Dangerousness Status

Habitual drunkenness, alcoholism, drug addiction, and antisocial behavior: these are categories that the criminal law uses to establish a person’s dangerousness status: proclivity (inclination) to commit crimes,; showing a development of conduct contrary to the rules of socialist morality. It is a legal means by which the socialist system submits the citizenry to their power.

References to communist ideology are commonplace in Cuban law. The most peculiar are found in the criminal laws covering the norms of daily life and socialist morality. Terms that are not defined in any code, but are frequently used to punish any form of social dissent.

I’m not particularly opposed to the legal regulation of the dangerousness status, provided objective criteria are used in defining it. I think it is an effective means to protect society, people, property, and public order.

When I was 12 years old, I went to see my mom in the hospital, where she was admitted after emergency surgery. Returning home, on the public transport bus, a woman attacked me. She had to be restrained; she was upset because Raul Castro allowed children to be out on the streets at night.

The woman was completely out of it, with obvious symptoms of mental illness. To this day I can’t forget the aggressiveness on her face. Believe me, I could hardly go out at night again. In a case like this, the finding of  dangerousness status would permit giving medical treatment to a person not criminally responsible, but who represents a danger to society.

But the vagueness of terms in Cuban criminal law allows political authorities to use the finding at their convenience. In many cases they are used to suppress dissent, prostitution, or to require citizens to do forced labor in correctional facilities — farms or construction brigades — for antisocial behavior.

These people were not caught committing a crime. The authorities, acting under subjective criteria and ideological parameters, determined that their conduct should be reformed, by showing a particular inclination to commit criminal acts. Criteria inconsistent with the rule of law: “Acts can only be punished that are expressly defined by law as crimes, prior to their commission.”

Judicial bodies are subordinated to the direct instructions of the State Council in the absence of judicial guarantees for the protection of individual rights. In many judicial decisions, judges arrive at findings of fact based on moral conviction. Citizens have no legal means to protect themselves against abuses of power.

The catalogs of social dangerousness allow the authorities to control social dissent in the populace. Indeed, they go much further than that: they have a direct and adverse impact on the conduct of the elections. Their legal effect constitutes an impediment to the advent of a democratic Cuba.

Laritza Diversent

Translation of the cartoon:

“Guilty!”

“That’s the third time this week. He should get new glasses immediately.”

Translated by: Tomás A.

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