17 June 2011 ~ 0 Comentarios

Third-Worldismin the courts

By Carlos Alberto Montaner*

Tribunal Supremo

(FIRMAS PRESS) In Spain, something more serious than the severe economic crisis affecting the country is happening: the growing politicization of the judiciary. In the old kingdom, justice is either progressive or conservative. The modest lady of the blindfold and the balance has given way to two fishwives who insult each other grossly. The Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court are at logger heads.Some judges and magistrates are determined to be social reformers and win sympathy from all sides. Lamentably, the Spanish judiciary is acquiring the characteristics and behavior of a Third World country. It’s embarrassing.

For now, however, the situation has not reached the disastrous stage already found in almost all of Latin America. In that continent, where the executive usually places its pawns on the courts to do what it wants, worse things happen. The drug traffickers impose their will with bullets or dollars. Judges who sell their sentences abound. The powerful are rarely convicted (as often happens in Guatemala or Mexico) or are persecuted precisely because they are or have been powerful, as now happens in the ALBA countries. In Bolivia, Evo Morales, said publicly that the role of lawyers at his service was to twist the law to accommodate any violation of the rules that he might want to commit.

In Colombia, for example, Col. Alfonso Plaza, who in 1985 was declared a national hero by the government of Belisario Betancur for freeing hundreds of hostages and taking the Palace of Justice from the hands of pro-Communist guerrillas, who had received two million dollars from Pablo Escobar to create a social up heaval that might prevent the signing of an extradition treaty between his country and the United States, two decades later, without hard evidence and with testimony produced by ideological enemies, was sentenced to 30 years for "the excessiveuse of force."

In Venezuela, the most shocking victim of false justice is engineer Alejandro Peña Esclusa, whom his country’s judges forced to pay for his anti-Chavez international activism by fabricating a ridiculous trial for conspiracy to commit terrorist acts, "planting" explosives no less than under his daughter’scrib, a repressive allegation that nobody believes but that serves the Caracas government to achieve its purpose of removing him from circulation and trying to intimidate the rest of the Venezuelan opposition.

Noone is more naive and reckless than the politician who believes he should control the judiciary to persecute his enemies and legitimize his skullduggery.When the tables are turned and former adversaries occupy Government House, the first thing they do is take over the justice system and use it to avenge old grievances and harass their foes. That is the sad history of countries like Ecuador and Nicaragua for a long time now, which explains in part the chronic crisis of governance in both countries.

Liberal democracy, which is the socio-economic model of the planet’s most prosperous countries, cannot function without a proper judiciary. So long as in Latin America there is no impartial, reasonably fast and quality justice, safe from the manipulations of politicians, we shall always be teetering on the edge of social disaster and institutional instability, the perfect environment to foster poverty and under development.

A good judiciary begins at universities, with outstanding jurists and lawyers who believe that they play a key role in the survival of democracy. Also necessary are honest and competent judges, well remunerated and respected, capable of applying fairly the laws passed by parliament. All this costs money, time and effort, but that’s unavoidable. We repeat, again and again, that our model of coexistence is based on respect for the rule of law, but we do not fully understand that, without a good judiciary, all is for naught. [“©FIRMAS PRESS]

*www.firmaspress.com

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