Fidel’s legal legacy (el juicio de los aviadores)

Among many other things, the Miami Herald’s extensive obituary of Fidel Castro describes the March 1959 trial of 44 Cuban pilots, bombardiers, and mechanics from Cuba’s pre-revolutionary air force (referred to as “el juicio de los aviadores” in Cuban legal history). In summary, after a revolutionary tribunal acquitted the accused airmen of crimes against the Revolution, an enraged Fidel instantly created a right of appeal for prosecutors. When he was told that Cuban law did not permit prosecutors to appeal acquittals, Fidel replied: “Revolutionary justice is not based on legal precepts but on moral conviction.” A second tribunal then condemned the airmen to prison for 30 years. In the words of the Herald: “the airmen were lucky. Though Cuban law did not allow capital punishment, the revolutionary tribunals were sending a steady stream of men to the firing squad, often after trials televised from sports stadiums where handpicked mobs of Castro supporters howled in unison, paredón! — to the wall!

Free #ElSexto

About F. E. Guerra-Pujol

When I’m not blogging, I am a business law professor at the University of Central Florida.
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2 Responses to Fidel’s legal legacy (el juicio de los aviadores)

  1. Abogada Guerra says:

    Fascinating. Thank you for sharing all these wonderful anecdotes.

    • This case also raises a fascinating question about law. Technically, the 1940 Cuban Constitution was suspended by the previous dictator, and at the same time, Fidel was swept into power through a violent “revolution” …

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