About two weeks Antonio Rodiles was arrested by State Security. First he was charged with resisting arrest, then they concocted a charge of undermining the authority when nearly a dozen witnesses deny the police accusation. It is not anything unusual, because in Cuba long arbitrary detentions are part of the repressive praxis. This time it’s someone with undeniable charisma and whose authenticity is demonstrated with concrete events: In a short time Rodiles has converted Estado de Sats — against all flags and with modest resources — into an important space when it comes to probing the Cuban reality.
Several factors contribute to our atmosphere today of alternative aromas. In this regard, the extensive possibilities of the Internet, which open a digital breach to the world for the restless gaze of the island’s bloggers and twitterers, to which are added the lack of ethics in the official press to denounce the shamelessness of the corrupt, the ineptitude of the leaders and the constant violation of our civil rights. In this context we have inserted alternatives like VocesCubanas.com and Estado de Sats.
Bit this latter space is not only a virtual peculiarity: in Rodiles’ home, during the presentation of the programs, there is a frequent assiduous and physical convergence of around a hundred irreverents, and we know what that means to the powers-that-be in Cuba.
This modest but clear capacity to call people together, ended up worrying the general staff, and so Rodiles presented himself in front of State Security’s Section 21 on the afternoon of November 7, and the leadership saw the awaited opportunity to book him and decapitate his project. But those who reason this way underestimate a civil society that is not disposed to cede an inch of space conquered at great risk.
We are a people saturated with promises that sound like mockery, words belied by the demagoguery of a bourgeois elite that demands austerity from us, while their table overflows; we are a people forced to face unjustifiable hardship and shortages that generate a deep social immorality, which have turned theft, simulation and lies into “trifles,” and what is worse, sincerity and civility into a crime.
We are looking at a youth that is definitely different, and wants to open itself to a world it suspects is out there, a youth that knows it is imprisoned, but that now knows the name and the password of its jailer and is increasingly less afraid. And the jailer knows this and represses every birth, tries to mutilate each new shoot, stuffing the cracks so that the cell never receives the dangerous rays of the sun.
Rodiles is accused of assault, and yet, in Estado de Sats, Rodiles’ home, I never saw anywhere a club or the tip of a trigger, never heard plotting of attacks of sabotage, never heard a threat or a call to violence. I heard nothing more there than ideas and arguments, reasonable or not, but launched from the perspective of tolerance, respect for the opinions of others.
As far as I know, no Cuban opponent ever stopped a delegate of the National Assembly of Popular Power in the entrance of Parliament, or any member of the Communist party to prevent him from participating in the last Congress of the Party, nor conducted any “operation” to boycott their last National Conference.
However, from the other side, it’s a different matter: the raids and arbitrary detentions perpetrated by state security against any dissident when, how and where they want, without due process and even without charges — including many who went to Estado de Sats — is their daily practice, reported thousands of times by bloggers, twitterers and by the same project now want to shut down.
If despite the deafness strongly imprinted during the last decades by the dissidence against the all-embracing State power, this has been no more than a few turns of the screw, one can only imagine the scene of these gentlemen didn’t know they were installed by the select share of Cubans who dare to speak while the rest remain silent.
Alternative spaces like the monthly Voices Magazine and projects like Omni Zona Franca, and Estado de Sats itself, are at this time so necessary for this people like the miracle of the loaves and fishes, and must not disappear simply because some gorillas consider this country remains the same jungle as in the ’60s and ’70s.
But they had to take Rodilies because every brave person is one less slave, because each front raised is an act of vindication, because every mask that falls away is a triumph of human dignity, one of those miracles that are the work only of able-bodied men.
For all this, by reality and necessity, spaces like Estado de Sats must be preserved. The barbarians must understand once and for all, that it is useless to incarcerate a many when his dreams fly free.
Rodiles conceived this project, now ours, and dedicated his efforts, assumed all the risks and put into it the same hope and the same faith that is put into a child. For this we must care for Estado de Sats — we owe it to him and to ourselves — because whatever problems appear on the horizon we will never abandon the child of a friend!
November 19 2012