Two opposite dynamics have had to change their actions in order to prevail: government repression and the peaceful opposition. Everyday Cubans have taken up arms with new technologies, they have supported each other with the scarce glimmers left behind by the inefficient Constitution of the Republic, while the oppressors have had to beat them out on the street without consideration, leaving themselves to be photographed by anonymous citizens and assimilating the political cost before international public opinion.
The recent temporary detentions, beatings and interrogations against a large number of Cuban dissidents have revealed two important aspects between non-conformist citizens and guarantors of the old Stalinist power. The victims protested in front of an important department of the Ministry of the Interior in the Cuban capital. On one hand, it has been proven that the intensity of the beatings against them is the same, while the dissidents have combined the most useful of diffusion tools to spread their message, and their membership has been increasing.
In the scuffle which State Security started this past 10th of November, there was a well-known writer, various lawyers (three of whom were detained and taken to dungeons), a scholar, a blogger known to the entire world, five former political prisoners from the group of the 75 (The Black Spring of 2003), the 2010 Sakharov Award Recipient, various human rights activists, and Antonio G. Rodiles, the director of the independently produced TV show Estado de Sats, which was recently nominated for an Emmy.
In other words, the group of detainees represented a large range of social disagreement happening right now.
Rodiles…the new repressive wave.
At this point in time, many ask themselves why the aggressions against Antonio Rodiles. What did the prudent political police officials find in this restless intellectual? The Citizen Demand for a Another Cuba could have gone by as just another initiative, but the restrictive claws of the high ranks of the Military’s Counter-Intelligence do not want to take any more chances.
The Citizens’ Demand for Another Cuba, which demands that the government ratify the covenants it signed at the UN in 2008 and “immediately put the legal and political guarantees in practice,” in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, has gained the support of diverse sectors of the dissidence in Cuba. In this manner, with each passing day more Cubans in and out of the island are supporting it — a detail which rapidly gains support.
Rodiles, a young intellectual, devised a way to report and shed light on the most diverse of thoughts and anti-Castro activism through filmed interviews in his home. The “televised programs” of Estado de Sats are filmed and edited in a beautiful, yet simple, fashion, without any technological gadgets and as soon as they are uploaded onto channels for massive diffusion such as YouTube, they quickly receive much attention throughout the entire national geography.
Yoani Sánchez… stepping it up to another level.
In the video of the arrest this past 7th of November, one can see precious details of the brutal repression, and there are two aspects which should not be forgotten if one wants to know the current Cuban reality. The first is that, once again, an anonymous citizen filmed high-ranking soldiers during an operation. The second factor is that the repressive actions are being accompanied by a face, and in that sense, the blogger Yoani Sanchez carries a fundamental weight.
Known for her brief writings in the most popular blog in the Spanish-speaking world, Yoani has been the protagonist of courses and workshops about the tools of the modern technological world, and of citizen empowerment.
That brief video of an Immigration official, lacking arguments, notifying her that she had no Exit Permit for leaving Cuba, went around the world. Yoani was inaugurating the sessions of cyber-victims, promoting (nearly online) her outrage. Without a doubt, the strategists of the Cuban Intelligence fell in the trap of a haughtiness which they did not need and with which they cast blame on themselves.
The husband of the dissident blogger, journalist Reinaldo Escobar, being pushed by a mass of braggarts with lynching licenses was another episode for which he and Yoani supplied the architecture. Escobar challenged a notable operation and posted himself, like a neighborhood kid on a central street of the capital, to await his ‘opponent’ and this time turned the screw: the accredited media outlets in Havana filmed and projected the images of these government sponsored repressive acts against a defenseless citizen to the world. Once again, Yoani Sanchez was pulling the strings, and moving the chess pieces.
When a well-known independent journalist revealed his ties to the political police, Cuban television let loose its machinery of propaganda and aired a series of documentaries titled “Cuba’s Reasons,” where they exhibited photos, videos, and other testimonies about the Civic Resistance. As a response, the author of Generation Y took it to another level and created an improvised television studio in her house. She started to publish interviews with members of civil society which she put in the series known as “Citizen’s Reasons,” revealing the freshest of faces and thoughts of those confronting the old military dictatorship.
They seem like small skirmishes, but with her actions Yoani Sanchez has received the same amount of praise outside of Cuba as slanders published by former president Fidel Castro, as well as an acceptance among the important actors of the Cuban opposition, acknowledging that she has opened a crack, a path paved by legitimate appropriations of civic tools which have always been there but which the dictatorship has criminalized.
The act of a citizen publishing the face of repression in Cuba from his/her cell phone arms the arguments against the regime’s henchmen. It is not an invention of the famed blogger, but it was she who put it in practice, which consecrates her in the history of the Civic Resistance on the island.
Translated by Raul G.
12 November 2012