[Marxism] Feds planning first executions in 80 years in PuertoRico

Joaquín Bustelo jbustelo at bellsouth.net
Wed Apr 13 18:40:05 MDT 2005


Carlos writes: >>And since I mentioned Cuba, there have been less death
sentences carried out in Cuba in the last 40 years than there where in Texas
in the bloodiest year. Furthermore, there has not been a single woman or
person less than 20 years old to whom the death penalty has been applied
since January 1st, 1959 (according to MINREX).<< 

I don't think this is accurate. In the first few months of the revolution
there were a whole series of trials of torturers and assassins of the
Batista dictatorship, particularly notorious traitors, etc. The figure I've
always heard and used myself countless times is that about 600 people were
executed, and up to 20,000 imprisoned. I don't think even Bush in Texas came
anywhere close  to that. 

But people need to remember the context. This was a very short but bloody
civil war. Up to a few months before the end there were perhaps 500
guerrillas, and at the very end 3,000, one third of them completely new,
unarmed recruits. 

Yet 20,000 people died, overwhelmingly civiliand butchered by Batista's
henchmen. The masses demanded exemplary punishment of the assassins; whether
the revolutionary leadership could have persuanded them otherwise I do not
know but the record is pretty clear that the leadership was one with the
masses on this one.

Joaquín

-----Original Message-----
From: marxism-bounces at lists.econ.utah.edu
[mailto:marxism-bounces at lists.econ.utah.edu] On Behalf Of Carlos A. Rivera
Sent: Wednesday, April 13, 2005 8:05 PM
To: Activists and scholars in Marxist tradition
Subject: Re: [Marxism] Feds planning first executions in 80 years in
PuertoRico


----- Original Message -----
From: "Fred Feldman" <ffeldman at bellatlantic.net>

>Murder case unites Puerto Ricans against death penalty Capital  
>punishment prohibited on island, but Washington says federal crimes an 
>exception.

I was actually in Puerto Rico over the weekend, on a work-then-pleasure trip
(havent been there in 6 months). Besides anti-war and all those other issues
we are involved with by default on account of being red as a baboon's ass,
the Big Things on the left there right now are a Student's strike which is
led by the left in spite the left *opposing* it as strategically unsound,
the opposition to a Marriot resort development which is stealing public
beaches (by law and constititution beaches are public domain) and this death
penalty case.

I attended a relatively big demo sunday in front of the Federal Court. Had
about 200 people, roughly equivalent to 2,000 in NYC. It was nice to see.

This is not the first challenge on part of the Federal Court system to the
PR consitution, but it is the first that seems to have a chance to win. In
Puerto Rico polls are consistent in placing an overwhelming opposition to
the Death Penalty never lower than 60% and as high as 80% against it (it
apparently varies with which ever is the latest gruesome murder on tv).

And this is a very complex case for marxists in Puerto Rico. We are
generally very adverse at defending colonial laws, such as the Constitution
of the Commonwealth, yet on the other hand we recognize that it is the
defacto law of the land and the Socialists and Communists were instrumental,
backed up by social struggles at the time, of some of its very advanced
sections, such as the explicit prohibition of the death penalty.

Furthermore, some are not opposed to the death penalty on principle, just
for nationalist reasons (ie support it in Cuba).

So it is not a simple matter.

I oppose the death penalty on principle, simply because I oppose anything
that absolute. At least if you send someone to jail, you have the chnace to
make some ammends as a society if it turns out to be a mistake. Death,
needless to say, its final.

And since I mentioned Cuba, there have been less death sentences carried out
in Cuba in the last 40 years than there where in Texas in the bloodiest
year. Furthermore, there has not been a single woman or person less than 20
years old to whom the death penalty has been applied since January 1st, 1959
(according to MINREX).

*  *  *

A couple of separate things:

You mention your organization a couple of times but don't mention its name.
If it isn't indiscreet to mention it, I'd like to know the group being
referred to.

And on the constitution, which you describe as "advanced":

>>Section 5 not only guarantees the right to public education, but
explicitly prohibits using public funds for private schooling.<<

I would maintain this is hardly an "advanced" position. At any rate, I think
Marxists should abandon the stance of "supporting" public education and
return to Marx's position of opposition to state *control* of education.
This would be of special importance in a case like that of a colony like
Puerto Rico (where Spanish was banned in the schools throughout the first
half of the XX Century) and of nationally oppressed communities like Blacks
and Latinos on the mainland.

Joaquín






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