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An Insult to Humanity

On March 6, 2009 twelve separate amicus briefs were presented in support of the Cuban Five’s petition for certiorari before the Supreme Court, the largest number of amicus filings ever to have urged Supreme Court to review a criminal conviction.

Eight briefs were submitted by institutions or persons based on the United States: National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Miami Chapter; National Jury Project; National Lawyers Guild and National Conference of Black Lawyers; William C. Velazquez Institute and Mexican American Political Association; Civil Rights Clinic at Howard University School of Law; Center for International Policy and Council on Hemispheric Affairs; and one amicus brief submitted by Professors Nelson P. Valdés, Guillermo Grenier, Félix Masud-Piloto, José A. Cobas, Lourdes Arguelles, Rubén G. Rumbaut and Louis Pérez, distinguished Cuban-American Scholars, authors of some of the most important books about the Cuban emigration to the US.

The support from around the world was really impressive. It included:

An amicus presented by ten Nobel Laureates: José Ramos-Horta (President of the Republic of East Timor), Wole Soyinka, Adolfo Pérez Esqivel, Nadine Gordimer, Rigoberta Menchú, José Saramago, Zhores Alferov, Darío Fo, Günter Grass and Máiread Corrigan Maguire.

Another brief was submitted by a record number of legislators from every corner of the world, including the entire Senate of Mexico and the National Assembly of Panama, both having discussed and unanimously decided to join. Also by Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; dozens of members of the European Parliament from every political group, including three current vice-presidents and two former Presidents and hundreds of lawmakers from Brazil, Belgium, Chile, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Scotland and the United Kingdom.

This document added similar appeals by other Nobel Laureates, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Harold Pinter, and by the Latin-American Council of Churches, the permanent Conference of Latin-American and Caribbean political parties, the Latin-American Parliament as well as other regional legislative bodies and specific resolutions of support approved by national parliaments from Namibia, Mali, Russia, Mexico, Brazil, Bolivia, Venezuela, Peru, Ireland, Switzerland and Belgium, among many others.

Two separate amicus came from a wide spectrum of lawyers’ organizations and personalities: One was submitted by the Ibero-American Federation of Ombudsman, the Order of Attorneys of Brazil (membership 700 thousands), the Belgium bar associations, the Berlin and other German bars, the International Federation for Human Rights and a number of religious, legal, human rights organizations, law professors, and lawyers from Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Panama, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom. Among the personalities signing it were Federico Mayor Zaragoza, former Director-General of UNESCO, and Judge Juan Guzmán Tapia of Chile.

The other amicus was presented by the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, the American Association of Jurists, the Indian Association of Lawyers, Droit Solidarité, the Haldane Society and other legal organizations from Italy, Japan, the Philippines, Portugal and Belgium.

A number of American lawyers volunteered in drafting those papers (as required by law), consulting and coordinating with the many individuals involved and presenting the briefs on time and with due respect to the technical and other parameters that the Court has established. Every individual or institution submitting an amicus brief had to identify himself/herself with specific data, to sign it personally and pay a filing fee. Pursuant to Rule 37.6 of the Court “no counsel for a party has authored this brief, in whole or in part. No person or entity other than amici curiae, or its counsel have made any monetary contribution to the preparation or submission of this brief.” It was a hell of a work for which many people deserve being recognized. All the amicus briefs, along with a complete list of the amici can be found on SCOTUS blog (www.scotusblog.com) and on www.antiterroristas.cu.

We shall never know what the Justices or their clerks thought, if anything, about those documents. Nobody knows if they even glanced over them. The amici didn’t get an answer or a  single comment–not even a clerk’s receipt note.

Nobody knows either how the Justices pronounced themselves regarding the petition for certiorari. We only learned that on June 14th the petition of the Cuban Five was thrown out with the other petitions the Court had decided not to hear.

A famous Mexican poet once defined US imperial attitude with the melding of two words: arrogance and ignorance. It appears that the Court, supremely, epitomizes both.

RICARDO ALARCÓN de QUESADA is president of the Cuban National Assembly.

Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada has served as Cuba’s UN ambassador, Foreign Minister and president of the National Assembly.

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