Cuba: Democracy Advocate Rodiles Released; Blogger Diversent Remains Detained

Antonio Rodiles, curator of the independent scholarly forum Estado de SATS [es], was released in Havana last Wednesday after enduring over three weeks of detention. Rodiles was arrested on November 7, along with numerous other bloggers and civil society advocates on the island, including well-known blogger and attorney Laritza Diversent, author of the blog Jurisconsulto de Cuba [es] (Cuban Legal Advisor). There has been no report of Diversent’s release as of December 3, 2012.

Antonio Rodiles, in Havana. Photography by Tracey Eaton, posted with photographer's permission.

Blogger and human rights advocate Juan Wilfredo Soto García [es] reported the following bloggers and human rights advocates had been arrested in the same sweep: Yaremis Flores, Laritza Diversent, Veisant Boloy, Antonio G. Rodiles, Ailer González, Andrés Pérez, Mario Morales, Vladimir Torres, Rolando Reyes, Reinaldo Figueras y Luis Manuel Fumero, Yoani Sánchez, and Guillermo Fariñas Hernández. Many including Sánchez were released shortly after their detention, but Rodiles, Diversent, and others remained in police custody for several days.

Twitter users [es] reported that Rodiles began a hunger strike shortly after being detained. Police did not give an official reason for Rodiles’ release, but this could have impacted authorities’ decision on the matter.

Both Diversent and Rodiles have become prominent figures among bloggers and human rights advocates in Havana. Since 2010, Rodiles has organized Estado de SATS, a series of open panel discussions on the future of politics and civil society in Cuba that aim to provide a “pluralistic space for debate and participation that is mediated by open and frank exchange.” Over the past year, Estado de SATS has been the target of increasing criticism from government officials who claim the program to be “counterrevolutionary.”

Blogger Luis Felipe Rojas surmised [es] that Rodiles’ arrest was in response to “The Citizen Demand for Another Cuba,” [es] a memorandum authored and circulated by Rodiles and open for sign-on here [es].

A estas alturas muchos se preguntan por qué emprenderla con Antonio Rodiles. ¿Qué encontraron los sesudos de la policía política en este inquieto intelectual? “La Demanda Ciudadana por otra Cuba” pudiera haber pasado como una iniciativa más, pero las garras de la contención desde las altas esferas de la contrainteligencia militar no quieren jugarse una carta más.

At this point in time, many ask themselves why the aggressions against Antonio Rodiles. What did the prudent political police officials find in this restless intellectual? “The Citizen Demand for a Another Cuba” could have gone by as just another initiative, but the restrictive claws of the high ranks of the Military’s Counter-Intelligence do not want to take any more chances.

The memorandum calls on the Castro government to “ratify the covenants it signed at the UN in 2008” and “immediately put legal and political guarantees in practice” that are articulated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Acclaimed blogger Yoani Sanchez wrote a chilling post [es] describing her emotional response to Rodiles’ detention:

Me levanto en la mañana y me digo: “ya todo terminó, ha sido sólo un sueño”. Pero después de un rato suena el teléfono y alguien me cuenta que Antonio Rodiles sigue detenido, acusado de resistirse a un arresto tan arbitrario como injusto.

I wake up in the morning and say to myself: “it’s all over, it was just a dream.” But then after a while the phone rings and someone tells me that Antonio Rodiles remains in detention, accused of resisting an arrest as arbitrary as it is unjust.

Soto García wrote [es] that he viewed the arrests as part of a larger pattern of government action towards citizens. He observed that while the government has garnered positive international responses to its new, more liberal travel policies, it has simultaneously taken an increasingly hard line against those advocating for greater civil and political change.

Hace muy poco el régimen cubano ha desatado una cortina de humo, con sus pretendidas reformas y en particular con la modificación de las leyes migratorias, que imperaban en La Mayor de las Antillas, para tratar de dar al mundo una visión de legalidad y respeto por los derechos humanos. Sin embargo una vez más, el gobierno de Raúl Castro con el proceder en estos  arrestos, demuestra que ni siquiera respeta sus propias leyes.

Not long ago the cuban regime unleashed a curtain of smoke, with its attempted reforms and in particular the modification of immigrations laws […] in an effort to give the world a vision of [Cuba] oriented around legality and respect for human rights. However once again, with these arrests, Raul Castro’s government shows that it doesn’t even respect its own laws.

Previous Global Voices coverage of Estado de SATS can be found here, here, and here.

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