WHY THE DEMAND?
As Cubans, legitimate children of this land and essential part of our Nation, we feel a deep sorrow for the prolonged crisis we live and the demonstrated inability of the current government to make substantive changes. This forces us from civil society, to seek and sue our own solutions.
We want a public debate about the dual currency in Cuba, the immigration restrictions, the rights of workers to a decent wage, the right of all Cubans, wherever they live, to promote economic initiatives in their own country, about our demographic crisis, the free access to Internet and new technologies. We want to debate on the exercise of democracy.
With the independent Cuban attorneys Yaremis Flores and Laritza Diversent (Cubalex), René Gómez Manzano (Agramontista Current), Antonio G. Rodiles (Mathematical Physicist) and students from the New York University Law School.
This video is 44 minutes long. There is a live interpreter translating the session into English in real time.
Managers of the Citizens’ Demand ‘For Another Cuba’ — Activists
The managers of the Citizens’ Demand for Another Cuba have articulated an initiative capable of uniting a large share of the peaceful internal opposition, as well as hundreds of Cubans both on the Island as well as in exile. Activists, attorneys, journalists and independent artists, professionals, human rights defenders, bloggers and citizens in general, demand that the regime ratify and implement the the UN Covenants, signed in February 2008.
In 2012, the Citizens’ Demand for Another Cuba was delivered to the headquarters of the National Assembly as proof of the definitive will to fight for changes that allow a democratic transition in the nation.
Despite the repression and harassment to which they have been subjected, the managing group, headed by Antonio G. Rodiles, continues to publicize the initiative in the country, as well as to stress the need for public debate on issues such as the dual currency, immigration and travel restrictions, the rights of workers to a living wage, the right of all Cubans, wherever they live, to promote economic initiatives in the country, the demographic crisis, free access to the internet and new technologies, and the exercise of democracy.
My blog is now 4 days behind, but I was fortunate enough to be present last Monday night for the presentation of the Tolerance Plus award to Father Jose Conrado at the home of Antonio Rodiles, within hours of his release.
The release of Rodiles was undoubtedly the most important event of the week and the most anticipated by his friends. Thinner and with a blackish crescent below his lower left eyelid from the bruise caused by the beating, Rodiles returns to his home like a big brother coming home from the war wearing a star on one of his pockets that announces the triumph of the light.
That night brought the scent of others gone by, songs of warriors from another dimension of time, when Father Conrado read the words he had prepared for the occasion. Martí settling like a nocturnal butterfly over the Monday night, opening the spirit of all those gathered there so as to receive the dew which, if it comes at night, is always the dew brought by the shadow of the Holy Spirit: that of infinite possibilities.
Father Conrado, in turn, presented to Ofelia Acevedo (widow of Osvaldo Payá) the award conferred by several organizations under the umbrella of Nuevo Pais (New Country Project). It was my second time seeing the widow and I approached her, always having to suppress the desire to cry for her loss and ours.
I admired each of the persons congregated there. It felt like I was witnessing a historic evening. Beyond the outcome of our actions, the punishment with which the regime attempts to intimidate and even annihilate,those who dare oppose it, the denial by means of violence of the respect we deserve and the attempt to brush us aside as if we were nothing. Beyond the success or failure, always fleeting in a Universe governed by change, a change that will come to them like a tsunami that will sweep them up and give each the just retribution for his actions, the feeling of being in the right place, being sure that God is with us, was confirmed within me, in a part of my being which makes me stop the fabric of time and feel that we are saved.
In recent days a horde of soldiers and officers from “State Security,” most in plainclothes, who are located in Section 21 (headquarters of “Counterintelligence”), attacked a peaceful group, of which I was a part and that was in front of the police station at Acosta and 10 de Octubre Streets, to support the elderly parents of Antonio Rodiles, whom they advised, in their turn, of the destination and “legal” case for which their son was being kept in the cells of that station.
One day earlier, this same horde of criminals, violators of justice and of the most elementary human rights, had assaulted a group of people who peacefully presented themselves at the aforementioned Section 21 together with the attorney Veizant Boloy to inquire about the whereabouts of his wife, the attorney Yaremis Flores, who had been kidnapped from their home by police.
Afterwards they took me to spend several days in the dungeons, where I remained without food and water, the only way I had to protest against the violence committed. They released me without charged thanks to the public outcry that resulted from the playing on the Internet of a video recording showing the brutal manner in which they arrested me.
Our only “crime” is to think immeasurably about the fate of our country, which for more than five decades has been in the throes of a ghostly and exhausting war, which has only served to devastate a nation and to keep you in power.
We have the unquestionable right to choose, to dissent, to gather together, to speak out, to decide what is most necessary for the Cuban nation and its future. We ar its legitimate children, with equal rights, so we demand respect and freedom for those who make up the opposition within the Civil Society in Cuba.
