The director of the independent project Estado de Sats, Antonio Rodiles, delivered documents for the Campaña por Otra Cuba (Campaign for Another Cuba) to the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon this Wednesday in Costa Rica. The Campaign demands that the Cuban regime ratify and implement the Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights signed by the regime at the United Nations in 2008.
The meeting between Rodiles and Ban took place at the National Theater, where the UN Secretary-General was attending a dinner with the with the president of Costa Rica Luis Guillermo Solís and his wife Mercedes Peñas, according to activists of the Campaña por Otra Cuba.
They added that Ban received the documents “with interest.”
The activists of campaign, on the other hand, have asked that the implementation of the human rights covenants to be included in the current negotiations between the European Union and Havana for a bilateral agreement.
Campaña por Otra also promotes the use of legal action of complaint and petition on the part of Cuban citizens, as a way of demanding a response from their government
“Cuban citizens can file the complaint and petition the State Council, either personally or by certified mail. Those who reside outside the Island can also participate in the campaign by directing their complaint to the nearest Cuban Consulate,” activists explained in a note sent to Diario de Cuba.
Several members of Estado de Sats were summoned by State Security to a Havana police station this Saturday, to “warn” them about the Grafiti Colectivo Por otra Cuba, organized by the independent project for this Sunday, to support the campaign demanding that the Government ratify the United Nations covenants that it signed in 2008.
“They wanted (…) to threaten us, as always, and to say that they would not allow any type of action,” the visual artist Lía Villares told Diario de Cuba.
“I told them it was an international action, a global movement in support of the campaign, and that they couldn’t prevent what was happening in different parts of the world,” she added. continue reading
Two years since the start of the campaign, Estado de Sats has proposed “simultaneous and collective graffiti,” within and outside Cuba, of the For Another Cuba logo, created by the graphic artist and caricaturist Gustavo Rodríguez (Garrincha).
Also “to document the actions and post photos and videos on social networks, to make this ’collective graffiti’ a media success in support of the message For Another Cuba.”
In addition to Villares, also summoned were the photographer Claudio Fuentes, the writer and independent journalist Camilo Ernesto Olivera, and the activist Dixán Romero, who did not appear because of irregularities in the summonses.
“I went out wearing a shirt with the campaign logo and they were so upset, evidently so disturbed, that they talked to the logo, not to me,” related Villares, who was “warned” by two officials.
“I asked them why they don’t combat corruption, delinquency, why a person like myself sitting there at three o’clock on a Saturday afternoon (…) why they were doing this work while the country was falling apart. But that didn’t interest them, they wanted to deliver their threatening and intimidating message,” she added.
The Campaign for Another Cuba demands that Havana ratify the United Nations covenants on civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.
On 28 February 2008, the Havana regime signed, as a propaganda maneuver, the United Nations Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. At that time Raul Castro was seeking to legitimate his figure in the international arena and to project himself as a future option for the country.
Six years later, Raul Castro can no longer be taken as a reformist. He now sells himself as the person who can close a chapter in Cuba’s history, offering the international community and the country’s allies a supposed controlled transition and offering his heirs as the only option for “governability” and “stability.” However, the hereditary group represents only the extension of a decadent system plagued by corruption.
Backed by this logic, a new anti-embargo offensive is gaining traction. Several actors and influence groups in the United States are seeking a blank check for the ruling elite and their beneficiaries. Elite who bear the main responsibility for the national disaster and the systematic violation of fundamental rights and freedoms. The offensive is also passing through Europe and Latin America. In the latter case, the main chess piece is beginning to be Brazil, now that Venezuela, in its decline, ceases to be a partner that guarantees stability in the medium term.
However, the recent “desertions” of Cuban professionals from the Brazilian “More Doctors” program, and its possible legal consequences, are evidence that the Brazilian situation is very different from that of the “Bolivarian brother,” and that it could quickly become more complex than expected. Brazil, with its ambition to establish itself as a regional power, is focused on a much longer term scenario. In order to sustain and widen its business presence, it needs a smooth transition process on the island, resulting in at least a stable free market system and full reestablishment of relations between the government in Havana and the United States. continue reading
On the other hand, negotiations with the European Union on a bilateral accord are moving forward, although according to statements from representatives of the EU, we’re looking at a process that could take at least two years. Sadly, some of the countries involved have bought into the ideas of “governability” and “stability” mentioned above, in the short term. Ignoring the terrible consequences of supporting a system sustained by corruption and state violence. Others, however, continue to demand a focus on human rights as a minimum guarantee for an eventual accord.
