Liberals are coming to a country near you!
Well, perhaps not liberals in the sense that you and I consider them, but certainly liberal thinking is progressing in our Caribbean Island neighbor.
Cuba’s President Raul Castro says nearly all death sentences are to be commuted to prison terms of between 30 years and life.
It is the latest in a series of liberalising measures. Mr Castro said the decision was humanitarian and not due to international pressure.
Three people charged with terrorism will stay on death row for the time being. Their cases will be reviewed.
While Cuba plans to keep the option of the death penalty on their statute book, this is a very promising move by the Raul Castro administration towards joining the 21st Century in the arena of human rights improvements.
I’m not saying that Cuba is all of a sudden a world leader in promoting Human Rights, but this does bode well as a beginning.
Cuba has been under pressure from human-rights organisations to abolish the death penalty, which is carried out by firing squad.
There are no official figures, but the Cuban Human Rights Commission estimates that between 40 and 50 inmates could be affected.
Fourty to fifty inmates on Death Row in Cuba, you say? That doesn’t seem like a lot considering the amount we have here in the USA. The state of Ohio alone currently has 184 inmates on Death Row.
Below is a list of countries that still have the death penalty as an option in their judicial sentencing structure:
Antigua and Barbuda
China (People’s Republic)
Congo (Democratic Republic)
St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
United Arab Emirates
Please take note of how many countries in the so-called Western world still use the death penalty as a deterrent to crime.
A rather small, yet glaring list, wouldn’t you say?
This is the latest in a series of social changes announced by Raul Castro since taking over as president from his older brother Fidel in February. They are designed to make life easier and less restrictive for ordinary Cubans.
They include lifting the ban on owning mobile phones and staying in the same hotels previously reserved for foreigners.
It’s not much, yet. But I’m sure the people of Cuba will take what they can get and be emboldened by any new freedoms that come their way.
When it comes to the death penalty, the people of this country could only be so lucky as to be the receipient of this kind of freedom.