WBEZ | dissidents http://www.wbez.org/tags/dissidents Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Updates: Cuban dissident released, Payá accident verdict, Rivera loses http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-11/updates-cuban-dissident-released-pay%C3%A1-accident-verdict-rivera-loses-104098 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/antoniorodiles.jpg" style="height: 300px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Antonio Rodiles, founder of Cuba's Estado de SATS" /></div><p><strong>Rodiles released&nbsp;</strong></p><p>Antonio Rodiles is an <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio_Rodilesis">odd bird</a>. He&rsquo;s mild-mannered, soft-spoken and nerdy. He wears little John Lennon glasses and looks pained when he speaks. Recently released after 19 days in Cuban detention for &ldquo;resisting arrest,&rdquo; Rodiles said he doesn&rsquo;t know what he was arrested for when he resisted &mdash; because he hasn&rsquo;t bothered <a href="http://babalublog.com/2012/11/cuba-antonio-rodiles-released-by-castro-regime/">to read the complaint</a>.</p><p>So what <em>was</em> Rodiles actually doing when he was arested? He and a few others had gone to Section 21, headquarters for Cuba&rsquo;s fearsome state security, to protest the arrest of a human rights lawyer.</p><p>Like many Cubans, Rodiles once emigrated to the U.S. He studied for a master&rsquo;s degree in mathematics to go with his doctorate in physics, and even taught for a bit at Florida State University.<br /><br />But a few years later, Rodiles did what&rsquo;s rarely done. He went back to Cuba, with a purpose:&nbsp;to promote democratic change. These days, Rodiles is the founder and director of <a href="http://www.estadodesats.com/">Estado de SATS</a>, a group that presents&nbsp;public conversations on a variety of topics affecting civic society. The talks are as public as they can be in Cuba given they lack government affiliation or approval. They&rsquo;re videotaped and passed around hand to hand on memory sticks.&nbsp;<br /><br />For this, Rodiles and his supporters get harassed to no end, and they&rsquo;re not the only ones. According to the Cuban Commission for <a href="http://babalublog.com/2012/11/political-arrests-in-cuba-surpass-5000/">Human Rights and National Reconciliation</a>, a dissident group on the island, there have been more than 5,600 arrests so far this year, 520 in October alone.&nbsp;Most of the detentions are short-term, violent and public;&nbsp;many are <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-07/what-happened-cubas-oswaldo-pay%C3%A1-101228">caught on video</a>, as I&rsquo;ve detailed before.</p><p><strong>Verdict deliverd in&nbsp;Payá crash&nbsp;</strong><br /><br />Last July, I wrote about <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-07/what-happened-cubas-oswaldo-pay%C3%A1-101228">the death of Oswaldo Payá</a>, one of Cuba&rsquo;s most important dissidents, in what appeared to be a suspicious car crash.<br /><br />Payá&rsquo;s wife, Ofelia Acevedo, maintains that the state is responsible for his death. Meanwhile, the Cuban legal system has <a href="http://www.europapress.es/nacional/noticia-av-cuba-condena-cuatro-anos-prision-angel-carromero-20121015170436.html">condemned Ángel Carromero</a>, a Spanish native, for manslaughter. Carromero, a youth leader for Spain&rsquo;s conservative Popular Party, was at the wheel when the accident occurred. Though Acevedo said she knows of texts sent by Carromero and a second foreigner in the car alleging that they were being bumped by another vehicle just before the crash, Carromero &mdash; whose Spanish driving record was atrocious &mdash; has insisted in all his media appearances that there was no second car and that he sent no such texts.<br /><br />We&rsquo;ll check back when he gets released, which could be well short of four years, and see if the story changes.<br /><br /><strong>Rivera loses Florida seat&nbsp;</strong><br /><br />God knows there was probably <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-11/latest-senate-races-romneys-jeep-ad-and-crazy-david-rivera-103613">no crazier congressional race </a>in the whole country this month than in South Florida, where Democrat Joe Garcia took on Republican incumbent David Rivera, Sen. Marco Rubio&rsquo;s best friend. (I&rsquo;m not being hyperbolic &mdash; they&rsquo;re close enough to co-own property.)<br /><br />Garcia finally won, beating Rivera by a comfortable ten-point margin. By the time voters had their say, Rivera was under two different federal investigations and had been slapped for 11 ethics violations during his time in the Florida state legislature. Rivera lost party support and barely had enough cash to finish out the race.<br /><br />But to hear Rivera tell it, none of that mattered. The problem was mostly demographics and a strong showing by the president.