Meanwhile, the regime is silent before the European proposal, choosing a surgical repression on the island to avoid widespread discontent beginning to capitalize on open demands to the system. Repressing against activists is increasing and promises to worsen as the scenario becomes more complex.
At the same time, the Cuban Catholic Church, after a pastoral letter where it seemed to shift its questionable performance, continues to maintain a complicit silence in the face of repression. Recently the editors of the magazine Lay Space, a Catholic platform, declared that respect for human rights should not be a condition for relations with Havana. Regrettable statements from an institution that should assume respect for human dignity as its principle premise. No one should forget that legitimacy within a society is not achieved spontaneously.
To promote the false hope that a regime like the current one will evolve naturally into a modern democracy is at the very least naive, especially if what is blindingly obvious in Cuba is the construction of an authoritarian capitalism, sustained by State violence, corruption and and political patronage. To freely award room to maneuver to those who know no respect or ethics and who immediately show their criminal profile, is a mistake.
At the recent summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), one of the few statements that carried any weight was the request from United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon that the Cuban regime ratify the UN Covenants. The campaign “For Another Cuba,” an initiative begun on the island almost two years ago, is working in this direction, looking not only for ratification but for implementation of these international covenants. In the context described above, it would give us a magnificent tool for the political game inside and outside the island.
Clearly the results still don’t reach the hoped for level, but the more than 4,000 signatures, the work of promoting and distributing the “Citizen Demand” inside the country, the request of Ban Ki Moon, as well at the possible bilateral accord proposed by the European Union, create an excellent environment to continue to focus on this campaign.
Cubans on island are fed up with a totally decadent regime, but they fear being the target of the excessive violence of the State and its paramilitary groups. The Covenants as a civic demand is a campaign that, precisely because it involves ordinary citizens, carries an implicit international legitimacy. The demand for these covenants also provides democratic and friendly governments a target for a direct and specific demand to the Havana regime. At the same time, implementation would serve as a road map to advance the process of democratization through changes in the whole constitutional and legal structure, pegged to the binding nature of such agreements.
To demand the ratification and implementation of the Covenants is an interesting tool that we have barely explored. The “For Another Cuba” campaign has borne only its initial fruits. Those who want to help democratic change in Cuba from abroad, should pay attention to this effort undertaken on the island and take a careful reading of the interior pulse, so as not to contribute to efforts that are fracturing and dismantling. If we want to be objective and work with real variables, without creating false expectations, we have to observe the tempos that, on the island, are marked not only by the opponents, but also by the citizens.
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.
HAVANA, Cuba December 10, 2013, Augusto César San Martín / www.cubanet.org.- 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 / www.cubanet.org.- 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.
State Security showed up at home of Antonio Rodiles, leader of Estado de SATS, and tried to arrest him to avoid the celebration of the events for Human Rights Day.
[Tuesday] the First International Event For the UN Covenants will begin, organized by Estado de SATS, an event that forms a part of the of the For Another Cuba Campaign, and includes panels, audiovisuals, an exposition titles “Art and Human Rights,” performances and a closing concert.
The agents tried to handcuff him and take him to the police station, supposedly for violating traffic laws. The event participants confronted the uniformed offices to block the arrest.
Rodiles had gone to pick up a collaborator. On the way there he saw Agent Camilo, known for the cruelty of his methods against the opposition, who ordered the police to arrest him.
The police left the dissident’s house, apparently to get an arrest warrant.
My name is Antonio Enrique González-Rodiles Fernández, Cuban citizen, resident of Ave 1ra. Number 4606 in the municipality of Playa, Havana. I studied physics at the University of Havana and later earned the titles of PhD Candidate in Physics and Masters in Mathematics from the National Autonomous University of Mexico and Florida State University, respectively. After 12 years living outside my country, I decided to return with the idea of being part of a process of change that will help us out of the disastrous situation in which we live.
In the summer of 2010, as a result of these concerns and with a group of friends, artists, intellectuals, activists, Estado de SATS was developed, a civic and cultural project that proposes through art and thought a public space for free debate of ideas and views about our nation.
The project has been carried out in my own home for three years, given the impossibility and refusal of the authorities to accommodate it in a public space or institution. Since its inception, dramatic police operations around my house, accompanied by beatings and arbitrary arrests against the attendees, have been a constant.
My family and I have received multiple threats and pressure including my being beaten by several State Security agents and detained this November for 19 days for the supposed crime of resistance. The authors of this violation continue to commit the same abuse with impunity.
