By Gladys Rodiles-Haney
My brother Antonio Enrique González-Rodiles Fernández was born in Havana on July 21, 1972.
He attended primary and secondary school in Havana, and graduated from the “Marcelo Salado” National School of Swimming where he belonged to the National Team.
From when he was little, arbitrariness bothered him. When he was a boy at “December 2nd” school a second grade teacher wanted him to do something he didn’t want to do. He asked the teacher why he was obliged to do it and she told him because she said so, and now. My brother laid on floor and said he wouldn’t get up until they called my parents and he began to sing a song from a children’s cartoon with the refrain: “What? Me worry?”
In his childhood he represented Cuba in various international swimming competitions, including the Central American and Caribbean Games, where he earned multiple gold, silver and bronze medals. My father was a fundamental part of his training and often my brother swam in open water behind our house and also trained in deep water wearing a life jacket to exercise his legs, wearing shoes with several pounds of weights.
On multiple occasions speedboats approached him and asked him why he was so far from shore, because this was the time when many Cubans were throwing themselves into the sea to reach the United States. But they realized they were making fools of themselves when he showed them the weights on his legs.
When he finished junior high school, despite the refusal of many of his teachers, my brother presented himself to take the entrance exams for the “Martyrs of Humboldt 7” High School of Exact Sciences where he wanted to study physics. Despite the poor academic preparation offered in “Marcelo Salado,” my brother studied extra and was one of three selected from Playa municipality to enroll in this school for elite students.
In that school were Angel Castro and Mirtha Castro (son and granddaughter of Fidel Castro, respectively). My brother once told “Angelito” that his father was corrupt and this triggered a movement to not let him graduate from high school.
He received great support from the majority of students in his class despite the immense pressure exerted on them to deny my brother the chance to graduate, and they didn’t fold.
However he was expelled from Humboldt high school and graduated from “Pablo de la Torriente Brau” in 1990.
He began career in Physics at the University of Havana in 1991, yet also struggled again with “political” problems, so in 1992 he went to Mexico to live for a while, with the Permit to Reside Abroad (PRE).
He returned to Cuba in 1994 and graduated with degree in Physics in 1998.
Then he decided to return to Mexico where he received the title of PhD candidate in physics at the Institute of Nuclear Sciences of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in 2002.
In 2003 he emigrated to America and settled in Tallahassee, Florida. He earned a Master’s degree in Mathematics in 2005 from Florida State University (FSU).
He worked as a professor at FSU and Tallahassee Community College before returning to Cuba.
In 2010 he founded Estado de Sats with the aim of creating “a plural space for participation and debate” between various members of Cuban society. The initiative soon began to be targeted by propaganda orchestrated by State Security, which threatened to withdraw his Permit to Reside Abroad and so prevent him from leaving Cuba again.
In 2011 they took away his PRE and he continued his activism. His first arrest came during the funeral Oswaldo Paya Sardinas, leader of the Christian Liberation Movement, on July 24. On November 8, he was arrested again when he went to inquire about the fate of the lawyer Yaremis Flores, arrested the previous day.
My brother is an honest, intelligent man, respectful of the rights and opinions of others. He likes to converse and to look for logical solutions through objective analysis of the things that are happening.
He has always had a vision of a better Cuba for all Cubans and the right of Cubans to be heard and the responsibility to take the reins with regards to which direction our country should follow.
He is a man of integrity, he knows how to present his ideas clearly at all levels to be understood both by the Doctor of Science and by the high school student. He knows how to pay attention without discriminating against anyone’s opinion, because everyone has different experiences in life and all are valid and enrich the perspective from which we see the problem.
Translated from Cafe Fuerte
14 November 2012