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October 2013
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Police Force Being Empowered – What Awaits Us!!

Police Force Being Empowered: What Awaits Us!! / Miriam Celaya
Posted on October 16, 2013

Monday, October 14th, 2013 | By Miriam Celaya, — If
there is something in the past 55 or so years in which Cuban regime has
been efficient it’s in the administration of news according to its own
interests, a trick that consists in covering with words several printed
pages and all the “news” media, without actually saying anything. Or
another variant, not less crafty, which consists in launching
information that they know will cause expectations and agitation in the
public’s opinion, and then placing another, more significant story,
though at first glance it may not seem so, and then it can pass
virtually unnoticed.

Such was the case of a convoluted news story published in the newspaper
Granma last October 3rd, 2013 (“They Explain Changes in Criminal
Legislature”, front page), at a time when the announcement of the ban on
the sale of imported clothing to the self-employed and their seizure by
the authorities was capturing all of the attention of public opinion. In
fact, there has been no reaction of opinion on the subject of the
legislature, though they complement the recent official measures against
the self-employed.

The preliminary survey revealed that the amendments to the Criminal Code
and the Criminal Procedure Act do not seem to have aroused the people’s
interest. However, they legitimize the atmosphere of impunity that
characterizes the relationship between the repressive forces and the
population. With the Decree-Law 310/2013 “the powers of the municipal
courts are extended to adjudicate offenses punishable to up to eight
years’ imprisonment” (previously it was up to three years), while “the
acting authorities, such as the Revolutionary National Police and others
have other jurisdictions, so they don’t necessarily have to send all
cases to the tribunals”. The police force –that niche of uniformed
filibusters- will be both guardian, captor, judge and executioner of

Police confiscates goods from the self-employed

Another newly introduced amendment in the law is Decree 313/2013 of the
Council of Ministers, which states “in which cases goods associated with
a crime should be seized, and what entities should be in charge of the
property directly related to a crime and what entities should be
responsible for their acceptance or for securing them…” Items thus
confiscated “could be marketed immediately and contribute to the state
budget” and if “it is decided to return the goods” to an individual and
the goods have already been marketed, the individual will be given goods
of “similar characteristics” or he will be compensated financially. That
is, the authorities will have the prerogative to establish the
legitimacy or lack thereof of people’s assets and of what rights they
may or may not have over the goods; the assumption of the power to sell
particular properties to the State and the decision to determine in what
cases property will be returned to citizens and at what values if they
are to be compensated, all, of course, at the discretion of the same

It is scary to think what levels of helplessness the common Cuban has
reached, with the increases in the power of the PNR and the courts, that
is, the repressive institutions at the service of the government. All
this in a scenario marked by corruption at all levels, and particularly
among the agents of “order”, in theory responsible for ensuring the
public peace. I cannot think of anything more absurd of this government
than to try to maintain social control by empowering an army of
semi-illiterate corrupts supported by law professionals, as if this way
the chaos that is upon us could be avoided.

A few years ago, the General-President, whom some optimists considered a
reformist pragmatist, announced that the measures to “renew the model”
would not be retracted. He lied, but perhaps the original intention was
truthful. The reality, however, showed that even the slightest chance
for prosperity and economic independence goes beyond official controls
and a totalitarian system cannot survive a reform process, however
tentative and insufficient they may be.

The recent amendments introduced to the Criminal Code and the Criminal
Procedure Act are an attempt, as useless and it is desperate, to put the
genie back in the bottle. A twist of the screw so unfortunate that it
will heighten the shift toward the worst case scenario: more corruption
and repression against people increasingly unhappy and frustrated, just
the least prone components to the control and order which the Cuban
authorities are pursuing.

Translated by Norma Whiting

From Cubanet, 14 October 2013

Source: “Police Force Being Empowered: What Awaits Us!! / Miriam Celaya
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