Last week two of the tires on my car were punctured and a chemical liquid with a terrible stench was poured on the seats, as stated in Complaint number 66804 filed on November 26 at the 5th Station of the People’s Revolutionary Police (PNR) in the municipality of Playa.
Just two days ago urine was thrown on the front seats and, to all of this, is added the warnings that we have been sent of possible acts of repudiation to block an event we are going to hold on December 10 and 11, celebrating the 65th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as part of a campaign asking for the ratification and implementation of the UN Covenants.
This event will have the same characteristics as all those we have developed previously, where a plurality of opinions and full respect for others have been our premises.
The situation we are living in is unsustainable, after 54 years of running the country on whims, violations and abuse, the result screams before our eyes. Every individual who dares to publicly express their disagreements is destined to be treated in a degrading and humiliating way with no possibility of appeal to any authority.
The deplorable acts of repudiation, managed through groups of vigilantes, all the abuses of power and the legal violations committed, keep Cuban citizens in a state of total defenselessness. The great irresponsibility and excessive ambition of those who now govern will lead our nation to an even greater debacle.
With this I mean not only to emphasize the complex situation in which we live, but to make clear my total commitment to the construction of a nation based on respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms of all Cubans. It is impossible to remain indifferent before a power that systematically ignores the dignity of its citizens and its own laws, with total impunity. A power that orders its representatives to act as common criminals.
Those who have the reins of power in their hands also carry the major responsibility for the course of coming events. It is impossible to remain indifferent to the violations and abuse.
The independent Estado de SATS project in collaboration with New Country Forum and the Cuban Human Rights Observatory (OCDH), invites invites artists, intellectuals, activists and defenders of human rights to participate in the First International Meeting on Human Rights and the UN Covenants as a part of the Campaign for Another Cuba and the 65th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Our projects have worked in recent years on the creation and growth of public spaces where different perspectives on the reality and future of our nation can be discussed.
Since August 2012, along with diverse groups and activists committed to the social situation of our nation, we began the Campaign for Another Cuba. This initiative has involved an ever growing number of Cubans within and outside the island in a civic demand that the Cuban government ratify and implement the United Nations Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
At a time when Cuban civil society is growing, it is essential that there be direct exchanges among different actors within and outside the island. Holding this meeting will allow an approach through art and thought to the vital subject of human rights. Activists, artists, intellectuals and professionals — Cubans and the international community — will spend two days sharing views and experiences, in a country where such guarantees and rights are not a part of everyday reality.
The meeting will begin on 10 December 2013. The event will include subject panels, audiovisual displays, an exhibition with the theme Art and Human Rights (painting, graphics, photography, installations), performances, and a closing concert.
All are invited!
You can write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Audiovisual Exhibition; Art and Human Rights (photography, painting, graphics, installations)
Experimental Theater and Concert Playback
Dates: December 10-11, 2013
Location : Calle 1ra 4606 between 46 and 60, Miramar, Playa .
HAVANA, Cuba, August, www.cubanet.org- The organizers of Estado de SATS have worked very hard and the result is that, three years after its inception, in July 2010 in Casa Gaia, this civic project is a fundamental component in the network of organizations that, from civil society and with great variety in points of view, fight to promote changes to democratize our country. Because of this it has also been repressed by the political police and accused of everything the authorities usually accuse those who propose a solution to the crisis. Estado de SATS takes as a fundamental cause that there is no dispute between Cuba and the United States, but rather the dictatorial practices of the Cuban government against its own people.
Hence in the last year, they have focused most of their efforts to disseminate and gather support for the Citizens’ Demand for Another Cuba which, as we know, demands that the Cuban government ratify the UN Covenants on Human Rights. In that work, the project has engaged with many important civil society groups for the sake of a purpose that supersedes political interests, and focuses on citizens and their basic needs.
In recent days, we were able to talk with Antonio Rodiles about the prospects of the project, three years since its inception. The director of Estado de SATS said “Our main goal now is to achieve much more drawing power. Hopefully State Security will stop bothering us,” he said, although he recognized that “at this time there really is something less than harassment of the work we are doing.”
The idea, according Rodiles, is to try to reach many more sectors and to be a place that helps articulate civil society, and above all,”to be able to expand and work on all the plans we have: holding exhibitions, film screenings, panels, debates, literary cafes. All we can do to articulate civil society and grow like any normal country.”
