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Cuban government preparing a law regulating dissidents’ defense lawyers

July 22, 2021 Catholic News Agency 0
People demonstrate, some holding Cuban flags, during a protest against the Cuban government at Versailles Restaurant in Miami, on July 12, 2021. – Havana on Monday blamed a US “policy of economic suffocation” for unprecedented protests against Cuba’s communist government as Washington pointed the finger at “decades of repression” in the one-party state. Credit: Eva Marie Uzcategui/AFP via Getty Images.

Havana, Cuba, Jul 22, 2021 / 15:19 pm (CNA).

Cuba’s communist government has drafted a law that would equate the role of dissidents’ defense lawyers with that of public officials.

In May, the People’s Supreme Court, Cuba’s highest judicial authority, drew up a series of legislative proposals that it sent to the island’s legislature, the National Assembly of People’s Power, for passage.

Among these proposals is the “Draft Law on Criminal Procedures,” which could equate the role of a defense lawyer for dissidents with that of a “public employee or official,” putting the lawyer at the mercy of pressure and sanctions from the government

A group of Cuban lawyers, who asked to speak with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language news partner, on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals from the government, warned that this bill “would violate impartiality,” because “the Prosecutor’s Office represents the state, it’s a public functionary. Imagine if the defense lawyer also were.”

The lawyers pointed out that “this is something that for many years they have tried to accomplish, but a way wasn’t found to implement it by changing the law.”

“But now, with a new criminal procedural text, an attempt is being made to introduce it in a very underhanded way,” they said.

The most controversial texts of the bill are found in the fifth special provision, which defines what is an employee and a public official.

Subsections e and f state that public employees and officials are part of state agencies “of a public nature” performing “legislative, executive or judicial functions,” among others.

However, subsection g adds that “public employees or officials are also considered those persons who, in the non-state sector, as well as in foreign entities or public international organizations, exercise positions or functions similar to those described in subsections e and f when the criminal acts derive from their relationship with the state or its institutions.”

The Cuban jurists told ACI Prensa that “although the word ‘lawyer’ is not mentioned, the generality of the expression ‘non-state sector’ is the way to allow this interpretation where the judges don’t enjoy authentic judicial independence.”

“What they’re looking for is a way to exert pressure on lawyers and, when necessary, get them out of the way. That’s how they would do it.”

“And getting them out of the way,” they warned, could mean “taking them out of circulation completely” by finding them guilty of a crime, “which also would result in their expulsion from the National Organization of Collective Law Firms, the only institution of its kind on the island for the provision of legal services to native born persons who are defendants in a criminal case.”

The judges who make up the People’s Supreme Court are elected by the National Assembly of the People’s Power, a one-party legislative body which also elects the country’s president.

Communist rule in Cuba was established soon after the conclusion of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, which ousted the authoritarian ruler Fulgencio Batista.

Protests took place across Cuba July 11-12. Protesters cited concerns about inflation, shortages of food and medicine, and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some protesters were beaten, and at least 100 were arrested.


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The Dispatch

Captain Communism never stood a chance

July 14, 2021 Nick Olszyk 0

MPAA Rating: PG-13 USCCB Rating: A-III Reel Rating: 4 out of 5 reels Black Widow was never the strongest character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). She doesn’t have any superpowers, rarely quips, and was […]

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Cuban-American bishops state solidarity with Cuba protests

July 13, 2021 Catholic News Agency 0
People demonstrate, some holding Cuban flags, during a protest against the Cuban government at Versailles Restaurant in Miami, on July 12, 2021. – Havana on Monday blamed a US “policy of economic suffocation” for unprecedented protests against Cuba’s communist government as Washington pointed the finger at “decades of repression” in the one-party state. Credit: Eva Marie Uzcategui/AFP via Getty Images.

Denver Newsroom, Jul 13, 2021 / 20:01 pm (CNA).

Four Cuban-American bishops issued a statement Tuesday indicating their support for Cubans seeking recognition of their human rights, following protest’s of the island’s communist government.

“We, Cuban-American bishops, join in solidarity with the Cuban people in their quest for responses to their human rights and needs.  We are deeply troubled by the aggressive reaction of the government to the peaceful manifestations, recognizing that ‘violence engenders violence,’” read the July 13 statement.

“Such a reaction seems to negate the basic Cuban principle of having ‘una patria con todos y para el bien de todos’ (a homeland with all and for the good of all).  We stand in solidarity with those detained because they have voiced their opinions.”

The statement was signed by Archbishop Nelson Perez of Philadelphia; Bishop Felipe Estevez of St. Augustine; Bishop Manuel Cruz, Auxiliary Bishop of Newark; and Bishop Octavio Cisneros, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Brooklyn.

Archbishop Perez was born in Miami to Cuban emigrants, while Bishops Estevez, Cruz, and Cisneros were all born in Cuba.

