Just before the end of last year, AP reported that the Cuban Supreme Court had commuted the death sentence of the last person remaining in Cuba’s death row, a Cuban-American named Humberto Eladio Real. A few weeks before, the Supreme Court also commuted the death sentences of two Salvadorian men who had been convicted in a bombing campaign against Cuba’s tourist sites.

Although there was little fanfare about these news reports, they harbor enormous significance.  For a nation that for years was at the top of the list in executions, it is quite outstanding to have an empty death row.  It has been an unusually long period of time since Cuba carried out its last executions, and no one has been added to the list.

On April 18th, 2005, Consenso Cubano, an umbrella that groups over twenty opposition organizations inside of Cuba and in the diaspora (the Cuba Study Group is one of them), signed a declaration of principles that, among others, specifically called on Cuba to eliminate the death sentence. 

Other than Cuban leaders, no one knows for certain what led to the virtual elimination of the death sentence, but it is a good thing and a significant step forward. It would constitute an enormous step forward if the Cuban National Assembly would formally outlaw it in their next session.



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