On December 3rd 2009, Alan Gross, a U.S. citizen distributing cell phones and computer equipment to Cuba’s Jewish community for the U.S. Agency for International Development, prepared to board a plane homeward at Havana’s International Airport. Hovering nearby, but unnoticed by Mr. Gross, were plainclothes officers of Castro’s KGB-trained secret-police.
As the boarding order loomed, Castro’s goons rushed up and grabbed Mr. Gross — and he’s been languishing in Castro’s dungeons ever since. He suffers in limbo without any formal charges, although the Stalinist regime informally charges him with “spying.”
“Alan has suffered tremendously while incarcerated,” reported Mr. Gross’ lawyer Peter J. Cahn this December. “He has lost almost 90 pounds and his health has deteriorated significantly. Alan’s incarceration for a year without clarity of the legal process he will face or its timing is a travesty. It violates every international standard of justice and due process.”
Precisely, Mr. Kahn. Violations of every international standard of justice have reigned in Cuba for over half a century. It’s a shame that the workings of a Stalinist legal-system in place for over 50 years, just 90 miles from U.S. shores, should finally come to the attention of so many. Che Guevara, who co-founded the regime that jailed Alan Gross, laid down the rules early in the game: “Judicial evidence is an archaic bourgeois detail,” he sneered in January 1959 while kicking off a Caribbean version of the Katyn Massacre. “We execute from revolutionary conviction.”
His boss, Fidel Castro, (a lawyer who abolished habeas corpus immediately upon assuming power) followed up: “Legal proof is impossible to obtain against war criminals. So we sentence them based on moral conviction.”
This “moral conviction” saw Castro and Che’s secret police jail more political prisoners as a percentage of population than the Stalinist police, and execute more people (out of a population of 6.5 million) in its first three years in power than the Third Reich executed (out of a population of 65 million) in its first six years.
Enlightened opinion, including most “liberal,” “human-rights” and “peace” groups worldwide, either yawned or actually applauded these cumulative travesties. Harvard Law School merits special attention regarding the latter.
By April 1959, approximately 800 Cubans had been “judged” (see above) and murdered by Castro and Che’s firing squads. Cuba’s prisons were packed to suffocation with ten times the number of political prisoners as during “the Tyrant” Batista’s reign. Among Castro and Che Guevara’s prisoners were hundreds of women, a Stalinist horror utterly unknown in our hemisphere until introduced by the Cuban revolutionaries (who were, incidentally, swooned over by Barbara Walters, Andrea Mitchell and Diane Sawyer).
Furthermore, the death penalty was being applied retroactively (it had not existed under the Batista regime). Habeas corpus had been abolished. Cuban defense lawyers attempting to defend the accused were jailed themselves.