Human Rights in Cuba

Time To Change

December 2012
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Cuba: The Time to Fill the Jails Came Again / Ivan Garcia #Cuba

Ivan Garcia, Translator: mlk

Trying to analyze the strategy of the Castro brothers is an exercise in

pure abstraction. Their way of moving tokens on the political board

tends to go against logic. The incarceration of 75 dissidents ordered by

in the spring of 2003 was a miscalculation.Foreign pressure

led General to correct the error.

In February 2010, the death of peaceful opponent Orlando Tamayo

after a prolonged hunger strike was the trigger for the government to

initiate tripartite negotiations with the national church and the

Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos.

Committed to tepid economic reforms, the Castro II regime needed

international recognition and to attract foreign . The

liberation and subsequent exile of almost a hundred political prisoners

permitted the olive green autocracy to ease pressure, buying time and a

little political oxygen.

Not much. Enough to tiptoe across the world stage and mitigate the

criticism by western governments for the repeated violations of human

and political rights.

Political prisoners constitute a formidable weapon in the Castro regime.

They are exchange currency. A valuable piece in any negotiation. It has

always been so. After the Bay of Pigs victory in April 1961, Fidel

Castro swapped enemy soldiers for stewed fruits and powdered mashed


It was common, passing through the Palace of the Revolution, that

foreign dignitaries would bring in their pockets lists of prisoners to

free in exchange for credit, economic help or support for the regime. A

frowning comandante denied or authorized the liberation of an opponent.

Not everyone has the same value for local leaders: it depends on the

media interest that they have outside of the island.

They are like hunting targets. Armando Valladares, Huber Matos, Eloy

Gutierrez Menoyo or the poet Raul Rivero were valued prisoners. Their

liberty was measured in greater concessions by European governments and

favorable votes in international tribunes. Facts and figures are not

known about the quantity of money or long term loans that the release of

a dissident has meant in these 54 years.

With a view to negotiate with a favorable wind, the Cuban jails have

always been full of dissidents. In the '70's there were thousands.

Hundreds in the 21st century. These days there is a problem. The jails

are empty. Harassment, repression, arbitrary detention of peaceful

democrats by special services continue. But behind bars there are no

heavyweight dissidents that serve to establish an advantageous deal.

The old and sick gringo Alan is thought to be the one they can get

the most for. Obama and Hillary Clinton demand his without

conceding anything in exchange. Then they decided to incarcerate an

"A-list" dissident. There had to be others on the waiting list from whom

the regime thinks it could get better yields. It is here that Antonio

Rodiles comes into play.

Miriam Celaya, and alternative , considers that the

probable prosecution of Rodiles as a resistance figure encompasses

several possible readings. And it could be a trial balloon to measure

the international brouhaha.

Also, Celaya thinks, after the presidential election victories by Hugo

and Barack Obama, guaranteed petroleum for six years and the

remittance greenbacks from the United States thanks to the measures

towards family reunification approved by President Obama, the military

mandarins feel strong.

The reporter also analyzes the trajectory reached by Rodiles in his free

debates about national issues or his Demand for another Cuba that has

put the Havana government on the defensive.

Antonio Rodiles is a liberal dissident, open and modern. Nephew of

General Samuel Rodiles Plana, at the front of a legion of combat

veterans usually convened to verbally lynch and hand out blows to the

and peaceful opponents.

The legal charge brought against Rodiles is a mockery of human

intelligence. In what way can a man resist a violent detention

surrounded by dozens of guys trained in personal defense techniques? The

only manner of resistance that the Cuban opposition has is to scream

quite loudly its disagreements and to condemn the abuses. The ration of

beatings always comes from the opposite sidewalk.

The presumed conviction of Antonio Rodiles creates a new and bad

precedent on the national map. It is a message of coming and going by

opponents, independent journalists and bloggers. No one is safe. The

regime offers two exits: you either shut up or you buy a one-way airline

ticket. Whoever does not accept the rules of the game can go behind bars

for some years.

The era of fear returns. The screech of cars with tinted windows outside

of the house. The loud knock on the door. The uncertainty of your

personal and family life. It is the nature of the regime. Crushing and

censuring you with the use of force. The essence of the doctrine based

on for those who think differently. It was always so.

The time to fill the jails has arrived. Bad times have returned.

Photo: EFE, taken by the Bolivian daily, El Dia. According to

information published in the newspaper Granma May 22, 2012, the penal

population of Cuba exceeds 57,337 prisoners, of which 31,494 are under

closed detention and 25,843 in open installations. From December 2011 to

May 2012, through different benefits, some 10,129 inmates have left

jail, among them 2,900 pardoned.

Translator's note: Antonio Rodiles has now been released with a small

fine and the charge of resisting arrest dropped.

Translated by mlk

December 1 2012

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