It has been proven once against that solidarity and unity are the most efficient weapons to combat a dictatorship which attempts to control all aspects of everyday life and condemn all forms of opposition to long years of silence or even death.
In the afternoon of November 26th it was confirmed that Antonio Rodiles was released in Havana after more than 2 months behind bars in the Acosta Police Unit after he peacefully protested for the release of other fellow dissidents, among them bloggers, journalists, and human rights activists.
It is no secret that Estado de Sats, the televisual project created by Rodiles as a space for debate and exchange of information and nominated for an Emmy Award, has put the regime in a very difficult spot, considering that all these images have gone around the world and they promote the diversity of ideas- something which no dictatorship can tolerate if they wish to survive. Meanwhile, the Campaign for Another Cuba, promoted mainly by the Citizen’s Demand for Another Cuba, has also put the dictatorship against the wall, a fact seen in the quickness with which the repressive forces respond to detain all those who hand out copies of the initiative to everyday citizens out on the street. Rodiles is also one of the main author of the Demand.
After his arrest, countless Cubans who consider themselves dissidents, intellectual, humble workers, activists, writers, bloggers, journalists and other representatives of a growing civil and independent society demanded his release. The same happened in exile, as well as within other citizens of other nationalities who joined in solidarity around the world, while the virtual world erupted with hashtags on Twitter, posts on blogs and messages on Facebook also demanding his freedom.
Internal and international pressure achieved Rodiles’ release, but that doesn’t save him from danger, starting with the fact that there is a pending fine of 800 pesos over him. However, it has been a significant signs that citizens do have power and that solidarity can achieve very important objectives.
Minutes after the announcement that Rodiles was released, his wife Ailer Gonzalez Mena told ‘Radio Republica’ that the fact he was released constitutes “a victory for Cuba, for all Cubans”. A short while after, Rodiles spoke with ‘Radio Martí’ and expressed that he appreciated all the solidarity in his favor and explained that he believes that “now it is very necessary for Cuba to change”.
Although 2012 has been a difficult year for the Cuban opposition in terms of hard hits (starting with the death of Wilman Villar Mendoza and in one of the most recent cases, the death of Oswaldo Paya), it has also brought very important lessons in terms of the power of solidarity and unity amongst Cubans, despite different opinions. It was seen how when everyday citizens, neighbors and activists in and out of Cuba managed to pressure the regime so that Lady in White Gertrudis Ojeda Suarez would not be sentenced to prison in Banes, Holguin, and when a massive hunger strike by various dissidents saved the life of then political prisoner Jorge Vazquez Chaviano and achieved his release. Pressure and activism also led to the liberation of Niurka Luque Alvarez, a Lady in White who had been imprisoned since mid-March.
But there are still far too many citizens behind bars for reasons of conscience- Sonia Garro, Ramon Munoz, Calixto Martinez, Bismark Mustelier, Andry Frometa, Dany Lopez, and many more- as well as other citizens who do not even consider themselves dissidents but are still being harassed and subjected to torture by the State, as the case of Michel Martínez Pérez in the province of Matanzas. These, too, can be freed.
And, in sum, Cuba also can be freed…and it will.
As Rodiles said, “Now we must continue with even more strength”