UPDATED, Dec. 28, 2010 — Humberto Real's death sentence was commuted to 30 years in prison.
Humberto Eladio Real Suarez
The death penalty is no mark of a "civilized" society, and no matter how it is carried out — whether by a Cuban firing squad or Texan prison guards pushing a lethal cocktail of drugs into a condemned man's arm — it is an affront to everything that is right and moral.
Where it is allowed, the death penalty says more about the executioner — or more exactly, the system he represents — than it does about the most brutal murderer.
One thing the death penalty says about the United States is that we are willing to stand in league with some of the world's most brutal dictatorships, including the Castro regime in Havana, in executing our own citizens. That condemned men in the United States have more "rights" before they are put to death does relieve us of our moral responsibility for allowing in our name state-sanctioned murder nor of the stain of association with some of the world's worst tyrants.
Raul Castro, one of the world's most skilled practitioners of the death penalty, drew headlines last month when he commuted the death sentences of most — but not all — prisoners on Cuba's death row. (That is, where Cuban prisoners officially sentenced to die wait their turn, and not the rest of the gulag where Cuban prisoners, political and otherwise, are condemned to a slow death by abuse and neglect.)
Yes, the news was welcome, but it was not an abolishment of the death penalty, nor enough to forget the Castro dictatorship's many other sins.
One prisoner not covered by Castro's announcement was the Cuban American prisoner, Humberto Eladio Real Suarez. Real was one of seven exiles who snuck into Cuba in October 1994 and soon after were captured. In 1996, he was convicted and sentenced to death for murdering a guard.
Is Real a political prisoner or just a common criminal? In Cuba, where there is no rule of law and the accused have few, if any rights, there really is no difference. A fellow blogger explains:
(M)ost prisoners in Cuban jails are political prisoners because they have been convicted of "crimes" which are not penalized anywhere else but in Communist Cuba. It would be closer to the truth to say that every prisoner incarcerated by Castro is a political prisoner than to claim that only 220 are. Where there is no Rule of Law, there can be no justice. When the administration of what passes as "law" is in the hands of criminals and the State itself is a criminal enterprise, no man convicted under such a dispensation can be considered guilty and no sanction imposed on him legitimate. It is offensive to any concept of morality to claim that there could be one group of prisoners that received "justice" at the hands of a criminal State and another that did not.
That is even more true for those condemned to die by such a criminal enterprise.
One of the surest indicators of the repressive nature of the Castro regime is the jailing of political prisoners. To illustrate that reality, Uncommon Sense each week profiles one prisoner. There also is a Political Prisoner archive on the right sidebar. To suggest a prisoner for a profile, send me an e-mail.
For profiles of imprisoned Cuban journalists and related information, read the March 18 Project.