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Radical Raul? Cuba Commutes Death Sentences

Raul Castro has commuted all but three death sentences handed down in Cuba. Every death-row inmate, besides three convicted terrorists, will now face 30 years in prison, instead of death by firing squad.

Raul, who officially took over for his brother Fidel Castro this past February, said that humanitarian concerns, not international pressure, motivated his decision. He quickly maintained that the death penalty still remains on the books.

Raul, who also announced the first Communist Congress in over a decade, has been showing signs of pragmatism and reform since taking power. He lifted a ban on electronics sales, and Cubans can now stay in hotels designated for tourists. Many other freedoms, such as the right to own property, are still forbidden.

The US has found itself in a curious position with its North American neighbors when it comes to the death penalty. To see how,

.

Suspected murders sometimes flee to Mexico or Canada, because those countries will not extradite suspects unless the death penalty is taken off the table. A recent example? Marine Cesar Laurean, accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend and fellow Marine, fled to Mexico and therefore saved himself from a death sentence.

Now Cuba, a country the US criticizes for its human-rights record, has decided to join the majority of countries that reject execution. Does this latest development shine Cuba's human-rights image, while bruising America's? Do you think humanitarian concerns or international pressure, could ever motivate America to reconsider death sentences?

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Jillness Jillness 8 years
I'll take what I can get, Betty! Thanks! ;)
Bettyesque Bettyesque 8 years
Jillness I almost agree with you. :)
Jillness Jillness 8 years
I think Obama's suggestion that we should have talks with Cuba is sounding more and more brilliant. They are moving forward, and that should be supported.
Auntie-Coosa Auntie-Coosa 8 years
The Death Penalty should stay. Does it keep others from committing the same crime? Maybe not. Does it keep the person given the death penalty from repeating his crimes? YUP. If a person intentionally kills another person (malice aforethought) and thereby destroys the victim's ability to life his/her life to natural end, that person forfeits his/her own life. If YOU wish to live to a ripe old age, then YOU must allow everyone else to live to a ripe old age. This doesn't say a person defending himself is a murderer, nor someone in the military who shoots an enemy (or even accidentally kills a non-combatant). I'm speaking only about intentional murder. Say a rapist kills the victim . . . that fits "malice aforethought" -- because if he hadn't planned to kill the victim, he'd have gone to the "red light district" and paid a hooker. Which he wouldn't do because rape is a crime of power, not a sexual crime. And for that reason, he gets the death penalty and he will never rape again. CUBA? I think the next President, especially if it's McCain, will take some steps towards easing relations with Cuba.
kia kia 8 years
I don't think we really need this action by Raul to shine a light on our own decisions with the death penalty. We have a long enough record without have to compare ourselves to a country that is just starting to fix its image. International pressure won't push us to change our minds. Hell we got cowboys in office, they don't listen to anyone if they don't want to.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
It depends on what the death sentences were handed down for. If it was capital murder, I'd want a little forethought put into the decision. If it was for saying something against the current administration, I would be all for commuting the sentence
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
"Does this latest development shine Cuba's human-rights image, while bruising America's?" Yep. "Do you think humanitarian concerns or international pressure, could ever motivate America to reconsider death sentences?" Nope, at least not in the foreseeable future. America is too used to being the country that puts pressure on other nations, not the one bowing to pressure, to change based on that. Look at the Kyoto Protocol.
stephley stephley 8 years
Only a miracle will make the U.S. rethink its death sentences - too many people think it's a good idea.
Bettyesque Bettyesque 8 years
Wow this is big ... Fidel must be ecstatic..
nicachica nicachica 8 years
hmmm...and here i thought Raul would just continue Fidel's ways instead of making reforms. glad to know i'm being proven wrong. frankly, i think Raul is being very smart making reforms like this. i think it would be a huge shock to Cubans to go from one extreme (communism) to another in one fell swoop (open markets). i hope he continues to make these reforms cuz he's not going to be around forever and you know the successor will not be able to sustain communism like Fidel.
raciccarone raciccarone 8 years
It's too bad he can't govern Texas as well.
MarinerMandy MarinerMandy 8 years
I think Cuba will have to go quite a bit further to have a good human rights image.
cine_lover cine_lover 8 years
It is not as though the people of Cuba can afford any of these luxuries, so I think it is just for show, although I pray I am wrong.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
I bet Fidel is spitting bullets right now. How dare someone in Cuba show compassion for the underlings...
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