Protests took place across Cuba July 11-12. Protesters cited concerns about inflation, shortages of food and medicine, and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some protesters were beaten, and at least 100 were arrested. Among the arrested was Father Castor Álvarez, a priest of the Archdiocese of Camagüey.

The Cuban-American bishops said the protesters’ “chant of ‘Libertad’ underscores their desire for every Cuban citizen to enjoy basic human rights, as recognized as part of our human dignity by the United Nations, and defended for centuries by the Catholic Church in its social teaching.”

“As Cubans and as bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States, we are ever-mindful of the constant suffering and frustration of our brothers and sisters on the Island. We recognize that, while hundreds of thousands have experienced the need to emigrate, in order to enjoy basic human rights and a future filled with possibilities, those who have not – by choice or inability to do so – as Cubans in Cuba, are to be the actors of their own future and aspirations. The right and courage of the people in Cuba to raise their voice publicly, casting away their fear of repression and revealing authentic solidarity as a people, are acknowledged and applauded.”

The bishops called on “governments and all charitable organizations to collaborate in assisting in this urgent humanitarian crisis for the sake of the suffering people of Cuba, especially the sick and the poor. We commend the care of Caritas Cubana, as it continues to mediate – with ever so limited resources – a response to the basic human needs of the people of the Island.”

“As always, together with our brother-bishops in Cuba, and our brothers and sisters inside and outside the Island. We continue to place our trust in the motherly gaze of the patroness of Cuba, Our Lady of Charity,” they concluded.

Communist rule in Cuba was established soon after the conclusion of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, which ousted the authoritarian ruler Fulgencio Batista.


[…]

The Dispatch

Litter in London, Perspective on Poland

June 2, 2021 Joanna Bogle 7

How strangely things sometimes work out. In the surreal days of the Coronavirus lockdown, I continued and expanded a self-appointed role as picker-up of litter. Beer cans, old pizza boxes, wrappers of chocolate bars—it’s mostly […]

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Peruvian bishops condemn mass killing by the Shining Path

May 25, 2021 Catholic News Agency 0
Counterterrorism operations in Peru’s Valle de los Ríos Apurímac, Ene y Mantaro. Credit: Ministerio de Defensa del Perú via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Ayacucho, Peru, May 25, 2021 / 17:01 pm (CNA).

The president of the Peruvian bishops’ conference has condemned Sunday’s killing of 16 persons by the Shining Path, a communist rebel group.

The May 23 attack took place in San Miguel del Ene in the Valle de los Ríos Apurímac, Ene y Mantaro, about 180 miles north of Ayacucho.

The bodies of those killed were found in bars. They had bullet holes in them, and some were burned. Earlier reports indicated 14 or 18 persons had been killed, but Peru’s defense minister has confirmed that there were 16 victims.

The bodies were found with leaflets saying the Shining Path would “Clean out Vraem and Peru of the hangouts of bad actors, parasites and corrupt people,” and urged against voting in the  upcoming general election, and particularly against voting for Keiko Fujimori.

Archbishop Hector Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte of Trujillo said May 24, “I express my profound condemnation of the cruel murders of 14 people, including women, children and youths, that took place in Vraem by Shining Path terrorists led by Víctor Quispe Palomino. No one has the right to take the life of any person. Life is sacred.”

The archbishop said that “this tragic event reminds us of the time of barbarism and terror that the country went through for more than 20 years, which resulted in more than 70,000 deaths and a large number of disappeared.”

Archbishop Cabrejos emphasized that it’s time to say “never again to terrorism. Never again violence in Peru, from whatever quarter. Our country has the right to live in peace and build a future that benefits everyone.”

“I pray to God for the eternal repose of these victims, so their families may find peace and consolation, and that there be a thorough investigation,” he concluded.

The Militarized Communist Party of Peru is the Shining Path group active in the Vraem, a remote, coca producing region of the country.

The second round of Peru’s general election is due to be held June 6. Vying for president are Pedro Castillo of Free Peru, a socialist party, and Keiko Fujimori of Popular Force. 

Keiko is the daughter of former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori, whose administration largely defeated the Shining Path insurgency in the 1990s.

The Shining Path was founded in the 1960s, and began armed conflict in 1980. Tens of thousands have died in the ensuing violence. 

Three European priests who were killed by the Shining Path were recognized as martyrs by the Holy See in 2015. 

Fathers Michele Tomaszek and Zbigneo Strzalkowski of the Conventual Friars Minor were killed Aug. 9, 1991, by the Shining Path. Both worked in Pariacoto in the Peruvian Andes, and their work to help the poor was considered a threat by the terrorists, who saw their efforts to recruit new members thwarted.

Father Alessandro Dordi was also working in the Peruvian Andes. He was shot dead by Shining Path militants Aug. 25, 1991.


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