Right now, still arbitrarily detained under an alleged crime of “resistance,’’ is Antonio Rodiles, Director of the Independent Project of State of SA (Estado de Sats) and Coordinator of the Campaign For Another Cuba (Campaña Por Otra Cuba), a citizen initiative born in the deep social and economic crisis we are going through which demands the ratification of the UN Covenants, signed by your Foreign Minister on February 28, 2008 in New York City, and that we consider essential rights for the democratic transformation of the Cuban nation and its entry into the community of nations in the XXI century.
We therefore demand the immediate release, without manipulated charges, of Antonio González Rodiles, and I demand of you the earliest intervention in the ongoing violations in our country that are committed in your name.
Translator’s note: Between the time Angel released this letter and TranslatingCuba.com translated it, Antonio was released.
Translated from an interview by Ivette Leyva Martinez in Cafe Fuerte.
After 19 days of detention in a police station in Havana, Antonio G. Rodiles returned to freedom convinced that the best path to a better Cuba is through the rejection of violence.
Rodiles was released on Monday afternoon after authorities agreed to the request of his lawyer to withdraw the charges of “resistance.” His violent arrest sparked an intense campaign of international solidarity.
The activist was fined 800 Cuban pesos [approximately $30 U.S.]. He will not go to trial.
CF: What do you take away from this experience?
AR: I say to my friends and others with whom I have spoken, that my main experience is that at this moment in Cuba there are a great many people who understand that the country has to change, and that people thinking differently, that people having different views of things, political, ideological, is not a reason for people to hate them or to not respect them but, sadly, there is a group of people who up to now have demonstrated that they have carte blanche to use violence, who are committed to creating situations like this one and I think, what’s more, they are committed to creating even more critical situations.
I think it’s very important that all national and international public opinion support civil society activists because these people are not the preponderance of the people in this country.
Definitely what they did to me was a vulgar beating and it was planned by them ahead of time.
CF: Your followers and the people who have followed your case insisted that there had been violence especially against you. What precisely happened that day of your arrest?
AR: An official who has become known for beating and abusing people, whose alias is “Camilo,” crossed Avenue 31 [in the Havana municipality of Diez de Octubre] with a group of people, crossed directly to beat me. He says “identificaiton” or “ID card,” something like that, but simply to mention it. No one in uniform came, they didn’t identify themselves, and they immediately pounced on me.
When I put out my hands so they wouldn’t grab me, they rained punches down on me. They grabbed me by the neck, and threw me to the ground, there was a group of between 10 and 15 people — people who were there said it was something like 12. And when they threw me on the ground they began to kick me, to punch me, and at that moment someone punched me in the left eye, thank God their knuckle didn’t go into my eyeball, only the edge, this gave me a strong contusion in the eye which even bled. After they picked me up, they took me to the cop car, and against the car they were still hitting me, in the chest, all my ribs, it was a total beating. Thank God I didn’t have any fractures but I certainly could have.
CF: In the dungeon, what else did they do and how did they treat you?
AR: When they took me to the detention center on Acosta Avenue, which is a center for ordinary crimes of the Police Technical Department of Investigations (DTI), on arriving there, there was still this individual Camilo with two other characters he goes around with, who were also trying to provoke me, manhandling me, trying to provoke an incident.
This individual Camilo recorded me with a video camera, everything that was going on, but there appeared a major from the police station itself and these things were stopped until they took me to the cell. And yes, the next day, the people who had charge of me in that place had a completely different attitude. It was one of total respect, both physically as well as my moral integrity. I had medical attention, the doctor was a very kind person, she checked me over completely, looked at my eye, healed the eye. And the officials there, of the police, they behaved with respect.
It’s also incredible how the prisoners identify with people who come there for political reasons and they always call you “political” and the people are in solidarity with you.
CF: Do you think the delay had to do with having you look better before they let you out?
AR: Yes, it’s possible that had some weight, evidently there was a lot of pressure from many different directions, I think. What they were trying, in my opinion, was a short detention, of a few months or something like that… but at first what they did was very rough, they made a circus out of it, including statements they made themselves that didn’t apply to the crime of “resistance” and then at the end they simply didn’t have much of a way to justify what was happening and well, they released me.
CF: The photo that was distributed showing you in the cell, is it real?
AR: As I have mentioned to several people I would have to look at it in detail, and since I got out the phone hasn’t stopped ringing. If it was taken, it was taken while I was sleeping. No one took any photo of me while I was awake, although they took a video on my arrival. But I can tell you, I have to see the photo calmly to be able to analyze it. I saw it from above, if it shows I was hit in the eye, and it was that area, I had a shirt like that, the color of the walls was similar and those things.
