Re: (OPE-L) dreams and nightmares

From: Nicola Taylor (19518173@STUDENT.MURDOCH.EDU.AU)
Date: Sun May 18 2003 - 22:24:43 EDT

Paul Bullock writes:

> Jerry:
> Concerning such 'political' discussions. Firstly ALL the theory discussed
> this site has political implications as far as I am concerned.

I agree (and welcome the advisory committee's decision).

> Secondly, I
> am quite astonished that given the appalling crimes committed by the rich
> and powerful to maintain their positions in the world, and the extremely
> aggressive and violent positions being carried forward  against  the
> democratic rights of millions by these same interest, that  the recent
> limited reapplication of the death penalty in Cuba has seized the main
> attention of  some members of the list.

The reapplication of the death penalty is but ONE issue in Cuba's dismal
human rights record.  The recent crackdown (about which Ingrao writes)
included not only well-known
opposition members but led also to the arrest, summary trial and
imprisonment (very long sentences) of 28 independent journalists and a
number of grass-roots activists.  There is a full document available on the
crackdown, which effectively began in 1996, from Amnesty International
website: http:// .
Here is their press release to do specifically with the executions.


Cuba: Executions mark an unjustifiable erosion in human rights

In yet another blow to respect for human rights, Cuban authorities have
ended a three-year de facto moratorium on executions by sending three men to
their deaths before an official firing squad, said Amnesty International

"Coming on the heels of the mass arrest and summary trials of at least 75
Cuban dissidents -- most of whom received shockingly lengthy prison terms
ranging up to 28 years -- these executions mark a serious erosion in Cuba's
human rights record."

"The executions are extremely worrying as a human rights development, not
only because they signal the end of Cuba's widely-heralded de facto
moratorium on executions," continued Amnesty International. "What is equally
of concern is that the men were given a summary trial, and their appeals to
the supreme court and the Council of State were dealt with in a cursory and
wholly inadequate manner. They were shot and killed less than a week after
their trial began." [In fact their right of appeal was dismissed].

The three men, Lorenzo Enrique Copello Castillo, Bárbaro Leodán Sevilla
García and Jorge Luis Martínez Isaac, were among a group who reportedly
hijacked a Cuban ferry with several dozen passengers on board on 2 April and
tried to force it to the United States. The incident,the third hijacking in
two weeks in Cuba, ended without bloodshed, after several days' standoff
between Cuban security forces and the the hijackers.

Currently there at least 50 people on death row in Cuba. Amnesty
International is concerned that these people may also face imminent
execution given that the moratorium has ended, and has taken action by
calling on authorities to urgently commute all pending death sentences.

Lorenzo Enrique Copello, Bárbaro Leodán Sevilla and Jorge Luis Martínez were
convicted of terrorism under Law 93 of late 1991, which expanded existing
anti-terrorism measures and reaffirmed the use of the death penalty in the
most extreme cases. Another four hijackers received life sentences, while
four others received shorter prison terms.

In an official statement on the executions on 11 April, the Cuban government
claimed that it was undergoing serious provocations and threats to its
national security emanating from the United States.

"There is no justification for executions, particularly following summary
trials," Amnesty International responded. "Over the last four weeks, Cuba
has reversed significant human rights progress made over a period of years.
This represents a return to extreme repressive measures in use decades ago
which cannot be justified, and which ultimately harm the Cuban people."

> What sense of proportion do we see
> in these remarks?

I think I have already stated quite clearly the reason for concern: it is a
concern I share with Fred (the current actions harm the Cuban - indeed the
socialist - cause) and with AI (the current actions harm the Cuban people).
Indeed, one cannot with ANY credibility denounce the violence and
imperialist ambition of the US state (against the oppressed) while in the
same breath condoning the violence of the Cuban state (against the
oppressed).  It has been suggested that violence has been forced on Cuba by
its difficult circumstances, but I find this argument utterly nonsensical.
Summary trial (and detention without trial) are the CHOSEN strategies of the
current administration.  Fred considers these strategies mistaken, Riccardo
considers these strrategies mistaken, Michael considers these strategies
mistaken, I consider these strategies mistaken.  Moreover a repressive state
apparatus immediately raises the question of whether (or not) the Castro
government can (as it claims) rely on the support of the Cuban people who
you are defineing as the 'oppressed' (this is a consideration that
socialists cannot overlook).  At present there is no
answer to the question because 'the oppressed' are not allowed to debate the
of their own country (journalists can be arrested and TV stations closed for
suggesting that such a debate should even exist).  Of course, the key
question is how to respond (given the likelihood of an attack on Cuba).
Under these circumstances, should the question of democracy be set aside, as
some contributors to the debate have suggested?  I don't think so: what one
"defends" as a socialist has too much importance for the future of socialism
(if there is to be a future). In my view Riccardo is right to point out
that the memory of Allende survives not because he was defeated by US
imperialism but because he DID NOT resort to repression in his defence.

> If Nicky wishes to appeal to our better instincts why
> doesn't she choose to condemn the fact of  Koestler's rape of Mrs Foot,
> rather than his fiction?

I hope you are not suggesting that all great works of literature should be
dismissed if the 'moral' credentials of their authors are brought into
question?  The simple answer to your question is that Koestler's fiction is
interesting in the context of the current debate (in the sense that the
arguments of the book parallel the arguments in this forum, in favour and
against supporting the Castro regime).

> Why have the protests against the death penalty not
> been seen before on this site by the same correspondents, when applied
> against  the oppressed in the USA?

Would you like to initiate a debate on the subject?  I will be happy to
contribute since I share Riccardo's view: the death penalty (the most
violent form of state action against individuals) can NEVER be justified.

> If a discussion of imperialist violence and  counteractions by  oppressed
> countries has to be discussed, it must  be done in public. This was the
> classic way to identify the real political  positions of  priests and
> ideologists who concealed self interest and reaction in moral lamentation
> and 'heavenly' appeals. It is not suprising that Castro is quoted on this
> site recently as attacking certain Marxists.

I also am not surprised that Castro is attacking Marxists, or indeed anyone
who opposes him.  Once a ruling elite begins on this road the list of
'enemies of the state' tends to grow...


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