</p><p>&quot;I think an analysis of the results demonstrates that the presidential election had a significant impact on several congressional races, including my own,&rdquo; Rivera told the <em>Miami Herald</em>. &ldquo;It makes it <a href="http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/11/07/3086820/changes-in-district-helped-lead.html#storylink=cpy#storylink=cpy">tough for Republicans</a> down ballot to be successful.&rdquo;<br /><br />Though there&rsquo;s already talk of Jeb Bush Jr. running against Garcia in 2014, Rivera isn&rsquo;t going away. There are still those two investigations to be concluded. Ana Alliegro, his campaign manager and cash courier, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-09/witness-missing-case-rubios-pal-rivera-102600">is still missing</a>.</p></p> Thu, 29 Nov 2012 09:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-11/updates-cuban-dissident-released-pay%C3%A1-accident-verdict-rivera-loses-104098 In dissidents' arrest following Pope’s Cuba visit, a Cardinal neglects his flock http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-05/dissidents-arrest-following-pope%E2%80%99s-cuba-visit-cardinal-neglects-his-flock <p><p>Cuban authorities arrested dissidents Vladimir Calderón and Julio Beltrán on April 28. Their crime? The two men were accused of passing out anti-government flyers and organizing an anti-government march on May 1. Both men were publicly beaten as they were arrested.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP120327019242.jpg" style="height: 429px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="Pope Benedict XVI walks with Cuba's Cardinal Jaime Ortega, right, as he waves upon his arrival in Havana in late March. (AP/Franklin Reyes)"></div><p>If anyone should be held responsible should something happen to Calderón and Beltrán while in custody, I point a finger squarely at Havana Cardinal Jaime Ortega.</p><p>The crux of this story lies in Pope Benedict XVI's recent visit to the island. Dissident groups saw an opportunity to have this self-proclaimed man of peace intercede with the government for them, or at the very least acknowledge them. Many Cuban dissident groups are Catholic, including the country’s best known opposition group, The Ladies in White.</p><p>Calderon and Beltrán’s group, the Republican Party of Cuba, is small and mostly unknown. They meet and pray together on the 13th of every month at the Church of the Virgin of Charity in central Havana, a crumbling neighborhood of tremendous poverty and crime just outside the city’s tourist belt.</p><p>When they learned of the Pope’s impending visit, they prepared a list of demands they hoped the pontiff would discuss with President Raul Castro. The demands included freedom for political prisoners, a stop to the repression of dissidents, freedom to travel, freedom of association, economic freedom, access to private property, internet access, wage increases, more food for children and a dialogue between the government and its opposition. Pretty standard stuff, at least for those of us living under the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.</p><p>Their idea was to deliver the list to the Pope via the Church of the Virgin of Charity. But when presented with the document, the parish priest refused to accept it, thus setting off a complicated back and forth between the dissidents and the archbishop’s office. The dissidents, fearing they’d be victims of a government rapid-response mob outside the church, refused to leave until a church official came to talk to them.</p><p>And what did Cardinal Ortega do? He requested that members of the national police force enter the church and forcibly remove the group of 13 men, women and children, sanctuary be damned.</p><p>The Pope came and went from Cuba, salsa dancing with the excommunicated Fidel (in 1962), saying not a word about, nor once acknowledging, never mind meeting with, any of the dissidents.</p><p>And then the Cardinal went to Harvard.</p><p>Ortega said the entire incident, which he described as the “occupation” of the Church of the Virgin of Charity, had been a plot planned by Miami exiles against the government.</p><p>And the dissidents? “They were a group that – this pains me a lot – all of them were former delinquents,” said the Cardinal. “There was a former Cuban prisoner who had been returned to Cuba, he had been in prison for six years and was one of the excludable people who were sent to Cuba […] among them were people without any cultural level, some with psychological disturbances.”</p><p>The Miami <em>Herald</em> broke down the background of group’s members. They are mostly working class people (one survives by fixing lighters), but several have a college education and professional careers, including Calderón.</p><p>The extraordinary thing, to me, in the Cardinal’s declaration, though, is his use of the word “delinquent”: a government favorite to discredit its critics.</p><p>And, of course, the Cardinal’s cruel dismissal of the very people that Jesus would have called us to protect: the voiceless and oppressed, the poor and powerless.</p></p> Fri, 04 May 2012 11:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-05/dissidents-arrest-following-pope%E2%80%99s-cuba-visit-cardinal-neglects-his-flock