CF: What do you think the intentions are between the work of the police and the strategic tasks of the State Security?
AR: That’s hard to know being in a cell, is something that I can not fully distinguish, what I can tell you is that contrasting the treatment and attitude of the people of the State Security, who are clearly unscrupulous people, they strike without any restraint, and the treatment received at the DTI station, it was completely different.
CF: Will you continue Estado de Sats? What are your plans now?
AR: The project of course will continue and I would say even more forecefully. The idea of the project Estado de Sats, of the campaign “For Another Cuba,” has to do with respect for the rights of Cubans, with respect for the human being first and foremost, with the opportunity to debate, to openly discuss, and I think that with this beating this was the main thing they showed me: this way is the way for Cuba to change, and clearly violence is the enemy. Now more than ever I believe that the work requires total dedication.
I send a huge hug [to those who supported me], I’ve always said that in this type of situation those who most need support is the family and my elderly parents feel very very supported by everyone and this gave them tremendous strength.
As we have seen, there seems to be a new offense under the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Act (LPP), a “crime” that seems interesting to analyze with regards to what it might mean to the future.
And I begin this analysis with what — over so many years — has been understood to be a CRIME and when it does and doesn’t exist.
People like the Italian Cesare Bonesana, Marquis of Beccaria, with his famous book On Crimes and Punishment published in 1764, and the well-regarded author German Paul Johann von Feuerbach who, in 1813, issued the famous legal maxim Nullun crime, nulla poena sine praevia lege (“No crime, no punishment, without a previous punishment law”), gave a sharp twist to what was then called “criminal law.”
Those words of Feuerbach, translated into our language and brought to the present, mean that “for a person to be arrested for certain behavior, it is essential that their conduct is registered as a crime in the Penal Code prior to its commission. Otherwise, there is no crime. ”
Of course, in the case of an infraction, (I repeat, previously defined and sanctioned by law) it proceeds from the arrest of the person and taking him to a police station to clarify the facts… but I am referring to the violation of a REAL criminal standard, not an invention.
The Criminal Procedure Act explains, as the name suggests, the ways in which the authorities and the law enforcement agents can respond to criminal behavior.
Thus, in Title IV, Chapter I, Articles 241-244 of Cuba’s criminal statutes it states, clearly, the cases where an individual shall be arrested and, precisely by being defined in it, the principle of legality applies to everyone and we are subject to it without exception.
To detain someone, except in cases established by law, and inventing, for that purpose, “offenses” that do not exist in the Penal Code or situations not falling under the Criminal Procedure Act, is simply to invade a sphere that belongs only to the legislative body, which in the Cuban case is called, as far as we know, the National Assembly of People’s Power.
And that is precisely what happens when a citizen is taken to a police unit and there is no Act of Detention, or he is taken and what is written as justification for his arrest is … “Interest of CI (counterintelligence ),” a reason for detention that does not appear at all where it should be mandatory: in the aforementioned Penal Code.
We can not give legitimacy to bodies that take on a function that is not theirs and which is so important for social relations: the creation of law.
Moreover, lawyers for the Cuban Law Association have never seen a legal prohibition stating that the behavior of citizens urging the government to ratify the U.N. Covenants signed by a Cuban representative four years ago in New York City, is an offense of any kind.
But, as might occur with the regulations for whether to grant an exit permit — the so-called “white card” — to citizens who want to leave the country and that we have never seen, perhaps it is in these Covenants which we still cannot read.
If so, then please publish it so that we citizens will know that, in Cuba, there is a new conduct prohibited by law: that of invoking the UN Covenants.
Hands clasped in front, deep breaths, the lights come up and the curtain begins to rise. The actor is not yet in front of his audience, but he’s already about to begin to speak, gesticulating in the voice and ways of his character.
He is in a state of “SATS,” a Scandinavian word that refers to that instant just before the theatrical action or the sports performance; the moment of greatest concentration that precedes the artistic explosion, the adrenaline rush of jumping, running. Those four letters, summarizing a turbulent journey from the depths of the self toward extroversion, have been adopted by a project of art and thought born in Havana.
State of SATS (Estado de SATS) was founded in 2010, taking off from an idea of Antonio Rodiles’ and two Cuban emigrants. It emerged as “an initiative of young artists, intellectuals and professionals in search of a better reality,” and quickly gained recognition and popularity. The best known work of SATS is centered on a program of reflection and debate–filmed in Rodiles’ own home–that circulates with great success on Cuba’s alternative information networks.
The most important social actors in Cuba today have passed in front of the SATS microphones, addressing essential issues, long postponed. Many of these guests remain silenced or stigmatized by the official press, while their analysis and points of view expressed in the SATS videos honestly delve into the most serious problems in our society, without discrimination against anyone. State of SATS has also brought the opportunity for other artistic, political and citizens’ projects, narrated in the first person.
