” conducted by the agents of the political police with the dissidents.
Is this legal? In Cuba, an official summons is a document by which the authorities order an individual to be present at a judicial hearing.
In other systems, the official summons is used when the person who is to be summoned is an eye-witness or has participated in an act that the authorities are trying to clear up, or when he has knowledge of something relevant to their investigations. To have an opinion or a disagreement with Cuban government policies, legally is not a crime.
The process to be followed for these citations or subpoenas is prescribed by law. But, in Cuba, the process is not followed. None of the summonses, whether from the agents of State Security or from the police, are issued by the Clerk the only one authorized under the law to issue this document.
Despite this violation, citizens comply with the official summonses. Not because they know what the law establishes, nor because they know their rights. They go because of the warning they receive from the agents: if they don’t show up they will be fined 500 pesos. This is another violation: the law specifies that the fine is 50 pesos.
Willingly or not, the agents commit the crime of coercion. With no legitimate reason, they threaten a citizen, to force him to do what the law does not require. Article 90 of Penal Procedure, which is currently in force in Cuba, is absolutely clear that summonses executed without complying with the legal formalities are null and void.
But whoever made the law, also made the trap. The rule in question states that, if the person summoned complies with the summons, then the summons is in full effect as if it had been issued in conformance with the requirements in the Law.
How can you legalize an illegal act? And the consequences that these illegitimate acts create? Just to name a few: outright breaking of the law; crimes committed on the part of members of the organs of repression, the same people who are charged with carrying out the law.
On the other hand, the Law of Cuban Penal Procedure specifies who is the Authority. Those recognized are the Instructor [an official who carries out judicial and police functions], the Prosecutor and the Court. The only one authorized to issue a subpoena is the Clerk of the Court, who sends a Certificate of Citation.
The police and members of State Security are agents, and the most they can do is deliver the document. But if they issue the citation, attributing to themselves the authority to do so, they are committing a crime.
In this case, with no legitimate title, they are acting on their own authority of that of a public official, attributing to themselves official authority. This comes under the crime of Usurpation of Public Functions (Art. 148.1, paragraph (a) of the Penal Code) and as such they can be reported. But they themselves are not even aware of the risk of their actions. Nor do I believe they care, because the system itself protects them.
In Cuba, according to the government, there are laws that protect civil rights, what there is not is people who comply with these laws or people who enforce them. The government requires institutionalism, order and discipline. But when it comes time to act, the government transgresses the laws with impunity, without caring that by proceeding like this, it violates and disrespects the dignity of the citizens.
Is this not a case of total hypocrisy?