Home > Miguel Iturria Savón > The Blackest Chapter of the Black Spring

The Blackest Chapter of the Black Spring

On Monday, December 14, I ran into Julia Estrella Aramburu Taboas, on the street in Vedado.  Julia is the mother of Harold Alcalá Aramburu the aunt of Maikel Delgado Aramburu, condemned to life in prison in April 2003 for participating in the hijacking of a ferry to emigrate to the United States.

Speaking of what happened, Julia showed me a copy of the Sentence of the Supreme Court which condemned to death three of the participants, life in prison for 4, 30 years for Wilmer Ledea Pére, and 5 and 2 year sentences for the rest of the hijackers; who did not arrive at the south of the United States, only at the Port of Mariel, where they were turned over to the authorities without having injured any of the crew-turned-hostages.

The event, described by some jurists as the blackest chapter of that Black Spring of 2003, which included the imprisonment of 75 peaceful opponents for crimes of opinion, occurred in the early morning of April 2.  The trial took place six days later in the Court of Crimes Against State Security of Havana City Provincial Court, which found the defendants guilty of an act of terrorism and only gave them 8 hours to establish their appropriate appeals to death sentences and life sentences and other and other sanctions.

The haste with which the Court acted, chaired by Tomas Fernandez Malvarez and composed of the judges Cesar Morales Acosta, Alicia Valle Diaz, Aramis White Castle and Pelagius Lescalles Cortina, shows that even though in our procedural system summary proceedings are expected, it is obvious that in a case as complex and questionable the limited window of time injured his right of defense, recognized as a constitutional guarantee, and made it impossible to thoroughly research the and multilateral causes and circumstances that led the event.

The defendants and their supporters were unable to provide evidence exonerating or attenuating responsibility.  The execution of the death penalty came in record time and the State Council ratified it promptly, which is surprising since other convicts have been awaiting execution for years, such as the Salvadoran Cruz Leon, author of the most reprehensible acts prosecuted in April 2003.

Despite the opposing views I think that these young people staged a heroic event, nor were they only prosecuted for attempting to leave the island. Nothing can justify an act of piracy that endangered the lives of innocent people, but the perpetrators must be punished appropriately and not excessively, which in turn effectively makes them martyrs.

The ruling illustrates that the process had a character lesson at the cost of the death of three of the eleven involved and lengthy sentences for five of the others. No one deserved such an absurdity as no hostages were killed or wounded nor did they shoot at the soldiers who followed them from the Bay of Havana. There were no economic losses, the boat was recovered.

Far from acting recklessly, the kidnappers decided to return to port for refueling, a naive and even noble action in the case of people aged 16 to 30 years sought by the military command.

In the Act of Sentencing No. 17 of 2003 it stated that except those sentenced to death the rest of the defendants had no criminal record. Of the 3 with a criminal history it did not reflect the year of termination of the previous sanctions, so we do not know if they were canceled. The document states that all social misfits were punished, but does not explain why.

The darkness of the Sentence is complemented by the award of four previous offenses under the law against acts of terrorism, which is optional, but demonstrates the repressive aim of so ruthless a penalty, that obviates the humanitarian sensibility and rehabilitation that must be met by criminal convictions.

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