March 7, 2021

“DO YOU WANT TO BE FOUND IN CONTEMPT OF THE REGIME?” “WHY NO, I WAS TRYING TO CONCEAL IT.” A Verdict Makes History in Cuba by Rejecting ‘Contempt’ as a Crime. “In its eagerness to cover up a totalitarian system with a veneer of the rule of law, the Cuban regime has flooded the set of laws that govern the country with ones that punish the slightest dissent. The logic is simple: the Government creates laws that shield it against any threat, including a simple phrase such as “Patria y Vida” (Homeland and Life). Contempt, as a crime, violates even the simplest forms of the freedom of expression, such as criticism. The sweeping purview of said law, as with others found in the PC, is only possible thanks to a deliberate ambiguity in its wording.”

Sounds increasingly familiar. Plus: “In Cuba, precedent is not considered a source of law. Therefore, the sentence handed down by the Municipal People’s Court of Santiago de Cuba will not serve for judges to act in the same way in similar cases. Nevertheless, the decision issued in Dairon Duque de Estrada’s case does mark a shift in the interpretation of the law that can be invoked by lawyers in subsequent cases. Moreover, the fact that several judges agreed to reject the crime of contempt as it has been wielded by the regime ruptures the judicial coherence with which dissent is criminalized in Cuba. This, on a symbolic level, represents a great victory for those fighting for the right to freedom of expression on the island.”

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