Although it seems like a very easy program to carry out, the reality suggests otherwise. The proof is in the recent past and if recently the political police haven’t harassed as many activities, it has been in part because they have not been as intense as around a year ago, when the Citizen Demand was launched. “Evidently,” observes Rodiles, “we know that everything is not as we would like, but well, I think it’s important to accept the challenge and work focused on everything we have proposed, despite the obstacles.”
Some people have commented that, lately, they have been showing college students videos about civil society activists, including Estado de SATS, where it’s presented through the usual procedures, with a negative image. On this subject Antonio Rodiles says, “The same as always. That’s part of what the system can’t quit doing.”
But, he says, he would like to know exactly what they’re putting out there so he’ll be able to make statements about it. “Unfortunately,” he says , “there is a group of people who have always been characterized by trying to devalue and personally offend any opponent, anyone who thinks differently from the official line.”
In events such as this he sees a disturbing characteristic. “I think this shows the low level of those who have organized it ,” he says, “because they are not able to enter into any discussion of ideas or plans . It is a manipulation, but in any event, thank God, the new technologies allow us to show who we are,” he says, convincingly.
Well, ironically and contrary to the intentions of those who orchestrate this slanderous propaganda, the results could be otherwise. “In a way, this type of action helps disseminate our work. When people look for our CDs, our work, and they see them, then they realize perfectly well that we are not the kind of people they are trying to make us out to be,” he concludes.
He’s probably right. In addition, the days are long gone when some opponents thought Estado de Sats was a project of the “opposition light” and it has gained respect and collaboration, including that of almost all of the most important political opponents, as well as countless artists and intellectuals.
As the director of this project, what lies ahead is a major challenge. Perhaps the hardest path, with all the cultural activities and the panels put on, but especially with the commitment to strengthen the Citizen Demand for Another Cuba and the continuation of this work, in cooperation with other civil organizations, he tries to contribute, gradually, to the extent possible but always with sights set still higher, for a positive change in the country.
A few months ago, Antonio Rodlies and Ailer González — his domestic partner and main collaborator — were in Miami and there at Cuba 8 and at Miami Dade College, they organized panels and concerts of Estado de SATS, besides promoting the Citizen Demand, which has managed to strengthen the support of Cubans from the outside, but inside Cuba there has not been remarkable progress of the campaign in recent months.
According to Rodiles itself, the term “Estado de SATS” (State of Sats) is a phrase used in the theater to represent the moment when all the energy is concentrated to begin the action, or when an athlete is at the precise moment before the starting gun. It is the concentration required to later explode. Hopefully, after three years of hard and complex work, this project is mature and ready to take off, against all obstacles, as the crucible where the forces of the emerging civil society are articulated.
Call for Estado de SATS : First International Meeting on Human Rights and UN Covenants
The independent Estado de SATS project invites artists, intellectuals, activists and human rights defenders to participate in the First International Meeting on Human Rights and the UN Covenants as part of the Campaign for Another Cuba and the 65th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Estado de SATS has worked for the past three years in the creation and growth of a public space where different perspectives on reality and the future of our nation can be openly discussed and planned.
Since August of 2012, together with various groups and activists committed to the social situation of our nation, we started the Campaign for another Cuba. This initiative has been involving a growing number of Cubans on and off the island in a civic demand that the Cuban government ratify and implement the United Nation Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Covenant Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
In a time when Cuban civil society is growing the direct exchange with different actors within and outside the island is essential. Holding of this meeting will allow an approach from the perspective of art and thought to a subject as vital as human rights. Activists, artists, intellectuals and professionals, Cubans and the international community, will spend two days sharing views and experiences, in a country where such guarantees and rights are not part of the everyday reality.
The inaugural meeting will be on December 10, 2013 and during the event there will be thematic panels, audiovisual displays, an exhibition with the theme: Art and Human Rights (painting , graphics , photography, installations), performances and a closing concert .
For more information the interested can communicate to this email address: email@example.com.
About the author
Ernesto Santana Zaldívar, born in Puerto Padre, Las Tunas, 1958. Graduate of the Enrique José Varona Pedagogical Institute in Spanish and Literature. He has been a radio writer for Radio Progreso, Radio Metropolitana and Radio Arte. He is a member of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba. Awards won: Mentions in the genre of story in the David contest of 1977 and Trece de Marzo, 1979; prizes in Pinos Nuevos, 1995, Sed de Belleza, 1996 (both in the genre of story) Dador, 1998, (novel project) and Alejo Carpentier, 2002 (novel), the Franz Kafka Prize, 2010, for his novel The Carnival and the Dead.