But for more than a week now, the chair on that sober and democratic set usually occupied by Antonio Rodiles has remained vacant. He is under arrest by the Cuban political police. On November 8, this 40-year-old with a degree in Physics entered a dungeon from which he has not yet emerged.
Deliberate, analytical, and with a deep concern for everything that occurs in our country, the founder of State of SATS is now experiencing the most sordid side of repression in Cuba: a jail cell. And his main crime doesn’t seem to be the charge of “resisting arrest” alleged by the prosecutor, but rather the illegal act of thinking and opining on an Island where this “right” belongs only to the Party in power. Thus, to dream and debate about a more inclusive and plural country is an egregious crime here, as we all know.
Rodiles’ stay behind bars is the materialization of a premonition, of one of those painful predictions that many of us have while expressing our opinions and encouraging others to do the same. We see it as if one of those fireflies, attracted by the light of civic responsibility in which–sooner or later–Raul Castro’s totalitarianism will incinerate it.
His captors waited for the opportunity to trap him and this happened on a Wednesday afternoon when several activists demanded the release of Yaremis Flores, a lawyer and member of a free legal advice network who had been arrested near her home. Outside the feared Section 21 (the State Security department that monitors and controls regime opponents), a dozen people gathered. But instead of freeing the attorney, a group of agents in plain clothes violently rushed those making the demand and arrested them as well.
To the peaceful gesture they responded with blows, to the civic attitude they contrasted a repressive attitude. As if, with the arrest of Antonio Rodiles they wanted to teach a lesson to all of civil society. A dark autumn with dimensions much smaller than the Black Spring of 2003–but not, for that, any less frightening–it happened in a moment.
On balance, some thirty dissidents were temporarily detained, among them independent journalists, activists and alternative bloggers. I myself was held for about nine hours in a cramped room where three women and one man tried every verbal method to crush my self-esteem. But my mind was a thousand miles away, escaped to some beautiful place where they could not reach me.
I am almost sure that Rodiles is experiencing a similar situation, aggravated by his several days’ stay in the police station. I imagine they have said to him–as they did to me–that he should leave Cuba, get the hell out of here, because this Island “belongs to Fidel,” all the streets, the sidewalks, every tree and facade we know. Getting rid of their critics by pushing them into exile remains their most common strategy against nonconformists.
For sure they are mentioning to this Havanan who studied in Mexico City and taught in Florida the names of all his family members. A subtle method to let him see that they know everyone dear to him, they are aware of all their movements, that something might happen to them while they walk the streets.
If their strategy of interrogations is repeated, like the broken record of arrogance, then I envision how they end some of these questioning sessions. Perhaps they threaten him–as they have so many–with long years of incarceration in a filthy cell, stinking and violent. His police interrogators laugh through their teeth while making sexual, terrifying, allusions.
And it is in these moments when one sees the true face of Fantomas–that terrifying French serial killer–when one experiences first hand the absolute mediocrity under the skin of the executioner; when you reaffirm the idea of why you need to keep trying to change Cuba.
So that these censors of laughter and of freedom, these people who leap quickly from the penal code to the code of the neighborhood bully, cannot continue to lead this country. So that no one will fall–ever again–into the gap of legality where anything can happen.
I know that Antonio Rodiles will be strong, that he is, right now, like the actor who plunges within himself to explode into a freer state, into a state of SATS.
Here is a video from Tracey Eaton, reposted here so you can listen to Antonio describe his work in his own words.
The development in 1966 of the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, also known as the New York Pacts, has a close relationship with the gestation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. While the latter it not binding on States, the adoption of the Covenants came to bridge this shortcoming of the Declaration and, from the perspective of international law, establish legally binding obligations for States that become a part — through signing them — of such instruments.
And those conventions on Human Rights have a special feature given by the very nature of their object of protection, and that is that between the Parties there is a very different connection than what might be the result from a treaty in which the reciprocity of the compliance its obligations is what sets it apart.
Human rights treaties do not establish reciprocal obligations for the signatory states, but rather oblige them to achieve goals beyond their own material interests, and if they fail to comply with these obligations the offending State is called to respond to international organizations and the community of states.
Translator’s note: The collaborators and supports of Antonio Rodiles and Estado de SATS have decided to hold an Estado de SATS every evening at 6:00 PM as long as Antonio is in jail, to demonstrate that the arrest of one man cannot shut down the project. Our apologies for not having a subtitled version — readers are encouraged to contribute to preparing one… the first step is to make a transcript in Spanish and email it to TranslatingCuba – at – gmail.com. THANK YOU! (Or feel free to translate it and subtitle it and send us a link to the subtitled video!)