Don’t Look Away / 14ymedio, Regina Coyula

Antonio Rodiles After his Arrest
Antonio Rodiles After his Arrest

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Regina Coyula, Havana, 6 July 2015 — Ailer González, artistic director of the Estado de SATS project, called me on Sunday afternoon. Knowing it was her, I opened the communication with the festive and very pertinent question of whether she was a grandmother. Sounding crushed and full of indignation she let me know that Antonio Rodiles, her partner and director general of Estado de Sats had just arrived home. He had been savagely beaten in the morning by several individuals dressed in plainclothes while trying to get to the Sunday March of the Ladies in White; he was then arrested, and because of his injuries, taken to the hospital.

According to Ailer, the doctors were shocked by his condition when he arrived at the emergency room. I do not believe that the doctors’ outrage goes far beyond the horror on display yesterday; there is an invisible but powerful barrier that many Cubans don’t dare to cross.

These kinds of incidents are neither spontaneous nor improvised; they are the result of operational plans and decisions by the political police. Antonio Gonzalez may be a figure who is detested by the Cuban government; but he was not armed, he was not heading out to assault a barracks, or to commit an attack.

Twelve weeks of sustained repression have been directed against the peaceful Sunday marches of the Ladies in White, and the dissidents and journalists who accompany them. Is this brutality and escalation? Are they using the dissidents that have come out against the normalization of relations with the United States to poison the normalization of those same relations? Or are they sending a message to the population? Or both combined?

The government should be more decent. The world is carefully watching Cuba at this time, and actions by their own henchmen only confirm the lack of freedoms. Once again I recall the words of Rosa Luxembourg – an uncomfortable Communist – “Freedom always has been and is the freedom of those who think differently.”