The Organization of American States (OAS) will host an unprecedented day-long event Friday offering an international platform to the victims of crimes against humanity and their families, who have suffered by the hand of Cuban communist regime.
The event will grant OAS chief Luis Almagro the opportunity to hear graphic testimony of torture, murder, and other violent crimes by the Castro regime from the people who lived them and their families.
International law defines “crimes against humanity” as a list of acts “committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack” that includes “murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation or forcible transfer … imprisonment, torture, rape, sexual slavery … persecution against any identifiable group … enforced disappearance of persons,” or other “inhumane acts” committed outside of the context of war.
The ban against crimes against humanity is theoretically considered part of jus cogens, or peremptory norms that all nations must accept, theoretically allowing essentially any tribunal on the planet to prosecute those accused of the crime.
The Justice Cuba international commission, which has spent two years compiling legal evidence against the Castro regime’s most prominent officials, contends that Cuba is guilty of nearly every crime on the list. They have prepared a national platform in Washington, at the heart of the free world, for victims of these crimes to tell their stories, an event unprecedented in scale.
The commission’s delegation to Washington includes attorneys and anti-communist dissidents from all over the world, including Mexico, Uruguay, Costa Rica, and China.
While many of the Castro regime’s worst crimes – the use of labor camps to exterminate LGBT and Christian Cubans, firing squads to silence writers and artists, and Soviet-style torture of political prisoners, to name a few – occurred in the early days of the Revolution, Justice Cuba intends to focus on atrocities that have occurred more recently or continue to occur today.
Among the most violent crimes to go unpunished are the sinking of the March 13 tugboat in 1994 – resulting in the drowning of 37 Cuban civilians, including a five-month-old infant – and the murder of four Americans during the Brothers to the Rescue operation of 1996.
Speaking to Breitbart News this week, René Bolio, the president of Justice Cuba, explained that the objective of the event, and of his commission generally, is to “identify the main people responsible” for these crimes and prosecute them while they are still alive.
“Some are in the Cuban government, but many of them are alive, that is the important thing – they can be prosecuted, arrested, and judged,” Bolio explained. “We are not only looking to the past, but to recent crimes committed right now in Cuba and some other countries. We will be receiving all their denunciations and integrating them into one file. We won’t stop.”
Cuba is currently home to between 150 and 180 political prisoners, not counting those beaten and arrested on a weekly basis for publicly expressing disapproval of the Castro regime, most women belonging to the Ladies in White Catholic protest movement. Religious groups often face the most persecution. Ladies in White leader Berta Soler is beaten and arrested publicly almost every Sunday; the head of the Christian Liberation Movement, Eduardo Cardet, has been in prison without proper medical attention for two years after refusing to sign a condolence book for Fidel Castro.
Bolio explained that the commission has spent the past two years conducting interviews and gathering evidence against the regime. Now, Justice Cuba hopes to organize trials in global courts using that evidence.
“We are closing the first stage of the procedure – the integration of files and classification of all those crimes as crimes against humanity,” he noted. “Now we start trial procedures.”
Some cases, like the Brothers to the Rescue murders, are already in court. In that case, the Cuban government shot down American planes legally flying over international waters, killing U.S. citizens. The planes were conducting rescue operations to save wayward Cuban balseros, or rafters, who had taken to the Caribbean on makeshift vessels seeking to reach Florida, a practice that peaked in the 1990s. The Clinton administration did not act to ensure justice for the families of those killed in any way.
Bolio noted that the current U.S. government, along with Peru and several other regional governments, have been more receptive to his commission’s project. The support of the OAS, handicapped for most of the 2000s by the leftist Latin American governments ruling at the time, has also breathed fresh life into the effort.
“We are very encouraged by this engagement with the OAS, that it is getting directly involved in issues regarding justice in Cuba,” attorney Manuel Zalba, a member of Justice Cuba, told Breitbart News. “Almagro is in favor of freedom in Cuba and in the region, and that gives us a lot of hope.”
Zalba promised the event would “name names, first and last, of the people committing these crimes” and feature “people who have been victims, relatives of victims … testifying about the tortures, violations, crimes against them and their families.”
The message is a simple one for those who committed these acts: “you will be pursued and punished.”