January 16, 2021, The Seattle-Cuba Friendship Committee and the Seattle MLK Coalition hosted the webinar “Alternatives to Policing - Policing in Cuba”, as part of the Martin Luther King Day events.
Members of the panel shared personal experiences of visiting Cuba many times and conducting researches about the judicial and penitentiary systems there. Panelists agreed that the approach of the police on the Island, which does not see nor treats persons as enemies, clearly contrasts with the police performance in the United States.
Also acknowledged were the professionalism of the Cuban judges, the role of the lay judges’ figure, and the people´s confidence in the criminal court system.
Second Secretary, Yanet Pumariega, explained how policing in Cuba looked like before and after 1959, when a new type of police was born, from the Rebel Police, and with the support of the people for the protection of the common social good achieved with the triumph of the Cuban Revolution.
The diplomat also mentioned the continued efforts carried out in Cuba aimed at the integration of the police officer with the community and the implementation of aspects from the community-oriented police model, which promotes preventive functions and prophylactic actions over repressive ones. It also enables the scrutiny of police actions through the social control mechanisms made available to Cuban citizens.
The audience, of around 200 participants, also appreciated the information conveyed about the legal guarantees enshrined in the Cuban constitution and the legal system, which guide the exercise of the police functions on the respect for people´s rights, such as: the prohibition of any kind of discrimination, due process, habeas corpus and presumption of innocence.
Though there are challenges still to overcome, the panel highlighted the strengths of the Cuban police and judicial system approaches, and above all, the community safety enjoyed by the people in Cuba.
Cuban Embassy in Washington D.C.