Antonio Rodiles boldly confronts the Castro regime
By Editorial Board, Published: December 10
A HUMAN rights conference is scheduled to open Tuesday in Havana, the
capital of a regime with one of the world's worst human rights records.
A driving force behind the conference is Antonio Rodiles, a democracy
activist trained in physics and mathematics who has been working for
years to create more space in Cuba for open debate. That space usually
has been in his house, which he has turned into a kind of think tank and
creative performance center for intellectuals, artists and human rights
Mr. Rodiles, who left Cuba in 1998 and returned in 2007, has been a
critic of the regime and has suffered for it. He was arrested, beaten
and held without charge for 19 days in November 2012. Last summer, he
and others started a movement, Citizen Demand for Another Cuba, urging
the government to ratify and implement two U.N. covenants on human
rights. Now Mr. Rodiles has organized a conference marking the 65th
anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But the regime
of Fidel and Raúl Castro does not lightly tolerate such challenges to
The U.S. stands by as a dictator starves his people.
In a letter to Raúl Castro dated last Friday, Mr. Rodiles said his
activism continues to be met with threats from Cuban state security. His
car tires were punctured and a "chemical liquid with a fetid smell was
poured on its seats." After that, urine was poured on the car seats. On
Monday, we are told, Mr. Rodiles was confronted anew by state security.
"The situation in which we live is untenable," Mr. Rodiles wrote in his
letter. Anyone who disagrees with the regime "is destined to be treated
in a humiliating and degrading way." Cuban citizens are kept in "a total
state of defenselessness" by the abusive state. "It is impossible to
remain indifferent to a power that systematically steps over the dignity
of citizens and its own laws with total impunity," he wrote, "a power
that orders its representatives to act as common criminals."
We are reminded of similar calls to action a decade ago by the
courageous dissident Oswaldo Payá, who sought a referendum on democracy
in Cuba and who died in a suspicious car wreck on the island in 2012,
along with another activist, Harold Cepero. Their deaths still cry out
for independent investigation. Mr. Payá was subject to harassment
similar to what Mr. Rodiles endures today.
No doubt, the Castro brothers have calculated that the oppressive power
of their state apparatus will be sufficient to intimidate or overpower a
handful of people at a homespun human rights conference. They are wrong.
>From such living rooms grows immense change. Recall that Andrei Sakharov
once began a lonely quest like Mr. Payá and Mr. Rodiles, speaking out
against repression when it was dangerous and only a few would dare. Mr.
Rodiles has done no less, and his voice must be heard.
Source: "Antonio Rodiles boldly confronts the Castro regime - The
Washington Post" -