Fidel on Elián case; 'Shaka Sankofa died like a hero' ?==?iso-8859-1?Q?(English)

Jose G. Perez jg_perez at
Sun Jun 25 13:48:18 MDT 2000


* Encouraging News will not lead us to let down our guard

* Miami Mafia, extreme right still have resources

* Shaka Sankofa died like a hero

* Execution was an unspeakable crime

    [Following is the text of Fidel Castro's message to a rally of
400,000 people in the Cuban city of Holguin held to demand the
immediate repatriation of Elián Gonz'zlez and his family, abolition of
the U.S. Cuban Adjustment Act and an end to the U.S. economic blockade
against Cuba.]

    [The text is from a Cuban government web site with many of Fidel's
recent speeches and statements. The URL is:

    [I will also post the original Spanish version shortly. --José]

As I write this message, I am fully certain that today, on behalf of
all of Cuba, you will hold one of the most magnificent rallies in the
history of our Revolution.

The encouraging news received yesterday, while involved in the
struggle we have been waging for seven months in extremely hostile and
unfavorable conditions against a profoundly hurting injustice, will
not lead us to lower our guard.

That legal process should never have been pursued in the United States
whose courts have no jurisdiction over this case according to
international standards and the laws of both Cuba and the United

There are still dangers that must not be underestimated. All it would
take is for one member of the U.S. Supreme Court, which should now
decide on this case, to accept the already announced request for an
interdiction and the boy and his family would be forced to stay in the
America for a number of months.

The criminal Miami mob and their allies in the U.S. extreme right
still have power and room to maneuver and they will not hesitate to
use them, for they have no scruples whatsoever about drawing out the
torture of these victims of their hatred viciously seeking revenge
through the boy, his family and his people.

Therefore, we will not rest for a minute, not even when Elián and his
courageous father have returned to Cuba with the rest of their family
and friends. It is our sacred duty to save the lives of many other
Cuban children, mothers and other people from being devoured by the
murderous Cuban Adjustment Act. We also have before us the unflagging
fight against the Helms-Burton and Torricelli Acts and the dozens of
amendments adopted by the U.S. Congress to asphyxiate our country.
There is also the criminal blockade to fight, the economic warfare and
the sustained policy of subversion and destabilization against a
revolution that began over 130 years ago, and that we have fully and
firmly established based on our inalienable rights as an absolutely
sovereign and independent nation, paying a high toll in human lives,
sacrifice and heroism. We have sworn to keep up that fight and we will
do it!

But, we are also profoundly internationalists. During the most
difficult days of the fight to free Elián, we had the support of over
70% of the American people which should not and never will be
forgotten. As part of this decisive and admirable support, a full 90%
of African-Americans defended the rights of the boy and his father.
Then, barely 24 hours ago the African-American people and the majority
of Americans were dealt a heavy blow at the tragic moment when Shaka
Sankofa, as he decided to call himself after being sentenced to death,
was murdered. Our people shared their pain. This was truly an
unspeakable crime.

Despite the violations of the law emphatically and viciously described
by his executioners as committed by Shaka Sankofa when he was an
adolescent living in conditions of poverty, social exclusion and
racial discrimination, the fact remains that he was sentenced to death
while a minor, without the slightest consideration or pity, for a
murder of which he could not be proven guilty. Everything done to him
contradicts universally accepted legal doctrines and principles.

The only proof against him was the testimony of a person who was 40
feet away --quite a long distance to be able to specify details,
particularly at night-- who claimed to have seen his face for a few
seconds through a car window in the vicinity of the place where the
event took place. Various witnesses who could have proven the opposite
were not summoned to testify. Nor could he receive the services of an
experienced defense attorney because he was poor.

The ballistic evidence showed that the bullets that killed the victim
did not match those in the gun that he was carrying, again, according
to his accusers. Numerous members of the jury that sentenced him have
later stated that if they had known about these circumstances and
irregularities, they never would have found him guilty.

During Shaka Sankofa's long struggle to prove his innocence, those who
knew him and supported his cause did not waver in their absolute
conviction that he was innocent, and that the sentence he was given
constituted a repugnant murder. The resolute spirit, eloquence and
dignity with which he defended himself gave the same impression.

It is generally believed in the United States and the rest of the
world that he was sentenced to death and executed simply because he
was black.

In this case , the crime of sentencing a minor to death was compounded
by the monstrous act of subjecting him to 19 years awaiting execution
at what is crudely known as "death row". But this did not assuage the
rancor of the racists enough to grant him a moratorium in order to
shed light on what was quite obviously an irregular and arbitrary
process. Any authority empowered to grant this would have done so, had
they felt any compassion.

Shaka Sankofa has shown the world the bitter fruits of a social system
with endless differences between the rich and the poor; a system where
individualism, selfishness, consumerism, the widespread use of guns
and violence stand as its philosophical foundation.

What is most admirable about that poor, marginal, black adolescent
sentenced to capital punishment in the absence of the slightest
proof --and perhaps for those very reasons-- is his evolution,
throughout that endless wait on death row, the impressive political
and social awareness expressed at the time of his execution. He did
not go as a gentle lamb to the slaughter. Just as he had promised, he
forcefully resisted the execution until the very moment of death. He
spoke like a prophet. He urged others to keep up the struggle against
what he described as a holocaust or genocide suffered by the
African-American people. He demanded the vindication of his innocence.
He died like a hero.

This is way in which oppression, exploitation, inequality and
injustice create people who, even at the agonizing moment of an unfair
death, are capable of moving an empire and exciting the admiration of
honorable people throughout the world. Could such a thing possibly be
justified by the mistakes made by a poor, black, discriminated and
marginal adolescent in the wealthiest country of the world?

As for us, it is not only our duty of gratitude but also our
internationalist duty to join in the vigorous protest of millions of
Americans, black and white, native, Hispanic and mestizo, who are
angrily condemning this hateful racist way of applying justice.

These events come to confirm, now more than ever, that the future will
certainly be that of our dreams of equality and justice for all human

The peoples will triumph!

Fidel Castro Ruz

June 24, 2000

12:42 a.m.

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