Friday, August 28, 2009

1957: Castro response to Pact of Miami

Cuba History Timeline Events
December 14, 1957
The slow traveling news of the Liberation Junta announcements was not well received in the Sierra. According to those in his camp then, Castro on reading the Junta's agreements exploded, ranting: "How stupid can they be? Do they really think... that while I am here in the Sierras I will permit Prio and Pazos will decide everything in Miami?" Castro's reaction and his response to the Pact of Miami attested that he would honor agreements and elections only while convenient—and giving him the last word.

Manuel Márquez-Sterling writes in his paper, 'Anybody but Batista' or The Politics of 'The End Justifies the Means' that

When news of the announcement of the Junta agreements reached Castro in the Sierra Maestra, he flew into one of his frequent rages. Wasting no time, he fired off an angry letter to the Junta Miami officers on December 14, 1957. In that letter Castro repudiated the agreements to which his own delegates were signatories, and categorically rejected the creation of a military junta as successor to Batista- which the Junta had also agreed and announced. With characteristic arrogance Castro also affirmed, to the chagrin of Junta members, that there were no binding agreements whatsoever between him the Junta, and that maintaining public order and reorganizing Cuba's armed forces after Batista's fall was the exclusive prerogative of the 26th of July Movement. He added that, in regard to a provisional president, he had already designated Manuel Urrutia.

Castro's letter was imperiously arrogant, blunt and revealing of his future dictatorial plans for Cuba. In his ukase, Castro insults Prio, lashes against Varona, and ridicules Agramonte. And he serves notice on them that after Batista, during his “provisional” government the rights of the old political parties will be severely curtailed, limited to defending their programs and reorganizing for elections. By issuing a decree about permissible political activity in the revolutionary regime to come, he implicitly gave a clear indication of his approach to governance.

In his letter Castro justified his choice of Judge Manuel Urrutia as Provisional President on the grounds of his impartiality, non-partisanship and impressive knowledge and commitment to justice in application of law. This is an especially ludicrous part of the letter, citing Urrutia’s infamous decision in the Granma Revolutionaries trial to bolster its preposterous claims. Urrutia’s outlandish dissenting minority opinion in that case had demonstrated precisely the opposite.

Urrutia’s bizarre opinion that violent insurrection and terrorism was a constitutionally protected right was on its face absurd. It demonstrated at best ignorance of the law and at worst a deliberate effort to subvert justice. It was a blatantly political act, reasonably characterized as judicial malpractice. It was naked judicial activism demonstrating that he allowed political views to serve as his primary consideration in deciding a case.

Urrutia’s outrageous opinion was not merely a case of attempting to legislate from the bench. From a lower court, he issued an opinion beyond that court's jurisdiction that would set aside a Supreme Court ruling, and represented a de facto constitutional amendment—one that would result in subverting the intent of the framers of the Constitution, inviting insurrectional violence by granting it immunity from prosecution. It was also an affront to common sense. A Constitution serves its purpose of promoting civil order by establishing limits and accountability concerning the use of force. Therefore, it is absurd to interpret it would, under any conditions, license unaccountable use of violence by individuals unilaterally engaging in terrorist acts against private property and persons.

An English translation of Castro’s response letter is found in Dubois’ “Fidel Castro”.

based on Manuel Márquez-Sterling's Cuba 1952-1959 and
Cuba 1952-1959 Interactive Timeline

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