Antonio Rodiles’ House Besieged at Dawn / Augusto Cesar San Martin, Camilo Ernesto Olivera

policias1HAVANA, Cuba  December 10, 2013, Augusto César San Martín / The home of Antonio Rodiles, leader of the independent group Estado de Sats, which from today through tomorrow is celebrating the First International Conference on Human Rights, was besieged by the police and plainclothes agents as the sun rose this morning. Third Street, from the Copacabana Hotel, is closed.

Around nine o’clock in the morning, this reporter was able to see a strong force deployed with the purposed of blocking political opponents, both from within the island as well as those who have managed to come from abroad, from participating in the day.

The director of Estado de Sats and the For Another Cuba campaign has said that this is the first attempt to organize an event of this kind, in which the topic of ratification of the UN covenants on human rights, signed by the Cuban government, will be addressed.

This reporter, in a taxi, tried in vain to reach the house, located in the Miramar neighborhood. The car was diverted. From 3rd and 42nd Streets the police are directing traffic. There are agents on the corners, with civilian staff. State Security cars and minibuses are located at the intersections.

The front of Rodiles’ house is deserted because 1st Street is closed. Cars coming from the Copacabana Hotel are diverted.

The Social/Labor Circle adjacent to Rodiles’ house has speakers playing the music of regime supporter Silvio Rodriguez very loudly.  The audio can be heard from 3rd Street.

The few participants who were able to reach the house days earlier have not been able to leave to avoid being arrested. Among them is the troubadour Boris Larramendi, from the Cuban group Habana Abierta (Open Havana), based in Spain.

Larramendi traveled specifically for the meeting and will close the event tomorrow, December 11.

The event from within

HAVANA, Cuba, December 10, 2013, Camilo Ernesto Olivera / Ultimately, and contrary to expectations, there was no direct police action against the organizer, Antonio Rodiles, who yesterday was accused of a traffic violation that he, in fact, had not committed. The initial session of the First International Conference on Human Rights was held without incident.

The turnout from the public has not been as expected, only twenty participants have managed to arrive, almost none from outside the country. But the foreign media and embassies accredited on the island, such as Spanish Television, have been able to report on the event.

The first panel, led by researcher Walfrido Lopez, was on human rights and the new media. Lopez presented a video on media from abroad which follow Cuba with interviews with directors and newspaper editors

Coming up is a panel on human rights in Latin America, and the another on institutional violence against women in Cuba.

There will also be an exhibition of posters of the event and for tomorrow a concert with Boris Larramendi troubadour, who came from Madrid.

As interference, the government, through State Security and its mass organizations, has mounted a kind of Street Plan in front of Rodiles’ house. They have staged a party with music and snacks for neighborhood children, who did not attend classes today, to justify closing the street to traffic.

Also, the social / labor circle known as La Copa (The Cup), located on 1st and 42nd Streets is being used as the command post by the political police.

Since early morning they have been playing the songs of troubadours who support the government, Silvio Rodriguez and the duo Buena Fe.

The operation recalls the era of General Abrantes, the Interior Minister in charge of acts of repudiation against citizens trying to leave the country. The siege techniques are the same except that no one is throwing eggs.

10 December 2013