Cuba’s Antonio Rodiles Is Not Innocent

Antonio Rodiles

Haroldo Dilla Alfonso*

HAVANA TIMES — The imprisonment and persecution of Cuban activist Antonio Rodiles has broken the chain of short-term express arrests that had typified the new Cuban government’s methods of repressing the opposition.

It all started a couple of years ago when the government released over a hundred political prisoners and encouraging the vast majority of them to leave the country. Since then, the circle around Raul Castro has renounced spectacular raids and subsequent judicial farces such as those that took place that sad spring (2003).

In its place began a new approach of selective harassment and arrests for several hours as a way to achieve — at the lowest cost — what they failed to accomplish in 2003: the annihilation of the opposition.

Cuban security agencies are well aware that no one is farther away from being a terrorist than Antonio Rodiles, and that his activities are fully transparent.

Although always a brave and honest communicator, Rodiles is a dangerous person to a system that makes information sequestration and opacity a vital condition for its operation.

Free Antonio Rodiles Now!

If he had confined himself to the valuable online discussions of the Estado de SATS audiovisual project, it’s possible they may have tolerated him.

As long as the Cuban government keeps society excluded from the Internet, an activity like his is inevitably limited in scope.

But Rodiles took some steps that tripped off the alert system. One of these was to convert his own residence into a center of opposition activism, as happened with the Click Festival.

Another was promoting a citizens mobilization initiative that asked the Cuban government to adhere to international human rights covenants.

And finally, responding to the case of the imprisonment of a young opposition activist, he had the audacity — which a dictatorship never forgives of its citizens — to take to the streets in protest (and what was worse in their eyes was that he did so across from a police station).

For months, Rodiles was subjected to an infamous smear campaign by whatever poorly-paid government blogger that was available. Now Rodiles is being jailed and subjected to a legal process for being consistent and for advancing a political struggle that has inevitably moved to the street, as it should and as it has the full right to do.

He is charged with resisting arrest, and for that reason was manhandled, during which his clothes were torn and his glasses broken. The fellow dissidents with him allege that his assailants were police, though all were in civilian clothes.

If this was the case, the offense and abuse are even greater. But I must say that if at any time Rodiles did indeed resist arrest, then that doesn’t diminish his stature or detract from his cause.

Resistance to illegitimate violence is a right of the people, for several centuries, and I don’t think we should give it up. If Rodiles was guilty of resisting, I think he deserves all the respect and support for doing what many have done in the nation’s history.

These has been a continuing theme since the distant days when Jose Antonio Aponte organized slave conspiracies, and when independence leader Carlos Manual de Cespedes organized his own conspiracies in Demajagua, and when poet Ruben Martinez Villena broke with his verses to organize a general strike, and when Frank Pais enlisted in the underground resistance to fight against another dictatorship.

Ultimately, Rodiles is not innocent. He’s guilty of using his only resources — dignity, courage and talent — to confront the oppression of a dictatorship that for a long time has known no moral standards.

His is a kind of guilt that the oppressors don’t forgive, one that not all of us can reach. He is guilty of aiming high. Therefore the minions are becoming desperate and are cowardly whispering, hiding their most prosaic fears behind the rubble of alleged high principles.
(*) A Havana Times translation of the original published in Spanish by

30 thoughts on “Cuba’s Antonio Rodiles Is Not Innocent

  • November 25, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    “Now can you clarify what you mean in your statement “show me evidence of a Cuban in a ‘pau-de-arara’ then we’ll speak about violence.” as it relates to Antonio Rodiles?”

    Well, there’s nothing to ‘clarify’. If you still don’t understand after what I explainded what a ‘pau-de-arara’ is and how it’s still used by our poorly-prepared, outdated and brutal military police, then it is your problem and I can’t do nothing about it.

  • November 25, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Again I ask Louis!

    Now can you clarify what you mean in your statement “show me evidence of a Cuban in a ‘pau-de-arara’ then we’ll speak about violence.” as it relates to Antonio Rodiles? And please, no more bad USA in order to change the subject which is Rodiles, Cuba and Human Rights!

  • November 24, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Funny as you only translated the term and did not answered the substance of it. Wikipedia (surprisingly) has a good definition for it:

    “Pau de arara can also refer to a physical torture technique designed to cause severe joint and muscle pain, as well as headaches, and psychological trauma. The technique consists of a tube, bar, or pole placed over the victim’s biceps and behind the knees while tying the victim’s both ankles and wrists together. The entire assembly is suspended between two metal platforms forming what looks like a parrot’s perch.

    This technique is believed to originate from Portuguese slave traders, which used Pau de arara as a form of punishment for disobedient slaves. Its usage has been more recently widespread by the agents of the political police of the Brazilian military dictatorship against political dissidents in the 1960s and 1970s and is still believed to be in use by Brazilian police forces,[1] although outlawed [2]. The device was often used as a restraint for a combination of other torture techniques, such as water boarding, nail pulling, branding, electric shocks, and sexual torture.”

    [1] Caldeira, Teresa P.R. (2000). City of Walls. Crime, Segregation, and Citizenship in São Paulo. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 109. ISBN 0-520-22143-5.
    [2] ^ [1]

    And guess what? The “water boarding, nail pulling, branding, electric shocks, and sexual torture” part was all ‘kindly’ taught by the CIA in its (un)famous School Of The Americas. BTW, I recently heard a story of a young boy being tortured with this technique in the northern region of my country.

    That’s one of the reasons I got really upset with Moses earlier, when he said that “The American people, from the sweat of our brow, continue to foot the bill to defend freedom all over the world.” Yes, it’s that offensive.

  • November 24, 2012 at 10:49 am

    Again I ask Louis!

    Now can you clarify what you mean in your statement “show me evidence of a Cuban in a ‘pau-de-arara’ then we’ll speak about violence.” as it relates to Antonio Rodiles?

  • November 24, 2012 at 3:24 am

    “Again I never said that he should be in prison.”

    Are you evan able to read? Or you can read but cannot interpret what you’re reading? Whew… rabid ‘good vs evil’ trolling is easy, huh?

    BTW, I’ll repeat what I said to Humberto: show me evidence of a Cuban in a ‘pau-de-arara’ then we’ll speak about violence.

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