Note: The following letter by Raul G. Garcia to the Editor of the San Antonio Express-News has not yet been published there.–gm
I would like to offer a rebuttal to columnist Scott Stroud who recently wrote a piece (Express News, September 1, 2011) on former La Raza Unida Party candidate for governor of Texas, Ramsey Muñiz. Apparently Mr. Stroud got the “facts” from the wrong people who appear to harbor agendas that pass for truth. No wonder the Express News has started to fall apart in the last two weeks, with the departure of two editors, two staff members, and Stroud himself who is high tailing it to Tennessee. This is what happens to a newspaper when gossip and rumor replace the truth.
Stroud has maliciously done a disservice to the Muñiz family by implying that Muñiz himself harbors no hope of parole. The truth of the matter is that if there is anything that drives Ramsey, family, and friends it is the hope that one day he will be free. It is this hope which will destroy even the chains of a life sentence, for this is what Ramsey has suffered in the last 18 years. Neither Stroud, nor his misguided informants have an inkling of what it means to survive in the cages of America, so it’s easy for him to dispel the importance and value of hope which resides in the heart of the Muñiz family.
Stroud, who suffers from a lack of knowledge regarding appeals cases in judicial history, points out that Muñiz has no chance of being set free. The same was said of Nelson Mandela who was a prisoner for 27 years for his struggle against apartheid in South Africa. The voices of defeat said the same thing about Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi, recently released after 14 years of imprisonment for her leadership in the Democracy Movement in Myanmar (what used to be Burma).
In the last few years we have witnessed in the United States a number of prisoners released after being falsely accused for a deed they did not commit. The U.S. judicial system does have its own flaws, as acknowledged by former Supreme Court Justices Harry Blackmun and Sandra Day O’Connor, especially with regard to the death penalty. According to a study by professor Hugo Badau from Tufts University and Michael Radelet of Florida State University, there have been 28 innocent individuals executed in the country before 1973.
Another study that came out in 2001 conducted by a group of Columbia University law professors, led by professor James Liebman, showed that out of 5,400 death penalty appeals cases, there were errors in 3,600 of them. This was a study that included a 22 year period between 1973-1995. These were death row appeals cases representing 34 states. Some of the prisoners were exonerated from death row, and others got reduced sentences. The point is that the judicial system is not perfect, and it has also erred in matters other than life and death.
Muñiz has been sentenced to life imprisonment without parole, a sentence that is basically a death sentence, yet, he’s never blown up a federal building, nor has he murdered, lynched, raped, or exploited the financial life savings of working people. On the contrary, Ramsey gave his life for his people, for the poor, and in the process helped others become professionals in their own field.
The Houston Chronicle just recently (October 5, 2011) reported how law abiding citizens have been deceived or tricked into transporting drugs without their knowing it. The report states that prosecutors and a federal judge have conceded that law abiding people have been used in this way and are now being set free after a review of their case. Can columnist Scott Stroud prove that no one else planted cocaine in the car Muñiz drove, a car that did not belong to him? So who is hurting Ramsey Muñiz’s case? The weaklings who want him to admit guilt, and the media which acts as judge, jury, and prosecutor.
The time has come for all lovers of justice to rally behind Ramsey Muñiz and his family. The bashing of our people through the media should remind us of the past, of the way our Chicano brothers and sisters were likewise treated by a reactionary mentality which once again is overtaking America. Our heroes and heroines through history did not teach us to be vengeful, but to be as compassionate as possible, and never to lose our sense of justice.
Let us embrace our brothers and sisters who sometimes, because of circumstances, need us more than ever. Ramsey Muñiz still carries with him the spirit of La Raza, a spirit full of courage and spiritual hope, a spirit which still battles, from the dark dungeons of America, those who have succumbed to greed and power. It is this spirit of his freedom that should unite us in the outside, for THE TIME IS NOW.
–Raul G. Garcia
Note: Raul Garcia and Ramsey Muñiz attended Baylor University at the same time. Raul went on to teach philosophy at the university level and Ramsey attended Baylor School of Law. In his article above, Raul Garcia responds to a recent article printed in the San Antonio Express-News on September 1, 2011. It was written by an employee, Scott Stroud, who mocks the suffering of Ramsey Muñiz and his family. Stroud expresses hateful sentiments about a man who fights for his freedom after 18 years of wrongful incarceration. His carefully chosen words reflect a total lack of respect toward Ramsey Muniz, his family, and many others who suffer greatly and face a death sentence -life without parole. — Irma Muniz