Regina Coyula, 18 January 2016 — Alejandro Armengol is the author of articles full of common sense that often clash with the opinions of opponents of the Castro regime inside and outside Cuba, but his article about the aggressions inflicted on the couple Antonio Rodiles and Ailer Gonzales on 10 January, one more day of #TodosMarchamos (We All March) protests, seemed unwise to me.
And not because he’s not right about much of what he says, but because everything is not as explicit as it should be, and it is certain to leave many readers, among them myself, full of speculations about the intricacies of the recent trip of the two well-known activists to Miami.
The violations of personal integrity suffered by opponents at the hands of the repressive forces are real and frequently documented, on Facebook, on personal web pages, or on those of some group or organization. If Rodiles appears frequently as a victim and denouncer of these events it is far beyond “a pattern that repeats itself in Rodiles’ behavior as an activist,” because his activism, and especially his activism in the street, Sunday after Sunday for nearly 40 weeks, is prioritized [by the police and State Security] as a target of repression. Armengol seems to forget that the government intends to defend “Fidel’s streets” at all costs, and the effrontery of the actors, who don’t seem to diminish, predicts nothing more than greater repression.
It makes sense that after observing strange marks on their skin*, Rodiles and Gonzales sought independent medical advice. With regard to Rodiles’ broken nose, such a thing is usually no more complicated that a simple operation, and the spectacular photo — as any photo of a broken nose would be — made clear that a blow from a fist had fractured that bone.
At the risk of being wrong, I believe that the “Ladies in White of Halloween” were apocryphal — a “performance art” action let’s say — by some people in exile with bad taste**, but probably with the best intentions in the world, who wanted to pay tribute to the Ladies, and in particular to one of them who was said to have suffered a miscarriage after a repressive day months earlier.
With regards to the allegations made by Frank Calzon, I don’t know what it’s about, but if it has to do with the idea that historic exile confronting this aggression against activists in Havana is “a sign of clinging to the past or an indication of looking for other means of confrontation with Havana,” it is not surprising that groups on both shores that have openly expressed their opposition to the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States try to demonstrate support and show that that political decision was a mistake.
Let me quote Armengol: “More symptomatic still is this evolution, of a simple and crude display of the Cuban reality — poverty, homelessness, imprisonment — another in the repressive mechanisms that fall within the area of speculation.”
To speculate that one has been injected — or not — with those puncture wounds, is just that: speculation. I do not expect the medical check up to uncover any anomalies, although to merely inject fear would be cruelty enough. To speculate that the event even happened — that is to doubt it — is to try to discredit the couple who founded Estado de Sats (State of Sats), and turn them into mere buffoons.
Far beyond likes and dislikes, whether or not they are personal, or have to do with methods or programs, any opponent who faces systematic repression deserves respect.
*Recently, after participating in violently repressed street march, Antonio Rodiles and Ailer Gonzalez discovered what looked like puncture marks on their skin and were concerned that in the melee they might have been injected with some noxious substance without their knowledge. (See photos below)
**Photos of individual Ladies in White were altered to show injuries as an illustration for an article.