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    Cuba: The Time to Fill the Jails Came Again

    Cuba: The Time to Fill the Jails Came Again / Ivan Garcia #Cuba

    Ivan Garcia, Translator: mlk

    Trying to analyze the strategy of the Castro brothers is an exercise in

    pure abstraction. Their way of moving tokens on the political board

    tends to go against logic. The incarceration of 75 dissidents ordered by

    Fidel Castro in the spring of 2003 was a miscalculation.Foreign pressure

    led General Raul Castro to correct the error.

    In February 2010, the death of peaceful opponent Orlando Zapata Tamayo

    after a prolonged hunger strike was the trigger for the government to

    initiate tripartite negotiations with the national church and the

    Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos.

    Committed to tepid economic reforms, the Castro II regime needed

    international recognition and to attract foreign investment. The

    liberation and subsequent exile of almost a hundred political prisoners

    permitted the olive green autocracy to ease pressure, buying time and a

    little political oxygen.

    Not much. Enough to tiptoe across the world stage and mitigate the

    criticism by western governments for the repeated violations of human

    and political rights.

    Political prisoners constitute a formidable weapon in the Castro regime.

    They are exchange currency. A valuable piece in any negotiation. It has

    always been so. After the Bay of Pigs victory in April 1961, Fidel

    Castro swapped enemy soldiers for stewed fruits and powdered mashed

    potatoes.

    It was common, passing through the Palace of the Revolution, that

    foreign dignitaries would bring in their pockets lists of prisoners to

    free in exchange for credit, economic help or support for the regime. A

    frowning comandante denied or authorized the liberation of an opponent.

    Not everyone has the same value for local leaders: it depends on the

    media interest that they have outside of the island.

    They are like hunting targets. Armando Valladares, Huber Matos, Eloy

    Gutierrez Menoyo or the poet Raul Rivero were valued prisoners. Their

    liberty was measured in greater concessions by European governments and

    favorable votes in international tribunes. Facts and figures are not

    known about the quantity of money or long term loans that the release of

    a dissident has meant in these 54 years.

    With a view to negotiate with a favorable wind, the Cuban jails have

    always been full of dissidents. In the '70's there were thousands.

    Hundreds in the 21st century. These days there is a problem. The jails

    are empty. Harassment, repression, arbitrary detention of peaceful

    democrats by special services continue. But behind bars there are no

    heavyweight dissidents that serve to establish an advantageous deal.

    The old and sick gringo Alan Gross is thought to be the one they can get

    the most for. Obama and Hillary Clinton demand his freedom without

    conceding anything in exchange. Then they decided to incarcerate an

    "A-list" dissident. There had to be others on the waiting list from whom

    the regime thinks it could get better yields. It is here that Antonio

    Rodiles comes into play.

    Miriam Celaya, journalist and alternative blogger, considers that the

    probable prosecution of Rodiles as a resistance figure encompasses

    several possible readings. And it could be a trial balloon to measure

    the international brouhaha.

    Also, Celaya thinks, after the presidential election victories by Hugo

    Chavez and Barack Obama, guaranteed petroleum for six years and the

    remittance greenbacks from the United States thanks to the measures

    towards family reunification approved by President Obama, the military

    mandarins feel strong.

    The reporter also analyzes the trajectory reached by Rodiles in his free

    debates about national issues or his Demand for another Cuba that has

    put the Havana government on the defensive.

    Antonio Rodiles is a liberal dissident, open and modern. Nephew of

    General Samuel Rodiles Plana, at the front of a legion of combat

    veterans usually convened to verbally lynch and hand out blows to the

    Ladies in White and peaceful opponents.

    The legal charge brought against Rodiles is a mockery of human

    intelligence. In what way can a man resist a violent detention

    surrounded by dozens of guys trained in personal defense techniques? The

    only manner of resistance that the Cuban opposition has is to scream

    quite loudly its disagreements and to condemn the abuses. The ration of

    beatings always comes from the opposite sidewalk.

    The presumed conviction of Antonio Rodiles creates a new and bad

    precedent on the national map. It is a message of coming and going by

    opponents, independent journalists and bloggers. No one is safe. The

    regime offers two exits: you either shut up or you buy a one-way airline

    ticket. Whoever does not accept the rules of the game can go behind bars

    for some years.

    The era of fear returns. The screech of cars with tinted windows outside

    of the house. The loud knock on the door. The uncertainty of your

    personal and family life. It is the nature of the regime. Crushing and

    censuring you with the use of force. The essence of the doctrine based

    on prison for those who think differently. It was always so.

    The time to fill the jails has arrived. Bad times have returned.

    Photo: EFE, taken by the Bolivian daily, El Dia. According to

    information published in the newspaper Granma May 22, 2012, the penal

    population of Cuba exceeds 57,337 prisoners, of which 31,494 are under

    closed detention and 25,843 in open installations. From December 2011 to

    May 2012, through different benefits, some 10,129 inmates have left

    jail, among them 2,900 pardoned.

    Translator's note: Antonio Rodiles has now been released with a small

    fine and the charge of resisting arrest dropped.

    Translated by mlk

    December 1 2012

    http://translatingcuba.com/cuba-the-time-to-fill-the-jails-came-again-ivan-garcia-cuba/

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