Proposed Amnesty Law for Cuba
Peaceful Transition to Economic and Political Democracy in Cuba
There is opposition to the Cuban government, but it is severely hampered by a lack of funds, as well as by a lack of rights to organize. The right to freely organize political parties, trade-unions or any other associations with an independent political agenda is denied in Cuba. And even if it were allowed, it would be pointless, because political parties other than the one in power are not allowed to participate in any elections. There certainly have been more repressive and more violent socialist regimes in the world; nevertheless, in Cuba freedom is effectively repressed.
There are many political prisoners in Cuba, although often they are convicted for common crimes committed in connection with a political act. For instance, if a demonstrator should destroy the bulb of a lamppost during an opposition rally, he may be convicted for destruction of government property. This makes him a common criminal, whereas everybody understands that the act was political, not criminal. And the perpetrator does not deserve a disproportionate jail term for such a trifle! We are not defending any right to destroy government property, but there is clearly a distinction between the inadvertent (or even deliberate) destruction of a lamppost bulb during a political rally against a repressive regime and the destruction of your neighbor’s property out of malice or jealousy.
Democracy in itself is not opposed to socialism
It should be emphasized also that if the majority of Cubans should wish to maintain the present socialist system, or make only minor changes, then clearly and emphatically the minority of Cubans must respect that. But only if this appears on the basis of free and fair elections, allowing all political parties to campaign freely without any reprisals or intimidation against them, granting them free media-time on an equal footing with the party in power (which controls the media completely at the
moment). There is no free speech and no free press in Cuba now. Dialogue, not violence. It should be stressed that the transition in Cuba should be to democracy, not necessarily to capitalism. If the Cuban people really and freely want socialism, the present economic system should stay in place, with only those changes the majority party or parties want. This is in keeping with the Cuban opposition’s point of view, i.e. those groups we have contacted. These opposition groups want transition to democracy through dialogue, not a violent overthrow. Neither from the inside, nor from the outside. They do not support an Iraq-style regime-change operation. Hopefully the US has learnt by now that the military option is neither just nor effective.
And these opposition groups do not necessarily want transition to capitalism either. They may well favor transition to Solidarism, the ‘Modern Universal Para-digm’, as Prof. Rodney Shakespeare calls it. This new paradigm is the golden mean between capitalism and socialism. This is the ‘Green Third Way of Realism and Universal Justice’. For more detailed info on this system, we refer to the two main websites on this third way at: http://www.cesj.org and http://www.binaryeconomics.net It would be Cuba’s fast track to freedom and prosperity, in an economic system as though people and abundance for all mattered.
A change is coming to Cuba
In Cuba everybody knows that change is coming. Nobody knows how and when, but it’s coming for the simple reason that the majority of the people
want it. But the Cuban people do not yet know what they want instead of the present system. Yes, they want more freedom. And, yes, they want dialogue, but they don’t know what direction the dialogue should take. Socialism has not been altogether bad for Cuba. The Cubans have excellent education and health care, which they did not have under Batista’s dictatorship. Solidarity is deeply rooted in Cuban society and most people are reasonably happy, at least on the surface, but something is acutely missing. It is freedom. But freedom, how?
It was aptly expressed by one prominent Cuban opposition leader: ‘We don’t want to fall from the devastation of socialism into the devastation of capitalism’. The Cubans have taken good note of what has happened in Russia and how the West turned its back on Russia since it made the switch to ‘KGB-democracy’ and capitalism. Cuba does not want to become another Russia. So there is a strong longing for freedom and democracy, but also for something new.
Cuba fertile ground for Solidarism
That is why Cuba is fertile ground for the introduction of Solidarism, the Green Third Way of Realism and Universal Justice, combining the best of socialism and capitalism into an unbeatable economic blockbuster. But this Just Third Way cannot function in a repressive system. In fact, it needs free enterprise, political democracy and civil freedoms to be able to function optimally. So, change is needed in Cuba to introduce it.
Amnesty law for Cuba to facilitate transition
To facilitate peaceful transition in Cuba, a gentle Amnesty Law is needed. The point is not to take revenge against Cuban government officials. In fact, the Cuban government has been responsible for introducing many good things in Cuba. Good health care and education have already been mentioned. But there is much more (cf. our articles in Section III of this book). So the point is not revenge. The point is justice and more prosperity for all. So therefore, the Amnesty Law set out below
is proposed. It will grant amnesty to both government officials and political prisoners. The only gentle measure against government officials may be their removal from office, but even then with fair compensation for loss of income or placement in the private sector with comparable income. If peaceful transition is to come to Cuba, then violence and brutal measures should be ruled out from the start. All Cubans should benefit from the change, not only members of the opposition (if they should prevail in free and fair elections). However, it would be wrong to allow officials who have committed atrocities to continue their work, as though nothing had happened.
And if the opposition is sincere in promoting peaceful transition through dialogue and democratic elections, the amnesty cannot be fully extended to those having opposed the government with violent means. Although the present government did use violence to overthrow Batista’s regime and has not always shunned violence to maintain power, the Cuban opposition we support (not the violent brand of opposition of some Cuban exiles in Florida!) has vowed to use dialogue and non-violent means only. This entails that – to be consistent – the opposition cannot propose full amnesty for those having used violence in an effort to bring about change. For them the amnesty can be partial at best.
