Thursday, November 22, 2012

Cuba’s Antonio Rodiles Is Not Innocent

Cuba's Antonio Rodiles Is Not Innocent
November 19, 2012
Haroldo Dilla Alfonso*

HAVANA TIMES — The imprisonment and persecution of Cuban activist
Antonio Rodiles has broken the chain of short-term express arrests that
had typified the new Cuban government's methods of repressing the

It all started a couple of years ago when the government released over a
hundred political prisoners and encouraging the vast majority of them to
leave the country. Since then, the circle around Raul Castro has
renounced spectacular raids and subsequent judicial farces such as those
that took place that sad spring (2003).

In its place began a new approach of selective harassment and arrests
for several hours as a way to achieve — at the lowest cost — what they
failed to accomplish in 2003: the annihilation of the opposition.

Cuban security agencies are well aware that no one is farther away from
being a terrorist than Antonio Rodiles, and that his activities are
fully transparent.

Although always a brave and honest communicator, Rodiles is a dangerous
person to a system that makes information sequestration and opacity a
vital condition for its operation.

Free Antonio Rodiles Now!

If he had confined himself to the valuable online discussions of the
Estado de SATS audiovisual project, it's possible they may have
tolerated him.

As long as the Cuban government keeps society excluded from the
Internet, an activity like his is inevitably limited in scope.

But Rodiles took some steps that tripped off the alert system. One of
these was to convert his own residence into a center of opposition
activism, as happened with the Click Festival.

Another was promoting a citizens mobilization initiative that asked the
Cuban government to adhere to international human rights covenants.

And finally, responding to the case of the imprisonment of a young
opposition activist, he had the audacity — which a dictatorship never
forgives of its citizens — to take to the streets in protest (and what
was worse in their eyes was that he did so across from a police station).

For months, Rodiles was subjected to an infamous smear campaign by
whatever poorly-paid government blogger that was available. Now Rodiles
is being jailed and subjected to a legal process for being consistent
and for advancing a political struggle that has inevitably moved to the
street, as it should and as it has the full right to do.

He is charged with resisting arrest, and for that reason was manhandled,
during which his clothes were torn and his glasses broken. The fellow
dissidents with him allege that his assailants were police, though all
were in civilian clothes.

If this was the case, the offense and abuse are even greater. But I must
say that if at any time Rodiles did indeed resist arrest, then that
doesn't diminish his stature or detract from his cause.

Resistance to illegitimate violence is a right of the people, for
several centuries, and I don't think we should give it up. If Rodiles
was guilty of resisting, I think he deserves all the respect and support
for doing what many have done in the nation's history.

These has been a continuing theme since the distant days when Jose
Antonio Aponte organized slave conspiracies, and when independence
leader Carlos Manual de Cespedes organized his own conspiracies in
Demajagua, and when poet Ruben Martinez Villena broke with his verses to
organize a general strike, and when Frank Pais enlisted in the
underground resistance to fight against another dictatorship.

Ultimately, Rodiles is not innocent. He's guilty of using his only
resources — dignity, courage and talent — to confront the oppression of
a dictatorship that for a long time has known no moral standards.

His is a kind of guilt that the oppressors don't forgive, one that not
all of us can reach. He is guilty of aiming high. Therefore the minions
are becoming desperate and are cowardly whispering, hiding their most
prosaic fears behind the rubble of alleged high principles.
(*) A Havana Times translation of the original published in Spanish by

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