One has to marvel at the audacity and bravery of these dissidents, who risk not only imprisonment but the chance that they will even be murdered by the regime. Even a tiny percentage of dissidents who speak out is seen as a threat by the government to its stability. Once the public no longer fears the regime, it could be the beginning of the end. Rodiles began, as seen in the video, by pointing out the surveillance cameras constantly aimed at his home by state security.
The al-Jazeera crew proceeded to Revolution Square, the site of all the mass rallies, and witnessed a brave rickshaw driver unveiling a sign saying “Down with Repression.” This act led to his immediate arrest.
Then, on July 22, an incident took place which reveals the true face of the Cuban regime. Cuba’s leading dissident, Oswaldo Paya, was driving in a car with two passengers. He phoned his daughter on a cell phone to tell her he was being followed by state security. A moment later, a crash occurred. Paya was killed.
His daughter rightfully concluded that his death was not an accident. Hernandez secretly filmed Paya’s funeral, which turned into a demonstration against the regime, which is captured in his video. Soon after, al-Jazeera was unable to reach him. The other dissident they filmed at home, Antonio Rodiles, was arrested. The network’s correspondent writes:
This film, which will probably go to air as Antonio is in a cell for daring to speak his mind, will no doubt confirm the government’s suspicions of him — but like all the dissidents we spoke to in our film, he would not have had it any other way. Only by speaking out, they say, will Cubans bring change to their country.
The repression in Cuba continues unabated. Michael Allen of the National Endowment for Democracy has done a yeoman’s job of reporting about these developments. The NED reports in its Democracy Digest:
Two leading Cuban dissidents have been threatened and attacked, “by people they took to be intelligence agents in separate incidents on the same day,” AP reports:
Elizardo Sanchez said two plainclothes officials stopped him near his Havana home on Tuesday, shouting physical threats and using crude language. That night, dissident Guillermo Farinas was allegedly attacked by a man with a wooden stick elsewhere in Havana, resulting in light injuries.
The regime is keeping rights activists under intense pressure, with more than 5,600 dissidents, journalists and rights activists arrested or detained between January and the end of October this year, writes Ivette Martinez.
The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation recorded 520 detentions in October alone. For the year, the group says it has documented 5,625 cases, which is “consistent with the high level of political repression in Cuba over recent years.”
The Communist authorities yesterday sentenced a labor union activist to two years in prison for his independent organizing activities.
Ulises González Moreno was sentenced in a trial whose outcome was predetermined, independent journalist Iván Hernández Carrillo reports via his Twitter account:
According to Cuba Sindical, González Moreno is 45 years old and was detained on November 15, 2012 at his home located in Concordia #414 apartment 2 in Central Havana by two plain clothes state security agents who identified themselves as members of the Ministry of the Interior (MININT). The following day when his wife went to where her husband was being detained she was told that he would be tried for “Peligrosidad Social” (Social Dangerousness), which indicates that the activist has a predilection to in a possible future commit a crime against the regime. This law has been used to persecute nonviolent activists.
Their report quotes a recent interview they conducted with Rodiles, who was released after 19 days in detention. The brave dissident made the following statement:
I say to my friends and others with whom I have spoken, that my main experience is that at this moment in Cuba there are a great many people who understand that the country has to change, and that people thinking differently, that people having different views of things, political, ideological, is not a reason for people to hate them or to not respect them but, sadly, there is a group of people who up to now have demonstrated that they have carte blanche to use violence, who are committed to creating situations like this one and I think, what’s more, they are committed to creating even more critical situations.
I think it’s very important that all national and international public opinion support civil society activists because these people are not the preponderance of the people in this country.