A Moment of Zen in the Midst of Chaos / Ailer Gonzalez [Video]

Please click on the image to watch the video

Please click on the image to watch the video


After the violent arrest of her husband, Antonio Rodiles, at the Human Rights Conference sponsored by Estado de Sats, Ailer Gonzalez chose a moment of non-violence in the midst of the madness. As children, still in their uniforms and taken out of school to spend the day harassing human rights advocates swirled around her, Ailer sat quietly under the Havana sun…

Note: At the beginning of the video in the bottom left Antonio’s mother (green dress and cane) can be seen walking back to the house after the arrest with one of the conference participants who then turns back to talk to Ailer. The other adults in video are primarily plainclothes State Security agents working for the Ministry of the Interior. The flag the children are waving (other than Cuba’s) is Venezuela’s.

Repression at Estado de SATS (Video)

This video was taken in the street outside the home of Antonio Rodiles, which is also the headquarters of Estado de SATS, where a Conference on Human Rights was being held in honor or World Human Rights Day.

The man in the blue shirt with glasses is Antonio Rodiles, director of Estado de SATS. The woman appearing next to him in a black dress early in the video, and sitting on the street later in the video, is Ailer Gonzalez, Antonio’s wife and also one of the active coordinators of Estado de SATS. The older woman in the long green dress holding a cane is Antonio’s mother.

The children (in and out of school uniform) were taken out of school to spend the day “repudiating” the Estado de Sats Human Rights Conference (a government spokesperson claimed they were having a “sports day” on this residential street and that Antonio was abusing the children when he was arrested).

Antonio Rodiles Arrested With Extreme Violence / Estado de SATS

Plainclothes State Security before the violence. Photo from Lia Villares

Plainclothes State Security before the violence. Photo from Lia Villares

From www.cubanet.org.- Agents of the State Security (the political police) just kidnapped Antonio Rodiles, leader of the independent social-cultural group Estado de SATS, using extreme violence, according to what could be learned from the activist and journalist Camilo Ernesto Olivera. Rodiles stepped a few yards off his property to ask some schoolchildren to stop painting signs on the street against the attendees of the Human Rights Conference being held at house beginning yesterday.

There was an altercation with the police and State Security rapidly stepped in. As Rodiles was being detained his wife and his mother, Ailer Gonzalez and Gladys Fernandez respectively, protested and were surrounded by the government demonstrators, children and adults.

Then began a typical act of repudiation (insults and expletives) like those held in the early 80s against those leaving the country. At the time of this writing the two women remain under siege.

On the closing day of the First International Conference on Human Rights being held in Rodiles’ home, the house remained surrounded and the use of children as political mediators, with songs, music and government banners, continued. Camilo Ernesto Olivera underscored how unfortunate it is that the State gets involved in this situation to block the Conference.

The Washington Post carried an editorial in support of the Rodiles: Antonio Rodiles boldly confronts the Castro regime

11 December 2013

Estado de Sats Presents “Notebooks for the Transition” in the Midst of a Police Operation

Screen Shot 2013-11-19 at 8.25.26 PMSaturday morning Estado de Sats presented the first issue of their magazine “Handbooks for the Transition” despite a political operation to prevent the audience from arriving; several activists were detained, Antonio Rodiles, director of the independent project, informed Diario de Cuba

According to Rodiles, Gabriel Barrenechea, a member of the magazine’s editorial board, and Andrés Pérez were besieged in their homes. Meanwhile, the artist Luis Trápaga was arrested on his way to the presentation, as was José Díaz Silva, who was beaten and held at least six hours.

Screen Shot 2013-11-19 at 8.27.26 PMHowever, about 60 people managed to attend the event. Rodiles said that some participants were arrested by regime’s agents on leaving, to take copies of the magazine from them.

“Despite arrests, violations, pressures, we presented ‘Handbooks for the Transition.” SATS will continue because the desire for freedom us unstoppable,” insisted the director of the independent project.

The monthly magazine, in print and digital editions, “has as its objective to address different themes about the future transition to democracy on the Island, with authors from within and outside the country,” Rodiles told Diario de Cuba this week.

The first volume includes articles by Walfrido Lopez (The Internet in Cuba-US Relations), Emilio Morales (Remittances have become an engine of the Cuban economy), Juan Antonio Blanco (Civilizational and migration change), and Antonio Rodiles and Alexis Jardines (Notes for the transition), among others.

Future issues will address topics such as economic liberalization and legality.

“We must begin to discuss these issues openly. We need to debate them, without fear,” said Rodiles.

Screen Shot 2013-11-19 at 8.28.08 PM

Diario de Cuba | 2 November 2013

“Notebooks for the transition,” A Magazine for Discussion / David Canela Pina

tiroHAVANA, Cuba, November www.cubanet.org.- This Saturday morning the civic project Estado de SATS (State of SATS) presented a new magazine titled Notebooks for the Transition, which aims to “offer a forum for analysis and plural participation,” for all Cubans interested in “thinking and visualizing that other Cuba which is already urgent” according to an editorial note. It says that the first issue is “dedicated to the issue of transnationality.”