The ‘Christian Movement for Liberty’, headed by Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá, has in fact already handed in a petition to pass an Amnesty Law for political prisoners, but the law set out below goes much further, including peaceful transition to democracy in its scope. Something like the Amnesty Law below
should be an essential part of the transition process. God give that some of these ideas may be accepted and implemented.
Proposed Amnesty Law for Cuba
SAC and TRC
1. To facilitate peaceful transition to democracy in Cuba, a Special Amnesty Court (‘SAC’), as well as a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (‘TRC’) will be set up.
2. Both the SAC and the TRC will be set up, funded and administered by the United Nations Organization.
3. A Special Prosecuting Office (‘SPO’) with full investigative powers, including access to all government records, will be added to the TRC. The SPO shall prosecute any official or agent of the Cuban government, including members of the Cuban police and military, it deems responsible for committing or aiding and abetting in any of the crimes or misdemeanors set out in this law.
Amnesty for officials and agents of the Cuban government
1. The TRC shall grant full amnesty to any official or agent of the Cuban government found to have been responsible for committing or aiding and abetting in any of the crimes or misdemeanors set out in this law, provided all conditions set out in this law are met.
2. Without prejudice to any other conditions for amnesty set out in this law, amnesty shall only be granted if the prosecuted official or agent appears before the TRC and answers truthfully under oath all questions and queries put to him/her by the TRC and signs a declaration of allegiance to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights.
Amnesty for political prisoners or otherwise unjustly penalized persons
1. The SAC shall grant full amnesty to any person imprisoned or otherwise unjustly penalized for having committed any non-violent act of rebellion, sedition or any other crime, misdemeanor or act with political intent or mainly political intent against the government of Cuba during the period as of 1 January 1959 until the date to be determined by the SAC.
2. The SAC – at its discretion – may grant full or partial amnesty to any person imprisoned for having committed any violent act of rebellion, sedition or any other crime, misdemeanor or act with political intent or mainly political intent, against the government of Cuba, causing the death of or serious bodily injury to any person, during the period as of 1 January 1959 until the date to be determined by the SAC, on the understanding that the amnesty shall not shorten the prison term to less than three years, if the death of any person was caused, or to one year, if serious bodily injury to any person was inflicted.
3. Any person, having been imprisoned or otherwise penalized by the Cuban government, has the right to hand in an amnesty petition to the SAC, irrespective of the nature of the criminal act for which he/she has been convicted. To be granted amnesty the petitioner must prove to the satisfaction of the SAC that the act for which he/she was convicted, was committed with political intent, or mainly with political intent.
4. The SAC shall decide on each amnesty petition within three months of its submission.
Crimes and misdemeanors referred to in
article 1, section 3 & article 2, section 1.
The crimes and misdemeanors referred to in article 1, section 3 & article 2, section 1 are:
ordering or executing the death penalty for crimes or misdemeanors committed with political intent or with mainly political intent;
killing any person, or ordering the killing of any person;
torturing any person or causing serious bodily or mental injury or harm to any person;
ordering the torture of any person or ordering the infliction of any serious bodily or mental injury or harm to any person;
harassing any person, or ordering the harassment of any person;
ordering excessive prison terms for crimes or misdemeanors committed with political intent, or mainly with political intent;
confiscating or ordering the confiscation without fair compensation of any property of any person.
Extent of amnesty for officials or agents of the Cuban government
1. Full amnesty for officials or agents of the Cuban government shall entail that no punishment shall be imposed, except for – at the discretion of the TRC – possible suspension and/or removal from office with fair compensation for loss of income or placement in the private sector with comparable income.
2. Those who are not removed from office may be obligated – at the discretion of the TRC – to follow a clearly set out human rights retraining program.
Extent of amnesty for political prisoners
or otherwise unjustly penalized persons; compensation
1. Without prejudice to the provisions set out in article 3, section 2, amnesty for political prisoners or otherwise unjustly penalized persons shall entail:
a. the pardon of any (remaining) prison term with full rehabilitation, including the deletion of the criminal record pertaining to the pardoned offence;
b. the immediate termination of any other kind of penalty that may have been imposed, with full restoration in any (property) rights that may as part of or as a consequence of the imposed penalty have been confiscated or otherwise damaged,
harmed or diminished in value, except where – at the discretion of the SAC – a fixed amount in restorative compensation payable by the State is more appropriate.
2. Apart from restorative compensation, the SAC may – at its discretion – award a fixed amount in extra compensation payable by the State to indemnify political prisoners or otherwise unjustly penalized persons for any pain or injustice suffered.
All amnesties granted by the TRC and the SAC shall be permanent.
Dismantlement of armed forces
1. The Cuban Armed Forces will be dismantled.
2. The Cuban Secret Police will be dismantled.
3. Without prejudice to the provisions set out in article 6, all military personnel – including conscripts – will be offered appropriate functions in the Cuban Police Force.