Notebooks for the Transition is a magazine produced and coordinated by the State of SATS civic project, which has had as one of its main strategies to become an ideological “bank,” where ideas and trust in this “human capital” that has been invested in other parts of the world due to the exodus of Cuban society can return. In this issue, for example, collaborators include intellectuals and artists who don’t live on the Island: Juan Antonio Blanco Gil, Emilio Morales, Alexis Jardines, Carmelo Mesa Lago, Garrincha, among others. Their presence is distant for now, but as the transition to democrat becomes more visible and effective, the process of return of many of these social actors will no longer be an event, but become a flow, that newly enriches the naitonal sap.

Presentation of Notebooks

Despite the police operation, that prevented some people from coming to the meeting site, leaving their homes, and even their provinces, as was the case of Jose Gabriel Barrenechea. More than forty people attended the launch of the first issue.

From L to R - Antonio Rodiles, Ailer Gonzalez Olivera and Walfrido Camilo Lopez

From L to R – Antonio Rodiles, Ailer Gonzalez Olivera and Walfrido Camilo Lopez

The panel that presented the details of the magazine was made up of Antonio Rodiles, overall project coordinator Estado de SATS, Ailer González, its artistic director, Camilo Ernesto Olivera, freelance journalist, and Walfrido Lopez, a computer specialist. The first three are part of the Editorial Board, along with José Gabriel Barrenechea and Alexis Jardines, who is the only member currently located outside of Cuba.

During the exhibition they addressed issues such as the integration of Cuban society, the economic and “knowledge” remittances, the leadership structures, civic maturity as a prerequisite for the conscious transition, the role of Cubans inside and outside Cuba in the new political system, etc.

Not just for regime opponents

Rodiles commented that “Cuban society is badly damaged and fragmented, so we need to bring together Cubans around a frank discussion.” And he said that in the transition to democracy “it must be not only activists and opponents, but also ordinary citizens.”

With regards to the role of the internet in building a democratic society Walfrido Lopez said that it is not enough for some Cubans to move freely on the internet, with their thousands of Twitter followers and hundreds of Facebook friends, but unable to create a network of internal communication with the Cubans on the Island.

In the current economic context, Rodiles said the “economic flow between Cuba and Miami is the centerpiece of a change in Cuba,” which is already funding private businesses, buying houses, etc.  And he added that emigrant remittances provide the largest source of revenue to the national economy and today reach 62% of Cuban homes.

“The transition begins with us”

Camilo Ernesto Olivera raised the old problem of how to achieve this national unity of interest, at least within the opposition. Then he said that we must first move ourselves toward a civic consciousness and a maturity based on respect. “The transition begins with us,” he said. Rodiles, meanwhile, said that national unity should not revolve around a leader, a new Fidel Castro  and called for a “polycentric opposition.” He said that “the relationship between individuals is what generates human and social capital,” and therefore “our magazine is aimed at creating those links among all Cubans.”.

With great wit, Ailer Gonzalez enunciated that “differences of opinion between the opposition do not strengthen the regime, rather they strengthen the opposition,” as they increase its capacity for public debate.

Rodiles stressed that “the influence of Cubans abroad is extremely important,” while Gonzalez addressed Cubans who live and struggle in their own country: “What is your role in the new Cuba? Being an opponent is not an occupation. Everyone should begin imagining the place they will occupy in the new Cuba.”

Finally, Ailer Gonzalez concluded the meeting with these words: “Thank you to all the Cubans in the world. We are waiting to rebuild Cuba.”

Summary of the first issue

Although Notebooks for the Transition has an essentially academic and research profile related to the present and possible future of Cuba, it has also opened spaces for literature, translation and history (with the section called Documents).

This issue, which corresponds to the month of October, is composed of several sections: Editorial, Survey, Dossier (the main section), Documents, Translation and Literature.

In the Survey, some people in Santa Clara respond on “the issue of Cuban emigration and its role within the nation.” The Dossier meet has five articles: “The Internet in Cuba-US Relations” by Walfrido Lopez; “Remittances have become an engine of the Cuban economy” by Morales; “Civilizing and Emigration Change” by Juan Antonio Blanco Gil; “The Dominican Republic: a transnational nation-state” written by a group of authors; and “Notes for the transition” by Antonio Rodiles and Alexis Jardines.

The Documents section rescues “a forgotten letter from Enrique José Varona” written in 1900; and in Translation is published an excerpt from the book The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism by Michael Novak. Finally, the Literature section reproduces the poem “Bottle” by Otilio Carvajal (included in his unpublished book Born August 13), and also the poem “Fragment” by Angel Santiesteban.

David Canela Piña

Cubanet, 4 November 2013

Angel Santiesteban Visited by Family, Appears “OK”

Screen shot 2013-04-13 at 1.51.51 PMAiler: Family of Angel Santiesteban able to see him today in prison. He ate light foods during the visit, remains in the punishment cellt.

Antonio: Visiting Angel Santiesteban, still in a punishment cell, does not look like he was beaten up, eating light foods.

13 April 2013 | about 5:45 pm Havana time